Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Preface to Sabidius' translation.

Cornelius Tacitus ( c. 54-117 A.D.) was the most eminent historian of Silver Age Latin literature. Himself an eminent man, Tacitus was one of the foremost lawyers and forensic orators in Rome, becoming praetor in 88, suffect consul in 97, and proconsul of Asia - the most prestigious appointment available to a Roman senator during the early empire - in 112-13. His most celebrated works are the "Histories" which cover the years 69-96 in 12 books, of which only 4 and a half survive, and the "Annals of Imperial Rome" which cover the years 14-69 in 16 books, of which a quarter have been lost. Tacitus comes over as a stern moralist who does not shrink from portraying the horrors of the times about which he wrote. His "Agricola" is an earlier work, published in 98, together with another celebrated monograph, the "Germania". The "Agricola" is a panegyric on the life of his father-in-law, Julius Agricola, who, as governor of Roman Britain from 77-84, won a series of impressive military victories, in the process extending Roman authority well into central Scotland. The book also provides a manifesto in praise of political moderation ( see Chapter 42) and thus a vindication both of Agricola and, by implication, of himself, from any charges of servility towards the vicious Emperor Domitian, who had been assassinated only two years earlier.

Tacitus is proverbial for the conciseness of his style, and as a result clarity of meaning is sometimes sacrificed. Indeed, many of his sentences are so short that they have to be read and re-read before the true meaning can emerge. Nevertheless, despite the challenge to the translator, his narrative powers are considerable and he has a remarkable ability to coin a telling phrase in a very few words. His works were probably intended to be declaimed in the first instance, and as a result chapters may end with epigrammatic flourishes designed to attract applause. Following in the tradition of classical historiography, the "Agricola" includes digressions into the geography and ethnology of ancient Britain, and includes the famous set-speeches made by Calgacus and Agricola prior to the decisive battle of the Grampian Mountain in 84. While these speeches did not of course occur, at least not in the form in which they are reported by Tacitus, they point to factors significant to the outcome of the battle, and , importantly allow the author to make biting criticisms of the values and practices of contemporary Roman society, albeit coming from the mouth of one of its adversaries. Particularly famous are these words taken from the speech of Calgacus (Chapter 30): "auferre trucidere rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant" - "plunder, slaughter, rapine, with false names they call rule, and, when they make a desert, they call it peace."

The Latin text employed in this translation is that edited by H. Furneaux (1898), but heavily revised in a second edition by J.G.C. Anderson in 1922 (Oxford: at the Clarendon Press). In this translation Sabidius adds in parentheses words which have been omitted by Tacitus in the interests of brevity. These include variants of the copulative verb 'esse', pronouns, prepositions, regularly avoided through the constructional device of asyndeton, and adverbs which are required to complete the sense.


Chapter 1. Biographical writing in the present day as compared with the past.

To hand down to posterity the deeds and characters of famous men, a custom of the past, not even in our times has our generation abandoned, although neglectful of its own affairs, whenever some great and noble virtue has overcome and surmounted the failing common to small and large states, blindness to rectitude and jealousy. But, as in the time of our ancestors, to transact things worthy of record was easy and more practicable (lit. more in the open), so any man most renowned for his genius was induced to publishing a record of his virtue (lit. to a record of his virtue being published) without partiality or self-seeking with the reward of consciousness of well-doing only. Nay, many thought that to narrate one's own life-story showed confidence in one's character rather than arrogance, nor with regard to Rutilius and Scaurus was this beneath credibility or a matter of censure: so virtues are valued most highly in the same times in which they are developed most easily. But in these times there has been a need of indulgence for me being about to relate the life-story of a man who has died which I should not have had to seek if I had been about to make an accusation: so unfriendly and hostile to the virtues (are) our times.

Chapter 2. Its perils under Domitian.

We read that, when Thrasea Paetus was eulogised by Arulenus Rusticus, (and) Helvidius Priscus by Herennius Senecio, it was (made) a capital crime, nor (was) the rage only against the authors themselves, but also against their books, the task having been delegated to the triumvirs to burn these monuments of the most splendid genius in the assembly and in the forum. Doubtless they thought that the voice of the Roman people and the Senate's freedom of judgment and the moral consciousness of the human race could be destroyed, the professors of philosophy being expelled besides and every noble pursuit being driven into exile, lest anything decent happened anywhere. Indeed we gave a superb example of submissiveness; and, as a former age saw what was an extreme of liberty, so what we (saw was an extreme of) servitude, even the interchange of speaking and hearing having been taken from us by espionage. With our voice we should have lost as well our memory itself, if it were as much in our power to forget as to keep silent.

Chapter 3. Difficulty of reviving literature, even under the present rule. This work a tribute of dutiful affection.

Now at last our spirit (begins) to return; and yet although in the immediate first dawn of this most blessed age Nerva Caesar mingled things long since incompatible, personal government and constitutional liberty, and Nerva Trajanus is increasing daily the happiness of the times, nor (has) public security merely (framed) hopes and prayers but has gained the assurance of the (fulfilment) of the prayer itself and the strength (therefrom), yet by the nature of our human frailty remedies are slower (to act) than diseases; and as our bodies grow slowly, (but) are extinguished speedily, so you may crush the mind and its interest more easily than you can recall (them), indeed even the sweetness of idleness itself comes (over us), and sloth having been loathed at first is eventually loved. What, if in the course of fifteen years, a large part of our mortal life, many have perished through natural causes, (and) all the most irrepressible by the cruelty of the emperor, even we few, as I have thus said, are survivors not only of others but of our own faculties, so many years having been taken out of our middle life, by which (years) have we come by silence as young men to old age, (as) old men near to the very limit of spent life. Yet it will not be unpleasant even in a rough and unpolished style to have put together a record of our past slavery and a testimony to our present blessings. In the meantime, this book, designed in honour of my father-in-law, will either be praised or excused for its profession of dutifulness.


Chapter 4. His parentage, early life, and education.

Gnaeus Julius Agricola, born in the old and illustrious colony of Forum Julii, had each grandfather (as) a procurator of the Caesars, which (office) is equestrian nobility. His father Julius Graecinus of the senatorial order was renowned for his practice of eloquence and philosophy, and by those very virtues earned the wrath of Gaius Caesar: for he was odered to impeach Marcus Silanus, (and) because he refused he was put to death. His mother was Julia Procilla, a (woman) of rare chastity. Brought up under her care and love he passed his boyhood and his youth in a complete training in the liberal arts. She protected him from the allurements of sinners besides his own good and stainless disposition, because right from the start the very small boy had Marsillia as the seat and mistress of his studies, a place blended and well brought together by Greek refinement and provincial parsimony. I keep in my memory that he himself was accustomed to tell that in his earliest youth he would have imbibed the study of philosophy more eagerly (and) more deeply than should be allowed to a Roman and a senator had not his mother's wisdom restrained his fiery and burning mind: undoubtedly, his lofty and elevated mind grasped at the beauty and ideal of great and sublime glory more vehemently than cautiously. In time, discretion and age matured (him) and, out of wisdom, he held fast to something which is most difficult, moderation.

Chapter 5. His first military service under Suetonius Paulinus in Britain.

He passed his first apprenticeship in camp life in Britain under Suetonius Paulinus, a diligent and sensible general, having picked (him) whom he valued for his headquarters. And Agricola, did not either wantonly, in the custom of young men who turn military service into self-indulgence, or indolently regard his title of (military) tribune as grounds for pleasures and furloughs: but he got to know his province, to be known to the army, learned from the experts, followed the best, sought nothing for the sake of self-advancement, refused nothing because of cowardice, and at the same time he acted both with caution and with alertness. Not indeed at another time was Britain more troubled or in more uncertainty: veterans were butchered, colonies were burned, armies were cut off; then we strove for safety, in time for victory. Although all these things were transacted under the plans and leadership of another and the successes of these operations and the glory of the province having been recovered fell to the general, (yet) they gave to the young man skill and experience and incentives, and the desire for military glory entered his mind, a thankless (desire) in times in which the construction towards eminent men (was) unfavourable and (there was) no less danger from a great reputation than from a bad one.

