How Julius Caesar Inspired The Wicker Man

How Julius Caesar Inspired The Wicker Man

“It is said that they learn by heart a great number of verses; consequently, some remain for twenty years of formation. Nor do they consider it lawful to send them in writing, though in almost all other matters in their public and private transactions they use Greek writing. This practice they seem to me to have adopted for two reasons; because they do not want their doctrines to be disseminated among the mass of the people, nor those who learn to devote themselves less to the efforts of memory. [by] relying on writing; since it generally occurs to most men that, in their dependence on writing, they relax their diligence in learning thoroughly, and their employment of memory.

– Julio Cesar

This custom also allowed the truth about the druids’ rituals and beliefs to disappear from the historical record… although their observers wrote respectfully of their philosophical traditions and distressing about their religious ones. In fact, while the Celts, like the Romans, practiced sacrificing animals and livestock to their gods, the Druids took these ritualistic practices to a gruesome extreme, according to Caesar. And it is through our Roman general that we have the oldest surviving account of the Druids’ affinity for burning men and women alive in the wicker man.

Caesar wrote:

“All Gauls are extremely devoted to superstitious rituals; and hence those who are concerned with exceptionally grievous diseases, and those who are involved in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or swear that they will sacrifice them, and employ the druids as the executors of those sacrifices; for they think that unless a man’s life is offered for a man’s life, the mind of the immortal gods cannot be made propitious, and they have sacrifices of this kind ordained for national purposes. Others have figures of great size, whose limbs, made of wicker [wicker], they are filled with living men, that being set on fire, men perish engulfed in the flames. They consider the sacrifice of people guilty of theft, or robbery, or any other offense, to be more acceptable to the immortal gods; but when a supply of such people is lacking, they have the right to sacrifice even the innocent.”

-Julio Cesar

Hence the powerful image where Ritual author David Pinner got his idea to punish poor, poor sergeant. Howie. It arrives at something primordial, this monstrous effigy in which the reasons of the modern world burn in the wicker flames of the ancient, including the innocent and the damned. Two thousand years later, it’s still the stuff of existential dread…. even if some modern historians are not convinced it ever existed.

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Skepticism towards Caesar’s claims

Traditionally, the Romans were surprisingly tolerant of other religions in the lands they conquered; the Roman gods are, after all, little more than a repurpose of the ancient Greek pantheon whose devotees the Roman republic subjugated; Rome also showed a magnanimous ear to the elders of Palestine or, in Caesar’s own life, to Egypt after he made the next Ptolemaic pharaoh, Cleopatra VII Philopator, his mistress.

So, generally speaking, Rome’s acceptance of other religions from cultures that accepted conquest and/or occupation may lend credence to Caesar’s reflections on the Druids, a religious sect that would become more persecuted by the Romans than any other in the empire. . Why exaggerate and slander with descriptions of human sacrifice, an obscenity too great even for Rome, unless it were true?

Well, for starters, when Caesar wrote his Comments, Gaul had not been fully conquered or had been fully subjugated recently. Otherwise, it was a secular enemy with enmity on both sides. More importantly, though, Caesar had political reasons for announcing this achievement. About a decade before Comments was published, Caesar had just been appointed consul of Rome and a member of the First Triumvirate, alongside Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus. As such, taking the legions westward and into the wilds of Gaul was seen by some as a way to curb the popular general’s ambition as much as an opportunity to increase the glory that is Rome. At least he’s out of town.

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