Caesar’s commentaries book 6 on the druids – translation below

GALLIA est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae,
aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli
appellantur. Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt.

14. Druides a bello abesse consuerunt, neque tributa una cum reliquis pendunt; 6 militia vacationem 7omniumque rerum habent immunitatem. Tantis excitati spraemiis," et sua sponte" multi in discipllnam conveniunt, et a parentibus propinquisque mittuntur. Magnum ibi numerum versuum 9 ediscere dicuntur: itaque annos nonnulli vicenos' in discipllna permanent. Neque fas esse existimant, i0 ea literis mandare, cum in rellquis fere rebus, publicis privatisque rationibus, Graecis utanturf literis. n Id mihi duabus de causis instituisse videntur; quod neque in vulgum i2 discipllnam efferri velint, neque eos, qui discant,8 Uterisc conflsos, minus memoriaec studere: quodh fere plerisque accidit, ut presidio literarum diligentiam in perdiscendo ac memoriam remittant.' i3 In primis hoc volunt persuadere, i4 non interire ammas, sed ab aliis post mortem translre ad alios: atque hoc" maxime ad virtutem excitari putant, metu mortis neglecto. Multa praterea de sideribus atque eorum motu, de mundi ac terrarum magnitudine, de rerum natiira, de Deorum immortalium vi ac potestate I6disputant et juventuti tradunt.

J5. Alterum genus est eqmtum. Hi, i cum est usus, atque aliquod bellum incidit (quod" ante Caesaris adventum fere quotannis accidere solebat, uti aut ipsib injurias inferrent, aut illatas propulsarent), omnes in bello sversantur: atque eOrum ut quisque est generec copiisque amplissunus, ita plurimos circum se 3 ambactos clientesque habent. Hanc unam gratiam potentiamque novSrunt.

16. Natio est omnium Gallorum admodum 4 dedita religionibus,d atque ob eam causam, qui sunt affecti gravioribus morbis, quique in prceliis periculisque versantur, aut pro victimis homines immolant, aut se immolaturos vovent, administrisque ad ea sacrificia Druidibus utuntur; quod, pro vita hominis nisi hominis vita reddatur, non posse aliter Deorum immortalium numen placari arbitrantur: publiceque ejusdem generis habent institiita sacrificia. Alii immani magnitudine' simulacra habent, quorum 6 contexta viminlbus membra vivis homimbusf complent, quibus succensis, circumventi flamma exanimantur homines. Supplicia eorum, qui in furto, aut in latrocinio, aut aliqud noxa sint comprehensi,8 gratiora Diisd immortallbus esse arbitrantur: sed, cum 6 ejus generis copia deficit, ad innocentium supplicia descendunt.

17. 7Deum maxime Mercurium colunt: hujus sunt plurima simulacra, hunc" omnium inventorem artium ferunt, hunch viarum atque itinerum ducem, hunch ad quaestus pecuniae mercaturasque habere vim maximam arbitrantur. Post hunc, sApollinem et Martem et Jovem et Minervam: de his eandem fere, quam reliquae gentes,' habent opinionem; Apollmemb morbos depellere, Minervamb operum atque artificiorum 9initia tradere ; Jovemh imperium ccelestium tenere; Martemb bella regere. Huic, cum prcelio dimicare constituSrunt, ea, quae bello ceperint, plerumque de

vovent. 'Quae superaverint," animalia capta immolant; reliquas res in unum locum conferunt. Multis in civitaribus harum rerum exstructos tumiilos locisb consecratis conspicari licet: neque saepe accidit, ut, neglecta quispiam religione,c aut captad apud se occultare, aut 2positad tollere auderet: gravissimumque ei rei' supplicium cum cruciatu constituting est.

18. Galli se omnes ab Dite patre -prognatos pradicant, idque ab Druidibus prodltum dicunt. Ob earn causam, 3spatia omnis temporis non numero dierum, sed noctium, finiunt; dies natales et mensium et annorum initia sic observant, 4 ut noctem dies subsequatur/ In reliquis vitae institutis, hoc8 fere ab reliquis differunt, quod suos liberos, nisi cum adoleverint, ut munus militiae sustinere possint, 6 palam ad se adire non patiuntur; filiumque puerili aetate in publico, in conspectu patris assistere, turpeh ducunt.