Chapter 6. His marriage; birth of a daughter; his quaestorship, tribuneship; praetorship; employment by Galba.

Having returned hither to the City in order to engage in public offices (lit. for the purpose of public offices suitable-to-be-engaged in) he married (lit. joined to himself) Domitia Decidiana, born of illustrious ancestry; and this marriage served as (lit. was) a distinction and substantial help to the brilliant (young) man in relation to his ambitions. And they lived in rare accord, through mutual affection and by preferring one another (lit. themselves) in turn, except that there is more praise (only) in the case of a very good wife just as there is more blame in the case of a bad one. The lot of the quaestorship gave (him) Asia (as) a province, and Salvius Titianus (as) proconsul, by which he was corrupted in neither case, although both the province (was) wealthy and lying ready for wrong-doers, and the proconsul, inclined to every (form of) greed, was ready to purchase a mutual concealment of misdeeds. There he was enriched by a daughter in respect of a support and a consolation at the same time, for he lost a son born a short time before. He then passed (the year) between the quaestorship and the tribunate of the people and also his own year (as) tribune in quietness and ease, aware of the times under Nero, in which inactivity was as good as wisdom. The tenor and peace of his praetorship (was) the same; for no jurisdiction had fallen to his lot. He conducted the games and (other) vanities of his office by a middle course of reasonable economy and lavishness, while far away from extravagance yet coming near to (popular) distinction. Then, chosen by Galba for the purpose of the offerings in the temples needing to be checked out, he acted with the most careful scrutiny, so that the state had not felt the sacrilege of any person other than Nero.

Chapter 7. His mother killed in the civil war: he supports Vespasian, and is appointed by Mucianus to take command of the second legion in Britain.

The following year injured his heart and home with a grievous wound. For Othos's fleet freely wandering while savagely ravaging Intimilia [it is a part of Liguria], murdered Agricola's mother on her estate and plundered the estate itself and a great part of her patrimony, which had been the cause of the slaughter. Therefore Agricola, having set out for the purpose of (performing) the solemn rites of piety, was overtaken by the news from Vespasian that they were aiming for empire and at once he went over into his party. Mucianus controlled the initial (policies) of the principate and the ordering of the City, Domitian (being) only a young man and laying claim only to licentiousness from his father's imperial rank. Agricola, having been sent for the holding of the levy (lit. for the levy needing to be held) and having been engaged (in this) with rectitude and with vigour, he ( i.e. Mucianus) appointed (him) to command the twentieth legion which had come over to its allegiance tardily, when the retiring general was reported to have acted seditiously: indeed, it was also too much for and exciting the fear of its consular legates, nor was a praetorian legate able to control (it), (and it was) uncertain whether (this was) due to his own or the soldiers' disposition. So, having been chosen as a successor and at the same time as an avenger, by the most rare modesty he preferred to be seen to have found loyal men rather than to have created (them).

Chapter 8. His service under Vettius Bolanus, and active employment under Petilius Cerealis.

Vettius Bolanus was then governing Britain, more mildly than is suitable for a warlike province. Agricola, experienced in obeying and taught to combine interest with duty, moderated his energy and restrained his ardour, lest he (himself) grew too prominent. Shortly afterwards, Britain received Petilius Cerealis, a man of consular rank. His qualities now had scope for display, but at first Cerealis shared only toils and dangers, (but) in time the glory (of war) also: often he put him in command of part of the army as a trial, sometimes, on the strength of his success, larger forces. Nor did Agricola ever boast about his exploits with a view to his reputation; he referred his success as a subordinate to his instigator and leader. Thus, by his virtue in obeying, (and) his modesty in reporting, he was beyond jealousy but not beyond distinction.

Chapter 9. He is made a patrician and governor of Aquitania, becomes consul, and gives his daughter in marriage to Tacitus, and is appointed legatus of Britain.

Returning from command of the legion, the divine Vespasian enrolled (him) among the patricians; and then put (him) in charge of the province of Aquitaine, an especially brilliant appointment in respect of its functions and with the expectation of the consulship, to which it destined (him). Most men believe that judicial discrimination is lacking in the minds of soldiers, because camp justice (is) somewhat blunt and acting mainly with a (strong) hand does not bring into play the artifice of the law-courts: Agricola with his native good sense, although among civilians, dealt readily and equitably. Furthermore, the hours of business and relaxation were divided: when meetings and assizes demanded (attention), (he was) serious, attentive, strict and yet more often merciful: when there was done enough in respect of duty, there was no longer any pose of power [; he had laid aside sternness and arrogance and greed]. And in his case, which is most rare, neither did affability (in private life) diminish his authority nor did strictness (in his official duties) diminish affection (for him). To mention uprightness and purity in such a man would be an affront to his virtues. He did not even seek reputation, in which good men often indulge, by virtue being advertised or through intrigue: (he was) averse to rivalry with his colleagues (and) averse to contention with his procurators, and he thought that to prevail (was) inglorious and to be worsted ignominious. He was kept in this office for less than three years and he was (then) recalled to an immediate prospect of the consulship. By popular opinion the province of Britain was to be given to him, without any conversations of his own on this, but because he seemed suitable. Public opinion does not always err on this; sometimes it may even make the choice. (As) consul he betrothed his daughter, (a girl) of excellent promise to me, a young man, and after his consulship he settled her in marriage, and he was at once put in charge of Britain, the priesthood of pontiff having been added.


Chapter 10. Situation and form of the island, its circumnavigation; the Orcades, Thule; the character of the northern seas.

I shall report on the geography and ethnology of Britain which have been related by many writers, not with a view to a comparison of my study or skill (with theirs), but because it was first thoroughly subdued during the present period. So the not yet certain information which my predecessors have embellished with their eloquence will (now) be related with the assurance of facts. Britain, the largest of the islands which Roman knowledge comprehends, as regards its extent and situation, faces Germany towards the east, (and) Spain towards the west, and is even within sight of Gaul towards the south; its northern shore, with no lands opposite, are beaten by an enormous and open sea. Livy, the most eloquent of the old writers, and Fabius Rusticus of the recent ones, have compared the shape of the whole of Britain to an oblong diamond or a double-headed axe. And in fact that is its shape below Caledonia, whence (comes) the report that it is (thus) in relation to the whole also: for those having crossed (into Caledonia), a huge and shapeless tract of land running out from the very extremity of the coast is narrowed, as it were, into the shape of a wedge. A Roman fleet having first circumnavigated this coast of the remotest sea at this time established the fact that Britain was an island, and at the same time they discovered and subdued islands unknown until that time, which they called the Orkneys. Thule was also seen at a distance, and no more, because their orders (to advance) went (lit. it was ordered) only so far, and winter was approaching. But they do report that the sea is sluggish and heavy to those rowing (and) is not even lifted up by the winds just as (other seas), because, I suppose, the lands and mountains, the cause and source of storms, (are) scarcer (there), and the deep mass of an unbroken sea is pushed forward more slowly. To investigate the nature of the Ocean and its tides is not (a part) of this work, and, moreover, many people have reported on it: I will add one thing, nowhere (else) does the sea hold sway more widely, (and) it bears many currents to and fro, nor (is) its ebbing and flowing (only) up to the shore-line, but it penetrates deep inland and works around and forces its way even among ridges and mountains as if within its own (domain).

Chapter 11. The races of Britain, Caledonians, Silurians and Gauls.

