St Patrick did t drive the snakes out of Ireland (the island had snakes), r did he engage in epic battles of supernatural power with Irish druids. But the facts revealed in this eminently readable biography are less astonishing than the myths that surround him. Born in Britain in the late fourth century, Patrick was raised as a Roman citizen and a Christian bleman, Just before his sixteenth birthday, he was captured by Irish pirates and enslaved. He spent six years tending sheep in Ireland, escaped and returned home to his astonished parents. Soon afterward, he anunced that God wanted him to become a priest and convert the Irish to Christianity. Patrick spent the rest of his life in Ireland, leaving behind two remarkable letters that reveal more about him than we kw about almost any contemporary figure. Philip Freeman brilliantly reconstructs daily life in the British Isles during the last days of the Roman Empire, putting Patrick's achievements in context with the beliefs of the day. The Patrick who emerges is even more extraordinary than the patron saint of legend - a passionate, courageous and very human figure who exerted an incalculable impact on the course of Irish history.
Philip Freeman is Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a former professor of classics at Washington University in St. Louis. He was selected as a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for January 2012. He earned the first joint Ph.D. in classics and Celtic studies from Harvard University, and has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy in Rome, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. The author of several previous books including Alexander the Great, St. Patrick of Ireland and Julius Caesar, he lives with his family in Decorah, Iowa. Visit him at PhilipFreemanBooks.com.