Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: "The Druids"

          "The Druids" was written by Peter Ellis. The book is a brief survey of evidence for the beliefs and history of the Druids and is pulled from many different secondary sources. I will start the review by saying that Ellis definitely did his research and was well acquainted with his source material, he covers from Caesar and Poseidonios all the way to the "Druidic Revival" of the 18th Century. Ellis cannot be exhaustive obviously, but for the space of the book he elaborates quite well, however he most definitely has his flaws.

          The first and foremost flaw is that he apparently doesn't even endeavor to hide the fact that he and Nora Chadwick have some sort of confrontation or conflict occurring, and if they don't he certainly has a great deal of contempt for her work, which as far as I can tell is due to her favoring ancient Roman society. He also frequently refers to other author's works off hand saying that they make a certain claim but have no evidence to back it up, quite arbitrarily. The references are merely off-hand as far as I am concerned and rather distracting from the over-all work.  It is also quite clear that as opposed to merely wanting to give a brief survey of the history of the Druids, Mr. Ellis is also seeking to put forward and support his own theories. He frequently mentions the “Mother Goddess” concept and attempts to give evidence to support it (compelling evidence, mind you). I n addition he frequently draws parallels between the Druidic class and the Brahmic class of the Hindus in order to support the Indo-European hypothesis. Mind you, not all of these references are out of turn, but they occasionally seem forced or over-done. 

          Now that the flaws of the book have been covered, I would like to discuss the strengths. Aside from whenever he seems to be purporting his own theories and speculations, or when he is not making jabs at his collegues, Mr. Ellis seems to be quite impartial and quite frequently lets the reader know that it is currently open to speculation (though, he obviously tries to push you towards his interpretation.) Ultimately, Mr. Ellis does an adequate job of accomplishing his goal, even if he obfuscates the information a bit on occasion. 

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A young man living in North Texas. He is an actor, a Hellenistos, and a proud member of Hellenion.