Caesar on the Druids // Roman Primary Source (58-49 BC)

published on August 3, 2020

Throughout goal there are two classes of persons of definite account and dignity as for the common folk they are treated almost as slaves venturing naught of themselves never taken into Council the more part of them oppressed as they are either by debt or by the heavy weight of

Tribute or by the wrongdoing of the more powerful men commit themselves in slavery to the nobles who have in fact the same rights over them as masters / slaves of the two classes above-mentioned one consists of druids

The others of knights the former concerned with divine worship the due performance of sacrifices public and private and the interpretation of ritual questions a great number of young men gather around them for the sake of

Instruction and hold them in great honor in fact it is they who decide in almost all disputes public and private and if any crime has been committed or murdered honor or there is any disposes about succession or boundaries they also

Decided determining rewards and penalties if any person or people does not abide by their decision they ban such from sacrifice which is their heaviest penalty those that are so banned are reckoned as impious and

Criminal all men move out of their path and shun their approach in conversation for fear they might get some harm from their contact and though justice is done if they seek it no distinction falls to their share

Of all these druids one is chief who has the highest authority among them that is death are there any other that is preeminent in position succeeds or if there be several of equal standing they strive for the primacy by the vote of

The druids or sometimes even with armed force these druids said at a certain time of the year meet within the borders of the carnutes whose territory is reckoned as the center of all gaul and sit in Conclave

In a consecrated spot the third symbol from every side all that have disputes and they obey the decisions and judgments of the druids it's believed that their rule of life was discovered in Britain and transferred then Stigall

And today those who would study the subject more accurately journey as a rule to britain to learn it the druids usually hold a loof from war and do not pay war taxes with the rest they are excused from military service

And exempt from all liabilities tempted by these great rewards many young men assemble their own motion to receive their training many are sent by parents and relatives report says that in the schools of the druids they learn by

Heart a great number of verses and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training and they do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing although in all most other matters and in their public

And private accounts they make use of Greek letters I believe they have adopted the practice for two reasons that they do not wish the rule to become common property nor those who learn the rule to rely on writing and so neglect

The cultivation of memory and in fact it does usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and the action of the memory the cardinal doctrine which they seek to

Teach is that souls do not die but after death pass from one to another and this belief as the fear of death is thereby cast aside they hold to be of the greatest incentive to valor besides this they have many discussions as touching

With stars and their movements the size of the universe and of the earth the order of nature the strength and the powers of immortal gods and hand down their law to the young man

The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances and for that reason those who are smitten with the more Grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so

Employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices they believe in effect that unless a man's life be paid the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased and in public as in private life they observe an ordinance of

Sacrifices of the same kind others use figures of immense size whose the limbs were one out of twigs they fill with living men and set on fire and the men perish in a sheet of flame they believe that the execution of those who have

Been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent

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