Diviciacus (Aedui)

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Diviciacus or Divitiacus of the Aedui is the only druid from antiquity whose existence is attested by name. The name may mean "avenger."[1] He should not be confused with his namesake Diviciacus, king of the Suessiones.

His date of birth is not known, but he was an adult during the late 60s BCE, at which time he was described by Julius Caesar as a "senator" of the Aedui. In Caesar's The Gallic War the word "senator" is used to refer to Gallic aristocrats who took part in their clans' decision-making. He supported the Aedui's preexisting alliance with Rome.

Visit to Rome[edit]

In 63 BCE, at the age of 32,[citation needed] he survived the Battle of Magetobriga, where forces of the Sequani and Arverni, together with Germanic troops under the Suebi King Ariovistus, massacred the Aedui.[2] Thereafter, the Aedui became tributary to the Sequani. Following the Aedui's defeat at Magetobriga, Diviciacus traveled to Rome and spoke before the Roman senate to ask for military aid. While in Rome, he was a guest of Cicero, who spoke of his knowledge of divination, astronomy and natural philosophy, and names him as a druid.[3] Julius Caesar, who knew him well noted his particular skills as a diplomat without calling him a druid.

Alliance with Caesar[edit]

Following Caesar's victory over the Helvetii, Diviciacus went as a prominent member of the Gallic delegation to Caesar, and was appointed as their chief spokesman. He brought the Gallic people's concerns to Caesar over Ariovistus, who had taken much of the Sequani lands and taken hostages.[4][5] The Gaul's request provided the catalyst for the next phase of Caesar's Conquest of Gaul, when Caesar went on to confront and defeat Ariovistus.

Diviciacus had a brother, Dumnorix, who was aggressively anti-Roman. After defeating him in battle, Caesar spared his life so as to avoid antagonizing Diviciacus. Later, however, Dumnorix attempted to escape from Caesar's control and was killed in the attempt.

Social positions[edit]

Delamarre contends that, in addition to holding the religious office of druid, Diviciacus may have been the Uergobretos, the annually elected political leader or chief magistrate[6] of the Aedui, one of the most powerful nations in Gaul. If true, his combination of military and religious office responsibilities in Aedua paralleled Caesar's duties among the Romans. For in Rome, Caesar was Pontifex Maximus in addition to being a magistrate and general. Diviciacus would have been Uergobretos sometime before 52 BCE, when the election was contested between Convictolitavis and Cotos.[7] The date of Diviciacus's death is not known; Cicero speaks of him in the past tense in 44 BCE.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Delamarre, pp. 145–146.
  2. ^ Brunaux, p. 282.
  3. ^ Cicero, De Divinatione I xli.
  4. ^ Walter, Caesar: A Biography, 158 and 161
  5. ^ Goldsworthy, Caesar, 271
  6. ^ Delamarre, p. 315.
  7. ^ Brunaux, p. 283.

Sources[edit]