The Philosopher and the Druids

The Philosopher and the Druids

A Journey Among the Ancient Celts

Book - 2006
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There was no reason for the Greek world to be particularly concerned about the Celts in the years before and even decades after Alexander the Great. To any Greek, the Celts were just another race of distant barbarians. Traders might bring back stories of them, and occasionally a small group of Celtic warriors might appear among the mercenaries of a hired army, but they were no threat to civilized Greek folk going about their daily business.

Sometime during his early years in Rhodes, a daring notion first entered the mind of Posidonius. He had been taught by his Stoic professors that the world and all its people were part of a divine order. What better way to understand this order than a great journey of exploration? He knew that tribes still relatively uncorrupted by civilizing influences would be an important part of such a study. To be sure, this grand excursion would be the perfect opportunity to explore other subjects- astronomy, geology, and oceanography just to name a few- as well, but it was unspoiled human culture he most wanted to examine...The best possibility lay in the last place any reasonable Greek philosopher would want to go. In the distant west, beyond even the rule of Rome, lay the unknown land of the Celts.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2006
ISBN: 9780743262804
Branch Call Number: 913.604 F877p 2006
Characteristics: 221 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 23 cm


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Seba001 Feb 04, 2014

Classical philosophy and history in an easily understandable style.

Mar 31, 2013

It appears modern-day Eire has appropriated 'Celtic' as uniquely their own.

Sep 25, 2009

Apparently Deirdre has experienced a change of heart in the 24 hours since she wrote her review of this book! Today she concedes that Freeman's account probably takes too much imaginative licence in her blog entry on the subject at

Sep 16, 2009

Since the culture of the ancient Celts was mainly an oral one, one of our main sources for information about them remains an inspired foreigner who is largely forgotten today: the 1st-century Greek Stoic philosopher Posidonius (born ca. 135 BCE.) Fired by the ancient Greeks’ innovative concept of investigation as "autopsy" (literally, seeing something for oneself), Posidonius undertook an extraordinary journey of discovery to the then largely unknown Celtic lands of western Europe, recording his observations in a "History" that sadly no longer survives. But fortunately, in "The Philosopher and the Druids", Philip Freeman--holder of Harvard's first joint Ph.D. in Classics & Celtic Studies--reconstructs in deceptively simple yet erudite terms the epic journey & findings of Posidonius, as well as even earlier encounters between the Celts & the Greeks. I would highly recommend Freeman’s work to anyone interested in the formidable achievements of either of these two ancient civilizations.


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