The Philosopher and the Druids

The Philosopher and the Druids

A Journey Among the Ancient Celts

Book - 2006
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Early in the first century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Posidonius began an ambitious and dangerous journey into the little-known lands of the Celts. A man of great intellectual curiosity and considerable daring, Posidonius traveled from his home on the island of Rhodes to Rome, the capital of the expanding empire that had begun to dominate the Mediterranean. From there Posidonius planned to investigate for himself the mysterious Celts, reputed to be cannibals and savages. His journey would be one of the great adventures of the ancient world.Posidonius journeyed deep into the heart of the Celtic lands in Gaul. There he discovered that the Celts were not barbarians but a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed beautiful poetry, and venerated a priestly caste known as the Druids. Celtic warriors painted their bodies, wore pants, and decapitated their foes. Posidonius was amazed at the Celtic women, who enjoyed greater freedoms than the women of Rome, and was astonished to discover that women could even become Druids.Posidonius returned home and wrote a book about his travels among the Celts, which became one of the most popular books of ancient times. His work influenced Julius Caesar, who would eventually conquer the people of Gaul and bring the Celts into the Roman Empire, ending forever their ancient way of life. Thanks to Posidonius, who could not have known that he was recording a way of life soon to disappear, we have an objective, eyewitness account of the lives and customs of the ancient Celts.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2006
ISBN: 9781416585237
Call Number: 913.6043 F8776p
Characteristics: 221 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 23 cm

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Seba001 Feb 04, 2014

Classical philosophy and history in an easily understandable style.

Mar 31, 2013

It appears modern-day Eire has appropriated 'Celtic' as uniquely their own.

Sep 25, 2009

Apparently Deirdre has experienced a change of heart in the 24 hours since she wrote her review of this book! Today she concedes that Freeman's account probably takes too much imaginative licence in her blog entry on the subject at

Sep 16, 2009

Since the culture of the ancient Celts was mainly an oral one, one of our main sources for information about them remains an inspired foreigner who is largely forgotten today: the 1st-century Greek Stoic philosopher Posidonius (born ca. 135 BCE.) Fired by the ancient Greeks’ innovative concept of investigation as "autopsy" (literally, seeing something for oneself), Posidonius undertook an extraordinary journey of discovery to the then largely unknown Celtic lands of western Europe, recording his observations in a "History" that sadly no longer survives. But fortunately, in "The Philosopher and the Druids", Philip Freeman--holder of Harvard's first joint Ph.D. in Classics & Celtic Studies--reconstructs in deceptively simple yet erudite terms the epic journey & findings of Posidonius, as well as even earlier encounters between the Celts & the Greeks. I would highly recommend Freeman’s work to anyone interested in the formidable achievements of either of these two ancient civilizations.


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