Summary of The Druids

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The video discusses the various accounts of the druids, a religious group in ancient Gaul and Britain. There are many contradictions between the accounts, and it is not clear if the druids were a single organization with a single leader or if they had multiple leaders. The video also discusses the Roman Empire's attempt to destroy the druids, a pagan religious order. Though the order was outlawed by Emperor Tiberius, it is unclear by what time or how much of it actually existed.

  • 00:00:00 The Druids are a subject of fascination for scholars in France, Britain, and Ireland in the 18th century, when their image is distorted by irrational mysticism and their identification with megalithic sites. In the 20th century, archaeology begins to reveal that Druids were a strain of pre-Roman sophistication among the peoples of Europe.
  • 00:05:00 The first sources of information on the druids come from classical writers who wrote about them from the 8th century BC to the end of the 4th century AD. The archaeological record of iron age societies provides some evidence of native religious practices, but no definitive evidence that the druids actually existed. Still, their impact on popular culture has remained. Neo-druidic organizations continue to grow in membership across both Europe and North America. If we are to try and answer any of the questions about the druids, we must examine four major sources of evidence: first, the accounts of classical writers; second, the archaeological record of iron age societies; third, the tales of the Irish mythological cycles; and fourth, the practices of contemporary druid groups. Ahead of us lies a journey through nearly 3,000 years of history, starting with the fringes of the Mediterranean and moving through the world of iron age Britain, Gaul, and Ireland, before finally ending in modern Europe and North America. The first sources of information on the druids come from classical writers who wrote about them from the 8th century BC to the end of the 4th century AD. The archaeological record of iron age societies provides some evidence of native religious practices, but no definitive
  • 00:10:00 The Druids were a religious class in ancient Britain and Gaul who were believed to have acted as both the philosophical and religious class in these societies. However, when examined more closely, there are increasing numbers of contradictions found in some of the accounts of the druids. Some scholars have placed them into three broad categories: the writings of Greek explorers active in Western Europe during the 3rd and 4th centuries BC, the accounts of the druids beginning with the Roman expansion into Gaul, and the christian writers of the cities of Alexandria and Antioch in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Each of these accounts has its own strengths and weaknesses, but together they provide a somewhat comprehensive picture of the druids and their role in ancient Western Europe.
  • 00:15:00 The Druids were a religious class in western Europe who were said to commune with the dead and predict the future. They were also said to practice lunar worship and sacrifice. Two texts mention the Druids, one from the 4th century BC and the other from the 2nd century BC.
  • 00:20:00 The Druids are a group of religious men who are said to have lived in what is now northern Europe. Their accounts of ritual sacrifice and invocations of the natural world are similar to those of the Greeks and Romans of this period. It is uncertain if the Druids actually existed, but the evidence suggests that they did.
  • 00:25:00 The Roman Empire was expanding into Gaul, and in 121 BC, a Roman army destroyed the seluvian capital of Ontramont, ending any immediate threat to Roman trade routes. In the process, the Roman Empire gained control of the lands of the ligurians and the alabrogi's. Posidonius, a Syrian-born philosopher, made several journeys throughout southern Gaul, and his works reflect both the druids as the undisputed religious elite of the peoples of Gaul and Britain, and Strabo and Ioderus's accounts of the druids as free authors who belonged to the poseidonian school of discussion.
  • 00:30:00 The Roman historian Caesar describes the druids as a class of religious leaders who held aloof from warfare and practiced human sacrifice in order to prevent the gods from being injured. He also says that their chief deity was Mercury, the god of the underworld.
  • 00:35:00 The druids are a group of ancient priests and religious leaders in Gaul and Britain who are mentioned by Caesar and Strabo, and are portrayed as semi-civilized with a resident set of priests and nobility. After Caesar's assassination, the second triumvirate, which consisted of Octavian, Mark Anthony, and Marcus Lepidus, was formed. Octavian became the undisputed master of the Roman world, and after he acquired greater senatorial powers, he formalized his position through the acquisition of the title of Augustus, the illustrious one, and the title by which he and his regime would come to be known, princeps, the first citizen for all intents and purposes. Strabo and Diodorus of Sicily's accounts of the druids are clearly influenced by that of Caesar, before them. According to Diodorus, the belief that souls pass to another body upon death is derived from that of Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher that founded a school in southern Italy sometime in the late 6th century BC.
  • 00:40:00 The following is a transcript excerpt of a YouTube video titled "The Druids" followed by a 1-paragraph summary of the different groups described by Caesar and Strabo: the bards, the vates, and the druids. All three groups were responsible for different aspects of Gallic society, with the druids being the main philosophers. However, there are many contradictions between the accounts, and it is not clear if the druids were a single organization with a single leader or if they had multiple leaders.
  • 00:45:00 The druids are a religious elite in Gaul who are described as having changed remarkably between the accounts of three authors. It is not unreasonable to assume that religious worship in Gaul would have changed after decades of Roman rule with Roman religious structures being increasingly imposed on native religious structures. In addition, the first appearance of the vates or the seers within both Strabo's and Ioderus's accounts is also indicative of a change in druidic instruction. This change becomes increasingly common amongst authors of the first and second centuries A.D. In his epic poem, the Farselya, the Roman poet Lucan again associates the druids with wooded places. Furthermore, he provides the first recognizable gowick names for gods worshipped by the druids.
  • 00:50:00 The first and second century authors Pliny the Elder and Lucan provide a detailed description of druidic practices, including their use of the marsh plant Samolus to treat cattle diseases and their collection of the "egg-like object" called an Anguinum. However, these authors also write about the druids in a negative light, describing them as barbaric and living in Gaul.
  • 00:55:00 The video discusses the Roman Empire's attempt to destroy the druids, a pagan religious order. Though the order was outlawed by Emperor Tiberius, it is unclear by what time or how much of it actually existed. Lucan and Suetonius are considered less reliable sources, and their accounts of druidic activity are largely based on rumor or hearsay. Britannia remained independent for another century after the druidic order was outlawed, and after that it became more Romanized. There is little evidence of druidic involvement in later rebellions against Roman rule.

