The Historians

This is a continuation of my article Accounts of the Ancient Druids. Here you will find the Greek and Roman writers throughout history a little bit of info on the writer and were to find the sources that talked about the Druids. I will not be putting in what they said, well, not for every one. You can find most of that in the Article mentioned above as that would make this very long. Now, the first couple do not mention the Druids but name the Celts and talk about location. I felt that this is of importance. With that said, I will give all the reverences for both Druid and Gaul that the individual mentions. But this is about The Druids of Gaul overall not the Gaul’s. I compiled all the sources in to one place in this little article to help you further your knowledge and understanding. Starting from the earliest to the latest sources. Also some of these are referencing older sources form older authors as the original is lost to us in some cases.

The Rise of the Celts


Hecataeus of Miletus

550 BC – 476 BC. Was a Greek Geographer and Historian. The first recorded use of the word ‘Keltoi’ in his works The Journey Around the Earth. Hecataeus’ work is only known through extracts written down by later authors. His work only survives in some fragments, the majority being quoted in the geographical lexicon “Ethnika” by Stephanus of Byzantium.
Hecataeus talks about a city called Narbo, and other cities called Massalia and Nyrax as home of the Keltika. This is suggesting that the south of Gaul seems to be well established in 500 BC.

“Stephanos Byzantinii Ethnikon”, edited by A. Meineke, an unchanged reprint of the edition : Berlin,
1849; Ares Publishers, Chicago Illinois, 1942 (p. 435, 18-19; p. 469, 10-14; p. 479, 5). L. Pearson, “Herodotus
on the Source of the Danube”, Classical Philology, 19, 328-337, 1934.

Herodotus

484 BC – 425 BC. A Greek historian born in the Persian Empire in Halicarnassus. You can find his thoughts on the Celts in his work The Histories. This is one we have all of his original works – he is considered to some a most trustworthy historian. He also talks about a person named Abaris more on that in another article.


2.33. […] the Ister [Danube] emerges from the land of the Keltoi at Pyrēnē and flows through the very middle of Europe; now the Keltoi live beyond the Pillars of Heracles, being neighbors of the Kunēsioi, who are the westernmost of all the peoples inhabiting Europe. The Ister, then, flows clean across Europe and ends its course in the Euxine sea, at Istria, which is inhabited by Milesian colonists.
4.49. […] The Carpis and another river called Alpis also flow northward, from the country north of the Ombrici, to flow into it [the Danube]; for the Ister [Danube] traverses across the whole of Europe, emerging among the Keltoi, who are the most westerly dwellers in Europe, except for the Kunētes, and thus flows across Europe it comes to the borders of Scythia.

Herodotus, trans. A. D. Godley. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920.

“Histories”, 1.6, 1.15, 1.16, 1.103, 2.33, 3.115, 4.1, 4.11, 4.12, 4.32-4.36, 4.49

Hecataeus of Abdera

4th century was a Greek Historian and Pyrrhonist Philosopher. There is no complete works of his but fragment mentioned by Diogenes Laertius and Aelian.

Diodorus “Historical Library”, 2.47.1-2.47.6;
Aelian “On Animals”, 11.1

Sopater

3rd Century his works only survive as fragments in the works of Athenaeus of Naucratis.
Sopater says that the Celts have a high reputation for sacrificing to there gods war captives.

Athenaeus “Deipnosophistae”, 4.160e

Timaeus of Tauromenium

345 BC 250 BC. He was a Greek Historian born in Sicily.
He says that Celts are handed down from ancient times a tradition that some of there gods appear from the Ocean.


Polybius “Histories”, Book 12, 28a.3;
Diodorus “Historical Library”, 4.56.3-4.56.4;
Strabo “Geographies” 4.1.8; from
Pliny the Elder “Natural History”, 4.16.104

Sotion

200 BC – 170 BC. A Greek biographer and doxographer, nothing of his works survives. Diogenes Laeritus mentions some of his work. This is the first mention of the Druids in Diogenes works. Not much is known of Sotion. Sotion describes the druids as philosophers but also calls them Holy Ones. That they teach in riddles, advocate reverence to the
gods, abstinence from wrong-doing, and the practice of courage.

Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers” 1.Prolog.1, 1.Prolog.6

Nicander of Colophon

2nd century BC. Nicander is a Greek physician, poet and grammarian. His work was preserved by Tertullian.

For instance, the Nasamones consult private oracles by frequent and lengthened visits to the sepulchers of their relatives, as one may find in Heraclides, or Nymphodorus, or Herodotus; and the Celts, for the game purpose, stay away all night at the tombs of their brave chieftains, as Nicander affirms.

