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The Druids (1994)

by Peter Berresford Ellis

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1,089814,261 (3.59)6
"In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society." "The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisers to kings. They also had a religious function. Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins. He also shows that the current "New Age" image of the Druids as benevolent wizards comes from a woefully inadequate interpretation of the facts."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A sometimes dry but interesting read concerning the history, persecution and rediscovery of Celtic druidism.The author points out and tries to refute many of the myths beginning in the Roman area as well as outline the continues attempt to remove the early Celts from history.

A good read. ( )
  dswaddell | Mar 19, 2020 |
Classic study of the ancient inhabitants of the British isles.
In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society. The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient... ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 20, 2015 |
This was the least sensational book I could find on the Druids. I was a little nervous about the cover quotes on this book - by such notably weird authors as Nicolai Tolstoy - but the dry, serious, non witchy poo quality of the writing won me over. I feel like this was a pretty good introduction to a complicated topic, with a greater emphasis on the social role of the Druids and hardly any page space devoted to modern-day Druid re-creationists. Ellis gets a little tangled up in his own sentences sometimes, but who doesn't? Looking forward to finding something more in-depth to read next. ( )
  paperloverevolution | Mar 30, 2013 |
Interesting book, though I am tempted to say what the little girl said of the book on penguins - this book tells me more about druids than I wanted to know. ( )
  Mouldywarp | Nov 10, 2012 |
In A Brief History of the Druids author Ellis gives us a glimpse into the history and archaeology of the Druids as the intellectual caste of the Celtic peoples. Investigated are the different aspects of said social caste, such as philosophers, healers/doctors, judges, historians, bards/poets and spiritual/religious leaders. The author warns the reader that very little written material remains on the druids and that much of what we do know due to various external sources should be taken with a grain of salt. For all sources, both ancient and more recent, he tends to give both sides of the argument rather than completely ignoring one side, which I found to be very useful.

This book looks at actual history and, while it can be tedious at times, is far more valuable than the numerous books on 'Druidry' that one finds a dime a dozen, focused more on the supposed mystical aspects. This book was more about what and who the Druids might actually have been as opposed to more fanciful views. An overview of Celtic society is given in the beginning, to set the framework for exploring this unique social caste and the Indo-European ties that bind them to the castes and culture of India.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, plodding as it could be at times. I enjoy learning about history and culture, being an anthropologist by training. There were only two things that really bothered me in regards to this book and I would offer the first as a caution to any choosing to read it. If you have no experience in puzzling out written Celtic, you will have a time in deciphering a great deal of the words. The Welsh I found easier to work with than the Gaelic. I usually enjoy such challenges, but here it got old rather fast. I also found the very last chapter on 'Reviving the Druids' to be very disjointed and not nearly as well constructed as the rest of the book. ( )
2 vote PardaMustang | Mar 29, 2009 |
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This book would not have been written had it not been for the inspiration caused by a Sunday afternoon's radio broadcast of Vincenzo Bellini's opera "Norma,"
Than you, Ben, for that happy inspiration
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If this were an academic dissertation, I would probably choose the subtitle 'An introductory argument.'
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"In this compelling and highly reliable study of the Druids, respected Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through the historical evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological and etymological findings, gives the first authentic account of who the mysterious Druids were and what role they played in Celtic society." "The Druids emerge as the intellectual caste of ancient Celtic society. They were the doctors, the lawyers, the ambassadors, the advisers to kings. They also had a religious function. Ellis describes the special Druidic training, their philosophy, their belief in auguries, and their intriguing origins. He also shows that the current "New Age" image of the Druids as benevolent wizards comes from a woefully inadequate interpretation of the facts."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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