The Philosopher and the Druids by Philip Freeman
A Journey Among the Ancient Celts

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Early in the first century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Posidonius began an ambitious and dangerous journey into the little-known lands of the Celts. A man of great intellectual curiosity and considerable daring, Posidonius traveled from his home on the island of Rhodes to Rome, the capital of the expanding empire that had begun to dominate the Mediterranean. From there Posidonius planned to investigate for himself the mysterious Celts, reputed to be cannibals and savages. His journey would be one of the great adventures of the ancient world.

Posidonius journeyed deep into the heart of the Celtic lands in Gaul. There he discovered that the Celts were not barbarians but a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed beautiful poetry, and venerated a priestly caste known as the Druids. Celtic warriors painted their bodies, wore pants, and decapitated their foes. Posidonius was amazed at the Celtic women, who enjoyed greater freedoms than the women of Rome, and was astonished to discover that women could even become Druids.

Posidonius returned home and wrote a book about his travels among the Celts, which became one of the most popular books of ancient times. His work influenced Julius Caesar, who would eventually conquer the people of Gaul and bring the Celts into the Roman Empire, ending forever their ancient way of life. Thanks to Posidonius, who could not have known that he was recording a way of life soon to disappear, we have an objective, eyewitness account of the lives and customs of the ancient Celts.

About Philip Freeman

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Philip Freeman is Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a former professor of classics at Washington University in St. Louis. He earned the first joint Ph.D. in classics and Celtic studies from Harvard University and has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy in Rome, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. The author of several previous books, including Alexander the Great, St. Patrick of Ireland, and Julius Caesar, he lives with his family in Decorah, Iowa.Laurie Calkhoven is the author of many books, including George Washington: An American Life and Harriet Tubman: Leading the Way to Freedom. She lives in New York City. Visit her at Willis is an art director and illustrator working in New York City. Visit him at
Published March 1, 2006 by Simon & Schuster. 240 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Education & Reference, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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His point is well taken that at least here was a learned person putting himself at risk in order to apprehend Celtic culture for posterity with no particular axe to grind—or wield, as in the case of another prolific reporter on Celtic customs, their Roman conqueror Julius Caesar (whom Freeman als...

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Publishers Weekly

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Sometime during the first century B.C., the Greek Stoic philosopher Posidonius traveled north and west to see for himself the mysterious culture of the Celts, which he had read about in Herodotus, Plato and Aristotle.

Nov 14 2005 | Read Full Review of The Philosopher and the Druid...

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