Druid

druidic, druidical, adj.
/drooh"id/, n. (often l.c.)
a member of a pre-Christian religious order among the ancient Celts of Gaul, Britain, and Ireland.
[1555-65; < L druidae (pl.) < Gaulish; r. druide < F; cf. OIr druí (nom.), druid (dat., acc.) wizard]

* * *

Member of a learned class of priests, teachers, and judges among the ancient Celtic peoples.

The Druids instructed young men, oversaw sacrifices, judged quarrels, and decreed penalties; they were exempt from warfare and paid no tribute. They studied ancient verse, natural philosophy, astronomy and religious lore; their principal doctrine was belief in the immortality of the soul and the transmigration of souls. They sometimes practiced human sacrifice to cure gravely ill people or protect warriors in battle. The Druids were suppressed in Gaul by the Romans in the 1st century AD and in Britain a little later. They lost their priestly functions in Ireland after the coming of Christianity but survived as poets, historians, and judges. See also Celtic religion.

* * *

▪ ancient Celtic order
      (Celtic: “Knowing [or Finding] the Oak Tree”), member of the learned class among the ancient Celts. They seem to have frequented oak forests and acted as priests, teachers, and judges. The earliest known records of the Druids come from the 3rd century BC.

      According to Julius Caesar (Caesar, Julius), who is the principal source of information about the Druids, there were two groups of men in Gaul that were held in honour, the Druids and the noblemen (equites). Caesar related that the Druids took charge of public and private sacrifices, and many young men went to them for instruction. They judged all public and private quarrels and decreed penalties. If anyone disobeyed their decree, he was barred from sacrifice, which was considered the gravest of punishments. One Druid was made the chief; upon his death, another was appointed. If, however, several were equal in merit, the Druids voted, although they sometimes resorted to armed violence. Once a year the Druids assembled at a sacred place in the territory of the Carnutes, which was believed to be the centre of all Gaul, and all legal disputes were there submitted to the judgment of the Druids.

      Caesar also recorded that the Druids abstained from warfare and paid no tribute. Attracted by those privileges, many joined the order voluntarily or were sent by their families. They studied ancient verse, natural philosophy, astronomy, and the lore of the gods, some spending as much as 20 years in training. The Druids' principal doctrine was that the soul was immortal and passed at death from one person into another.

      The Druids offered human sacrifices for those who were gravely sick or in danger of death in battle. Huge wickerwork images were filled with living men and then burned; although the Druids preferred to sacrifice criminals, they would choose innocent victims if necessary.

      Caesar is the chief authority, but he may have received some of his facts from the Stoic philosopher Poseidonius, whose account is often confirmed by early medieval Irish sagas. Caesar's description of the annual assembly of the Druids and their election of an arch-Druid is also confirmed by an Irish saga.

      In the early period, Druidic rites were held in clearings in the forest. Sacred buildings were used only later under Roman influence. The Druids were suppressed in Gaul by the Romans under Tiberius (reigned AD 14–37) and probably in Britain a little later. In Ireland they lost their priestly functions after the coming of Christianity and survived as poets, historians, and judges (filid, senchaidi, and brithemain). Many scholars believe that the Hindu Brahman in the East and the Celtic Druid in the West were lateral survivals of an ancient Indo-European priesthood.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Druid — Dru id, n. [L. Druides; of Celtic origin; cf. Ir. & Gael. draoi, druidh, magician, Druid, W. derwydd Druid.] 1. One of an order of priests which in ancient times existed among certain branches of the Celtic race, especially among the Gauls and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • druid — DRUÍD, druizi, s.m. Preot al vechilor celţi din Galia şi din insulele britanice. – Din fr. druide, lat. druidae. Trimis de ana zecheru, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  druíd s. m., pl. druízi Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic… …   Dicționar Român

  • Druid — 1560s, from Fr. druide, from L. druidae (pl.), from Gaulish Druides, from O.Celt. *derwijes, probably representing O.Celt. derwos true and *dru tree (especially oak) + *wid to know (Cf. vision). Hence, lit., perhaps, they who know the oak… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Druid — A term used mostly in Australia for a heavy cotton duck …   Dictionary of the English textile terms

  • druid — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. mos I, Mc. druididzie; lm M. druididzi || owie {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} kapłan lub mędrzec w celtyckiej Galii, Brytanii i Irlandii <łac. z celt.> {{/stl 7}} …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • Druid — ► NOUN ▪ a priest, magician, or soothsayer in the ancient Celtic religion. DERIVATIVES Druidic adjective Druidical adjective Druidism noun. ORIGIN Gaulish (the language of the ancient Gauls); related to Irish draoidh magician, sorcerer …   English terms dictionary

  • druid — [dro͞o′id] n. [Fr druide < L druides, pl. < Celt, as in OIr drūi < IE * dru wid , lit., oak wise (< base * deru , oak, TREE + * wid , know, WISE1)] [often D ] a member of a literate and influential class in Celtic society that… …   English World dictionary

  • Druid — For other uses, see Druid (disambiguation). Two druids , 19th century engraving based on a 1719 illustration by Bernard de Montfaucon.[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Druid — UK [ˈdruːɪd] / US [ˈdruɪd] noun [countable] Word forms Druid : singular Druid plural Druids 1) a priest in the ancient Celtic religion 2) a member of a modern religious group with similar beliefs to the ancient Druids …   English dictionary

  • Druid — [[t]dru͟ːɪd[/t]] Druids also druid N COUNT A Druid is a priest of the Celtic religion …   English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.