To continue, which humans inhabited Britain at the beginning, indigenous peoples or immigrants is little known, as is natural with regard to barbarians. Physical types (are) various and from that deductions (arise). For the red hair and large limbs of those inhabiting Caledonia proclaim a Germanic origin; the swarthy faces of the Silures, the curly hair of the majority and Spain having been placed opposite makes for the belief that the ancient Iberians crossed into and occupied these lands; those nearest to the Gauls are also like (them), whether through the persisting force of descent, or (because) climatic conditions in lands projecting in opposite directions have given a (similar) physical type. However, for one forming an estimate in general terms it is believable that Gauls have occupied the neighbouring island. You would perceive (as similar) their sacred rites and religious beliefs; their language (is) not much different, (and there is) the same daring in dangers being challenged and the same cowardice in (these) being shirked , when they arrive. However, the Britons show (themselves) as more fierce, as protracted peace has not yet softened them, for we have understood that the Gauls also excelled in war; in time sluggishness entered in with peace, valour having been lost at the same time as liberty. This has befallen (those) of the Britons conquered in the past: the rest remain such as the Gauls used to be.

Chapter 12. Their mode of warfare and political state; the climate, length of the days, products of the country.

Their strength (comes) from their infantry; certain tribes fight also with the chariot. The nobleman is the driver, his dependants fight on his behalf. Once they obeyed kings, now they are drawn by chiefs into factions and parties. Nor (is there) anything more useful for us (in war) against their strongest tribes than that they do not plan in common. (It is) rare for two or three states (to hold) meetings together to repel a common danger (lit. for the purpose of a danger being repelled): so they fight in isolated bodies and are conquered as a whole. The climate is gloomy with frequent rains and mists; (but) the harshness of cold is absent. The extent of the days is beyond the length (of the days) of our world; the night (is) bright and in the furthest part of Britain short, so that you can distinguish between the end and the beginning of the light (only) by a short interval. But if clouds do not hinder (the view) they say that the glow of the sun can be seen through the night nor does (the sun) set and rise again, but passes along (under the horizon). In fact, the extremities and flat parts of the earth do not throw the darkness up (high), and the night falls beneath the sky and the stars. The soil (is) bearing an abundance of crops and flocks, except the olive and the vine and other things accustomed to come forth in warmer lands: they ripen slowly, but grow quickly; and the reason for both things (is) the same, the excessive moisture of the earth and sky. Britain produces gold and silver and other metals, the prize of victory. The Ocean also brings forth pearls, but (they are) dusky and bluish-grey. Some think that skill is absent from those collecting (them); for in the Red Sea they are torn away from the rocks alive and breathing, whereas in Britain, they are cast (on shore) to be collected: I more readily believe that quality is lacking in the pearls than that greed (is lacking) in us.


Chapter 13. Invasion of Julius Caesar, project of Gaius, occupation gained by Claudius and distinction gained by Vespasian.

The Britons themselves cheerfully obey the levy and the taxes and the other duties of empire imposed upon (them), if injuries are absent: these they scarcely endure, already subdued to obey, not yet to be slaves. Therefore, the first of all the Romans, the deified Julius, having invaded Britain with an army, although he terrified the inhabitants by a successful campaign and won possession of the coast, can be seen to have displayed (it) to posterity, (and) not to have handed (it) down (as a possession). Then, (there were) civil wars and the arms of leading men were turned against the state, and (there was) a long forgetting of Britain, even in peace: the deified Augustus called it policy, Tiberius an injunction. It is clear enough that Gaius Caesar had formed plans about Britain being invaded, but through his fickle nature (he was) swift to change his mind, and his great efforts against Germany had been in vain. The deified Claudius, (was) the author of the revived project, legions and auxiliaries having been conveyed and Vespasian having been taken to share the undertaking, which was the beginning of his rapidly approaching imperial fortune: tribes (were) subdued, kings (were) captured, and Vespasian was picked out by the fates.

Chapter 14. The government of Plautius, Ostorius, Didius, Veranius, and Suetonius Paulinus; attack on Mona [Anglesey] by Paulinus.

Aulus Plautius (was) appointed as the first of the consular governors and, immediately afterwards, Ostorius Scapula, each man distinguished in war: and the nearest part of Britain having been brought gradually into the form of a province, a colony of veterans being added on top. Certain states (were) given to king Cogidumnus [he remained most faithful right down to our own memory], by the old and long ago established custom of the Roman people, to employ even kings (as) instruments of servitude. Soon (afterwards) Didius Gallus maintained the acquisitions of his predecessors, quite a few fortreses having been pushed forward into remote places, through which he won the renown of his province having been extended. Veranius succeeded Didius, but he died within a year. Henceforth, Suetonius Paulinus had successful outcomes for two years, tribes having been reduced and garrisons established; with the confidence of these (achievements), having attacked the island of Mona for providing resources to the rebels, he exposed his back to opportunity.

Chapter 15. The great rebellion, grievances and hopes of the people.

For, fear having been removed by the absence of the legate, the Britons discussed among themselves the evils of servitude, and inflamed (them) by putting a construction (on them): "We get nothing by patience," they said, "except that heavier (burdens) are demanded as though from those bearing (them) readily. Once we had single kings, now two are imposed (on us), of which the legate wreaks his fury on our life-blood, (and) the procurator on our property. The discord of our master, and their harmony are equally fatal to their subjects. The tools of the one, his centurions, (those) of the other, his slaves, combine their force and insults. Nothing is now exempted from their greed, nothing from their lust. In war it is the stronger who plunders: (but) now our homes are ransacked, our children torn away (from us), and the levy imposed (upon us) mainly by cowards and shirkers, as though with only (ourselves) not knowing how to die for our country. For how little (are the number) of soldiers to have crossed over, if the Britons were to count themselves? (It was) thus that the Germans shook off their yoke: and yet they were defended by a river, not by the Ocean. For ourselves, fatherland, wives, parents are the motives for war, (but) for them, greed and self-indulgence. They will withdraw, as the deified Julius withdrew, if only (the Britons of today) would emulate the valour of their ancestors. Nor should they be afraid of the outcome of one or perhaps two battles: (for) there is more impetus for the successful , (but) greater endurance with the miserable. Now, even the gods are taking pity on the Britons, (gods) who have kept the Roman general absent, (and) who (have kept) his army exiled in another island; already we ourselves are deliberating, (something) which has been (in the past) the hardest (step). And indeed in designs of this kind it is more perilous to be detected than to dare."

Chapter 16. Defeat of Boudicca by Paulinus; his harshness; government of Petronius, Trebellius and Bolanus.

Having incited one another by these and like words, with Boudicca, a woman of royal descent, (as) leader (for they do not distinguish between the sexes in government), they all took war upon themselves; and, having gone after our troops, garrisons having been stormed, they fell upon the colony itself as the seat of their servitude, and their rage and the (arrogance of) victory did not omit any kind of cruelty in the barbarian disposition. Except that Paulinus, the rising of the province having been reported, had promptly come to the rescue, Britain would have been lost; he restored it to its old submission by the successful outcome of one battle, but with very many, whom consciousness of rebellion and personal dread of the legate were troubling, maintaining their arms, lest, although excellent in other respects, he were arrogantly and too harshly to take measures against them if they surrendered, as an avenger of every wrong done to him. Therefore, Petronius Turpilianus was sent as a person supposed to be milder and a stranger to the misdeeds of the enemy and gentler towards their patience, (and) the previous problems having been pacified, and daring nothing further he handed over the province to Trebellius Maximus. Trebellius, more sluggish and with no experience of military matters, controlled the province by a certain affability in his administration. The natives too now learned to condone seductive vices and the occurrence of the civil war provided a reasonable excuse for inactivity: but he was troubled by mutiny, since a soldier accustomed to operations may become wanton with idleness. The anger of the army having been avoided by flight and hiding places, Trebellius, despised and humbled, then governed on sufferance, and (there was) a bargain, as it were, with licence for the army, (and) safety for the general, and so mutiny without bloodshed took place. Nor did Vettius Bolanus, the civil wars still continuing, trouble Britain with discipline: (there was) the same inaction in the face of the enemy, similar unruliness in the camp, except that Bolanus, inoffensive and not made hateful by any misdeeds, had secured affection in place of authority.

