« AnteriorContinuar »
more enraged at the death of Togodumnus, who in one of these battles had been elain, Plautius fearing the worst, and glad that he could hold what he held, as was enjoined him, sends to Claudius. He who waited ready with a large preparation, as if not safe enough amidst the flower of all his Romans, like a great eastern king, with armed elephants marches through Gallia. So full of peril was this enterprise esteemed, as not without all this equipage, and stranger terrors than Roman armies to meet the pative and the naked British valour defending their country. Joined with Plautius, who encamping on the back of Thames attended him, he passes the river. The Britians, who had the courage but not the wise conduct of old Cassibelan, laying all strategem aside, in downright manhood scrupled not to affront in open field almost the whole power of the Roman empire. But overcome and vanquished, part by force, others by treaty come in and yield. Claudius therefore, who took Camalodunum, the royal seat of Cunobeline, was often by the army saluted Imperator ; a military title which usually they gave their general after any notable exploit ; but to others, not above once in the same war; as if Claudius, by these acts, had deserved more than the laws of Rome had provided honour to reward. Having therefore disarmed the Britians, but remitted the confiscation of their goods, for which they worshipped him with sacrifice and temple as a god, leaving Plautius to subdue what remained; he returns to Rome, from whence he had been absent only six months, and in Britian but sixteen days ; sending the news before him of his victories, though in a small part of the island. By which is manifestly refuted that which Eutropius and Orosius write of his conquering at that time also the Orcades islands, lying to the north of Scotland ; and not conquered by the Romans, (for aught found in any good author), till above forty years after, as shall appear. To Claudius the senate, as for achievements of highest merit, decreed excessive honours; arches, triumphs, annual solemnities, and the surname of Britannicus both to him and his son.
Plautius after this, employing his fresh forces to conquer on, and quiet the rebelling countries, found work enough to deserve at his return a kind of triumphant riding into the capitol side by side with the emperor. Vespasian also under Plautius had thirty conflicts with the enemy; in one of which encompassed, and in great danger, he was valiantly and piously rescued by his son Titus : two powerful nations he subdued here, above twenty towns and the Isle of Wight : for which he received at Rome triumphal ornaments, and other great dignities. For that city in reward of virtue was ever magnificent; and long after when true merit was ceased among them, lest any thing resembling virtue should want honour, the same rewards were yet allowed to the very shadow and ostentation of merit. Ostorius in the room of Plautius vice-prætor, met with turbulent affairs ; the Britians not ceasing to res with inroads all those counties that were yielded to the Romans; and now the more eagerly, supposing that the new general, unacquainted with his army, and on the edge of winter, would not hastily oppose them. But he weighing that first events were most available to breed fear or contempt, with such coherts as were next at hand, sets out against them : whom having routed, so close he follows, as one who meant not to be every day molested with the cavils of a slight peace, or an emboldened enemy. Lest they should make head again, he disarms whom he suspects ; and to surround them, places many garrisons upon the rivers of Antona and Sabrina. But the Icenians, a stout people, untouched yet by these wars, as having before sought alliance with the Romans, were the first that brooked not this. By their example others rise ; and in a chosen place, fenced with high banks of earth, and narrow lanes to prevent the horse, warily encamp. Ostorius, though yet not strengthened with his legions, causes the auxiliar bands, his troops also alighting, to assault the rampart. They within though pestered with their own
number, stood to it like men resolved, and in a narrow compass did remarkable deeds. But overpowered at last, and others by their success quieted, who till then wavered, Ostorius next bends his force upon the Cangians, wasting all even to the sea of Ireland, without foe in his way, or them, who durst, ill-handled; when the Brigantes attempting new matters, drew him back to settle first what was unsecure behind him. They, of whom the chief were punished, the rest forgiven, soon gave over : but the Silures, no way tractable, were not to be repressed without a set war, To further this, Camalodunum was planted with a colony of veteran soldiers ; to be a firm and ready aid against revolts, and a means to teach the natives Roman law and civility. Cogidunus also a British king, their fast friend, had to the same intent certain cities given him ; a haughty craft, which the