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The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, Vol. I., ed. by J. Williams Ab Ithel, [1862], at


His description also is confined to the Druidism of Gaul, and is to the following effect:--

"And there are among them [the Gauls] composers of verses, whom they call Bards; these, singing to instruments similar to a lyre, applaud some, while they vituperate others. There are also certain philosophers and priests surpassingly esteemed, whom they call Druids. They have also soothsayers, who are held in high estimation; and these, by auguries and the sacrifice of victims, foretel future events, and hold the commonalty in complete subjection: and more

p. lviii

especially, when they deliberate on matters of moment, they practise a strange and incredible rite; for, having devoted a man for sacrifice, they strike him with a sword on a part above the diaphragm: the victim having fallen, they augur from his mode of falling, the contortion of his limbs, and the flowing of the blood, what may come to pass, giving credence concerning such things to an ancient and long-standing observance. They have a custom of performing no sacrifice unattended by a philosopher, For they say that thanksgiving should be offered to the gods by men acquainted with the divine nature and using the same language, and by these they deem it necessary to ask for good .things; and not only in the concerns of peace, but even of war, not friends alone, but even enemies also, chiefly defer to them and to the composers of verses. Frequently, during hostilities, when armies are approaching each other with swords drawn and lances extended, these men rushing between them put an end to their contention, taming them as they would tame wild beasts. " 1

This description is somewhat similar to that which Strabo gives, as the reader will easily perceive. Both authors agree as to the number of the different orders--the esteem in which they were held--their custom of predicting events by means of the sacrifice--and the influence of the Bards in restraining armies from fighting.

1. The names of the orders. Whilst Strabo gives the same names as those used by the Cymry, that is, Bards, Ovates, and Druids, Diodorus calls them Bards, Soothsayers, and Druids, making a soothsayer and an ovate to be of the same import, and both are of opinion that this functionary had to do with the act of sacrificing. They, likewise, agree as to the office of the Bard, that he was a singer and a poet, and in respect of the devotion which was paid by the Druid to philosophy, and the necessity of his presence at the sacrifices.

p. lix

2. Vaticinations. Strabo mentions only one thing from which they augured future events, namely, "the palpitation" of the victim; Diodorus adds two other particulars, namely, "his mode of falling" and "the flowing of the blood." There is no allusion to these matters in the Bardic traditions.

3. The mediation of the Druids. According to the declaration of Diodorus, the common people regarded the Druids as mediators between themselves and the gods, and grounded their competency and fitness for that purpose upon the fact that they were acquainted with the divine nature, and used the same language. We have already seen that the Druids of Britain, as well as those of Gaul, studied and taught much respecting the nature and attributes of God. Using "the same language" seems to imply that the language of divine worship was unchangeable, whatever might be that of the people. And since the acts of the Gorsedd in Britain were to be performed at all times in Cymraeg, we may reasonably infer that it was in the old Celtic tongue Druidism was administered on the Continent--there was not much difference between the Cymraeg and the native language of Gaul.


lviii:1 Hist. lib. v. c. 31.

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