The Druids preside
in matters of religion, have the care of public
and private sacrifices, and interpret the will of
the gods. They have the direction and edu-
cation of the youth, by whom they are held
in great honour. In almost all controversies,
whether public or private, the decision is left
to them : and if any crime is committed, any
murder perpetrated ; if any dispute arises
touching an inheritance, or the limits of ad-
joining estates; in all such cases, they arc the
supreme judges. They decree rewards and
punishments ; and if any one refuses to submit
to their sentence, whether magistrate or private
man, they interdict him the sacrifices. This
is the greatest punishment that can be inflicted
among the Gauls; because such as are under
this prohibition, are considered as impious and
wicked : all men shun them, and decline their
conversation and fellowship, lest they should
suffer from the contagion of their misfortunes.
They can neither have rccoufte to the law for
justice, nor are capable of any public office.
The Druids are all under one chief, who pos-
sesses the supreme authority in that bodv.
Upon his death, if any one remarkably excels
the rest, he succeeds ; but if there are several
candidates of equal merit, the affair is deter-
mined by plurality of suffrages. Sometimes
they even have recourse to arms before the elec-
tion can be brought to an issue. Once a year
they assemble at a consecrated place in the terri-
tories of the Carnutes, whose country is sup-
posed to be in the middle of Gaul. Hither
such as have any suits depending, flock from
all parts, and submit implicitly to their decrees.
Their institution is supposed to come originally
from Britain, whence it passed into Gaul ; and
even at this day, such as are desirous of being
perfect in it, travel thither for instruction. The
Druids never go to war, are exempted from
taxes and military service, and enjoy all man-
ner of immunities. These mighty encourage-
ments induce multitudes of their own accord
to follow that profession; and many are sent
by their parents and relations. They are
taught to repeat a great number of verses by
heart, and often spend twenty years upon this
institution ; for it is deemed unlawful to com-
mit their statutes to writing ; though in other
matters, whether public or private, they make
use of Greek characters. They seem to me
to follow this method for two reasons : to hide
their mysteries from the knowledge of the vul-
gar ; and to exercise the memory of their
scholars, which would be apt to lie neglected,
had they letters to trust to, as we find is often
the case. It is one of their principal maxims
that the soul never dies, but after death passes
from one body to another ; which, they think,
contributes greatly to exalt men's courage, by
disarming death of its terrors. They teach
likewise many things relating to the stars and
their motions, the magnitude of the world and
our earth, the nature of things, and the power
and prerogatives of the immortal gods.

XIV. The other order of men is the nobles,
whose whole study and occupation is war.
Before Csesar's arrival in Gaul, they were al-
most every year at war either offensive or de-
fensive ; and they judge of the power and
quality of their nobles, by the vassals, and the
number of men he keeps in his pay ; for they
are the only marks of grandeur they make any
account of.

XV. The whole nation of the Gauls is ex-
tremely addicted to superstition ; whence, in
threatening distempers and the imminent dan-
gers of war, they make no scruple to sacrifice
men, or engage themselves by vow to such
sacrifices ; in which they make use of the min-
istry of the Druids : for it is a prevalent opin-
ion among them, that nothing but the life of
man can atone for the life of man ; insomucli
that they have established even public ."sacri-
fices of this kind. Some prepare huge Co-

lossuses, of osier twigs, into which they put
men alive, and setting fire to them, those with-
in expire amidst the flames. They prefer for
victims such as have been convicted of theft,
robbery, or other crimes ; believing them the
most acceptable to the gods : but when real
criminals are wanting, the innocent are often
made to suffer. Mercury is the chief deity
with them : of him they have many images,
account him the inventor of all arts, their
guide and conductor in their journeys, and the
patron of merchandise and gain. Next to him
are Apollo and Mars, and Jupiter, and Mi-
nerva. Their notions in regard to him are
pretty much the same with those of other na-
tions. Apollo is their god of physic ; Minerva
of works and manufactures ; Jove holds the
empire of heaven ; and Mars presides in war.
To this last, when they resolve upon a battle,
they commonly devote the spoil. If they
prove victorious, they offer up all the cattle
taken, and set apart the rest of the plunder in
a place appointed for that purpose : and it is
common in many provinces, to see these monu-
ments of offerings piled up in consecrated
places. Nay, it rarely happens that any one
shows so great a disregard of religion, as either
to conceal the plunder, or pillage the public
oblations ; and the severest punishments are
inflicted upon such offenders.

XVI. The Gauls fancy themselves to be
descended from the god Pluto ; which, it
seems, is an established tradition among the
Druids. For this reason they compute the
time by nights, not by days ; and in the ob-
servance of birth days, new moons, and the
beginning of the year, always commence the
celebration from the preceding night. In one
custom they differ from almost all other na-
tions ; that they never suffer their children to
come openly into their presence, until they are
of age to bear arms ; for the appearance of a
son in public with his father, before he has
reached the age of manhood, is accounted dis-
honourable.