Romans used, to make kings also the servile agents of enslaving others. But the Silures hardy of themselves, relied more on the valour of Caractacus ; wkom many doubtful, many prosperous successes had made eminent above all that ruled in Britian. He adding to his courage policy, and knowing himself to be of strength inferior, in other advantages the better, makes the seat of his war among the Ordovices : a country wherein all the odds were to his own party, all the difficulties to his enemy. The hills and every access he fortified with heaps of stones, and guards of men; to come at whom a river of unsafe passage must be first waded. The place, as Camden conjectures, had thence the name of Caercarador on the west edge of Shropshire. He himself continually went up and down, animating his officers and leaders, “this was the day, this the field, either to defend their liberty, or to die free :" calling to mind the names of his glorious ancestors, who drove Cæsar the dictator out of Britian, whose valour hitherto had preserved them from bondage, their wives and children from dishonour. Influenced with these words, they all vow their utmost, with such undaunted resolution as amazed the Roman general ; but the soldiers less weighing, because less knowing, clamoured to be led on against any danger. Ostorius after wary circumspection, bids them pass the river: the Britians no sooner had them within reach of their arrows, darts and stones, but slew and wounded largely of the Romans, They on the other side closing their rarks, and over head closing their targets, threw down the loose rampires of the Britians, and pursue them up the hills, both light and armed legions; till what with galling darts and heavy strokes, the Britians, who wore neither helmets nor cuirass to defend them, were at last overcome. This the Romans thought a famous victory ; wherein the wife and daughter of Caractacus were taken, his brothers also reduced to obedience ; himself escaping to Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, against faith given was to the victors delivered bound; having held out against the Romans nine years, saith Tacitus, but by truer computation, seven. Whereby his name was up through all the adjoining provinces, even to Italy and Rome ; many desiring to see who he was, that could withstand so many years the Roman puissance : and Cæsar, to extol his own victory, extolled the man whom he had vanquished. Being brought to Rome, the people as to a solemn spectacle were called together, the emperor's guard stood in arms. In order came first the king's servants, bearing his trophies won in other wars, next his brothers, wife and daughter, last himself. The behaviour of others, through fear, was low and degenerate ; he only neither in countenance, word, or action submissive, standing at the tribunal of Claudius, briefly spake to this purpose : “ If my mind, Cæsar, had been as moderate in the height of fortune as my birth and dignity was eminent, I might have come a friend, rather than a captive into this city. Nor couldst thou have disliked him for a confederate, so noble of descent, and ruling so many nations. My present estate to me disgraceful, to thee is glorious. I had riches, horses, arms, and men ; no wonder then if I contended not to lose them. But if by fate, yours only must be empire, then of
necessity ours among the rest must be subjection. If I sooner had been brought to yield, my misfortune would have been less notorious, your conquest had been less renowned, and in your severest determining of me, both will be soon forgotten. But if you grant that I shall live, by me will live to you for ever that praise which is so near divine, the clemency of a conqueror.” Cæsar moved at such a spectacle of fortune, but especially at the noblenes of his bearing it, gave him pardon, and to all the rest. They all unbound, submissively thank him, and did like reverence to Agrippina the emperor's wife, who sat by in state ; a new and disdained sight to the manly eye of Romans, a woman sitting public in her female pride among ensigns and armed cohorts. To Ostorius triumph is decreed ; and his acts esteemed equal to theirs, that brought in bonds to Rome famousest kings.
XIPHILINE, (From the Translation in "The Monumenta Historica Britannica.') While he, (Nero), thus trifled at Rome, a dreadful calamity happened in Britain; for two cities were destroyed, eighty thousand of the Romans or of their allies were slain, and the island became in a state of iusurrection. And the more to increase their shame, all this calamity was brought upon them by a woman : indeed the Divinity had in some measure foreboded this disaster ; for in the night a barbaric murmuring attended with laughter, was heard from the Senate-house, and a muttering, with lamentation from the theatre, although there was no human being either to clamour or to bewail. Certain dwellings also appeared under water in the river 'Thames, and the ocean between the island and Gaul flowed with blood at the time of high tide.
