Sorry to be a late comer to the conversation, and also not trying to sidetrack the original intent of it. But this post in particular brought up some things I have been thinking about a great deal lately, and I desired other peoples opinions and perpectives on it, as well as Wolf560 (if he doesn't mind).
wolf560 wrote:The Druids of Caesars time were Seers or Priests (Vates), but were also Judges and Lawyers (Brehons and Brithim), Doctors and Masters of their craft (Ollamh) Astrologers and Astronomers (Ollamh and Vates), Bards and Poets (Filidh), Historians of the tribe, Emissaries to distant lands and Teachers of their craft to any who would listen.
In our modern times, Druids have come to be known by only the first mentioned.
In many ways I am happy to see the return of Druidry.
In some ways I wish it were a full return rather than just the Ovates and Bards.
As I gather it, the Bards were tellers of tales, the "singers and poets" (- Strabo)
But when taken in the context of Celtic culture, specifically the ways of oral tradition, I have begun to think of the Bards as a type of ancient historian as well.
Please let me explain my thinking on this....
In a culture that is oral based, a group dedicated to the stories of their people, the songs and poems and myths and so forth, would be in a real sense the keepers of the history of those people. Those songs and myths and tales and poems are the history, they are the past for that particular tribe.
Modern historians are a world apart from the story tellers of old. But from their own perspective, I think the Bards would have also held a place in their society that is somewhat similar to historians in our time. They could tell what the old kings did, how the battles were fought and won, while also telling stories of the Gods and similar myths. In the area of past kings and battles, how different is that from our historians? Yes, there is the expectation of historians stating only the facts, (which is debatable to some, as history is written by the winners, but for this topic I will skip over that). There is also the point that story tellers are often interested in entertaining more than the facts. The Bards were certainly tellers of tales, among other things. But the place they held in Celtic culture, as singers and poets, did that equally make them like unto historians, in verse and prose?
I am certain the Druids, as teachers (I can't recall the quote on who named them as teachers just now, its late for me) , would also know the stories and history of the tribe. That is to be expected. I have just been thinking lately on all this as it pertains to the Bards, and wondering what others thought on it, agree or disagree.