Tertullian, De Anima. translated by Peter Holmes, D.D. 1869


Coming of Rome

Posidonius

135 BC – 51 BC. Posidonius as a Greek philosopher, astronomer, geographer, historian, mathematician, and many more things. We have no surviving text on his works but many folks cite his work in thiers.


Strabo “Geography”, 2.3.6, 3.2.9, 3.4.13, 3.4.15, 4.1.13, 4.1.14, 4.4.4,
4.4.6, 7.2.2, 13.1.67;
Athenaeus “Deipnosophistae”, 4.151e-4.152f, 4.153e,
4.154b-4.154c, 6.233d-e, 6.234a-c, 6.246c-6.246d;
Priscianus Lydus “Solutiones ad Chosroem”, 6;
“Scholia in Apollonium Rhodium”, 2.675

Julius Caesar

100 BC – 44 BC. He was a General and Statesman who played a role in the destruction of the Gaul’s and the Roman Republic which payed the way for the Roman Empire.

CAESAR GALLIC WAR Book VI (chapters 11‑20)

Cicero

106 BC – 43 BC. He was a Roman statesman , Scholar, and lawyer. His work is the first whose original work we still have who describes Druids.

Ad Herennium” 4.31.43, 4.33.45; “De Inventione” 2.37.111; “On the Manilian Law” 11.30; “In
Defense of A. Caecina” 30.88; “In Catilinam” 3.4, 3.22; “Pro Flacco” 63; “De Haruspicum Responsis” 9.19;
“Against Piso” 23.53; “On Behalf of Fonteius” 4.8, 4.9, 9.19-10.21, 12.26-12.27, 13.28-13.30, 14.30-14.31,
15.33, 16.36, 20.46-21.47; “Philippic” 3.8.20, 6.3.5, 8.9.27, 12.4.9; “The Republic” 2.6.11, 3.9.15, 33.9.16;
“Tusculan Disputations” 2.27.65; “De Divinatione” 1.37.81, 1.41.90; “De Officiis” 1.12.38, 3.31.112; “Letters
to Atticus” 1.19, 4.17.3; “Letters to his Brother Quintus” 1.1.27; “Letters to His Friends” 7.1, 12.5.2; from
Ammianus “Roman History” 15.12.4

Diodorus Siculus

90 BC – 30 BC. He was an ancient Greek historian.
There is much that he wrote about.

“Historical Library” 1.4.7, 2.27.4, 3.38.2, 4.19.1-4.19.4, 5.21.1-5.22.4, 5.24.1-5.34.2,
5.38.4-5.38.5, 14.113.1-14.116.7, 14.117.5, 14.117.7, 15.70.1, 17.113.1-17.113.2, 20.11.1, 20.64.1-20.64.2,
22.4.1, 22.9.1-22.9.4, 22.11.1-22.12.1, 34/35.36.1, 36.1.1, 36.3.1, 37.1.5, 38/39.4.2

Strabo

64 BC – 24 AD. A greek philosopher, geographer, and historian who lived at the time of Rome’s transaction from a Republic to an empire.

“Geography”, 1.1.17, 1.3.21, 2.1.13, 2.1.16, 2.1.18, 2.5.8, 2.5.8, 2.5.27-2.5.28 , 3.1.3, 3.4.13,
3.4.16, 3.5.11, 4.1.1-4.1.14, 4.2.1-4.2.3, 4.3.1-4.3.5, 4.4.1-4.4.6, 4.5.1-4.5.4, 4.6.3-4.6.5 , 6.4.2 , 7.1.1 , 7.1.2 ,
7.2.1-7.2.3 , 7.3.2 , 7.4.3 , 11.2.5 , 11.3.6 , 12.5.1-12.5.2

Pomponius Mela

Died in 45 AD. Born in Spain he was one of the earliest Roman geographers.

“Description of the World”, Book 1:18, 19; Book 2:55, 74-93, 124-126; Book 3:3-32, 36, 37, 45,
47-54, 57

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus

39 AD – 65 AD. Was a a Roman Poet born in Hispania Baetica also known as Lucan.

“Pharsalia”, Book 1, lines 245-248, 282±, 351±, 476-523; Book 2, lines 641±; Book 3, lines 88±,
449-487; Book 4, lines 8-11, 145-152

Gaius Plinius Secundus

24 AD – 79 AD. Born in Italy he was also known as Pliny the Elder he was a Naturalist, Philosopher, and a roman army commander.