The cause of the war was the sale of property which Claudius had given up to their chiefs ; and which Decianus Catus, the præfect of the island, said it was necessary should be recalled. And to this was added, that Seneca having lent them, against their will, a thousand myriads of money in expectation of interest, suddenly and violently called in his loan, She, however, who chiefly excited and urged them to fight against the Romans was Bunduica, who was deemed worthy to command them, and who led them in every battle : a Briton of royal race, and breathing more than female spirit. Having collected, therefore, an army to the number of about one hundred and twenty thousand, she, after the Roman custom, ascended a tribunal made of marsny earth. She was of the largest size, most terrible of aspect, most savage of countenance and harsh of voice ; having a profusion of yellow hair which fell down to her hips, and wearing a large golden collar; she had on a party-coloured floating vest drawn close about her bosom, and over this she wore a thick mantle connected by a clasp : such was her usual dress : but at this time she also bore a spear, that thus she might appear more formidable to all; and she spake after this manner.
You must be convinced by experience how much freedom surpasses slavery ; for if any of you formerly, through ignorance of which might be the better, have been deceived by the seducing promises of the Romans ; now, having tried both, you must have learnt how much you have erred in esteeming slavery of your own seeking, preferable to the usage of your country; and you must have felt how superior is poverty with liberty, to opulence with thraldom; for what indeed is there most base, what most grievous, that we have not suffered, since these men cast their eyes on Britain ? Have we not been despoiled of all our best and amplest possessions ? Do we not pay tribute for the remainder? Do we not, in
addition, to both pasturing our cattle and tilling the ground for them, pay also a yearly tribute even of our very bodies ? and how inuch better were it to be sold to slavery once for all, than to be ransomed year after year under the delusive name of liberty; how much better to be slain outright and perish, than to bear about a head subject to perpetual tribute ? But why say I this ? when even to die is not unattended with some claim on their part, for you are aware of what we pay even for the deceased. Among other men, indeed, death liberates the slave altogether, but to the Romans alone, the very dead survive for the purposes of lucre ; and, moreover, if none of us possess money, and how and whence could we possess it ? We are stripped and spoiled like those who are slain ; and what consideration can we expect in future, when even at the very outset, a time when all men treat with kindness even the beasts they have taken, we have been thus used by them ?
'But to speak the truth, we ourselves have been the cause of all this, we who at the first suffered them to land on the island ; and did not immediately drive them far away, as we did that Julius Cæsar; we, who did not, when they were yet afar off, render even their attempt at landing perilous, as we did to Augustus and Caius Caligula. Wherefore, we, possessing so large an island. or rather an insulated continent, and occupying a world of our own; we, who are so completely separated by the ocean from all others as to be deemed to inhabit another earth, and to live beneath another sky; we, of whose name the best informed among them knew nothing before with any certainty, are dispised and trodden under foot by men whose only knowledge is how to cheat others. But if we have not hitherto so done, yet now, oh, countrymen, friends, and relatives, for such I deem you all inhabitants of ope island, and called by one common name, let us act as become us while we have yet a recollection of liberty, that we may leave both its name and its reality to our children : for if we are wholly forgetful of that blessedness in which we have been nurtured, what then will they do who have been nurtured in slavery?
