Freeman, Philip 1961-
FREEMAN, Philip 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961. Education: Harvard University, Ph.D. (classical philology and Celtic studies).
ADDRESSES: Home—Clayton, MO. Office—Department of Classics, Campus Box 1050, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Michigan State University, East Lansing, taught Irish history; Washington University, St. Louis, MO, currently assistant professor of classics.
The Galatian Language, Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2001.
Ireland and the Classical World, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2001.
War, Women, and Druids: Eyewitness Reports and Early Accounts of the Ancient Celts, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 2002.
St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to books, including Uniting the Liberal Arts: Core and Context, edited by B. Cowan, University Press of America, 2002, and Identifying the Celtic, edited by Joseph Nagy, Four Courts Press, 2002; contributor to journals, including Etruscan Studies, Journal of Indo-European Studies, and Ulidia.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Manuscripts of the Libri Sancti Patricii, for University of Notre Dame Press.
SIDELIGHTS: Philip Freeman is a scholar of classical and Irish literature whose Ireland and the Classical World studies the links between the two, primarily through classical writings. Christopher McDonough, reviewing the volume in the Irish Literary Supplement, commented that in the past there have been unfounded claims by researchers, such as when an oculist's stamp bearing Latin characters was discovered in Ireland, likely having been carried as a memento rather than indicating that a Roman doctor might have been "handing out prescriptions to Irish myopics." Another example would be when military items were found in Drumanagh, and the Irish Sunday Times declared in a 1996 front-page story that "Fort Discovery Proves Romans Invaded Ireland." In contrast to this previous shoddy research, McDonough noted that Freeman's book "provides a clear-eyed perspective of the situation" and "offers a compendium of the material upon which any informed opinion about the relationship between these two cultures must be based."
St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography is a study of the patron saint of Ireland who, legend holds, drove all the snakes on the island into the sea. Freeman, who draws on two letters written by Patrick—his "Letter to Coroticus" and "Confession""gives a truer account of the man born into an aristocratic Roman-British family around the year 390 C.E., and whose father and grandfather were clergymen. During Patrick's time, Roman rule was eroding in the face of Anglo-Saxon conquest; Briton was raids by Saxons, Picts, and Irish. Patrick was captured in the middle of the night by Irish slavers who took him to barbaric—by European standards—Ireland. Freeman speculates that he was given the task of shepherding on the west coast, noting that the snake story, as well as Patrick's supposed use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity, were tales fabricated much later by well-meaning monks.
According to Freeman, Patrick spent a great deal of time contemplating his religious beliefs. A dream led him to walk the breadth of Ireland to seek passage to Britain, which he did, despite the danger to him and any crew that would assist him. When he arrived home, he had another vision that directed him to convert the Irish pagans. Patrick received religious training and returned as a priest. He was later elevated to bishop, only the second clergyman at that level to have been assigned the task. Patrick was more successful in his efforts at conversion than his predecessor, due to his knowledge of the language. His Latin, however, was not up to standards, which hindered his rise within the church hierarchy.
J. Morgan Sweeney noted in the Christian Science Monitor that "one of the strengths of Freeman's account is the attention paid to the missionary's interaction with the political elite, the cultural elite, and especially the women of Ireland, both free and enslaved." The Druids, more than the Irish kings, were threatened by Patrick because of his attempt to replace Celtic paganism with the Christian religion that would deny them the benefits of a culture over which they exercised the greatest power. Patricia Monaghan wrote in a Booklist review that "Freeman's work may debunk some familiar stories … but it restores to the saint a complex, human dignity." Library Journal critic Christopher Brennan commented that Freeman's "factbased reconstructions of significant events in Patrick's life … read like the most exciting popular fiction." Freeman enhances his study with a six-page bibliography, photographs of archaeological sites, a time line, and a pronunciation guide.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2004, Patricia Monaghan, review of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, p. 1123.
Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 2004, J. Morgan Sweeney, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 15.
Irish Literary Supplement, spring, 2002, Christopher McDonough, review of Ireland and the Classical World, p. 21.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 1436.
Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Christopher Brennan, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 132.
New York Times Book Review, March 14, 2004, Allen D. Boyer, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, January 19, 2004, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 72.
School Library Journal, June, 2004, Kathy Tewell, review of St. Patrick of Ireland, p. 180.*