The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts

The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts, by Philip Freeman. Today, more than two thousand years after Caesar, the Celts are everywhere. Turn on the radio and you can hear the lilting melodies of Celtic music. Browse your local bookstore and count the numerous volumes available on Celtic art, history, mythology, and spirituality. Hollywood movies regularly feature fearless Celtic warriors facing down a vastly superior enemy or immortal elves speaking a hauntingly beautiful language of Celtic origin. You can watch high-stepping Celtic dance at almost any local folk festival or purchase intricately crafted Celtic jewelry.

But who were the Celts? Do modern ideas of Celtic culture have genuine roots stretching back to ancient times? If so, what were these Celts of Greek and Roman times really like? The truth about the Celts may surprise you, because many of the most common ideas about them are based on fantasy or, at best, half-truths. They were not wild and mindless barbarians who knew little of civilized ways but a sophisticated and technologically advanced culture spread throughout Europe who in many ways surpassed the Greeks and Romans. Did the priests of the Celts, the Druids, really practice human sacrifice? Yes -- archaeology and ancient literary sources firmly agree that they did, but they were also believers in reincarnation who studied the subtle movement of the stars and composed hauntingly beautiful poetry. Were women really equal to men in ancient Celtic society? Yes and no -- it was definitely a man's world, but a Celtic woman had rights and power even Cleopatra might have envied.