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The video "The Druids" discusses the complicated picture of druids that has emerged from ancient accounts. While some authors suggest that they were involved in human sacrifice, there is little evidence to support this claim. Instead, it seems that they were respected philosophers and advisers to Celtic kings. However, by the 4th century, they had apparently been destroyed, and any threat they posed to Roman authorities seemed to have been destroyed.

  • 01:00:00 Tacitus provides a detailed description of the first and second Roman invasions of Wales, which involved the subjugation of much of southern England. He claims that the druids, a pagan religious order, were present on the island of Anglesey and actively participated in the defense of the island. Tacitus also provides a few later references to the druids, all of which are ambiguous or contradictory.
  • 01:05:00 The Roman and Greek authors describe three separate Roman emperors who encounter a Gaulish druidess whose prophecies come true. These accounts have received little serious attention from scholars, but they do open the door to the idea that female druids may have existed in ancient times.
  • 01:10:00 The Romans had a negative view of the druids, attributing to them all manner of barbarity. However, by the 4th century, they had apparently been destroyed, and any threat they posed to Roman authorities seemed to have been destroyed. Archaeologists have suggested that the druids may have been unfairly demonized in later accounts, based on spurious evidence. However, the most significant attention has been focused on the claim that druidic sacrifice involved human beings being killed. Other authors have argued that this ritual cannot be verified and may be false. Nevertheless, the overall picture that emerges from these accounts is that the druids were respected philosophers and advisers to Celtic kings, and that they had ties to Pythagoras and other ancient philosophers.
  • 01:15:00 The Druids are an ancient religious order said to have practiced human sacrifice and performed other pagan ceremonies. None of these authors attribute human sacrifice to the Druids, nor do they provide much detail on their religious practices. Many of these accounts come from a dramatically changed empire after two centuries of Christianity being the dominant religion. By the time these authors were active, the ancient Roman religion had largely been subsumed by Christianity. The emperor Constantine had legalized Christianity throughout the empire and over the next decades successive emperors had slowly dismantled much of Rome's former religion. After the death of the emperor Julian in 363 AD, all future emperors would be Christians and in 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius convened the Council of Nicaea, effectively making Nicene Christianity the state religion. Against this backdrop of a shift to Christianity, the Druids may suddenly have found themselves a more acceptable ancestor figure. However, there is no evidence that the Druids practiced human sacrifice or had any religious ceremonies based on astronomical alignments. Most of the sites where the Druids are purported to have worshipped are neolithic sites which pre-date accounts of the Druids by centuries.
  • 01:20:00 The Iron Age saw the construction of religious sites such as standing stones, henges, and barrows. Evidence suggests that the druids may have originated in Gaul or Britain, but we cannot be sure until we find archaeological evidence to support this claim.
  • 01:25:00 The article discusses the various types of ritual sites in Iron Age Britain and Gaul, with an emphasis on the differences between British and Gaulian sites. It suggests that the distinction between domestic and ritual life may not have been as clear as previously thought, and that the worship of a wide variety of deities was commonplace across northern Europe.
  • 01:30:00 The video discusses the various gods and goddesses that were worshipped in Iron Age Gaul and Britain, and how little evidence exists of a unified druidic priesthood. Some archaeologists have argued that the picture of a unified priesthood described by Roman authors may be an oversimplification, born of ignorance or a false one.
