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From The Germany and the Agricola by Tacitus; The Oxford Translation, Revised, with Notes; The Handy Book Company: Reading, Pennsylvania; undated; pp. 59-60.




By Cornelius Tacitus



Editor’s Preface —  Apology for Writing the Life — Retrospect — A New Freedom — Birth of Agricola — In Britain under Suetonius Paullinus — Magistracy and Marriage in Rome — Joins the Party of Vespasian —  Assumes Command of the Twentieth Legion in Britain — Raised to the Patrician Order, Policies as Governor of Aquitania — Britain — Inhabitants of Britain — Climate and Soil


The History of the Roman Occupation of Britain — First Invasion of Britain — Rebellion of the Britons — Defeat of Boadicea — Vespasian’s Rule Britain — The Ordovices of North Wales — Agricola’s Manner of Governing Britain — He Adopts a Milder Policy — His Treatment of the Britains — Military Actions in his Third Year Governing Britain — The Firths of Clyde and Forth — The Fifth Year — The Sixth Year — Great Battle in Caledonia — After the Victory — The Mutiny of a Cohort of Usipii


He Reaches the Grampians — Calgacus’ Address to the Britain :  Introduction — Calgacus Continues His Harangue — Calgacus’ Concluding Remarks — Agricola’s Address before the Battle :  Introduction — Agricola Continues His Harangue — The Order of Battle of the Britons and Romans — Battle of the Grampians — Defeat of the Britons — The Aftermath of the Battle — Reaction of Domitian to the Victory — His Recall from Britain — Popular Support for Agricola — He Retires from Public Life — His Death — His Eulogy by Tacitus — Withdrawn from Impending Evils — Tacitus Consoles His Mourners

[Editor’s Preface]

[THIS work is supposed by the commentators to have been written before the treatise on the Manners of the Germans, in the third consulship of the emperor Nerva, and the second of Verginius Rufus, in the year of Rome 850, and of the Christian era 97. Brotier accedes to this opinion; but the reason which he assigns does not seem to be satisfactory. He observes that Tacitus, in the third section, mentions the emperor Nerva; but as he does not call him Divus Nerva, the deified Nerva, the learned commentator infers that Nerva was still living. This reasoning might have some weight, if we did not read, in section 44, that it was the ardent wish of Agricola that he might live to behold Trajan in the imperial seat. If Nerva was then alive, the wish to see another in his room would have been an awkward compliment to the reigning prince. It is, perhaps, for this reason that Lipsius thinks this very elegant tract was written at the same time with the Manners of the Germans, in the beginning of the emperor Trajan. The question is not very material, since conjecture alone must decide it. The piece itself is admitted to be a master-piece in the kind. Tacitus was son-in-law to Agricola; and while filial piety breathes through his work, he never departs from the integrity of his own character. He has left a historical monument highly interesting to every Briton, who wishes to know the manners of his ancestors, and the spirit of liberty that from the earliest time distinguished the natives of Britain. “Agricola,” as Hume observes, “was the general who finally established the dominion of the Romans in this island. He governed it in the reigns of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. He carried his victorious arms northward; defeated the Britons in every encounter, pierced into the forests and the mountains of Caledonia, reduced every state to subjection in the southern parts of the island, and chased before him all the men of fiercer and more intractable spirits, who deemed war and death itself less intolerable than servitude under the victors. He defeated them in a decisive action, which they fought under Galgacus; and having fixed a chain of garrisons between the friths of Clyde and Forth, he cut off the ruder and more barren parts of the island, and secured the Roman province from the incursions of the barbarous inhabitants. 60 During these military enterprises he neglected not the arts of peace. He introduced laws and civility among the Britons; taught them to desire and raise all the conveniences of life; reconciled them to the Roman language and manners; instructed them in letters and science; and employed every expedient to render those chains, which he had forged, both easy and agreeable to them.” (Hume’s Hist. vol. i. p. 9.) In this passage Mr. Hume has given a summary of the Life of Agricola. It is extended by Tacitus in a style more open than the didactic form of the essay on the German Manners required, but still with the precision, both in sentiment and diction, peculiar to the author. In rich but subdued colors he gives a striking picture of Agricola, leaving to posterity a portion of history which it would be in vain to seek in the dry gazette style of Suetonius, or in the page of any writer of that period.]

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