Caesar’s Druids: Story of an Ancient Priesthood by Miranda Aldhouse-Green
Synopsis: Ancient chroniclers, including Julius Caesar himself, made the Druids and their sacred rituals infamous throughout the Western world. But in fact, as Miranda Aldhouse-Green shows in this fascinating book, the Druids’ day-to-day lives were far less lurid and much more significant. Exploring the various roles that Druids played in British and Gallic society during the first centuries B.C. and A.D.—not just as priests but as judges, healers, scientists, and power brokers—Aldhouse-Green argues that they were a highly complex, intellectual, and sophisticated group whose influence transcended religion and reached into the realms of secular power and politics. With deep analysis, fresh interpretations, and critical discussions, she gives the Druids a voice that resonates in our own time.
Review: In this book the author, a professor of Archeology at Cardiff University, used her tremendous expertise as a scholar of ancient religious culture, her intimate knowledge of the classical sources and her archeological and anthropological background to put together this book on the Druids.
Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green used the preface to tell us why she wrote the book and what she hoped to focus on in it. Her focus is to be on the Druids encountered by Greek and Roman writers and travellers at a time when they were flourishing, and on the time of their decline and possible reconfiguration under the Roman occupation. She also tells us that she will be combining close scrutiny of the Classical records with the archeological and anthropological material findings. She acknowledges that there are problems with all of these sources.
The book is divided into 12 chapters and an Epilogue and each chapter is then further divided into subsections depending on what the chapter is talking about. This book is well organized and indexed. The sheer amount of research and documentation in this book is worth the read. All that was ever said or written about the Druids is presented here supplemented by archeology, anthropology and some of the vernacular records too. As usual with Prof. Miranda, I don’t agree with all her conclusions BUT most of them are sound. It does read a bit like a thesis paper but it is interesting enough to keep you going till the end. I like Prof. Miranda’s writing style as she does not talk down to her readers even if they are laymen.
This is a great edition to the library of any person interested in the Celts and by extension the Druids.