'I say these things, not that you may abhor the present circumstances, for you have long abhorred'them, nor that you may dread those that are future, for you have long dreaded them; but that I may applaud you for choosing of yourselves to do all that behoves you, and thank you that you readily succour both me and yourselves. Dread not the Romans in anywise : for they are neither more in number nor braver than ourselves : and the proof is, that you are armed with helmets, breastplates, and greaves, and moreover are provided with stockades, and walls, and ditches, so as no longer to suffer from the secret incursions of the enemy, for such they prefer making, through their fears, to fighting, as we do openly: indeed, we are induced with courage so superior, that we deem our tents more secure than their walls, and our shields a better defence than their complete armour. Wherefore, when superior in battle we capture them ; when defeated we flee far away : and if we choose to retreat to any place, we hide ourselves in marshes and mountains where we can neither be discovered nor taken; whereas they, from the weight of their armour, are neither able to pursue others nor to escape themselves ; and should they at any time effect their escape, they could fly only to places well known, and there be inclosed as in a 'toil. In such things then they are far inferior to us, as well as in these ; that they can neither endure hunger nor thirst, nor cold nor heat as we do ; moreover, they stand so much in need of shade and shelter, pounded corn, wine, and oil, that if one of these things fail them, they perish ; while to us every herb and root is food, every juice is oil. every stream is wine, and every tree an house : again, to us these places are familiar and friendly, to them strange and hostile ; we swim the rivers naked, they can hardly pass them in boats. Wherefore confiding in our good fortune, let us go
against them, and let us shew them that, being hares and foxes, they strive for the mastery over dogs and wolves.'
Having thus spoken, she let loose a hare from her bosom, using it as a kind of omen ; and when it rap propitiously for them, the whole multitude, rejoicing, gave a shout : and Bunduica extending her hand towards heaven, exclaimeil: 'I give thee thanks, Andraste : and I, a female, invoke thee, a female also ; neither ruling over the burthen bearing Egyptians, like Nitocris, nor over the Syrian merchants, like Semirarius, for such things we have already learnt from the Romans, nor indeed over the Romans themselves, as did first Messalina, then Agrippina, and at present Nero, who has indeed the name of a man, but is in act a woman, a proof of which is that he sings and plays on the harp and beautifies his person ; but ruling over Britisb men, unskilled indeed in husbandry or handicraft, but who having thoroughly learned to fight, deeming all other things common, and even children and wives common also, who in consequence display equal courage with their husbands. Reigning, therefore, over such men and such women, I pray and entreat thee for victory and security and liberty in their behalf, against men who are revilers, unjust, insatiable, impious ; if forsooth we must give the title of men to such as bathe in tepid water, live on dressed meats, drink undiluted wine, anoint themselves with spikenard, repose luxuriously, lying with boys and those no longer youthful, and are charmed by the strains of an harper, and he a wretched one. Let not, then a Noronia or a Domitia tyrannize over me or you ; but let such a songstress rule the Romans, for they deserve to be enslaved to that woman whose tyranny they have so long endured; but mayest thou, O queen, alone have dominion over us for ever!
Having thus harangued, Bunduica led her army against the Romans, who were at that time without a chief, because Paulinus, their coinmander, was was warring against Mona, a certain island adjacent to Britain. Wherefore she overthrew and plundered two Roman cities, and there as I have said, wrought indescribable slaughter : as to the male captives there was no thing of the most dreadful kind which was not inflicted upon them. They practised, indeed, whatever was most revolting and savage ; for they hung up their noblest and most beautiful women naked, cut off their breasts, and sewed them to their mouths, that they might appear to be themselves eating them, and afterwards transfixed them at full length on sharp stakes. And all this was done in mockery, while they were sacrificing and banqueting in their several sacred plans, but more especially in the grove of Andate, for so they denominated Victory, whom they venerated supremely.
But it happened that Paulinus had now subdued Mona, and having heard of the disaster in Britain, he forthwith sailed back thither from Mona : he was unwilling indeed to risk the chance of a battle immediately against the barbarians, dreading their number and fury; wherefore he deferred the conflict to a more fitting opportunity. But when he was in want of provisions, and the barbarians pressing forward, allowed him no respite, he was compelled to attack them contrary to his intention. Bunduica, therefore, having an army amounting to two hundred and thirty thousand men, herself rode on a car, and drew up the others singly. Paulinus, however, was neither able to extend his phalanx in opposition to them ; for he could not have equalled them had he drawn up his men singly, so much inferior were they in number; nor did he dare to engage in one compact body, lest he should be surrounded and cut to pieces : he therefore divided his army into three bodies, that they might fight in several places at once, and closed up each of the divisions in such wise that they could not be broken through : and, having drawn up and posted them, he exhorted them, saying:
*Come on, fellow soldiers ! Come on, Romans ! Show these pests how much, even