  • 01:35:00 Lucan writes about three Celtic deities- Isis, Tyranus, and Teutates- and their associated methods of human sacrifice. He also mentions a sacred grove near the Greek town of Maesilotes. Archaeologists have found wooden figurines from this period throughout the Celtic world, some of which may represent cult images of gods or goddesses.
  • 01:40:00 The video discusses the possibility that the individual buried in a 50 AD grave in England was a druid. The video points to evidence that includes unusual headgear and bronze spoons found throughout Britain and Ireland, which may have been used in religious rituals.
  • 01:45:00 The video "The Druids" discusses the picture of druids being a complicated one due to the known crossover between iron age magical practices and early medicine outside of the rods. There is little evidence that this individual was a member of any organized priesthood and indeed much of their kit is consistent with well-known Roman medical practices. As a result, the most we can say is that this person was certainly a member of the public elite, acting either as a doctor, religious official, or perhaps even both. Additionally, we have one last item to consider: a fragmentary remains of a large bronze tablet that was unearthed in the late 19th century in the French commune of Coligny. Engraved on this tablet was an elaborate calendar outlining both the sole year and lunar months along with a system of notations listing both auspicious and inauspicious dates. This calendar dates from between the first and the second century's A.D. and was written using the Latin alphabet. Though the language it was composed in is gaulish, the calendar contains a full five-year cycle and this repetition allows us to reconstruct it with some confidence by all indications. The calendar outlined in this tablet may be the original celtic lunisolar calendar. Support for
  • 01:50:00 The body of a 25-year-old man was found with wounds that suggest he was killed in a ritualistic way. Pathologist Ian West believes that the man was probably a member of the social elite and that his body was deposited in a bog after death. The findings of mistletoe residue in his last meal and comparisons to writings of Pliny suggest that he may have been sacrificed to an unknown deity.
  • 01:55:00 The video discusses the controversy surrounding the discovery of Lindoman, a man who was found with evidence of human sacrifice. Forensic examination of the body found that the initial conclusions were wrong - the ligature found around the victim's neck may not have been a murder weapon, and the mistletoe pollen found in the victim's stomach was likely accidental. However, the controversy still remains as to whether Lindoman was a human sacrifice. Regardless, the man was a prestigious individual and his execution and deposition in the bog has some degree of ritual overtones. The bodies found throughout southern England, which are generally found in ditches or disused grain storage pits, are generally found complete with the majority of them being found in positions suggesting they were carefully deposited after death. However, at Wanderie Ring and Danebury, bodies have been found that clearly underwent some form of ritual mutilation. The remains of a partially dismembered child have also been found at Danbury. There is evidence of human sacrifice occurring in parts of both Gaul and Britain, but it remains unlikely that it was a common element of religious practices.

02:00:00 - 02:00:00

The video discusses the history of the druids, a religious class in ancient Gaul and Britain. It mention

  • 02:00:00 The druids were a religious class in ancient Gaul and Britain who are said to have exerted considerable influence over the kings of their societies. Some later authors claimed that the druids continued to exist in Ireland after the other druids had vanished, but this is largely conjecture.

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