Chapter 17. Conquests made by Cerialis and Frontinus.

But when Vespasian had restored unity to Britain with the rest of the world, (there were) great generals, (and) outstanding armies, (and) the hopes of the enemy were diminished. And Petilius Cerealis at once introduced terror, having attacked the state of the Brigantes, which was considered the most populous of the whole province. (There were) many battles and sometimes these were not bloodless; and he embraced within the range of victory or war the great part of Brigantine territory. And indeed Cerealis would have eclipsed the conduct and reputation of any other successor: (but) Julius Frontinus, a great man, undertook and sustained this burden, as far as it was permitted, and he subdued by force of arms the strong and war-like tribe of the Silures, having surmounted, on top of the courage of the enemy, the difficulties of the terrain also.


Chapter 18. First year. His arrival at midsummer, total defeat of the Ordovices, invasion and surrender of Mona.

This (was) the state of Britain, (and) these (were) the vicissitudes of war, (which) Agricola found, having crossed over already in the middle of summer, when both our troops were turning their thoughts to freedom from care as if campaigning had ceased and the enemy (were turning their thoughts) to their opportunity. Not long before his arrival the state of the Ordovices had nearly annihilated a whole squadron of cavalry stationed in their territory, and the province was excited by this initial stroke. And it was for those wishing for war to approve the precedent, and yet to await the temper of the recently (arrived) legate, when Agricola, although summer was spent, his detachments were scattered throughout the province, (and) inactivity for that year was taken for granted in the mind of the soldiers, the delays and obstacles to anyone about to begin a war, and it seemed better to most to watch over the suspected districts, decided to go to meet the danger; and detachments of the legions having been drawn together, and with a small force of auxiliaries, because the Ordovices did not dare to come down on to the plain, he marched the battle line uphill, he himself marching at the front of the column, by which action his courage against the common danger was equal to the rest. And the whole tribe having been nearly wiped out, not unaware that it was necessary to follow up his prestige and, according as the first attacks had turned out, would be the terror (inspired by) his other (operations), he directed his mind to bringing under his power the island of Mona, from the possession of which, as I have related above, Paulinus had been recalled by the rebellion of the whole of Britain. But, as was natural in hastily formed plans, ships were lacking: the resource and resolution of the general conveyed (them) across (however). All their baggage having been discarded, he sent in highly picked men from the auxiliaries, who had knowledge of shallows and natural experience of swimming, by which they (could) control at the same time both themselves and their weapons and their horses, so suddenly, that the enemy who were expecting a fleet, ships, and (an assault by) sea, thought that nothing could be difficult or insuperable to those advancing to war in this way. So peace having been sought and the island having been surrendered, Agricola was regarded as famous and great, and indeed as one whom, when entering his province, a time which others pass through vain display and a circuit of ceremonies, toil and danger had pleased. Nor did Agricola use his success in these things for self-glorification, (but) he called the operation or the victory as having kept in hand (already) conquered peoples; he did not even follow up his achievements with a laurel wreath, but by this very concealment of fame he increased his renown, with men considering how great must be his hopes for the future (when) he had been so reticent over so great a victory.

Chapter 19. His internal administration, and redress of grievances.

Futhermore, foreseeing the feelings of the province, and at the same time having learned through the experience of others that too little is achieved by (force of) arms, if injustices follow, he resolved to root out the causes of wars. Beginning first with himself and his (dependants), he kept his household in order, (something) which is no less hard for many than to rule a province. (He transacted) nothing of public business through freedmen and slaves, he did not choose centurions or soldiers for his staff on the basis of his personal feelings nor from recommendations or entreaties, but it was (always) the best man whom he thought most trustworthy. He knew everything, but did not punish everything. He bestowed pardon for small offences, severity (only) for great ones; nor was he always eager to (employ) punishment but more often penitence; he appointed to functions and duties men not likely to offend, rather than to condemn (people) when they had offended. He eased the exaction of corn and tribute by an equalising of the burdens, those things having been abolished which, having appeared with a view to profit, were borne more grievously than the tribute itself. For, in mockery, they were compelled to sit near closed granaries and even to buy corn and to make amends through the price. The difficulties of journeys and the long distance of districts were indicated (to them), so that states with winter quarters very near to them had to carry (corn) to remote and out of the way (places), until what was an easy matter for all became profitable for a few.

Chapter 20. Second year. Surrender of several states, and forts planted round them.

By repressing these (abuses) in his very first year (of office) he gave back to peace its good name, which either by the negligence or want of self-control of his predecessors had been feared no less than war. But when summer came, his army having been assembled, (he was present) everywhere on the march, he praised good discipline, (and) kept the stragglers in order; he himself chose the positions for camps, he himself explored the estuaries and the forests; and meanwhile he allowed no rest to the enemy, but rather he ravaged (their lands) with sudden raids; but when he had alarmed them enough, by sparing (them) on the other hand, he showed (them) the allurements of peace. For these reasons many states, which up to that time had lived on a footing of equality (with others), hostages having been given, laid aside their animosity and were surrounded by garrisons and fortresses, and indeed with such good judgment and diligence, that no newly (acquired) part of Britain had come off so little provoked before.

Chapter 21. Measures taken to promote the Romanization of Britain.

The following winter was consumed with schemes of the most salutary kind. For in order to accustom people scattered and barbarous, and therefore inclined to war, to quiet and repose through luxuries, he encouraged (them) privately, and gave aid (to them) publicly, to build temples and market-places and mansions, (and he encouraged them further) by praising the energetic and reproving the dilatory: so competition for honour was in place of compulsion. Furthermore, he educated the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts, and he preferred the natural abilities of the Britons to the trained skills of the Gauls, so that those who just before disdained the Roman language were (now) coveting eloquence (in it). Thence, also our dress (was) an ornament (in their opinion) and the toga (was) seen everywhere; and gradually they went astray (lit. it was departed from) to the allurements of evil ways, arcades, and warm baths and the elegance of banquets. And this in their ignorance they called civilisation, when it was (really) a characteristic of their servitude.

Chapter 22. Third year. Advance to the estuary Tanaus; his skill in fortifying and securing positions.

The third year of campaigning opened up new tribes, the nations being ravaged as far as the Tanaus [this is the name of the estuary]. The enemy, having been intimidated by this terror, did not dare to provoke our army, although it was harassed by violent storms; and besides there was time (to spare) for forts being established. Experienced (officers) noted that no other general had chosen opportunities for positions more wisely. No fortress established by Agricola was either stormed by the force of the enemy or abandoned through capitulation or flight; for they were made secure against the hindrances of sieges by supplies to last a year. So winter there (was) free from anxiety (lit. undisturbed), (there were) frequent sorties and each commander gave protection to himself, the enemy, who were generally accustomed to counterbalance the losses of summer with winter successes, (being) baffled on this account and despairing, (as) they were now repelled in summer and winter alike. Nor did Agricola in a greedy spirit ever take the credit for what had been achieved by others. Both centurion and prefect had (in him) an impartial witness of their (every) action. In some quarters it was said that (he was) quite bitter in his reproofs; and in fact, as he was friendly to the good, so he was unpleasant towards the bad. Nevertheless, nothing secret was left over from his anger, so that you need not fear his silence: he thought (it) more honourable to give offence than to harbour dislike.

