Who were Druids?

Druids, in the Celtic culture, were considered as a high social class, who used to have political power, in addition to the religious one, used to worship their divinities.  

Tempo di lettura articolo: 2 minuti

If we know something about the important figure of the druids, mostly attributed to the pagan religion that the Celtic population used to practice in their culture, it is thanks to some texts from Latin literature.

Druids, in the Celtic culture, were considered as a high social class, who used to have political power, in addition to the religious one, used to worship their divinities.  

They were divided in three categories, controlled by a chief, and they survived until the Roman conquest.

We don’t have anything written by druids themselves, because their doctrine prevented them to write their knowledge, but we know about these figures thanks to some texts from the Latin literature, as for example some testimonies from “De Bello Gallico”, written by Giulius Caesar, or other texts by Cicero, Tacitus and Pliny the Elder. 

Their social role was, in addition to the religious one, also political: they were the most cultured social class, in facts they studied philosophy, medicine, history, and astronomy.

One of the druid temples

They took charge of public and private sacrifices; they were teachers for men that were looking for an instruction in order to become druids in turn; they were judges during discussion between people in their villages; and they also used to give punishments to the guilty people. 

In addition to their political role, there was also the religious one: in this case, we know that they used to have their worships in woods, which were considered as temples, or in some places made by stones positioned in circles, like Stonehenge.

They were believed to know what their divinities wanted, and because of this they were obviously considered as the most important connection between the Earth and their gods. 

Thanks to this connection, druids were also able to predict future, and in order to do this they used animals as means of divination: maybe they used particularly the bull, which was considered the most powerful animal. 

According to the Latin testimonies, mostly from “De Bello Gallico”, we cand find out that not all the druids had the same role in the society: they had a chief, and then there were three different levels.

The highest one was composed by the most cultured druids, which were called by the ancient Greeks as “phylosophers”; then, there was the second level, composed by druids that used to be bards and musicians; and, finally, the last level was composed by druids called “magicians”, because they were simple diviners. 

When the Roman people conquered definitively the whole Celtic territory, after the druids’ revolt against emperor Caesar, the Romans decided to try to delete this social class; moreover, with the advent of Christianity, all the magic practises began to be persecuted.

A lot of celt writers began to believe that all the druids’ power could have been exceed by the Saints from the Christian Church.  

Because of this, druids decided to integrate themselves in the new culture that had just arrived in Britain, and many of them became priests of the Christian Church. 

Even if we don’t know a lot about them, Druids are so interesting figures: nowadays, we remember them thanks to their way of using their power in the society.

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