chapter  12
33 Pages

Priests

The need for priests 225 What a priest is 225 Priestly specialism, development of the state 227 Religion in the home, without professionals 229 Priests and government 230 King-priests 231 Kings and priests 232 Oligarchy in Gaul - 'no sacrifice without a philosopher' 234 Oligarchy at Rome 238 Temple priests, grove priests 240 Greece 240 Germans 241 Gauls 244 Divination 245 Priests and ritual: a common Indo-European inheritance? 248 The role of women 251 Conclusions 255

Priests - we all have a gut sense of what they are for; and if we do not find them indispensable in our personal lives, we at least imagine that pagan societies could not do without them. Somewhere in our shared imagina­ tions lurk two powerful images of the pagan priest: first, the mirage of the druid, the archetypal pagan priest, with white robes and matching beard ­ and a starring role in the Asterix theme park or at the Eisteddfod; second, the priest or priestess of the goddess, standing before his or her classical temple and the statue of his or her god, a priesthood which turns out to be rarer than we might suppose.