He tells us that all men of any rank and dignity in Gaul were included among the Druids or the nobles.
In other words, the Druids constituted the learned and the priestly class, and they were in addition the chief expounders and guardians of the law.
We are, however, informed by Diodorus and Strabo that this class was composed of Druids, bards and soothsayers.
Hence Caesar seems to assign more extensive functions to the Druids than they actually possessed.
Cicero remarks on the existence among the Gauls of augurs or soothsayers, known by the name of Druids, with one of whom, Divitiacus, an Aeduan, he was acquainted.
In Strabo we find the Druids still acting as arbiters in public and private matters, but they no longer deal with cases of murder.
Under Tiberius the Druids were suppressed by a decree of the senate, but this had to be renewed by Claudius in A.D.
In Mela we find the Druids teaching in the depths of a forest or in caverns.
According to this writer the Druids held the mistletoe in the highest veneration.
After this the continental Druids disappear entirely, and are only referred to on very rare occasions.
When we turn to the British Islands we find, as we should expect, no traces of the Druids in England and Wales after the conquest of Anglesea mentioned above, except in the story of Vortigern as recounted by Nennius.
After being excommunicated by Germanus the British leader invites twelve Druids to assist him.
In Irish literature, however, the Druids are frequently mentioned, and their functions in the island seem to correspond fairly well to those of their Gaulish brethren described by classical writers.
The functions of Caesar's Druids we here find distributed amongst Druids, bards and poets (fili), but even in very early times the poet has usurped many of the duties of the Druid and finally supplants him with the spread of Christianity.
In the heroic cycles the Druids do not appear to have formed any corporation, nor do they seem to have been exempt from military service.
The Druids are represented as being able to foretell the future and to perform magic. Before setting out on the great expedition against Ulster, Medb, queen of Connaught, goes to consult her Druid, and just before the famous heroine Derdriu (Deirdre) is born, Cathbu prophesies what sort of a woman she will be.
He is given a potion by some Druids, which banishes all memory of his recent adventures and which also rids his wife Emer of the pangs of jealousy.
The following description of the band of Cathbu's Druids occurs in the epic tale, the Cattle-spoiling of Cualnge (Cooley): "The attendant raises his eyes towards heaven and observes the clouds and answers the band around him.
We are further told that at the court of Conchobar no one had the right to speak before the Druids had spoken.
In other texts the Druids are able to produce insanity.
The Irish Druids seem to have had a peculiar tonsure.
ORDER OF DRUIDS, a friendly society founded, as an imitation of the ancient Druids, in London in 1781.
The traditions of the Druids perished with them.
The Druids claimed the dread power of excluding offenders from sacrifice (Caes.
In religion, the chief feature was the priesthood of Druids, who here, as in Gaul, practised magical arts and barbarous rites of human sacrifice, taught a secret lore, wielded great influence, but, at least as Druids, took ordinarily no part in politics.
Sometimes I rambled to pine groves, standing like temples, or like fleets at sea, full-rigged, with wavy boughs, and rippling with light, so soft and green and shady that the Druids would have forsaken their oaks to worship in them; or to the cedar wood beyond Flint's Pond, where the trees, covered with hoary blue berries, spiring higher and higher, are fit to stand before Valhalla, and the creeping juniper covers the ground with wreaths full of fruit; or to swamps where the usnea lichen hangs in festoons from the white spruce trees, and toadstools, round tables of the swamp gods, cover the ground, and more beautiful fungi adorn the stumps, like butterflies or shells, vegetable winkles; where the swamp-pink and dogwood grow, the red alderberry glows like eyes of imps, the waxwork grooves and crushes the hardest woods in its folds, and the wild holly berries make the beholder forget his home with their beauty, and he is dazzled and tempted by nameless other wild forbidden fruits, too fair for mortal taste.