- Created by: PapilioMortis
- Created on: 23-04-18 19:02
The Druids are concerned with sacred things, they look after public and private sacrifices and they explain religious beliefs: to these, a large number of men assemble for the purpose of learning, and they (the Druids) are held in great honour among them. For they decide about almost all disputes, public and private; and, if any crime has been committed, if murder has been done, if there is a dispute about an inheritance, or about boundaries, the Druids settle the matter, and they decide the rewards and punishments. If anyone, either in a public or private capacity, has not obeyed their decision, they ban them from the sacrifices: this punishment is the most serious among them.
Those who have been banned in this way are considered to be in the number of the wicked and the criminal; everyone avoids them, and flees at their approach and coversation, in case they receive any harm from their contact; nor is justice given to them when they seek it, nor is any honour given to them. But over all these Druids one presides, who has the highest authority among them. Upon his death, either the man who excels among the rest in dignity succeeds, or, if there are many equal, they compete for the leadership by a vote of the Druids, sometimes even by weapons. Their training is thought to have been discovered in Britain and from there to have been transferred to Gaul, and now those who want to find out about this system more carefully, generally set out to Britain to study it.
The Druids are usually exempt from war, nor do they pay tribute together with the rest; they have exemption from military service and freedom from all other matters. Encouraged by such great advantages, many gather for training of their own accord, and many are sent by their parents and relations. There they are said to learn by heart a great number of verses, and so some remain in training for 20 years. Nor do they think it right to committ these verses to writing, though in all other matters they use Greek writing.
They seem to me to have begun this for two reasons, because they neither want their training to be made known to the general public, nor do they want those who are learning, by relying on writing, to pay less attention to memory. In particular, they want to persuade people of this, that souls do not die, but pass after death from one person to another, and they think that men are roused to courage by means of this belief most of all, having disregarded the fear of death. They discuss and hand down to young people many things besides, concerning the stars and their motions, concerning the size of the universe and of the world, concerning the nature of things, concerning the might and power of the immortal gods.
The whole nation of the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstition; and on this account, those people, who are affected with quite serious diseases, and who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims or vow that they will sacrifice (them), and they employ the Druids as the assistants for these sacrafices because they think that, unless the life of a man is given for the life of a man, the power of the immortal Gods cannot be appeased: and they have sacrifices of that kind established publicly. Others have figures of vast size, and they fill their limbs, woven with branches, with living people; when the figures have been set on fire, the people, surrounded by fire, perish. They consider that the executions of those who have been arrested for theft or robbery or any other offense is more pleasing to the immortal Gods; but, when a supply of this kind runs out, they even descend to the execution of innocents.