Chapter 23. Fourth year. The isthmus between Clota (Clyde) and Bodotria (Forth) occupied.

The fourth summer was expended for the purpose of (territories) being secured which he had overrun; and if the valour of our armies and the glory of the Roman name permitted (it) a limit (to conquest) would have been found within Britain itself. For Clota and Bodotria having been carried inland to a great degree on the tides of opposite seas are divided by a narrow strip of land: this was then being securely held and the whole sweep of country nearer was occupied, the enemy having been removed, as it were, into another country.

Chapter 24. Fifth year. An expedition by sea; the coast facing Ireland occupied, with a view to invasion.

In the fifth year of campaigning, having crossed over in the first ship, he tamed a number of tribes (which were) unknown up to that time in successful battles (fought) at the same time; and he provided that part of Britain which faces Ireland with forces more with a view to hope (of invasion) rather than in fear (of attack), inasmuch as Ireland, situated in the middle between Britain and Spain and conveniently sited for the Gallic sea also, will unite with great mutual advantages that most powerful section of the empire. Its extent, if compared with Britain, is rather limited, (but) exceeds the islands in our sea. Its soil and climate and the dispositions and customs of its people do not differ much from (those) of Britain; its approaches and harbours (are) fairly well known through trading and merchants. Agricola had received one of the petty kings of a tribe, expelled by internal rebellion and detained under the guise of friendship with a view to an opportunity. I have often heard from him that Ireland could be conquered and held with a single legion; and it would also be advantageous for Britain, if Roman arms (were) everywhere and, as it were, liberty were removed from sight.

Chapter 25. Sixth year. Expedition beyond Bodotria; the army supported by the fleet; offensive taken by the Caledonians.

To continue, in the summer in which his sixth year of office began, embracing (in his plans) the states sited across the Bodotria, because a rising of all the tribes beyond (it) and threatening marches by the enemy's army were feared, he explored the harbours with his fleet; this, first taken up to form a part of his force, continued to follow (him) with an excellent impression, when the war was pushed forward both by land and sea at the same time, and often in the same camp, infantryman, cavalryman and marine sharing (amongst themselves) their rations and their exultation, each extolled his own achievements and adventures, and at one time the deep (recesses) of forests and mountains and at another time the hazards of storms and tides, on one side land and the enemy, on the other side the victories over the Ocean, were compared with the boastfulness of a soldier. The sight of the fleet (lit. the fleet having been seen), as was heard from prisoners, confounded the Britons also, as though by the recesses of their sea having been opened up, the last refuge was closed to the conquered. The people inhabiting Caledonia having turned to force and arms, with great preparation, (made) greater by rumour, as is the custom with regard to the unknown, having risen up without provocation to attack (one of) our forts, had added to the panic as taking the offensive. And the faint-hearted advised (him) with the appearance of prudent men that it was necessary to retire behind the Bodotria and to retreat rather than to be expelled, when in the meantime he learned that the enemy was about to attack in several columns. However, lest he were surrounded by an overwhelming number and (by those) with knowledge of the ground, he himself also advanced, his army having been divided into three sections.

Chapter 26. Attack on the camp of the Ninth legion repulsed.

As this was known to the enemy, their plan having been suddenly changed, having as a whole force attacked at night the Ninth legion as especially weak, the sentries having been cut down, they broke in amidst sleep and anxiety. Fighting was already taking place (lit. it was already being fought) within the camp itself, when Agricola, having been told by his scouts about the enemy's march, and following close on their tracks, orders the swiftest of his cavalry and infantry to attack up to the rear of those fighting, then a battle cry to be made by all; and with dawn near the standards glittered. Thus the Britons were alarmed by this two-headed threat; and courage returned to the men of the Ninth, and without fear as to their deliverance they contended for glory. Nay rather, they even rushed out, and there was a fierce battle in the narrow (passages) of the gates themselves, until the enemy were repulsed, both armies striving, the one so that they were seen to have brought relief, the other lest (they were seen) to have been in need of help. Except that marshes and forests had sheltered the fugitives, the war would have been brought to an end by that victory.

Chapter 27. Eagerness to invade Caledonia; gatherings of the Britons.

Fired up by the consciousness and report of this (victory), our army were clamorously claiming that nothing was impassable to their valour and that Caledonia was needing to be penetrated and that at last the limit of Britain was needing to be found through an unbroken course of battles. And those (who had) lately (been) cautious and prudent were after the event resolute and boastful. This is the most unfair circumstance of warfare: all claim successes for themselves, defeats are attributed (only) to one. But the Britons, thinking themselves worsted not by our valour but by the opportune behaviour and skill of the general, renounced nothing of their arrogance, but indeed they armed their youth, removed their wives and children to places of safety, (and) ratified their league of states, and so they parted (lit. it was parted) with the minds of both sides incited.

Chapter 28. Escape of a cohort of Usipi; their perilous voyage.

In that same summer a cohort of the Usipi, levied in Germany and transported to Britain, ventured a great and memorable crime. A centurion and (some) soldiers, who had been mixed in their ranks for the purpose of discipline being imported and were attached (as) an example and (as) managers, having been murdered, they embarked upon three warships, the pilots having been constrained by force; and with one steering, two having been suspected and for that reason killed, they sailed past (the coast) as a miracle, their story not yet generally known. After a while, when they had directed their minds to seizing water and supplies, having met in battle many Britons defending their possessions and often victorious, sometimes repulsed, thither they came to such an extremity of want, that they fed on the weakest of their number, then (on) those drawn by lot. And so, having sailed around Britain, their ships having been lost through ignorance of their management, having been taken for pirates, they were intercepted, first by the Suebi, then by the Frisii. And the disclosure of this great adventure made notorious those sold (as slaves) through commerce and brought by the exchange of those buying as far as our bank of the Rhine.

Chapter 29. Seventh year. Death of Agricola's infant son: march to Mons Graupius, where the enemy had gathered in force.

At the beginning of the summer (of the next year), Agricola having been struck by a domestic wound, lost has son born the year before. He bore this calamity neither ostentatiously as with many strong-minded men, nor on the other hand by lamentations and sorrowings after the manner of a woman; and in his mourning war was among the remedies. Therefore, the fleet having been sent on to ravage in several places in order to create a great and vague terror, he came to the Grampian mountain, which the enemy had occupied already, with a lightly equipped army, to which he had added the bravest of the Britons and those tested in the long peace. For the Britons, having not been cowed at all by the outcome of the previous engagement, and seeing (before them) revenge or slavery, and at length convinced that the common danger needed to be warded off by union, summoned forth the strength of all the states by envoys and by treaties. And now over thirty thousand armed men were to be seen, and still (further) all the youth was flocking together (as were those) for whom old age was fresh and green, men renowned in war and each bearing his own battle honours, when, among the many leaders, one outstanding both in valour and in birth, Calgacus by name, is reported to have addressed in this manner the multitude gathered around (him) demanding battle:

Chapter 30. Speech of Calgacus (i).

" Whenever I consider carefully the causes of this war and our peril, I have (lit. there is to me) confidence that this day and your union will be the beginning of freedom for the whole of Britain; for you have both all combined and (are) free of slavery, and (there are) no lands beyond (us) and not even the sea (is) free from danger with the Roman fleet menacing us. So battle and arms, which (are) glorious to the brave, these same things are most safe even to cowards. Former battles, in which we strove (lit. it was striven) against the Romans with varying fortune, were keeping in our hands hope and help, because (as) the noblest people of the whole of Britain, and for that reason dwelling in the very innermost parts, and not catching sight of the shores of those who have been enslaved, we also continue to keep our eyes undefiled from the contagion of tyranny. This very retreat and our secluded nook (in the world) of fame, has defended (us) up to this day, at the furthest (limits) of land and liberty: now the farthest bounds of Britain lie open, and the unknown always passes for the grand; but now (there is) no tribe beyond (us), nothing except waves and rocks, and the (yet) more hostile Romans, whose arrogance you may escape in vain through submission and obedience. Robbers of the world, all parts of the world are wanting from their plundering, they rifle the deep: if an enemy is rich, (they are) greedy, if poor, (they are) seeking homage, neither the East nor the West has satisfied them: alone of all people they covet wealth and want with equal desire. Plunder, slaughter, rapine with false names (they call) rule, and when they make a desert they call (it) peace.

