Llyfr yn olrhain sut y dylanwadodd y Celtiaid ar y byd clasurol trwy athronydd ifanc Groegaidd, Posidonius, a fu'n astudio eu ffordd o fyw ac a gofnododd wybodaeth amdanynt. Canfu bobl soffistigedig a astudiai'r sêr, a gyfansoddai farddoniaeth, ac a fawrygai ddosbarth offeiriadol - y Derwyddon. Mae'r awdur hefyd yn edrych ar ddarnau o weithiau gan Polybius, Strabo a Cesar.
A book recounting how the Celts impacted on the classical world through a young Greek philosopher, Posidonius, who investigated them in Gaul and recorded information about them. He discovered a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed poetry, and venerated a priestly caste - the druids. The author also looks at fragments of writings by Polybius, Strabo and Cesar.
What knowledge we have of the ancient Celtic tribes of Europe has been pieced together from various sources of evidence: Greek and Roman writings; modern archaeological discoveries; the study of early Celtic languages and the adumbrations of mythological beliefs found in the medieval literature of Europe. In The Philosopher and the Druids, however, Freeman concentrates upon the eye-witness evidence of one man: the first century BC Syrian born Greek writer, Posidonius, who completed a voyage around the Celtic lands of Western Europe, at that point still unconquered by the advancing Roman armies. On his return to Rhodes, where he became the pre-eminent philosopher of his generation, Posidonius wrote of his experiences within cultures that were soon to be engulfed by the ambitious imperial state.
Though Posidoniusí History, his account of his journey through the countries now known as Greece, Italy and Spain, has not survived, Freeman maintains that the original may be pieced together by following the thread of its influence upon other classical writers. His aim in this book appears to have been to bring this reconstructed ancient tale of adventure to a non-academic audience and to elaborate for this readership, through references to the findings of modern academic endeavour, upon both the personal story of Posidonius and the culture of the ancient Celtic tribes.
For anyone interested in the Celts and their way of life now long past, this is a fascinating account of picaresque proportions. Though the central chapters become formulaic in structure, the latter half of the book, which deals with the day-to-day expression of Celtic life, is alive with humour and intriguing detail. So, for example, we learn that the British tribes used coinage, imported many goods, did indeed paint their faces blue for battle, practised human sacrifice and had an aversion to eating rabbit. Perhaps the most charming detail, however, is the account of Posidoniusí reaction to the sight of monkeys on the northern coast of Africa, a spectacle so strange to him that he laughed with joy Ė a wonderfully human detail in a book that strives to communicate a colourful record of the humanity of the ancient world.
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