“Natural History”, 2.58.148, 2.75.186-2.75.187, 2.82.195, 3.14.112, 3.17.123-3.17.125, 4.13.97,
4.14.99-4.14.100, 4.16.102-4.19.109, 7.56.197, 8.51.143, 8.61.148, 8.79.196, 16.95.259, 24.62.103-24.63.104,
25.6.20-25.6.21, 25.58.106-25.58-107, 26.8.19, 27.76.101, 28.51.191, 29.12.52-29.12.54, 30.4.13, 34.47.156,
37.11.35-37.11.36

Suetonius

75 AD – 160 AD. The esant date is unknown of his birth and death. He was a Roman biographer famous for his work The Lives of the Caesars.

Claudius, the cities of Gaul are told what ceremonies, prayers and sacrifices to make. Claudius conquered Britain “without any battle or bloodshed”, and portrayed the surrender of the British kings in arenas.
He abolished the “cruel and inhuman religion” of Druidism in Gaul

Claudius” I, XVII, XXI, XXV

Publius Cornelius Tacitus

56 AD 120 AD. He is considered among modern scholars as the on of the Greatest Roman Historians. He was also a politician.

“Agricola” 5, 10-38; “Germany” 25-33, 99-570, 604-611, 744-778, 825-828, 874-880, 932-951;
“Histories” 1.2, 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, 1.51, 1.59, 1.61-1.65, 1.67, 1.76, 1.87, 1.89, 2.32, 2.57, 2.61, 2.68, 2.93, 2.94,
2.97, 3.34, 3.41, 3.44, 3.45, 3.53, 3.72, 4.12, 4.17, 4.24, 4.25, 4.26, 4.31, 4.36, 4.54-4.57, 4.59-4.65, 4.67-4.69,
4.71, 4.73-4.79; “Annals” Book 1:765-839, Book 2:445-456, 1311-1318, Book 3:821-934, Book 6:149-152,
Book 11:54-60, 355-362, 468-539, Book 12:389-394, 514-646, 675-679, Book 13:652-658, Book 14:615-862,
1157-1170, Book 15:836-842, Book 16:269-276

Decimius Magnus Ausonius

310 AD 395 AD. Born in Burdigala he was a Roman teacher and poet of rhetoric. He mentioned a Druid priest of Belenus called Phoebicius, whose family bore names associated with the great Apollonian shrine at Delphi. He supposedly comes from a Druid caste before the Roman invasion. His material grandfather practiced Astrology in secret and states he was from a Druid family. He also had an Aunt named Dryadia meaning Druidess.

Commemoratio Professourum Burdigalensium 4.7-10,10.22-30


The Christian Influenced Empire

Dio Chrysostom

40 AD – 115 AD. He was a Greek Philosopher and Historian of the Roman Empire.

“Orations”, 37.27, 49.7, 79.4, 79.5

Hippolytus

170AD–235 AD. A Roman Christian theologian

Refutations” 1.contents, 1.2, 1.22

Clement of Alexandria

150 AD– 215 AD. Also known as Titus Flavius Clemens he was a Greek Christian Theologian and Philosopher.

“Miscellanies” 1.15, 6.3; “The Instructor” 2.2, 3.3, 3.4

Diogenes Laertius

3RD Century AD. Was a Greek biographer and philosopher. A lot of our research comes from him.

“Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers” 1.Prolog.1, 1.Prolog.6

Ammianus Marcellinus

330 AD – 391? AD. Was a Roman solider and Historian.

“Roman History” 15.9, 15.10.1-15.10.2, 15.10.11, 15.11, 15.12, 18.2.3, 19.6.3-19.6.5, 19.6.7-
19.6.12, 20.8.15, 22.12.6, 23.6.88, 26.4.5, 26.7.4, 27.8.1, 27.8.5, 28.1.53-28.1.56, 28.2.10, 29.1.8

We do know from the first category of the above that there were Gaulish holy folks in the areas of the Mediterranean and Southern Gaul around 500 BC. Most of these accounts are liminal and are reflecting them in a positive mind as well as equating them with the Greek Philosophers.
The second category, well, there is much going on in the surrounding world and to paint the Druids like most did in that time, is a reflection of the changing world now I’m sure there is truth to much of it. It is just heavily politicalized and demonized.
The last category starts to reflect back to the first and most of these are Christian writers. But this is a time now that the changing world has calmed down a lot.

Again the reason I’m not putting everything in that the folks above said is I don’t want to make this too long and, well, I don’t want to run into copyright issues.

Inspiration
Phillip Freeman
Bruce R. Linnell
Diodorus Siculus

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