Chapter 31. Speech of Calgacus (ii).

" Nature has willed that children and his kinsmen are dearest to each man: these are torn by conscription to be slaves elsewhere; our wives and our sisters, even if they have escaped hostile lust, are dishonoured under the name of friends and guests. Our goods and possessions are ground down for tribute, our land and its yearly harvest for requisitions, our very bodies and hands amongst lashes and insults for making roads through woods and marshes (lit. woods and marshes suitable for making roads through). Slaves born into servitude are sold once (and for all), and, what is more, are fed by their masters: (whereas) Britain daily buys her own slavery, and daily feeds (it). And just as in a household each most recent arrival among the slaves is also the butt to his fellow-slaves, so we (as) new and contemptible in this old slavery of the world are marked out for destruction. For we have (lit. there are to us) neither fertile fields nor mines nor harbours for which things being worked we may be preserved. Furthermore, the valour and martial spirit of subjects (is) unwelcome to those ruling; and our remoteness and our very seclusion, by which means (it is) the more safe, for that reason (it is) the more suspect. So, hope of pardon at last having been removed, take heart, as security is most dear to some, so glory (is most dear) to others. The Brigantes, with a woman as their leader, were able to burn up a colony, and to storm a camp, and, if success had not turned into carelessness, to have thrown off the yoke: let us fresh and untamed and ready to fight for liberty, (and) not with a view to repentance, show at the very first clash (of arms) what heroes Caledonia has kept in reserve.

Chapter 32. Speech of Calgacus (iii).

" Do you believe that the Romans have the same (level) of valour in war as (they have) of wantonness in peace? Famous through our disagreements and quarrels, they turn the faults of an enemy to the glory of their own army; this (army) drawn together from very different nations, as favourable outcomes hold (it) together, so defeats will shatter (it): not unless you can imagine that Gauls and Germans and many Britons [it shames (one) to say (it)], although they lend their life-blood to a foreign domination, (having been) enemies indeed for much longer than slaves, can be held in loyalty and attachment. Fear and terror are feeble bonds of affection; when you have removed these, (they) who will have ceased to fear, will begin to hate. All incentives to victory are on our side: no wives inflame the Romans, no parents are about to reproach (them) for their flight; most have (lit. there is to most) either no home-land or an alien one. F ew in number, dismayed by their ignorance, staring at the sky itself and at the sea and the forests, all things unknown (to them), hemmed in in a certain manner and spellbound, the gods have delivered (them) to us. Do not let vain display and the glitter of gold and silver, which neither protect nor wound, frighten you. In the very ranks of the enemy we shall find our allied forces: the Britons will recognise our cause (as) their own, the Gauls will recall their former freedom, so the rest of the Germans will desert them just as recently the Usipi left (them). Nor (is there) anything of dread behind (them): ungarrisoned fortresses, colonies of old men, feeble towns and disagreements between those obeying badly and those ruling unjustly. On this side (you have) a leader, on this side an army: on that side (you have) tribute and mines and the other penalties of enslaved people, which it depends on this field will be endured for ever or will be avenged here and now. Accordingly, think, as you go into battle, of both your ancestors and your descendants. "

Chapter 33. Speech of Agricola (i).

They received his speech excitedly, as is the custom with barbarians, with shouts and songs and with confused cries. And now (there were seen) bodies of moving troops and flashes of arms (and) the boldest men at the charge; ( it was) the same time as the battle-line was being drawn up, when Agricola, although his soldiers were joyful and could scarcely be restrained within the entrenchments, thinking that (it was) necessary for them to be encouraged still (further), addressed (them) thus: "This is the seventh year, comrades, in which by the power and good fortunes of the Roman empire, (and) by your loyalty and zeal, you have been conquering Britain. In so many campaigns, in so many battles there has been a need either for courage against the enemy or for endurance and toil almost against the nature of things itself, and I do not repent (lit. it does not repent me) of my soldiers and you do not repent (lit. it does not repent you) of your general. Therefore, having passed the limits (reached), I by former governors, you by former armies, we know the ends of Britain, not by report nor by rumour, but by (sheer) encampment and arms: Britain has been discovered and subdued. Indeed, often on the march, when marshes or mountains and rivers were tiring you, I have heard the voices of the bravest of men (exclaim): " When shall the enemy be given (to us), when shall they come into our hands? " They are come, driven from their lairs, and your wishes and your prowess have a free field (lit. are in the open), and everything (is) favourable to the victors, and the same things (are) adverse to the conquered. For to have accomplished so great a march, to have passed through forests, (and) to have crossed estuaries (are) fine and creditable (for those looking) to the front (i.e. to advance), so to those retreating those things are most dangerous which today are most successful; for we (have) (lit. there [is] to us) neither knowledge of the ground nor the same abundance of supplies, but (we have) our hands and our weapons and in these (there is) everything. As far as it pertains to me, it has long ago been determined by me that retreat is safe neither for an army nor for a general. Therefore too, an honourable death (is) preferable to a shameful life, and safety and glory are placed in the same location; and it would not be inglorious to perish at the very end of the earth and of creation.

Chapter 34. Speech of Agricola (ii).

" If strange peoples and unknown armies had stood to face you, I should urge you on by the example of other armies: now look back upon your glorious deeds, question your own eyes, these are (those) whom last year having attacked a single legion by surprise at night, you defeated by a (mere) shout; these (are) of all the Britons the most ready to flee, and for this reason they (have been) surviving for such a long time. Just as, when you penetrate (lit. [you] penetrating) the woods and thickets, all the bravest animals rush against (you), and the timid and the passive are repelled by the very sound of your approach, so the bravest of the Britons have fallen long ago, (and) the remainder is a mass of weaklings and cowards. As to the fact that you have at last found them, they have not made a stand but they have been caught; their desperate circumstances and extreme fear have paralysed their battle-line in a stupor in their tracks, upon which (ground) you have been destined to produce a splendid and glorious victory. Have done with campaigns, impose one great day upon our fifty years, (and) prove to your country that either delays in war or the causes of rebelling could never have been imputed to your army. "

Chapter 35. Great battle and victory of the Romans (i).

And while Agricola was still speaking (lit. Agricola still speaking) the ardour of the soldiers was becoming obvious, and enormous enthusiasm and an immediate rushing to arms followed the end of his speech. He arrayed his eager and impetuous men in such a way that the auxiliaries of the infantry, who were eight thousand, should make a strong centre of his battle-line, and the three thousand cavalry were spread out on the wings. The legions were stationed in front of the entrenchment, (a disposition which) in the event of victory (would add) the great glory of fighting without (shedding) Roman blood, and (would be) a reinforcement if (the auxiliaries) were driven back. The battle-line of the Britons had so placed itself, for show and at the same time to strike terror, on higher ground that the van of the column was on level ground, (and) the rest were rising up on a sloping hill as if they were linked together; the cavalry in their chariots filled up the intervening space of plain with noise and movement. Then Agricola, fearing from the overwhelming multitude of the enemy, lest he were attacked in front and at the same time on their flanks also, his line having been extended, although his battle-line was likely to be too thin and many officers were advising that the legions should be summoned , (yet) hopeful in disposition and resolute in the face of difficulties, his horse having been sent away, took up position on foot before the flags (of the auxiliaries).

Chapter 36. Great battle and victory of the Romans (ii).

And in the first action it was fought at a distance; and the Britons with both steadiness and skill avoided or parried our missiles with their huge swords and small shields, and themselves poured down (on us) a dense shower of darts, until Agricola exhorted the four cohorts of the Batavians and the two (cohorts) of the Tungrians to draw matters together at the point of the sword and hand-to-hand; this tactic (was) both familiar to themselves through their long experience of military service and awkward to an enemy [bearing small shields and huge swords]; for without thrusting points the swords of the Britons did not allow a grapple of weapons and a fight at close quarters. Therefore, as the Batavians began to rain down blows, to strike with their shield- bosses, to stab faces, and, those who had taken up position on the plain having been overwhelmed, to march their battle-line up the hill, the other cohorts, having also pressed forward in rivalry to attack, cut down all the nearest (of the enemy): and many were left behind half-dead or (even) unwounded in the haste of victory. Meanwhile, our squadrons of cavalry, as the men in war-chariots had fled, joined themselves to the battle-line of the infantry. And, although they had brought fresh terror, they were brought to a standstill, however, by the dense ranks of the enemy and the unevenness of the ground; and now the appearance of the battle was not at all favourable to us, since (our infantry) standing with difficulty on the slope were at the same time driven on by the flanks of the horses; and, moreover, often stray chariots, their horses terrified without drivers, were running against (them) in flank or in front as terror had urged on each one.

Chapter 37. Great battle and victory of the Romans (iii).

And the Britons who had occupied the tops of the hills, while still having no part of the fight, and were idly scorning our small numbers, had begun to descend gradually and envelop the rear of the conquering side, had not Agricola, having feared this very thing, placed in the way of those advancing four squadrons of cavalry held in reserve for the emergencies of war, and as bravely as they had advanced, so fiercely had he driven them into flight, once they had been repulsed. So the plan of the Britons having been turned against themselves, and the squadrons, by order of the general, having been wheeled round from the front of the fighting (armies), attacked the rear of the enemy battle-line. Then indeed (there was) an awful and grim spectacle on the open plain: (our men) pursued, wounded, captured, and slaughtered the same men, others having been brought forward. Now crowds of the enemy, (though) armed, as the inclination was to each, showed their backs to fewer men, some unarmed charged forward and presented themselves for death. Far and wide (there were) weapons and bodies and torn limbs and blood-stained soil; and sometimes (there was) rage and courage even in the case of the vanquished. For when they had reached the woods, having been gathered together and knowing the ground, they encircled the foremost unwary pursuers. But had not Agricola, always present everywhere, ordered lightly equipped cohorts to scour the forests in the manner of a huntsman's cordon, and a detachment of cavalry, their horses having been sent way, if anywhere they were denser, and at the same time mounted (where they were) thinner, some wound would have been received from the over-confidence of our men. Moreover, when they saw (us) settled together in firm ranks pursuing (them) again, they turned to flight, not in a mass, as previously, nor looking back one to another: dispersed and avoiding each other, they sought distant and remote (places). Night and weariness were the end of the pursuing. Up to ten thousand of the enemy were slain: three hundred and sixty of our men fell, among whom (was) Aulus Atticus, the prefect of a cohort, having been carried by youthful enthusiasm and a mettlesome horse into (the ranks of) the enemy.

Chapter 38. Dispersion of the enemy: Agricola marches through the territory of the Boresti to winter-quarters; the fleet, after circumnavigating the north coast, occupies the portus Trucculensis.

And indeed the night (was) cheerful to the victors through joy and booty: the Britons, dispersing amidst the mingled wailing of men and women, dragged off their wounded, called the unharmed, abandoned their homes and through anger even set them on fire, chose places of concealment and immediately left (them); they joined together in some sort of counsel, then separated; sometimes they were broken by the sight of their own relatives, more often they were roused to fury. And it was true enough that some laid violent hands on their wives and children, as if they were pitying (them). The next day revealed more thoroughly the shape of victory: everywhere (there was) a vast silence, lonely hills smoking in the distance, no one in the way of the scouts. These having been sent out in every direction, when it was learned that the footsteps of flight (were) indiscriminate and the enemy were not being massed together anywhere (also the summer having been now completed, the war could not be spread over a wider area), he led his army into the territory of the Boresti. Hostages having been received there, he orders the commander of the fleet to sail around Britain. Forces were given for this purpose and terror preceded (it). He himself (leading) his infantry and cavalry by a slow march, by which the minds of fresh nations were terrified by the very tardiness of his progress, placed (them) in winter-quarters. And, at the same time, the fleet through a favouring wind and with renown took up its position in the harbour of Trucculum, (to which), the whole of the adjoining side of Britain having been coasted from there, it had returned.


Chapter 39. Jealousy of Domitian.

This course of events, although exaggerated by no boastfulness of words in his despatches, as was the custom of Domitian, he heard with joy in his face (but) with disquiet in his heart. There was consciousness that his recent false triumph over Germany had been held in derision, (people) having been purchased in the way of trade, whose clothing and hair might be arranged in the form of captives: but now (there was consciousness) that a real and great victory, so many of the enemy's soldiers having been cut down, was being celebrated with great renown. It (was) most alarming to him that the name of a private man should be raised above the emperor: the study of forensic eloquence and the graceful accomplishments of the civil arts had been driven into silence in vain if someone else should grasp military glory; other (talents) could somehow or other be more easily ignored, (but those) of a good general were an imperial virtue. Agitated by such concerns, absorbed by secret trouble, and this was a mark of deadly purpose, he decided (it was) best for the present to store up his hatred, until the first burst of renown and the favour of the army should die down: for even then Agricola was in possession of Britain.

Chapter 40. Honours granted to Agricola: his recall and return to Rome, and unostentatious life.

Therefore he orders that it was to be decreed in the Senate that triumphal decorations and the honour of a splendid statue and everything in place of a triumph were to be given , with the much enlarged honour of (flattering) expressions, and the impression was to be given besides that the province of Syria, then vacant through the death of the consular Atilius Rufus and reserved for men of distinction, was intended for Agricola. Many believed that a freedman (employed) on confidential services sent to Agricola was bearing despatches, in which Syria was to be offered to him, with him having been instructed to hand (these) over if he were in Britain; and that this freedman meeting with Agricola in the very straits of the Ocean, him not even having been saluted, returned to Domitian. Whether this story (is) true or fictional and made up, it is in accordance with the disposition of the emperor. Meanwhile, Agricola had handed over the province in peace and security to his successor. And lest his entry (into Rome) were notable due to the multitude and abundance of those hastening to meet (him), the attentions of his friends having been avoided, he came into the city at night (and) into the Palace at night, as it had been commanded thus, and, having been received with a hasty kiss and with no conversation, he had been intermingled with the crowd of courtiers. In order to temper by other virtues the military reputation unpopular among civilians, he took his fill (lit. drank deeply) of peace and leisure, (and he was) modest in his mode of life, affable in conversation, accompanied (only) by one or two friends, so that (while) the majority, for whom it is the custom to measure great men by their ostentatious display, Agricola having been seen and observed, enquired about his celebrity, few understood.

Chapter 41. Disasters in other provinces; Agricola's name made perilously prominent.

Repeatedly during these days, having been accused before Domitian in his absence, he was acquitted in his absence. The cause of his danger (was) not any crime or the complaints of any victims, but an emperor hostile to virtues and the renown of the man and the worst kind of enemies, (those) praising (him). And there followed for the state such times as would not allow Agricola to pass unnoticed: so many armies in Moesia and Dacia and Germany and Pannonia lost by rashness or through the cowardice of their generals, so many military men having been taken by storm and captured with so many cohorts; nor now (was it) uncertain about the boundary line of the empire and the river-banks, but the winter-quarters of the legions and the (maintenance) of territory). So when losses followed continuously upon losses and the whole year was marked by deaths and disasters, Agricola was demanded as general by the mouth of the crowd, everyone comparing his vigour, resolution and mind skilled in war with the inertia and cowardice of others. It is very certain that the ears of Domitian were being lashed also by these comments, whilst all the best freedmen through love and loyalty and the worst through malice and spleen spurred on an emperor inclined to the worst things. So Agricola, both by his own virtues and through the faults of others was driven precipitously towards glory itself.

Chapter 42. He is forced to solicit leave to decline a proconsulate.

The year had now come in which the proconsulate of Africa or Asia was to fall by lot (to him), and, Civica having been murdered recently, neither was Agricola in need of a warning nor Domitian (of) a precedent. Persons acquainted with the thinking of the emperor approached (him) to ask Agricola whether he was even planning to go to a province. And at first covertly they praised repose and ease, soon they offered their services in his excuses being approved. Subsequently, being obscure no longer, persuading and treatening at the same time, they dragged him to Domitian. He, well equipped with hypocrisy, having assumed a haughty air, listened to his petition excusing (him) and, when he had granted (it), allowed thanks to be given to himself, nor did he blush at the odiousness of the concession. However, the consular salary, which it was customary to be offered, and had been given to some by his very self, he did not give to Agricola, either having been offended that it had not been sought, or for very shame, lest he appeared to purchase what he had forbidden. It is characteristic of human nature to hate (the man) whom you have injured: and indeed the disposition of Domitian, quick to anger, and by which means (he was) the more reserved, on this account (he was) the more implacable, was however softened by the moderation and prudence of Agricola, because he did not provoke renown and ruin by obstinacy nor by an empty display of freedom. Let them, to whom it is the custom to admire forbidden things, know that there can be great men even under bad emperors, and that obedience and moderation, if energy and vigour are present, can attain to that (high) place of honour by which most men have become illustrious (only) by perilous courses but without any service to the state other than through an ostentatious death.

Chapter 43. His last illness; only his wife present; suspicions of poison; conduct of Domitian.

The end of his life was calamitous to us and sad to his friends, and also not without concern to those outside his circle and those who did not know (him). The masses also and those people busy with other things both came often to his house and talked (of him) in public places and social gatherings; and no one, having heard of the death of Agricola was either glad or forgot (it) at once. A persistent rumour that he had been destroyed by poison increased compassion: I may venture to state positively that no evidence has been ascertained to us. Nevertheless, through the whole of his illness both chief freedmen and confidential physicians came more frequently than is the custom of the principate (when) visiting through messengers, whether that action was (real) interest or espionage. Indeed, on his very last day it was the case that the critical moments of his declining were reported by a succession of couriers, no one believing that what a sad person heard could be so hastened. However, he bore on the surface and in the expression of his countenance the semblance of grief, relieved now of hatred and as someone who could conceal joy more easily than fear. It was well known, the will of Agricola having been read, in which he wrote down Domitian as his co-heir together with his excellent wife and most dutiful daughter, that he was joyful as if (this were) through respect and complimentary judgment. His mind was so blinded and corrupted by unceasing flatteries that he did not know that an emperor would not be named (as) an heir by a good father unless (he were) bad.

Chapter 44. Death of Agricola, Aug. 23, A.D. 93: his personal appearance: the completeness of his life.

Agricola was born on the Ides of June, with Gaius Caesar consul for the third time: he died in his fifty-fourth year on the tenth day before the Kalends of September, with Collega and Priscinus consuls. If posterity should wish to know also something of his personal appearance, it was handsome (rather) than imposing: (there was) nothing of forcefulness in his features: a charm of expression predominated. You would readily have believed (him) to be a good man, and gladly (to be) a great (one). And indeed he himself, although snatched away (from us) in the mid-career of a vigorous manhood, as far as concerned glory, had completed a very long life. And indeed (those) true blessings, which reside in virtue, he had fully realised, and, (as) an ex-consul and having been endowed with triumphal decorations, what else was fortune able to add? He did not rejoice in too much wealth, but a handsome amount had fallen (to him). With his daughter and wife surviving (him), he can even be seen (as) blessed, with his dignity unimpaired, his fame flourishing, his kin by marriage and his friends safe, (and) he had escaped from the future. For just as it was not permitted to him to endure into this dawn of the most blessed age and to see the principate of Trajan, (an event) which he used to predict to our ears by prophecy and prayers, so he attained the great consolation of his untimely death, to have evaded that final period, in which Domitian no longer with (any) interval or breathing space of time, but, as it were, by one continuous blow drained the state of its life-blood.

Chapter 45. His death happily spared him from witnessing the horrors that followed it: Tacitus regrets his own absence.

Agricola did not see the senate-house besieged and the senate hemmed in by arms or the massacre of so many consulars by the same stroke, (and) the exiles and flights of so many noble women. Carus Mettius was appraised by yet one victory, and the counsels of Messalinus were (still) resounding within the Alban citadel, and Massa Baebius was already then in the dock; soon (afterwards) our hands led Helvidius to prison; the sight of Mauricus and Rusticus disgraced us; (and) Senecio drenched us with his innocent blood. Even Nero removed his eyes and (when) he ordered crimes, he did not behold (them): under Domitian it was a particular part of our miseries to see and to be seen, since (even) our sighs were recorded, when that savage face and the flush by which he fortified himself against shame was equal to so many pallors (on the faces) of men being marked out.

You (were) indeed fortunate, Agricola, not only in the brilliance of your life, but also in the timing of your death. As those who were present at your very last conversations assert, you awaited your fate resolutely and willingly, as if you would make the emperor a present of his acquittal, as far as (it was) a manly duty. But for me and his daughter, in addition to the bitterness of a father torn away, it increases our sorrow that it was not permitted (us) to watch his illness, to support (him as he was) failing (and) to take our fill of fond look and embrace. We should certainly have caught precepts and utterances which we should have fixed deeply within our hearts. This (is) our sorrow, our wound, that he was lost to us, owing to the circumstances of so long an absence, for four years beforehand. Without doubt, best of fathers, your most loving wife by your side, all things were in abundance in your honour; yet you were lamented with too few tears, and in your very last glance your eyes looked for something in vain.

Chapter 46. Epilogue: hope of immortality. Imitation of character the best memorial to the great.

If (there is) any dwelling place for lost spirits, if, as it pleases the wise, great souls are not extinguished with the body, may you rest in peace, and may you call us and your household from weak regret and womanish lamentation to contemplation of your virtues, which it is not permitted either to be lamented or bewailed. Rather let us reverence you with our admiration and life-long praises, and, if our natural power suffices, with emulation: that (is) the true honour, that (is) the piety of all your nearest kinsmen. This, too, I would enjoin upon your daughter and your wife, so to honour the memory of a father, so (to honour the memory of) a husband, that they should ponder over all his deeds and words within their hearts, and cherish the form and the fashion of his character more than of his body, not that I would think it right to discourage likenesses which are fashioned from marble or from bronze, but, as the faces of men, so (also) images of the face, are feeble and perishable things, (while) the essence of the soul is eternal, as you can preserve and reproduce (it) not by the material and artistic skill of another, but you yourself can (do this) in your own character. Whatever we loved, whatever we admired in Agricola, abides and is destined to abide in the hearts of men for an eternity of time, through the glory of his achievements; for oblivion has overwhelmed many of the heroes of old as if (they were) inglorious and ignoble: Agricola, having been reported and handed down to posterity, will live for ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment