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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK III
AVING received government over the Scots in the manner just described, Ederus immediately made a progress through the districts subject to his rule. His arrival was all the more welcome to many nobles because he delighted in the hunt, to which they were very devoted. For until that day he had exercised himself in that form of pleasure, nor to his way of thinking was their anything fairer or more pleasant than to hunt his prey with tracking-dogs or hunting-hounds, particularly the wolves which preyed on cattle (because of its cold climate, our land produces wild and savage ones) and other ill-natured beasts. At the time all things appeared safe and sound, since no enemy was visible at home or abroad. The people rejoiced in secure peace, and no ravager could be found. If one man harmed another, he paid his forfeits to the king’s justice. Bredus began to disturb this tranquility: he was an islander, a kinsman of that Gillus who had died in Ireland as a result of Cadallus’ campaign. He assembled some robbers from Ireland and the Hebrides, with the idea of avenging the death of Gillus and those who perished with him, and crossed over to Argathelia with a number of ships, drove off many cattle, and ravaged their fields. At this disturbance, the rustics, together with many nobles and commoners, fled to King Ederus, who chanced to be not far away, hunting in a forest. Fearfully, they reported that Argathelia was occupied by pillagers, despoiled of all its cattle and moveable property: babes, women, and whoever was weak because of their age or sex, had been put to the sword. Troubled by this news, Ederus quickly broke of the hunt. Then, having held a levy, he made a night-march against Bredus. He bypassed the plunderers on tip-toe, and his first order of business was to kill the guards of the Hebridians’ ships and set them afire, lest they have any opportunity to flee to Ireland. At daybreak he attacked Bredus and his robbers in battle order, coming from a direction whence they suspected no danger, killing many of them, and turning the rest to rout, whom he vigorously chased down. When these fellows could not evade the clutches of their pursuers, by royal command they finished their lives at the end of a rope, and what they had plundered was restored to its rightful owners.
2. After these things, Ederus left Argathelia and crossed over to the Hebrides, where he put down the commotions caused by those who had sided with Gillus and Bredus, putting some to death and fining others of cattle (as was the current practice). With Hebridian affairs thus pacified, he had scarcely returned to Evonium when ambassadors came to him from King Cassibilanus of the Britons, requesting his support against the Roman general Caius Julius Caesar, for he had learned from Gallic and Roman spies whom he had captured and thrown in chains that, beyond all doubt, was on the verge of crossing over from Gaul to Britain with his army. Ederus received the ambassadors with all kindness, and bade them come on the following day to a parliament of elders (who were present at the time) and in their presence explain what they had come to request in the name of Cassibilanus and the British people. Then Androgaeus, born to a high station in Britain and always possessed of great authority, was given permission to speak at the parliament, and thus began his speech the king and the elders of the people:
3. “Today, King Ederus, I am not going to say anything in this very distinguished assembly on behalf of the welfare of King Cassibilanus and the British nation, other than that which, beyond all controversy, touches on your safety and that of the Scots. Nature, that excellent mother of all things, has (as it is plausible to believe) placed three very warlike nations in this island of Albion, not so they might suffer from mutual infighting and savage one another by turning arms against themselves like ill-natured beasts, but that they might more easily unite and form alliances to ward off foreign invasions, should such occur, with their joint forces, without suffering any harm. Who, pray, can say or rightfully imagine, excellent king, that your kingdom would remain safe and sound, were the British nation to be destroyed? Unless, perhaps, someone were to encourage you in the false hope that, with your neighboring nations removed, those enemies (I mean the Romans, who wrest scepters away from kings) would be more gently disposed towards yourself and this nation of yours. At the cost of others (but not, I hope, of your own), you will readily gather how this vain way of thinking is to be avoided by all men. For (as we know full well) the Romans, very proudly declaring themselves to be the masters of the world, and boasting that this has been granted them as the gift of the gods, have made up their minds to cross over to this island of Albion any day now, for the purpose of subjecting the Britons to their domination. By the tyranny they perpetually exercise over conquered races, they have steadily made their name more hateful to every people and nation. And, by the immortal gods, are we to imagine that, should the Britons be conquered and enslaved, the Romans would do anything other than wage war on the Scots and Picts soon thereafter, with an avarice and lust for power equal to that with which they had raged when subjecting the Britons, robbing them of their rights and laws, their lands and liberty? For the fact of the matter goes to show that they desire nothing else than to settle and take up housekeeping in all our fields, castles and towns, oppress us with perpetual servitude, and ultimately to drive us into exile, since they have heard that we are more excellent and more prosperous than the rest of mankind.
4. "This can easily be taught us by the ruins of Carthage, once a most mighty city. For after it had been taken by storm and had surrendered, and while it was faithfully observing the conditions of peace imposed on it, they destroyed it out of envy. And if what has been transacted in faraway lands escapes your notice, consider the Gauls, a nation neighboring us: the with all their fortifications overwhelmed by Roman violence and all their armaments taken away, Gaul has been stricken with perpetual slavery. Nor are we (and here I mean all the inhabitants of Albion) to hope that, if we were to be conquered and come under their power, the Romans would have a kindlier attitude towards ourselves. For, the wider their empire spreads, the more harshly they impose slavery on a conquered nation. Therefore this is a common evil, that must be fended off by our common arms. Roman power is to be repelled at the very outset, lest it gather strength and grow to the point that it cannot be prevented. So, ever-invincible king, gird yourself with your virtue, arm yourself, ally yourself with this warlike nation, increase the Britons’ strength by your accession. Join battle against our common enemy, defend our ancient liberty. With our national gods helping us, we are bound to prevail over an enemy who, not content with the rest, has come to this remote island with hostile intention, having suffered no harm at the hands of its inhabitants, provoked only by his lust for rule. When, thanks to the good-will of the gods, you have gained many advantages, you will also have gained liberty and undying glory for yourself and your nation. These are Cassibilanus’ requests, made for the sake of your safety no less than your own. These are the things for which the British nation wholeheartedly wishes.”
5. When Androgaeus had made an end to his speaking, the ambassadors were requested to leave the parliament for a little while, so that a freer consultation could be had about framing a response to his requests. When they had been removed and the matter was brought up for discussion, the sentiment of them all was that help against the Romans was to be supplied to King Cassibilanus and the Britons, a friendly people, for the common defense, a levy was to be held, and forces sent to Cassibilanus as quickly as possible, partly at public expense, and partly with funds raised by taxation. Then the ambassadors were called back, and King Ederus addressed them, saying, “In King Cassibilanus’ name, British sirs, you are asking us to perform a fine task, one that is praiseworthy and very useful for our commonwealth: that we defend this kingdom, founded by our ancestors and bequeathed to ourselves, from this extreme peril which undoubtedly threatens all of us who dwell on Albion. For we are told by many men familiar with their empire how greedy the Romans are for other men’s goods, how wealthy they are at home and how powerful in the field, and how haughtily they lord it over conquered peoples. Nor do we know anything better than that, if they were to subject the conquered Britons to their sway, they would take up arms against us, either to debar us from Albion or to take away our liberty and reduce us to slavery. We cannot fail to be convinced by the evils daily suffered by the Gauls, the Spaniards (and Spain is the home of our ancestors), and all those enslaved by the Romans. For, at least in our opinion, it would have been far better for them to have died fighting nobly for their liberty than to live on and reserve themselves for shameful servitude. But we know for a certainty that kingdom, liberty, laws, and rights are not to be taken away from the Britons save by a hard struggle, and we ourselves are bound by rights to fight on their behalf, since our commonwealth cannot be jeopardized as long as they remain safe. And so we have decided to take up arms together Cassibilanus and the British people and to go to war in the sure hope of defeating this evil enemy. For it will be more honorable, if the gods so choose, for us to die there than to remain at home and betray a friendly people by permitting its enemies to despoil it of its nation, its sons and national gods. We will therefore enroll an army and send it without delay to London as an aid for Cassibilanus. By means of our ambassadors, we shall earnestly exhort King Gethus of the Picts and his nation’s elders to do the same, in accordance with their treaty. And we hope that they, more than anybody else who live in Albion, will be moved by considerations of our common safety and give us a friendly hearing. We all owe this to our nation, and we shall perform this with hearts made invincible by hope.”
6. Cassibilanus’ ambassadors were heartened by the king’s speech. Having first thanked Ederus and his elders, they joined his ambassadors in going to King Gethus of the Picts. After he heard the requests of Cassibilanus and the British nation, and had discussed these with the Pictish elders, who supported them, he gave Ederus’ representatives a kindly and favorable response, just as Cassibilanus had hoped. After the ambassadors came home, Ederus selected ten thousand men out of the entire Scottish nation, over whom he set Cadallanus, the chieftain of the Brigantes and son of Cadallus, whom I have mentioned previously, together with Dowall, chieftain of the men of Argathelia., and sent them to Cassibilanus at London. Their arrival was all the more welcome to Cassibilanus because he was anticipating a dangerous fight with a mighty enemy, obeyed by a large part of the world. For he had already been informed by his scouts that Caesar had gained possession of the shore of Britain with a great fleet, and had disembarked massive forces. Those who had been stationed to prevent his landing had been pushed back from the coastline, and those who had stood their ground had been killed in a sharp conflict with the Romans, and an eagle had been planted on British soil by a Roman standard-bearer, so that the local inhabitants had fled to avoid the Romans’ power. This news produced considerable fear among the Britons. But Cassibilanus consoled them with a sweet address, earnestly urging them to fight on behalf of his nation and his liberty, and of those who are dearest to mortals, their wives, children, and national gods: for, if these are taken away, human life cannot be either safe or honorable. He promised them an assured victory over their enemy because Caesar impiously undertaken this war against the Britons, not for the sake of anything just or honorable, but out of a criminal greed for gaining plunder. The arrival of the Scottish and Pictish soldiers, in whom the Britons placed great trust, lifted their hopes.
7. Cassibilanus delayed no longer, and with all his forces moved against his enemy with forced marches, sending ahead horsemen and charioteers to throw the Romans into disarray. There first occurred two inconclusive skirmishes. Then they joined battle with their full armies. There ensued a sharp battle that hung in the balance until the arrival of Tenantius, captain of the men of Wales and Cornwall with a new company of men. The noise of their wheels and bells dangling from the armor of those riding in chariots struck the enemy ranks with fear and they were turned to flight. The Britons, together with the Scottish and Pictish auxiliaries who were with them, gave chase in a disorganized way, and with a great to-do frittered away their victory, so that they scarcely inflicted any more damage on the enemy than they themselves received. The fleeing Romans maintained their order, following their standards in good discipline, and occasionally tried to rejoin the fight, since their enemy, far inferior in strength, could not pursue them. The Britons chaotically followed, not without loss of life, and the battling and the pursuit did not end until nightfall. When his enemies had broken off the fight, Caesar industriously gathered his Roman soldiers, and ordered the wounded to be borne to his ships. He himself decided to renew the battle at first light, and gain revenge for the reversal he has suffered with a sharp fight. But when he learned that the Roman ships had been so battered by the violence of a storm that the majority of them were of no further use, he feared less the calamity of his fleet would lift his enemies’ spirits and depress those of his own men, and, thinking he must rebuild his ships as soon as possible, he held his present position.
8. After a short interval, he led his army back to the camp he had built at the seaside, at a place excellently fortified both by art and nature. Leaving behind those ships which were so badly damaged that they were unserviceable and repairing the rest, he obtained suitable sailing-weather and at night boarded them, abandoning a great amount of spoils in the camp, which he could not transport because of the shortage of shipping. Setting sail from the harbor, he reached the continent with all his legions safe and sound. Caesar first crossed over to Britain with a Roman army in the fourth year of King Ederus’ reign, the year of Creation 5169, and sixty years before the incarnation of Christ our Lord. The Britons and the auxiliaries of Albion who were with them occupied the Roman camp and, in accordance with military tradition, shared out the booty. Their victory and Caesar’s departure, which they interpreted as shameful flight, overjoyed the men of Albion. In sacrifices performed after their pagan manner (as occurred in that age) they paid great thanks to the gods, confident that they were freed from Roman harm forever, and that henceforth no man would cross over into Britain for the sake of introducing foreign wars. Cadallanus and his Scottish army, having lost only a few men, were given ample rewards by King Cassibilanus, and when he returned to Scotland he described his accomplishments to King Ederus: how a conquered Caesar had been driven to the sea and back to Gaul, having lost a great part of his Roman army, and how the victorious men of Albion had gained great booty. Therefore (as everybody firmly believed) there was no further need for those who dwelt in Albion to fear Roman arms. The Scottish soldiers had performed very much to the liking of King Cassibilanus and the British nation, and he and the elders of Britain had expressed their great gratitude, since it was thanks to their arrival and their help that, when all but overwhelmed by such a wealthy enemy, they were freed by fighting an honorable battle, and henceforth they would embrace nothing as dezrer than the name of the Scots.
9. King Ederus was overjoyed by a victory over so great an army and commanded a demonstration of gratitude to the gods: there should be three days of thanksgiving and victims should be sacrificed at their altars. There ensued public cheering and great rejoicing. From these events there arose such great friendship of the three nations, the Scots, the Picts, and the Britons, such mutual congratulations and bonds of amity, that it seemed they were destined to coexist in strong and enduring peace. After the rites had been performed, the king devoted his following winter to the public affairs of the realm, but in the next summer, as had been his habit as a young man, he spent hunting. Even as an old man, he indulged in nothing with more relish than the hunt. When this year had been completed, he learned from Gallic merchants who had come to Inverness for trading that Caesar had pacified all Gaul and was preparing a great fleet, with which he would undoubtedly cross over to Britain with several Roman legions, for the purpose of avenging the insult he had received the previous year and bringing the island under Roman rule. Frequent letters from Gauls who hated Caesar’s government convinced the Britons of the truth of this report. As soon as Ederus had heard these these things, he sent ambassadors to Cassibilanus in Britain: if this news about Caesar appeared to be true, lest an allied people be overwhelmed, in the name of their king they should offer Cassibilanus and the British people the support of ten thousand armed men. The ambassadors arrived at London, bearing King Ederus’ mandates to Cassibilanus. Much against Cassibilanus’ will, the British elders refused the Scots’ offers, saying they were competent to deal with the situation, having already scattered a Roman army with a few days’ fighting. Thanks to these things and to their daily exercise in the martial arts, their fighting ability had been increased, and the Britons would be finished if they were to require foreign help to deal with every enemy incursion. If the victorious Britons were destined to fight against the Romans they had already conquered, it would be a sin to entertain doubts about victory.
10. When the results of this embassy were reported back to Ederus and the Scottish elders, to a man they were amazed at the Britons’ folly for having refused the aid of auxiliaries for a war they would of necessity have to wage against the Romans, masters of nearly the entire world. They had a foreboding that very soon the noble British realm would suffer a tremendous loss because of the rashness of certain nobles puffed up by a single happy success. And a little later the outcome of this business showed they were right. For a few days later Caesar returned to Britain, and at his arrival those who were guarding the coastline, terrified by the huge number of his ships, retreated. After Caesar had landed his army, he was thrice attacked by Cassibilanus, without success. The Britons were routed in the last of these attempts, losing many of their men, and three of their leaders were captured, the best of them all, Androgaeus, Cisentorix and Tenantus. After Briton’s forces had been shattered by that catastrophe and went home, Cassibilanus, worn down by one defeat after another and despairing of his fortunes, surrendered himself to Caesar, and, giving hostages, entered into an agreement that Britain would be a tributary to the Roman people. Taking these hostages, Caesar accepted Cassibilanus’ submission and commanded that Britain should pay an annual tribute of three thousand pounds of silver to the Roman people. Caesar entered London and the very stout stronghold here, and was received by its citizens with great honor. Having stayed here only a short time, when his soldiers had been refreshed after their exertions, he prepared to wage war against the Scots and the Picts. But before attempting an invasion, he chose to use embassies to test their dispositions, and determined whether they preferred peace or war: peace, if they voluntarily yielded to the senate and people of Rome and henceforth would be obedient; war, if they were recalcitrant and scorned the Roman empire. So ambassadors were sent to the kings of both peoples, who were to say that, as a gift from the gods (as it was plausible to imagine), nearly all kingdoms had fallen to the Romans. The gods had granted successive empires to various peoples, the Assyrians, Medes, Persians, and Greeks, hbut ad now settled permanently upon the Romans. There was scarce anywhere in the world to which Roman arms had not penetrated, and, thanks to the gods’ good-will, the Romans had conquered everywhere. They had conquered everything: the Africans, Egyptians, Arabs, Syrians, Palestinians, Parthians, Tyrians, Galatians, Asiatics, Macedonians, all the Greek world, and the Spanish. In addition, the Gauls, the Britons, and nearly all the world girded by the ocean now obeyed Roman laws. The Roman empire was not unknown to any nation or people, unless there existed peoples of whom the rest were unaware. Nowhere was life secure or honorable for mankind, but where Roman laws hold sway. Rome was the protector of all nations, their harbor and refuge, and glory was that it defended its friends and allies with faith and equity. Therefore it would confer great splendor on the nation of the Scots and Picts to ally themselves with the Roman, and to be the friends and associates of the Roman people, to whom so many realms now reduced to provinces and so many kings overcome in war were obedient. This was the mandate of Caesar and the Roman people, issued for the commodity of both peoples. They should greatly wish this, unless, perhaps, they desired to set themselves in opposition to the gods, who had already decreed that all things should submit to the Roman empire.
11. When King Ederus and the Scottish elders had heard these things being recited, they had a great suspicion that deceit was concealed beneath these fine-sounding words, and replied that they would fight with all their power to the very end in defense of their children, wives, nation, and liberty, and that any manner of death was preferable to slavery. The only thing they had heard about the Romans was the report that, more than the normal nature of mankind, they were very greedy robbers who stole that belonging to others: they robbed kings of their scepters on manufactured pretexts, they oppressed many peoples conquered by shameful war with servitude and subjected them to their fasces. And if the Romans chose to wage an unprovoked war against them to deprive them of their reign, their rights and liberty, they swore by the gods, who had the power to avenge kings and the wrongs they suffer, that they would perish to the last man, seeking a very fair death in fighting for their nation. The Roman ambassadors received a response from the king of the Picts and his nation’s elders that was not at all different. When Caesar heard from his ambassadors the replies of the Scots and the Picts, he decided to send out a second embassy which would say much harsher things. And when they came into Ederus’ presence and had been granted a public audience by the Scots, the senior ambassador said, “The Roman consul Caesar urges, King Ederus and you Scotsmen, that you yield to the most powerful men in the world, lest you fatally endanger your liberty, your realm, and your lives, by rashly resisting the world’s Roman masters. You ought to be moved by the reversals suffered by other rebellious peoples, by the majesty of the Roman people, and the greatness of their name. Do you wish to make trial of the fortunes of war in the Briton’s way? Recently, when they selfishly (not to say foolishly) strove to protect their liberty, in hard battle their most noble men were either taken prisoner or put to the sword, and they earned themselves perpetual servitude. What are you Scotsmen of Albion, in comparison with those to have conquered the world? Are you so imprudent as to have so much confidence in your strength that you wrongly imagine that the Romans, the masters of all nations, can be defeated by yourselves, a nation at the end of the earth, and that you are going to free the world of its servitude to the Romans? Will your strength (which is virtually nothing, in comparison with the Romans) restore ruined empires? Will it rebuild kingdoms? Have you never heard of the many Roman generals who are Caesar’s equals both in the vigor and stamina of their spirits and in their martial industry, the brilliance of whose deeds shines in all the parts of the world bounded by the rising and setting of the sun? Since it would be a task more than the whole world could manage to defeat Caesar alone, what is the source of your blind rashness? Do you disdain the gods, who, since they have subjected all things to the Romans, must of necessity support them, and be their patrons and protectors? If you are convinced that the steep mountains and marshland, with which these parts abound, are impenetrable to an army, that the Roman army is to be exhausted by lack of provisions, and that you can take your property, flee to those places, and remain safe and sound, so that Caesar will be obliged to depart, you people who so unadvisedly trust in yourselves and your situation must learn that this can no more deter the Romans from their intention than if all your lands were most suitable for fighting and full of all the things most advantageous for human use.
12. “The Romans are the most skilled of all mortals when it comes to martial discipline, they have agile bodies for overcoming inaccessible terrain, for running, for all kinds of struggle; they are most sparing in their diet, and not unfamiliar with every manner of risk that can be imagined in warfare. If the need arises, grain for the army’s use will be fetched from Britain, Gaul and Germany, now tributaries to the senate and people of Rome. Caesar has already made plans to cope with all exigencies. And so, if you are concerned for your national welfare, if you are wise, in your wisdom you should take care lest, by fighting with greater stubbornness than prudence, you bring down on your heads an evil from which you cannot extricate yourselves, and by your rashness inflict a fatal loss on yourselves, your wives and children, compelled by force to make a shameful submission to your enemy, when you can now submit with honor to a friendly people, without any fighting. There can be no other outcome, if with such great stubbornness you continue to resist the opposing Fates, than that, despoiled of your liberty and having suffered great catastrophes in war, you experience a necessary and disgraceful servitude earned by your stiff-necked dispositions, to which you will unwillingly submit, living in that condition forever, with no hope of liberty.”
13.At this statement the people’s fury and outcries arose, with the result that the Roman ambassadors were all but torn apart in the sight of the assembly, they hated the word “servitude” that much. But the law of mankind, which our countrymen have always held in no small reverence, protected them from harm. At King Ederus’ behest, a reply was given by Cadillanus, the chieftain of the Brigantines: even if the Scottish people was regarded by many men as dull-witted and unthinking, they were nevertheless unmoved by Caesar’s deceitful fine words, nor, again, were they frightened by his treats into losing their liberty without a struggle and voluntarily surrendering to servitude; they were accustomed to obey kings who governed their realms by law, not men who stole kingdoms. Therefore they had no desire for the friendship of the Romans because, as was clear from their fair words, they were not lacking in chicanery. As the gods were their witness, they wholly scorned the Romans’ hostility and the impending war about to be declared. Dismissed, the ambassadors carried back to Caesar these brief responses of the Scots and the Picts. When he heard them, Caesar was deeply offended, and very energetically prepared for war against the rebellious Scots and Picts. Then he began his invasion of their territories. But he received a dispatch from Labienus, whom he had left behind on the continent to protect the harbor and supervise his provisions, that the Morini and Neustrii, whom he had left behind in a pacified condition when he set out for Britain, had broken out in rebellion, and that the Carnutes had also stirred up a great upheaval in Gaul, killing Tasgetius, whom he had appointed as their king because of his personal virtue and his friendly disposition towards himself and the Roman people. So he abandoned his project. In addition, the soldiers’ provisions had already begun to fail, for Britain scarcely furnishes a grain-supply adequate for its own population and there was no prospect of importing any from Gaul, since the rebellion prevented that. In addition, the equinox was at hand, when storms were most likely to prevent men from sailing. Taking all these things into consideration, he decided to transport all his forces to Gaul, because he had made arrangements to winter there. A few days later, having made Britain a tributary nation (as I have already said) but scarcely having frightened the Scots and Picts, Caesar quitted Albion.
14. These facts concerning Caesar’s in Britain, his memorable victory over Cassibilanus, and the Britons’ capitulation, are not much at variance with what Caesar himself wrote about his accomplishment in his Commentaries, and for the most part are taken from Vairement and John Campbell. In our popular national annals it is recorded that Caesar brought Roman arms as far as the Caledonian Forest, then took by storm Camelodunum, the capital of the Picts and left behind at a place not far from the sacked city, not far from the river Carron, a stone building made out of polished and foursquare stones of great size, more than twenty-four cubits high and twelve cubits wide, to serve as a monument advising later ages that Roman forces had come that far. They add that during his expedition Caesar had it disassembled and carried about with him, for use as his headquarters. This was supposedly called Iulis hoff, or Julius’ Palace, a name that has come down from us, since the locals call it such. But, since none of the learned men who have written about Roman affairs with full accuracy assert that Caesar waged war against the Scots and the Picts, but rather unanimously appear to follow Caesar’s Commentaries, in this history of mine (of whatever quality it may be) I have deliberately chosen to pass over in silence an expedition of this kind and the things which are commonly said to have transpired in its course, including nothing here that can justly be refuted. But as far as that stone structure goes, as can be seen in our own day, it is round, having no windows or opening at the top. It resembles those ancient shrines one can see at Rome, having stone benches within set in a circle (as its remains show), with an ashlar floor once covered by a mosaic, as its few remaining fragments reveal. The eagles engraved into the stones are now all but worn away by the passage time, and within it is a great stone at its south, which the pagans are thought to have used as an altar. I therefore think that what Vairement wrote about this same structure is closer to the truth, since it agrees with Suetonius and Cornelius Tacitus, those highly reputable Roman historians, that this is the polished stone temple once built by Vespasian in honor of Claudius Caesar and the goddess Victory not far from Camelodunum, and there is a persistent report that this was stated in an inscription written on a stone tablet above the door, and that this same tablet was destroyed by order of King Edward I of England when he was foully ravaging the kingdom of Scotland, so that the reputation of the monument would be abolished. And they say that the place where the tablet bearing the inscription was removed is still visible. But I shall say more about this matter in a later context.
15. I shall now return to the doings of Ederus. When he had assembled an army from the Hebrides and all the Scottish districts and was awaiting a Roman invasion, there was considerable tumult in the islands. Murketus, a certain disreputable fellow, a nephew the Gillus of whom I have copiously spoken above, assembled a gang of rascals from Ireland and came in ships to plunder the Hebrides. This sly fox was aware that nearly all the islanders had left home, having been summoned by Ederus’ edict to the war being readied against the Romans, so that he had the ability to rage his way through the islands all the more freely. Many women and men left at home because their bodies were enfeebled were oppressed, and great plunder was gathered and placed aboard ship. Cadallanus, sent against this man with an army, assaulted the ships by night and took them almost without a flight. He brought the ships back from the deep sea and set the cattle they had stolen and the captives they had taken ashore on Gowrie, one of the Hebrides islands, and allowed them to go home. But he commanded that the robbers, who had flocked together there, be hanged on the shore, and that, being their leader, Murketus should be hanged on a higher gallows. In this way this commotion was settled, with its leading men suppressed. The remainder of Ederus’ reign was tranquil, with both foreign and civil wars abated. At length, when he had reigned for forty-eight years and was an extremely old man, having long suffered from a grave malady, he departed this life at Evonium. His reign endured down to the twenty-sixth year of the government of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, the year of Creation 5133. Carried in what passed for royal estate in that age of the world, he was buried in a conspicuous tomb on the field at Evonium, with many obelisks erected there, in accordance with long-standing national custom. In life and in death Ederus could have been called blessed for his most excellent virtues and the honors shown him by subjects of every sex, order and age in Albion, had he not he left behind as heir to the realm Ewen III, the worst of all men, of whom I must speak next.
16. Returning from his father’s funeral, this man was declared king by the votes of them all, since there was no man who was unconvinced that this king would follow in the footsteps of his father, an excellent prince. But after he had been declared king he entered into a far different manner of living, for during the course of the first year of his reign he became immersed in pleasures and embraced every manner of vice: he surpassed all young men, or even women, in his lack of self-control, and ran mad with lust. He availed himself of a hundred concubines chosen from noble matrons and virgins, his exquisite delights, and if he happened to be exhausted by that number, he was nevertheless never satiated (although always infamous). At the instigation of clowns and buffoons whom pandering had raised from a base condition to opulence, he proscribed some of the elders of the kingdom, so that he might have more leisure for slaking his lust. He set snares for others, and caused them to be killed by unclean fellows. And (as it was said everywhere) he had it in mind to employ various tortures in killing off all nobles who found his crimes hateful on feigned pretexts, after he had drained them dry of their fortunes. Addicted to these crimes, he reigned for six years, no less basely than unhappily, while befouling everything with his luxurious living and lust, while many evil toadies, unrestrained by any sense of shame or fear of reproach and infamy, cheered on the prince’s wantonness in the hope of turning a profit. Then, turning to avarice, he took on a miserly and all but squalid character, and hence became displeasing to his courtiers, who only flattered him in the hope of being rewarded. Devoid of all reverence for men or gods, he sought out opportunities for despoiling many men of their estates, fields, moveable property, and all their cattle. In the end, he grew so insane that he displayed public favor towards robbers, defended every offense and act of thievery committed against the common folk, and helped himself to a share of their plunder. In addition to these things, he committed many unmentionable acts, and introduced laws that reeked with every manner of nastiness, so that it was permitted individuals of his nation to take six or even ten wives, as their purses permitted. Wives of commoners were made the common property of noblemen, and the lord of the place was permitted the first enjoyment of a virgin bride. Although the other laws were wholly abolished not long thereafter, even after many centuries had passed this last one could by any efforts be abrogated, so greatly had this plague infected the minds of young nobles. In the end, (as will be told in a more suitable place), at the urging of his queen Margaret, King Malcolm Canmore substituted for this custom, being an outrage against God and men, the requirement that a bridegroom should pay the lord of the place a gold coin (such as our age calls a marcheta) to redeem his bride’s chastity, and the common folk observe this tradition even in our age.
17. But I come back to Ewen. When rumor of his crimes came to everyone’s ears, the elders of the realm, disgusted that such great faults, so harmful to the commonwealth, existed in a governing prince, and indignant that this effeminate monster was addicted to stinginess, theft, and plundering to the extent that he showed himself to be a freebooter rather than a sovereign, and that for his own self-advantage he was lording it over subjects who had reverence for right and justice, quickly entered into an association against him. Hearing of this association, Ewen marched out to battle with a few disorganized forces, and at the first conflict, abandoned by everyone, he was taken alive by his enemies, and remanded to public custody. A parliament of elders was then held, and they all voted that, with the government entrusted to Cadallanus, Ewen should be deposed and be imprisoned in perpetuity. This was done, with everyone exclaiming about his malfeasance. On the following night a headstrong young man went into the prison and strangled him, fancying that this would be much to Cadallanus’ liking. But he was mistaken in this opinion, and at Cadalannus’ command he was publicly hanged.
18. So such was the end of Ewen, who died in prison seven years after he had begun to rule. During the thirty-second year of the principate of Augustus Caesar, that most blessed of Roman emperors, Ederus’ nephew Metellanus, the son of his brother Carran (for Ewen had no sons), immediately succeeded to the throne, the mildest of all Scots kings who had yet lived. During his reign, no civil or foreign wars beset the nation, and all things at home and abroad were managed under happy auspices. This king was possessed of great clemency towards men and much reverence for the gods and their priests (by the lights of the pagan folly than then existed). He greatly strove to quash Ewen’s filthy laws, which I have described just a little earlier. But, overcome by the importunity of nobles who rejoiced in keeping a light rein on their venery and pleasure-seeking, he abandoned this project. At about this time Roman ambassadors came to Cymbeline, King of the Britons, to congratulate him for abiding in most friendly dutifulness and piety towards the senate and people of Rome since gaining the throne , and to announce to him that the entire world was now enjoying profound peace, and that mortals everywhere were coexisting more amicably than at an time in human history. They urged that he imitate this example being set by the rest of humanity and maintain peace with neighboring princes and peoples, and that he should make an end to all quarrels, both foreign and domestic. For this had a very important bearing on the prosperity of Augustus, who by now had put at rest nearly the entire world, and indeed that of the entire world itself. At Octavian’s bidding, these ambassadors also visited Metallanus, the King of the Scots, making the same claims and requests. When Metellus heard from the Roman ambassadors that peace and rest had been bestowed on mankind everywhere, and that the people of the extreme orient had besought the friendship of the senate and people of Rome, sending Augustus Caesar golden crowns and other fine gifts, he revered the majesty of the emperor Augustus’ person and greatness of the Roman people’s name. Desirous of gaining the Romans’ good-will by embassies and courtesies, he sent certain gifts to Augustus Caesar and the national gods of the Capitoline, contributed in the names of himself and the Scottish nation.
19. In this way he procured the firm friendship of the senate and people towards himself and his realm, which endured for many a year. The very famous writer Strabo described these embassies in his Geography, in the passage where he both learnedly and elegantly treats of Britain and writes of its location, and shape, of the manners of its inhabitants, and of Caesar’s two expeditions to the island. In the usual Roman way, he employs the word Britain to designate all Albion. And so, while all peoples were living at peace and rest, Christ the Lord, the Giver and Author of peace, the King of Kings, was born at Bethlehem in Judea, of his mother, the virgin Mary, daughter of Anne and Joachim. Shepherds, instructed by angels, and Magi from the east, informed by a star in the sky, hastened to the place of His birth, and, as is related by Scripture, many miracles occurred when our Savior was born. This most sacred birth occurred in the tenth year of Metellanus’ reign and the forty-second of August Caesar. It was also the three hundred and thirtieth year after the foundation of the kingdom of the Scots, and the year 5199 of Creation. Metellanus continued to rule in great peace for a number of years thereafter, harmful to nobody and welcome to all, known throughout Albion for his fame and blessedness. At length this prince, a man of peace throughout his life, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign and the twenty-ninth after the virgin birth, which was the fourteenth year of the Roman emperor Tiberius.
20. From the beginning of the reign of Ederus down to this time, at Rome there flourished Vergilius Maro, easily the best of all poets who wrote in Latin, and the distinguished poets Horatius Flaccus and Ovidius Naso. Then too, there were the orator Cicero, whom Pliny said to have been “raised above all doubts of his talents,” Marcus Varro, the most learned of all lawyers in his exercise of judgment, Strabo, that most painstaking geographer, the noble historians Titus Livius and Sallust, who recorded Roman affairs with great learning and a grace of style that surpassed normal human ability. And there were many other philosophers and orators renowned for their virtue and distinguished for their erudition. This indeed seems to have been required by the times, since at that time the Lord of the virtues and sciences was first seen on this earth in human flesh, and (as the prophet said) held converse with men.
21. But I must continue with the account I have started. Metallanus was survived by no sons, for in his lifetime he had buried them all, albeit a prince happy in all other respects. And so rule over the Scots passed to Caractacus, chieftain of the Briganties, the son of the noble Catallanus (glorious mention has been made above of this man and and of his loyalty to the commonwealth), the nephew of King Metellenus by his sister Europea. This man flourished in great wealth and property accumulated under the reign of Metallanus, now consumed by old age, in which he surpassed the rest of the nobles of the Scots of Albion. When he had gained the throne and brought everything to a state of perfection, there was no Scottish district that he did not visit. He crossed over to the Hebrides with a large army, because he had learned that the royal governor was creating a disturbance there. He suppressed the islanders’ uprising with no great effort, executing the ringleaders of the conspiracy. With Hebridian affairs pacified, the king returned to Albion and went to Carrick. At that time, this was the largest town of the Silures, which appears to have taken its name from Caricta, a district hard by the Brigantes. Caractacus was born and raised in that town, so that he often stayed there, captivated by his love of the place, and increased it so much that it was considered the largest in those parts. Ptolemy of Alexandria, Veremund, and other well-approved writers mention it.
22. While these things were transpiring in Scotland, King Cymbeline of the Britons died. At Rome, Caesar Augustus had befriended him in his youth, and for this reason he had always remained steadfast in his loyalty and friendship to the Romans. Guiderius was elected by his people’s vote to take the dead king’s place. Having established his rule, this hot-headed young man, taking it amiss that the British nation, free by its own nature, was so subject to the Romans that it did not only obey them, but even served as their slaves, was led by his high hopes for restoring freedom to convene a public parliament of his nobles, where in a length speech complained to them of the Romans’ many insults and his nation’s disgraceful servitude. For they occupied the Britons’ fortifications with their garrisons; they received runaways and rewarded them with prizes and honors, to the harm of the British commonwealth; they did not give back hostages in accordance with treaties, but compelled them to grow old at Rome, not without ignominy; and they did countless other things to the detriment of the British name, kingship, and nation. Thus he thought that it was finally the time to rebel, and that the yoke of servitude was no longer to be borne. When the king had said these things at that great meeting, the ardor shone in the faces of the nobles and commoners, and end of his speech was received with great eagerness, so they rushed to arms straightway. Not long thereafter, the riotous islanders raged against the Romans everywhere, employing great cruelty, and during that upheaval all the Romans who could not protect themselves by flight or taking refuge in some stronghold perished. Then King Guiderius gathered a numerous army, with the intent of destroying all the Roman garrisons in Britain before his association was reported at Rome. Hearing news of what was occurring on the island, the emperor Claudius (who was then ruling Rome), although entertaining the thought of commanding a British expedition himself, sent the consular men Aulus Plautius and Cnaeus Sentius to Britain so that they might counter the nascent rebellion as quickly as possible and put down those commotions.
23. Arriving at that part of Britain nearest to Gaul and disembarking their forces, Plautus and Cnaeus put strong garrisons into those citadels still obedient to the Romans. Lest they themselves seem as if they were being besieged, they led their cohorts onto flat and open ground, and there they built a camp so that they would be prepared to undergo all risks, if it were necessary to come to grips with the enemy. Not long thereafter, King Guiderius attacked the Romans in battle array. For a while the conflict was conducted with equal strength on either side, as the Britons fought for their liberty with great ferocity, and their enemies employed their great military skill to defend life and empire. Finally the victory inclined to the Romans. The Britons fled, having received light damage, since the day was now coming to an end. Afterwards frequent battle ensued, not without considerable loss of both British and Roman life. The summer was spent on these things, and during the following winter the Roman forces kept themselves in camp, and their garrisons in their fortifications. At this time ambassadors were sent from Guiderius and the British elders to King Caractacus, and when they entered his presence, the one of them charged with the responsibility of speaking said:
24. “Noble king Caractacus, I think it right for those who visit foreign nations to ask for assistance (as we are now doing), if there is no favor owed by, nor any treaty existing with, those to whom they have come to ask that aid, first to show how the things they are requesting are advantageous and honorable, and to promise that a gratitude matching their good offices will not fail to be forthcoming. This being so, we ambassadors of King Guiderius and the British people have humbly come to convince you of each of these things and to beg for your assistance. We are gravely oppressed by war, and we are destitute of all friendship and support save for yours and that of the Pictish nation. We are obliged to admit that the Roman people, which is inflicting more fatal harm on us every day, is an enemy powerful with wealth and military discipline that surpasses all human imagination. And yet, as is our unshakable hope, it is not invincible. For the noble Roman general Caesar was driven from our territories, and yours as well, with the help and martial virtue of your forebears, he to whom all Gaul, Germany, Spain, Greece, Asia, Egypt, and Africa had succumbed in war. But these men who are currently striving to plunder our homes are scarcely equal to the least remnants of Caesar’s men. If only such is the will of the gods, beyond doubt they can be defeated to your greater glory, because they proudly call themselves the masters of the world and say you are its most insignificant nation. We have come, king and excellent elders, begging your aid in expelling them from Albion’s territories, since we cannot do this by our own strength. If, as we trust will be the case, you are mindful of your ancient friendship and stand by us as we risk our all in war, beyond all doubt you will be doing something both useful and honorable, and will gain for yourselves an eternal name and glory: first, because you will be helping those who are warding off harm, not inflicting it, and will be acting as ancient friends relieving a dear friend of fear when his enemy threatens great danger, and in human pursuits or intentions nothing exists or can be imagined that is more honorable; and next because you will free yourselves and your own realm of a great peril, when the Romans, your self-proclaimed enemies, who are striving to subdue us in order to pave the way for an invasion of your commonwealth, have by your assistance been banished from this island, now our common homeland.
25. “These things being so, my brave sirs, if you chose to consult for the welfare of this realm and for your lives, it will be your part to strengthen this kingdom against Roman arms with all possible defense. And this you can easily do, if you come into battle against our common enemies together with ourselves and the nation of the Picts, who are throwing all their energies into arming themselves for war. And I venture to affirm that this is a business which pertains to your own safety no less than to ours, because, when the Romans have conquered us in battle, despoiled us of our wealth, placed us under their power, and reduced Britain to the condition of a province (as they have undoubtedly decided to do), they will be more far more powerful when it comes to including you in their empire. Therefore the enemy must be attacked in battle while we possess the strength, while either one of our nations can be regarded as stronger, more prudent, and more able to ward off harm from the enemy thanks to the help of the other. For if all the men of Albion have combined their strength, they will doubtless take away more from the Romans than they have gained from any peoples you care to name. So we urge that the strength of the Scots, Picts, and Britons should unite one, and, if you permit, let us take up allied arms, as befits friendly peoples fighting in defense of their common liberty, to fend of this harm that threatens us. For if (gods forbid!) we should suffer defeat, it cannot be said to our disgrace that we have been defeated by a single nation or people, but rather by the strength and resources of the entire world. But if we should prevail, as the justice of our causes bids us hope, the victory would not so much be ours as yours, and it would come about that henceforth we all would be a source of dread, not just to the Romans, but to all nations.”
26. When these things had been said, King Caractacus responded in words of this kind: “If you had not refused the help we freely offered when the Roman consul Julius Caesar injustly waged war against you, British sirs, now you would have no need to beg for foreign aid, nor would we be obliged to take up arms against such powerful enemies. For, had we joined arms and easily driven away our enemies, then, free of all fear of the enemy, we should be possessing a peaceful home in Albion. But, as they say, it is better to be wise late than not at all. At the moment it is not necessary to deliberate how you could have driven away Roman injury back then; rather, we are obliged to consider how you may avoid it when it threatens now, and how we may find a remedy for this common danger. You are complaining, British sirs, that this harm is being visited on you by wealthiest nation in the world, and the most greedy for stealing that what belongs to others and dominating all men. By your own fault, you have lived for many years in subjection to them. You are disturbed by internal sedition, and as long as this one thing exists your commonwealth will never be free. Roman garrisons occupy your citadels and forts, as well as London, Eboracum, and the other leading towns of Britain. All your flatlands are full of Roman forces and camps. We hear that, since that they have learned of your rebellion, any day now Roman legions and auxiliaries are going to cross over into your kingdom together with Claudius Caesar and Vespasian, a consular man to whom Claudius has given a share of his command. I can say without hesitation that, unless the gods turn their backs on the Romans, you will not have the power to keep so many and so great enemies out of your territories, being broken by the defeats and calamities you have suffered, even if all the others who dwell in Albion were to add their strength to yours. And so my opinion is that you must first make an end to your internal sedition, put off fighting battles, and strive as much as possible to shift this war which, as we hear, threatens both you and ourselves, over to Gaul. And that this might better be achieved, we can employ great artfulness in soliciting the Treviri, the Cimbri, Mandui, Morini, Neustrii, Lexovii, Armorici, and whatever Gauls or neighboring peoples are oppressed by Roman domination, into defecting from the Romans as soon as possible, and to form an association and wage war against them with common auspices. Thus we should vow to supply them with ships, soldiers, money, and everything else necessary for men’s use in that war. We should enter into a league with these nations, which cannot fail to be opposed to the Romans’ tyranny. If we can achieve this, the Romans will turn against the Gauls all the might which they are now preparing to use against the peoples of Albion. And thus, with your affairs and ours having a breathing-space, we, relieved of the prospect of an enemy invasion, at least for this year, will be able to consult more readily about the common safety of all the dwellers of Albion, and to reserve everything for more suitable times. But if we are obliged to submit to a different fate and can in no wise escape such a perilous war, I think that each and every man of Albion must stand united, fighting to the death in an honorable battle, since we must have no regard for our lives, but great regard for our honor and glory, since nothing is more honorable than to die while coming to blows with the Romans, those masters of the world, and behalf of our liberty and national gods. This is our opinion, and we shall abide but, ready to submit to death rather than servitude.”
27. The British ambassadors, heartened by this speech, which gave them hope of an improved fortune, thanked King Caractacus and the Scottish elders, since they found them so ardent to undergo every danger of war on behalf of their public safety. They prayed the gods that the victory would be theirs, because they were so honorably determined to die for their liberty and national gods. Then they departed, and as soon as they came to King Guiderius they reported the answers of Caractacus and the Scottish nobility, which is what they had anticipated. All of which being approved, embassies were sent to the Cimbri, Morini, Neustrii, Armorici, and other Gallic nations along the seaboard, who were to urge them to wage war against the Romans, stating that nothing is less worthy of free nations than servitude, than having their rights and laws altered, than submitting to the axes and fasces; it was shameful for the Romans to rule so haughtily and cruelly, to devise every manner of torture to inflict on hostages given them by conquered nations, to invent new intolerable conditions of servitude daily, something so disgraceful that any manner of death would be preferable as a means of asserting liberty, for to live without liberty (if such is indeed living) profits no man. They therefore should form an association against the Romans and bend effort to the waging of war. Roman garrisons should be slaughtered throughout all Gaul, and the kings of Albion would furnish them with auxiliary ships, money, soldiers, and arms in abundance. Those who had fought for Rome under the praetor Plautius had been attacked by the inhabitants of Britain in many a battle, and had lost all their nobility and horsemen; suffering a great catastrophe, they had either been driven back to the sea or sent fleeing to their citadels. Of these citadels, they now held few, and the ones they did possess were being assailed with great vigor; the besieged were begging their besiegers for peace-conditions, and, beyond all doubt, it would come to pass that soon all of them would come into the Britons’ power. And so they should have high hopes that, if only they would arm themselves for war and incite their neighboring nations to do the same, they would expel the Romans from both Britain and Gaul, with supreme ignominy. The Morini, to whom the British ambassadors had come first, were eager for liberty and did not reject these offers. But, in regard to such a difficult business, they had no idea what answer they should give before having an opportunity to test the dispositions of their neighboring nations, and so they begged the ambassadors not to publicize their intentions. For, should they be revealed, their hostages who were in the Romans’ hands would be subjected to extreme torment. The ambassadors went to Icium (a harbor in the territory of the Belgae, now called Calais, from where the crossing to Britain is the easiest) and confined themselves to that place, lest their arrival and sojourn there render the peoples of Gaul suspect to the Romans, until they might learn from secret messages whether their message was to the liking of the Bellovaci, the Nervi (nowadays the people of the region of Tournai), the Ambiani, the Neustrii (more modern people call them the Normans), and the other Gallic peoples.
28. On the following day the British ambassadors left the town of the Morini and went to Icium, where for some time they awaited the Gauls’ reply. Meanwhile, while ambassadors were being sent to and fro amongst the Gallic peoples, it was reported to King Guiderius that Aulus Plautius had led the Roman forces from their camp and invaded those districts which had remained steadfast in their loyalty to the king, laying waste to everything with steel and fire. Learning of this, Guiderius was obliged to march against the Romans, having first held a levy among the people who obeyed his rule. When they came within sight of the Romans, he set the in battle array, drawn up as individual nations, having squadrons stationed at equal intervals consisting of the Corinei and Damonii, people from that part of Britain facing eastward in the direction of the Armorican peninsula, the Cambri (the modern Welsh), the Tegeni, Iceni, Labuni (people who possess the districts which in this age of the world we call Derbyshire, Lancaster, and Yorkshire) and the Candali from Candalia (the name of this region endures, albeit in somewhat altered form). He ordered his entire battle-array to be surrounded by carts and wagons save in front, lest hope of flight remain for anyone, and that the women be set in these, so that that might encourage brave fighters with their cheers, and curse runaways with imprecations and insults. Plautius approached the Britons with his forces drawn up in three rows. When the signal for fighting was given to the soldiers, they ran against their enemy so suddenly, and with such great speed, that there was no opportunity to shoot arrows against the Romans. Therefore the Britons cast aside their bows and fought the Romans with their swords, while the women encouraged their menfolk with great shouts. Some of them even joined in the fighting, so that by their brave action they might free themselves and their children from Roman servitude. Then a sharp battle was joined. At length, thanks to their numbers and martial skill, the Romans started pushing back the Britons. And when King Guiderius was killed while fighting in the van, they all turned tail, and the women in the carts and wagons were overwhelmed by the throng of fugitives. They did not stop their flight until they came to the river Yare, about six miles from the battlefield. Some crossed over clinging to planks, while others got across on skiffs and rowboats they chanced to discover, and so were rescued.
29. This victory was not a happy one for the Romans, for they lost the consular Cnaeus Sentius, together with a large number of Roman noblemen. When this unhappy conflict was reported in Gaul, the Gauls abandoned all hope of regaining their liberty. The ambassadors at Icium, who had been waiting to hear the votes of the Gauls, crossed back to Britain, having failed to accomplish their mission. I have extracted these things about King Guiderius and the consulars Cnaeus Sentius and Plautius from Geoffrey of Monmouth, a writer of British history, Vairement, John Campbell, Cornelius Tacitus, and Eutropius. Not long thereafter (as Ermolao Barbaro writes) Claudius Caesar, together with Vespasian, a man of conspicuous virtue, whom Claudius had adopted as a partner in his administration, crossed over from Gensoriacum (then now call it Clusa, a town in Flanders), together with many legions and auxiliaries, and after an easy crossing arrived in Britain. Word of his arrival was received with considerable trepidation in the towns, country estates, and fortifications of those Britons who had fought against Aulus Plautus and Cnaeus Sentius. They quickly held a public meeting, and voted to send ambassadors to Caesar, saying that what had been done against the Romans had been done ill-advisedly, and that they were prepared to make restitution for the damages they had inflicted, and were prepared to obey Roman laws and government. Hearing their oration, Claudius demanded that they give hostages. And he also commanded that the nobler sort of Briton make their appearance on a stated day: should they not comply, he threatened to persecute the British nation to the point of extermination. So, when they had given hostages in accordance with Claudius’ command, on the appointed day the British elders laid down their arms and came to him at London (for thus the town had been named by King Lud, its old name of Trinovantum abolished). When Claudius asked them what they had to say for themselves, they who had not only violated the oaths of loyalty they had sworn by the gods, but had also elected to wage war, the leading Britons all broke into tears and threw themselves at the emperor’s feet, admitting they had sinned and acted insanely, and that, in accordance with the just verdict of the gods, they had paid the penalty for their madness in that deadly battle. Therefore they begged him to spare their miserable selves, whom the gods had thus afflicted, and receive them into his faith once more, imposing whatever conditions of servitude he chose. They appealed to the gods, who a little earlier had avenged their broken faith with such great slaughter, that if they were henceforth to break their bond and commit any evildoing against the Roman nation, they should turn this all against their heads and their kingdom.
30. No few Romans urged Caesar to punish this treacherous nation, and to execute the authors of the conspiracy in the sight of the others, for in no other way could the Britons be held to their loyalty towards the Romans. But Vespasian employed many arguments in exhorting Caesar to adopt a policy of clemency, and particularly made the point that, in the absence of clemency, a prince could indeed be feared, but could not be loved. He added that redounded to the majesty of the Roman people to spare conquered nations and to lighten their burdens, not to burden down them hardships, and to protect subjects and those who had sworn their loyalty against all enemies. It was by these policies that the Roman empire had been gained, and by none other could it be preserved for the long centuries. Vespasian’s timely admonition so greatly dissuaded the emperor from his intention to gain vengeance that he preferred to be called a pious prince rather than an avenger of wrongs, and he began to negotiated with the British elders about the manner of their government, having first received them back into his good graces under strict conditions. Lest they be cheated of a ruler of British blood, he appointed Arviragus to be their king. He was the brother of the King Guiderius slain in the recent battle, and was ruler the nation of Tegenia and Cambria. And it was his will that Aulus Plautus remain in his propraetorship, and the created Marcus Trebellius as procurator for the gathering of public taxes. He commanded them to protect strongholds and towns with strong garrisons. They should pronounce justice according to the fair and the good. They should permit the Britons to exist in peace and rest, insofar as possible, and strive might and main to defend them from harm from those neighboring nations, the Scots and Picts, whom he had heard to be warlike and intolerant of servitude. They should not attack them, but, it proved necessary to fight, they should rely on both public and private advice in the field, and at home should be vigilant for the prosperity of the Roman commonwealth, no less mindful of increasing the scope of its empire than of keeping in Britain loyal to Rome. He summoned to himself both Vespasian and the leading Britons, and benevolently urged them to remain loyal to Rome, keeping in mind the catastrophes they had recently suffered by Roman arms, or rather by divine vengeance for having broken their faith, having regard for their fortunes and for the security of their wives and children. The Romans would be pious masters, or rather fathers and patrons, for them, if only they showed themselves obedient to their empire, and he, the senate and people of Rome wished nothing else.
31. These things having been done, he gave each man leave to go home. As they departed, the British elders gave Vespasian many thanks, since, thanks to his guidance and counsel, not only their own security, but also that of many other nations, had been maintained. Many asserted that this was the beginning of the future success and noble victory he was soon destined to have. After these things Claudius Caesar, lest he return home without shedding enemy blood and taking captives, so that his triumph would be less splendid than anticipated, decided to visit the farthest Orkneys with a great army, exclusively because of his desire for conquest, giving as his pretext that that nation, which could be conquered with small effort, had been persuaded to support the men of Albion in their recent war against the Romans. A few days thereafter, when the things which appeared requisite for that expedition had been readied, and when his British affairs were duly settled and hostages taken, he obtained a favorable sailing-wind and set sail from Britain with the intent of crossing over to the Orkneys. When he had nearly arrived there, he was almost sunk by the strong current which runs through the Pictish Bosphorus between the Orkneys and Dunnet Head, but finally, after much effort, he arrived at the Orkneys without risk to his life. Nobody could be seen on the island where he first landed. For those who had gathered at the ocean to observe the approach of the Romans were terrified by the number of their ships and had fled from the shore and hidden themselves in caves along the seaside cliffs. So Claudius abandoned this place, as if it were deserted, and crossed over with his army to the island of Pomonia (we call it Kirkwall nowadays), where he disembarked his forces and selected a suitable place for a camp. Then he climbed a hill with Vespasian, intent on exploring the geography and nature of the islands. When he had learned from his scouts that this island abounded beyond all belief in sheep, cattle, goats, horses, hares, swans, cranes, ducks, chickens, geese, doves, and a wide variety of animals useful for mankind, and that it was free of wolves, foxes, toads, snakes, poisonous reptiles, and furthermore that grain of different kinds, with which the fields were rife, grew there, that in the nearby sea there was an unbelievable supply of fish which could be caught with no trouble, and finally that its inhabitants lived to a long old age with their bodies perpetually sound, so that the use of physicians was virtually unknown, he was led to admire them. He concluded that the Orkneys were far preferable to many other places praised by the testimony of well-approved authors for their fruitfulness and clement weather.
32. On the following day, when Caesar learned from some captive rustics that twelve miles distant from the Roman camp there was a stronghold excellently protected both by art and nature, and that therein were King Ganus with his wife and children, he sent choice soldiers to besiege it. When they had completed a portion of their journey, they caught sight of about two thousand folk of the Orkneys, gathered from neighboring islands, caves and caverns, who had climbed a hill to hide for the night. These folk were very frightened by the strange sight of the Romans. But when their enemy pressed them, and they saw no place to escape, they set aside their fear and, rushing at the Romans with great shouts, began to engage in a battle. The fight was sharp. In the end, the islanders were driven back and defeated, and nearly all of them were either captured or killed, since only a few had made their escape to the nearby stronghold. Invigorated by this victory, the Romans continued to the citadel and surrounded it with a close siege. Finally, when the islanders could not offer any resistance with their own strength, and no hope remained of help from the nearby islands, they voluntarily surrendered to the Romans. In this citadel King Ganus was taken prisoner together with his wife and children, and led in chains to the ships. Caesar lingered there several days and visited other islands. Then, taking advantage of a favorable tide and following wind, which offered themselves simultaneously, he departed with his forces, and on the eighth day reached Icium, where his Roman soldiers disembarked; since they were wearied by battles, sleepless nights, and sea-journeys, with Caesar’s permission they enjoyed a few days’ rest.
33. This war thus completed, with light fighting and little bloodshed, Claudius returned to Rome, where he celebrated a triumph with great estate, leading King Ganus of the Orkneys together with his children and other captives and British hostages in his triumphal procession. My authorities for these expeditions of Claudius, first to Britain, and then to the Orkneys, are Suetonius Tranquillus, Eutropius, and Bede, and among more recent writers John Campbell and Cornelius Hiber. At this time occurred the journey of Peter the Apostle from Antioch to Italy, after the establishment of many churches in Asia, and there he laid the foundations of a new church at Rome while preaching the Gospel. And the noble assumption of the ever-virgin Mary, mother of Christ our Savior, into heaven fell in the fifth year of the principate of Claudius, the year 74 of human salvation.
34. But I must return to my story. When Arviragus, as has already been told, gained power over the Britons by authority of Caesar, he repudiated his legitimate wife Voada, the sister of the Scottish King Caractacus, by whom he had had one son and two daughters, cast her in chains, and married Genissa, a noble Roman woman, in a sinful marriage. Nobody was unaware that he had done this at the sly instigation of the Roman propraetor Plautius, according to whose direction and opinion all things were managed in Britain: the idea was that, if the kinship between Arviragus and Caractacus were ended, should the Britons should ever want to form a league against the Romans, they would have no hope at all of obtaining help from the Scots. Therefore when the elders of the Cambri and Tegeni, who were concerned about the welfare both of King Arviragus and of the British commonwealth, learned about the queen’s repudiation, took it amiss that an upright woman who had always deserved well of the British commonwealth had been subject to such disgraceful treatment, and that Arviragus himself had commingled his blood and pedigree with a Roman without consulting the nobles of his realm, they went to the king and with many arguments sought to convince him to take back Voada as his queen and consort, for he had lived with her for many years in a legitimate marriage, and to get rid of his Roman concubine, and to handle that royal woman in a royal manner: he ought to remember the children he had received from her, since nothing can be dearer to mortals, and to bear in mind how much advantage is conferred by kinship with neighboring peoples, if enemies ever attack, and he should beware lest, as a result of Roman blandishments, he wax ardent and be corrupted with a strange and pestilential love for this woman, and alienate the British nation from himself.
35. When for a long time they had employed these and many other arguments in a vain attempt to make an impression on Arviragus’ mind, and from his words and carriage could gather nothing else than that he was mad with the delights of his new marriage, having cast aside all considerations of shame and probity, on the following night they broke into the prison and freed Voada and her children, so they might escort her to Cambria. Finding this out, Aviragus wrote to the elders of Briton that the Tegeni and Cambri, the nation in which he always placed the greatest trust, since he was born of it, were savaging him because he had preferred a noble Roman woman to Queen Voada, as if he were not free to marry several wives, especially since this was forbidden by neither British law nor custom. He had not done this out of love-madness, but so that the British might more easily coalesce into a single nation with the Romans, whom of necessity they had to obey. Therefore he requested that, if the Cambri joined the Tegeni in breaking faith with the Romans, they support his side, and that the British commonwealth abide in their sworn loyalty. The British elders replied that it had not been right for Aviragus to prefer a new wife to his old one without consulting with themselves nor awaiting their anger, and that many nobles were displeased at the insult committed against Voada; they made pretty much the same arguments as had the elders of the Cambri and the Tegeni. Learning how the Britons were disposed towards himself because of his recent marriage, thought there was no time for delay, and at Plautius’ urging (or rather at his command) assembled an army of his followers and moved against the Tegeni and the Cambri. Those people were no less behindhand in gathering their forces. So, when both sides had mustered a army of reasonable side, Arviragus and the Romans under the command of Plautius came to blows with their enemy. This battle was fatal for the Cambri and Tegeni, some being killed, and others saved by flight.
36. On the following day it was reported to King Arviragus and Plautius that the Icini and the Lobuni (as indicated above, at that time these peoples possessed Derbyshire, Lancaster, Yorkshire and their surrounding environs) had entered into a compact against himself and the Romans. Having heard this, Arviragus and Plautus, fearing lest they invade Kent and the eastern part of Britain, prepared to return to London to protect their wealth. When they had arrived there, Plautius, having little confidence in the Britons, sent to Gaul for two legions of auxiliaries. Having well garrisoned his strongholds, he kept himself in camp with his Roman forces. While the propraetor Plautus was doing these things, the national elders of Cambria, the Tegeni, and the Iceni assembled at Coriminum (the name of that town is now Shrewsbury) to deliberate about what each prudent noble considered best to do about such a turbulent situation. They arrived at a consensus and voted that they should assemble the men of the Iceni, Cambri and Tegeni who could bear arms, and hasten against the Romans with might and main, either to expel them from Britain or to die to the last man, fighting bravely. In this meeting embassies were appointed to invite the Damoni, Cornubii and Candali (an ancient race that once inhabited the lands of Kendall, Carlisle, and County Durham, all the way to the vale of Annandale) to share their fate. In the following autumn the princes of Cornwall and Damonia crossed over the arm of the sea which divides Cornwall from Cambria and came to Coriminum, at which place the elders of the Candali almost simultaneously gathered and delivered themselves of a speech containing many lengthy complaints Roman injuries. They also denounced the sloth and inconstancy of Arviragus, who scorned his own race and preferred both to seem and to be a slave of the Romans, rather than a king of the Britons. They all determined to devote their minds and resources to a war against the Romans, such was their agreement concerning vindicating their liberty, and their eagerness to recover their former praiseworthiness in battle.
37. There followed a brief debate among the elders concerning to whom the supreme command for managing this war should be entrusted, with scarce a single noble deferring to anyone else. Then up and spoke Comus, born to supremacy among the Cambri, saying, “Brave sirs, we can easily recruit an army from our own nations and our nearby friends sufficiently large that no force can resist it, as long as everything is managed with military discipline, in which single thing resides both the principal glory of war and its victory. Factions, quarrels, squabbles among commanders, and the ambition of generals are so incompatible with this, that when any one of these things lurks nearby, no organization nor bond of amity (not the least parts of martial discipline, in the absence of which no victory over an enemy can be gained) can ever exist between soldiers. Therefore all ambition must be set aside and all contentions stifled; a single commander is to be appointed by the vote of one and all, who must be obeyed by everybody. This impending war must be waged under his leadership (whoever he may be), if we wish to gain victory over our enemies and carry off honorable trophies. But, since I perceive that none of us will readily yield to another concerning the occupation of that position, since a number of us are reckoned to be, and indeed are, nearly equals in birth and wealth, it is my opinion (but only if your judgment will support me in this) that we should immediately send an embassy to Caractacus, chieftain of the Brigantes and King of the Scots, a man to whom the haughty Roman name has always been hateful. They should request him to join us in wreaking vengeance on behalf of his sister Voada, indeed on behalf of himself and his nation, and also to agree to take up arms to protect the interests of his sister’s daughter, whom Arviragus, by Roman instigation, decided to cheat out of his rightful kingdom. This pertains to him by nature’s law, and is a reason why, after nearly all the British people have entered into a compact against Arviragus, he should accept the command of this war at our request; he ought to accept the supreme government until his nephew comes of age, and we all shall obey to him in the waging of this war. I believe we shall obtain these things from King Caractacus all the easier, should you agree with me, because he has always been particularly well-disposed in affection and kinship towards his sister and his nephew.”
38. The Britons all approved of Comus’ motion, and they adopted it. Straightway they sent spokesmen to Caractacus, charged with the duty of repeating what Comus had said. When Caractacus had received them with kindness on their arrival and given them a heardng, he replied that was irked, not so much by Arviragus’ mistreatment of his sister and nephews, as that he had taken a Roman woman in an unjust marriage, thereby endangering both his realm and his own person. The Romans were acting in their characteristic manner, for they were accustomed to move slowly and on tip-toe, employing feigned friendships and an assortment of cheats and lies in order to gain control of other men’s kingdoms, and to steal unwary kings’ scepters and make them subjects. He was prepared to join the Britons in mounting an expedition against the Romans when the first signs of springtime showed themselves, and would appear with his nation wherever they commanded. To the best of his ability, he would act on behalf of his own safety and that of his sister Voada, his nephews, and for the common security of all Albion. They should not hesitate to expect this from himself and his nation. Then the ambassadors were dismissed and soon returned to Coriminum, bearing King Caractacus’ reply. During the following winter, all fighting was suspended. At the beginning of springtime the elders of the Cambri, Tegeni, Damonii, Corinei, and the rest of the nations which had formed an association against the Romans met and voted that all men of an age capable of bearing arms should be summoned. They appointed the penalty of death for those who would not obey, and set a day and place for the fighters to assemble, and they had high hopes that the Scottish and Pictish reinforcements, whom they had invited by means of their orators to help in defending their common liberty, would be present. On the appointed day more than eighty thousand men assembled in flatlands not far distant from Eboracum, come from the districts which supported the party of the Cambri and Tegeni. And there also arrived the Pictish elders, together with Conkistus their king, and King Caractacus with a great army, in order to lay claim to their common liberty.
39. Their arrival did so much to encourage the Britons that they fancied they were going, not to battle, but to take prisoner an enemy already defeated. So their elders and nobles expressed effuse gratitude towards the newly-arrived allied kings for displaying such goodwill and kindness to the Britons when they were facing such great peril. And, in accordance with their prior agreement, they unanimously conferred the supreme command in that war to Caractacus. After accepting this office, for the prudent and brave management of that war he first appointed captains for his forces, and ordered one and all to obey these men in the conduct of the war, warning that each man should be mindful of his personal safety, and also the safety of them all, lest, placing too little value on his liberty, he give himself over to the enemy for the torturing. Each man should bear in mind the martial virtue of his ancestors, who expelled Caesar, that most excellent Roman general, from Albion. Moved by Caractacus’ timely words, the men of Albion joined together, and with enthusiasm and high hopes they set forth to do battle against the enemy of their public liberty. When these things were reported to Arviragus and Plautius the propraetor by scouts and deserters, they too were not slow in assembling an army. But Plautius was of the opinion that they should not come to grips with his foe immediately, since he knew full well how untrained and heedless of war’s dangers were soldiers recruited from the common folk, with which the enemy ranks abounded, and also how unskilled at military matters they were. They were therefore to be worn down by protracted labors, unaccustomed lack of sleep and scarcity of provisions, with the result that (as was plausible to imagine) they could be induced to a bloodless surrender. Arivagus and the British elders who stood by him liked this strategy. And so it came about that they spun out this war for many days, avoiding any conflict with their enemies (although every day they feigned they were about to engage), until the multitude of men of Albion were confused and exhausted, and could not be kept under control or be allowed to forage for grain. And so a large number were compelled by their hunger to desert at night, and slipped off to home. Some of these ran into the Romans and were taken prisoner, and when they were brought to Plautus they reported that their army suffered from hunger and was exhausted by its unaccustomed sleeplessness and exertions.
40. When the following day dawned, Plautius led out his forces in battle array, commanding them to come to grips without delay. And Caractacus, learning what the Romans were preparing to do, gave the command to his men that each one should take the station assigned him on the previous day. A sharp fight ensued. Many wounds were given and received. The Romans did more damage than their enemies with their javelins, their enemies fared better with their arrows and slingshots, and the Roman left wing, commanded by Arviragus, appeared to be being pressed back. But Plautius made a speedy appearance, bringing aid to the suffering men, and rejoined the battle. So the fight continued, with victory hanging in the balance, until nightfall took away their ability to see, at which time the fighting was of necessity broken off, since those engaged in the struggle could not discern friend from foe. When the following day dawned, nothing could be seen on the battlefield save the bodies of the slain. For both armies had retired, defeated by the other, and had abandoned the field and retreated in confusion to the hills. Plautius attempted to reassemble his army, but could not do so, such was the great desire of each of his turntail men to make his escape. So he went off to London, having lost many of his horsemen. King Caractacus, who had suffered equal loss, gathered the remnants of his forces and decided to dismiss his army. But as they departed he warned them that each man should return to his nation or village, there to abide in readiness to receive every command, when it was time to march forth to battle. He himself went to Eboracum, and, having remained there for several days to refresh his spirits, departed for Caractonium. During the remainder of that year, which was the fifth since the Romans had begun this British war, there was a complete cessation from fighting.
41. In the interim Plautius sent ambassadors to King Caractacus to say that he was very surprised that he had made war on the Romans, although having suffered no harm from them, and had assisted their enemies, not only with his forces, but also by assuming command in that war, invading the Roman province with hostile intent. He was heedless of the good-will towards himself and his kingdom which had led Claudius Caesar, after he had subdued Britain and could easily have deprived him of his kingship, to refrain from harming either him or the Scottish nation, and had turned all his might against the people of the Orkneys, ever hostile towards Albion. Therefore Caractacus was under the obligation of making good the injuries he had inflicted on the Roman forces and their confederated peoples, and to refrain from new ones. Otherwise, he would henceforth have Caesar, and the entire senate and people of Rome as enemies. To these things Caractacus replied that there was no reason why the Roman ambassador should be surprised if he had fully exerted himself to assist the Britons, lest his sister’s son Guiderius be cheated out of the kingship which was his rightful due. Rather, there was reason to be curious what had driven Aulus Plautius to encourage King Arviragus unlawfully to repudiate Queen Voada, a woman of well-tried virtue, shamefully imprison her, substitute a Roman whore, and deprive Guiderius, a boy who because of his young age deserved no ill of any man, of the throne that was rightfully his. Unless, as was constantly being said, according to the Roman habit of acquiring things that do not belong to them out of criminal greed, he had decided to plunder, first, the kingdom of the Britons, and then the remainder of Albion. He himself had not invaded the Roman province, but (as was right) had acted to protected the interest of his nephew and his sister. And so he trusted that the gods would set aside all hesitation and avenge the insults visited on these two, since the Romans had such disdain for mortals’ arms. Nor had the Roman emperor Claudius been led to refrain from waging war on the Scots and Picts after he had helped himself to the kingdom of the Britons. Rather, he was not unaware that, if these nations were to be conquered at all, this could not be achieved without bloody battles. He had attacked the nation of the Orkneys, uncivilized, rustic, and unarmed, so that, having easily subdued these peoples and brought them to Rome as his spoils, a strong emperor conquering a feeble people, he could celebrate a nobler and more splendid triumph with a false show of glory, leading these feeble folk in his victory-parade. Quite to the contrary, restitutions needed to be made for both old and new Roman injuries inflicted on the Scots and Picts, and they must abandon all of Albion, leaving it free together with all its inhabitants. Otherwise Plautius could expect nothing in the future other than to have the Scots and Picts, whom the Romans always so greatly scorned as the most remote nations on earth, as his perpetual enemies, fighting out of love of liberty and devotion towards their nation and national gods.
42. When the ambassadors departed and reported what they had heard to the senior Romans, Plautius’ mind was immediately suffused with indignation that a nation neither powerful in war nor wealthy with resources so greatly scorned Roman wealth, and placed such reliance on their foolish rashness that, relying on their own strength more than did the world’s other nations, they did not consider they could be subdued by the Roman empire. And so he swore by the gods that he would avenge this insult, and many others, inflamed by Caractacus’ proud, insulting words against the majesty of Caesar and the Roman people, imitated Plautius’ example and swore their loyalty to Rome. At the same time King Arviragus, convinced that, were his forces joined to the others of Albion, it was possible to conquer the Romans and eject them from the island, and being eager to reestablish both liberty and his former good name, deserted Aulus Plautius and departed for Coriminum in Cambria to see Comus (a man I have already mentioned). His arrival was most welcome to Comus and the rest of the nation of Cambria and Tegenia, who happened to be holding a public gathering at Corminum, and filled them with the firm hope of reclaiming their lost liberty. Hearing the news of this, Genissa, the Roman woman whom King Arviragus had been keeping in the place of his legitimate wife, perceiving that she had been gulled and cheated out of her marriage, aborted herself, since she was pregnant, and quickly died thereafter. Then Aulus Plautius, judging that he could place less trust in the Britons day by day, since they had so often broken their oaths towards the Romans (even though they had called on the gods as witnesses), reinforced the garrisons he had in the strongholds, forts, cities, towns and camps obedient to Roman government, and immediately sent a messenger to Rome, greatly complaining to Claudius Caesar of the treachery of the Britons, since they could not be moved by Roman kindnesses, the memory of their friendship, or their oaths, to keep their word. Now they were all striving might and main to wage war against the Romans. And they had invited the Scots and Picts to join in that war, wild nations, savage, cruel, from whom the Romans had suffered no less slaughter than they had inflicted in a recent conflict. Now war needed to be waged, not just against the Britons, but against all the peoples of Albion, and this was by their own doing. And so precautions needed to be taken for Roman affairs in Britain, being so close to danger, lest they suffer no little loss because of the multitude and stubborn audacity of these barbarians, who had no regard for faith or honor, and no reverence for men or gods, to the great embarrassment of the Roman empire.
43. When these things were reported to Claudius Caesar, he concluded that help needed to be sent to Aulus Plautius and the Romans in Britain as quickly as possible. Therefore, by decree of the senate, Vespasian was appointed general and charged with the responsibility of putting down the barbarian rebellions and protecting Roman affairs in Britain. Not long thereafter, he assembled an army and left Rome, and with great exertion hastened to Gaul. There he held a levy and brought his enlarged army to Britain. The Roman and Briton provincials greeted his arrival with more than one kind of honor. For no man did not believe and affirm that someday his mind’s rare and excellent virtue would carry him to supreme honors. Learning the condition of Roman affairs in Britain, he strove with all his might to improve it. First he met with Aulus Plautius to learn whether the reversal the Romans had suffered in their recent conflict with the men of Albion was (as rumor had it) caused by his fault in relaxing military discipline. Plautius cleared himself of this charge with deeds rather than words, showing him how the fortresses garrisoned by Roman soldiers were excellently defended by ramparts, ditches, and walls, how his garrisons were disposed as if they were any minute to come under siege, his soldiers maintained in their camps with everything that might tend to render their minds effeminate having been removed, and every item of his munitions and gear for war kept in such good order that Vespasian and his officers were obliged to admire him greatly. Therefore Aulus Plautius was praised by Vespasian, and it was believed that, had he remained commander, with no Roman help coming to Britain, all the men of Albion would have been easily defeated.
44. Not long thereafter, Vespasian ordered that an expedition be readied against King Arviragus and the Britons who had broken their faith and mutinied against the Romans. When he learned what Vespasian was undertaking against himself and his nation, Arviragus called a congress of leading men at Eboracum, for by a letter he had learned that King Caractacus and the elders of the Scottish nation were coming there. When they met on the appointed day, by the common vote of them all it was decided that not all men capable of bearing arms should be summoned to resist Roman rule in Albion, as had been done the previous year, lest, because of their chaotic multitude, they could not identify each other nor have an adequate grain-supply. Therefore they commanded the Cornei and the Damonii to send six thousand men, the Cambri, the Tegeni, and their neighbors to send twelve thousand, and the Candali and their dependents to furnish a like number. The Iceni and the other British nations subject to Arviragus were to contribute thirty-five thousand. Every man was commanded to bring two months’ provisions from home. All of these assembled in their full numbers not far from Eboracum, where (as had been prearranged) King Caractacus also appeared with thirty thousand Scotsmen, and likewise King Thara of the Picts with about the same number. An army was then organized, made up of men organized according to their individual districts, each with its own captain for the management of the impending war. Using some Britons who had remained loyal and reliable to the Romans as guides, Vespasian marched against his enemy by routes unfamiliar to the Romans, on his way to fight against nearly the entire people of Albion.
45. There then ensued a battle that was most bloody for the Britons, since the Romans had attacked them sooner than had been anticipated, in marshland filled with rocks, and therefore difficult ground for fighting, about twelve miles from Eboracum, and they fell to it fiercely. The men on the Roman right appeared to be failing, and when Vespasian saw this he sent an auxiliary legion to aid them. At their arrival these men took heart, so that in that part of the battlefield even the wounded renewed the struggle. The captains of the Albion men animated their soldiers for the fight so they would not flee, or would erase the disgrace of their flight by a show of martial virtue: in this battle they must either surmount their reversals or submit to perpetual servitude. On the other side, Vespasian incited his men to be mindful of Roman martial virtue and conduct themselves bravely, and to bear in mind that their enemies were all but unarmed barbarians, disorganized, fighting in a confused and disorderly way, and so easily conquered. The men of Albion continued to fight energetically, and when those in the van died, the men behind them would fight standing on their prostrate corpses. Some, pierced by javelins, propped themselves up with these and went on with the struggle. Others, who had had their hands lopped off by sword-blows, used their teeth to gnaw on those who had fallen below or above them, so that it was quite clear that on that day they were not fighting with strength so much as with hatred. But they could not overcome fatal adversity by their numbers, or perseverance, or by any show of strength, no, not even by their martial virtue, for the gods, who (as everyone thought) had chosen to subject all things to the Roman, were averse to them. Although the men of Albion left nothing undone which you would say pertained to the bravest of captains and fighting men, nevertheless they fought almost to the point of extermination, with nearly all their forces killed save for a few who avoided the dire slaughter by flight. Arviragus, plunged in great sorrow to have lost so many brave men in that battle, thought about suicide so as not to survive such a grand catastrophe, but he was restrained by his men, reserved for happier times (if such would ever be granted by the immortal gods), and led to Eboracum, and Caractacus made his way to Brigantia with a small escort. Thara, the Pictish king, refusing to survive the slaughter of his men, threw away his arms and emblems of royalty, and, sitting sick-hearted on a rock, was killed by pursuers, unaware of his identity. After this battle was unhappily concluded, Arviragus and the surviving elders of the Britons, thinking that nothing would stand in the way of the victors and nothing would be safe for the vanquished, by unanimous agreement sent a herald to Vespasian, begging for peace and surrendering themselves, since in this wretched tragedy, out of the sixty-five thousand Britons who could bear arms, only five hundred came home, having suffered a greater massacre than even the cruelest of enemies would have wished, a manifest sign of the gods’ favor towards the Romans and wrath directed towards themselves, as they had so often experienced. They had attained such a degree of miseries and catastrophe that henceforward they would not be equal to the task of defending their homeland, and nobody was left to serve the victors save a helpless multitude. So it would be fitting that the victor serve as a model of clemency, which would be most fitting for him in dealing with such a defeated enemy, and the vanquished would set an enduring example for all peoples of the reward of oath-breaking.
46. When Vespasian had heard the herald saying these and many other similar things, he bade Arviragus set aside his emblems of royalty and come to him under a pledge of safe-conduct, promising that he would do nothing bad to him and wished to make no arrangements for a peace until they had met. Thinking he was obliged to comply, Arviragus swallowed his pride and came to the victorious Vespasian, as instructed. His ill fortune moved Vespasian, who on the previous day had seen him, proud with his great army and good fortune, and now had lost everything and was friendless, and had come into his enemies’ power to beg for mercy and protection. Breaking into tears, he said, “Arviragus, what could have moved you to break your faith with the Romans, who had honored you with royal dignity? For they even commingled their pedigree and blood with you, so that your son, ennobled by Roman blood, would be regarded by all men as more serene, honorable, and distinguished.” Arviragus fell at Vespasian’s feet and, weeping with many a sigh, confessed his crime, saying that the gods had so severely punished himself and his nation, that he could look forward to no severer penalty at human hands. He had nothing else to blame but his broken word, since the gods had granted him prosperity and enduring security. And so he prayed that Vespasian employ clemency towards his nation, not because they had earned it, but because this was what the Romans were accustomed to display towards conquered peoples. As for himself, since it would scarcely be fit for him to survive such a tragedy, Vespasian could punish him as he saw fit. This was what he deserved, but his children and his wife, whom a little earlier he had unjustly cut off from himself, to the great misfortune of himself and his kingdom, should be spared. When Vespasian heard these words, not only was is mind suffused with sympathy, but tears also welled up in his eyes, and in a conference he asked what should be decided about Arviragus and the captive Britons. Some were of the opinion that Arviragus and his wife and children, together with his towns, his lands and those who had dwelt on them, and whatever else belonged to the man were Roman prizes by the right of war, and that he should be sent to Rome, and be submitted to the will and judgment of Caesar and the senate and people of Rome, so that by this example the rest of the world’s peoples would learn how rash and impious it is to violate public faith and wage war on Romans. Others, moved by the comparison of the king’s present fortune with his former one and by the recollection of his erstwhile friendship, maintained that Arviragus should be spared, since he had already paid sufficient forfeits because of the gods’ manifest anger, and should not be led to Rome. Even if he had been conquered, he had not been taken prisoner, and he had voluntarily come to the Roman commander under a guarantee of safe-conduct: Romans should not break their word, even when given to enemies, and their far-flung empire had always been enlarged and maintained by clemency towards conquered nations, not by deceit, arrogance, or ambition.
47. Out of his innate clemency towards suppliants and the afflicted, Vespasian disregarded the former opinion and followed this one, sparing Arviragus and permitting him to retain his kingship. He commanded that all the nations which had mutinied from the Romans should enjoy immunity, with hostages demanded and taken as a guarantee that henceforth they would abide in their loyalty to the Romans. The most important such hostage was King Arviragus’ son Guiderus. Afterwards, traveling to Rome with Vespasian, he was overcome by a grave fever and died, after Vespasian had taken away from the Britons their rights and ancestral laws and introduced Roman ones. And he commanded that the power of life and death should reside exclusively in Aulus Plautius the proprietor, and in his delegates. He set individual governors over the several nations of Britain who should administer the law in the Roman manner and hold the people to their loyalty towards Rome. The report of these things brought it about that henceforth all men of Britain lost faith in their ability to defeat the Romans and submitted to Vespasian, bestowing very ample gifts on him. Now winter was approaching and the victorious army was dismissed to its camps. Vespasian himself, together with King Arviragus, went to Eboracum, and there he spent his winter in the company of many Roman nobles. In the following summer he led his forces out of their winter quarters and readied an expedition against the Picts and the Scots. Having assembled a great army, he led it against the Ordoluci and the men of Deira, the most warlike of all the Picts and those who dwelt nearest to the Britons. But they too had suffered losses of wealth and strength in the recent fight against the Romans, and, since they could look for no help from their fellow Picts, they voluntarily yielded to Vespasian. The rest of the Picts imitated their example and surrendered themselves to the Romans without a fight. Lest they fall into Roman hands and be led off to Rome as prizes, a large number of Pictish nobles took refuge in Camelodunum, thinking that Vespasian would hardly come there because of the difficulty of the approach. When this was announced to him, he and his army quickly marched there and surrounded the place with a very tight siege. Upon his arrival, those in the town greatly feared for themselves and their fortunes and stood in awe of the majesty of the name of Rome. But soon their anger furnished them with strength and they undertook to defend their walls. The siege continued longer than anticipated. In the end it transpired that the grain-supply within the town was insufficient for the number of its defenders, and they suffered from starvation, and the citizens of Camelodunum, shattered by a dearth of all things and done in by hunger and thirst, freely surrendered themselves and opened their gates to the Romans.
48. Vespasian forbade any plunder to be removed from the town, or anything to be done in a hostile way. The insignia of the Pictish kings were discovered in this town, a gold crown decorated with a variety of gems, and a sword with a golden pommel and purple sheath, fashioned with wonderful art. Henceforth Vespasianus employed this sword in his expeditions: I do not know whether he regarded it as an omen of his future destiny. After taking hostages, he permitted the nobles who had fled there to return to their citadels and estates unharmed. He himself lingered at Camelodunum and founded a colony of veterans there, so that its inhabitants would forever revere the Roman people and adopt Roman laws and ways, and accustom its backward and uncivilized citizens to observe those laws. Then he erected a temple dedicated to Claudius Caesar alongside the river Carron in the vicinity of the town, and set up two statues therein, one of Claudius and the other of the goddess Victory, to be worshipped by one and all, performing its dedicatory ceremony with many prayers after the pagan manner.
49. While Vespasian was intent on these matters of civic organization and pagan religion, he was informed by his spies that king Caractacus had rebuilt his army and marched from Brigantia, with the intention of revenging himself for the defeat he had suffered at Roman hands. At this news, by command of Vespasian the propraetor Aulus Plautus marched against Caractacus with a strong army, leaving behind no small part of his forces to serve as a protection for Vespasian. When the propraetor was not far distant from Brigantia, he was told by deserters that King Caractacus and his entire army were not four miles away, together with a strong band of Scots, Picts, and Britons. Then Plautius encamped in a nearby field, pretending that, as if panic-stricken, he was awaiting the arrival of Vespasian and the remainder of the army. But during the second watch of the night he broke camp, and, relying on spies and deserters familiar with the terrain, he hastened towards Caractacus in full battle array, at a time when the king was expecting nothing less than an enemy attack because of the difficulty of the roads. His lookouts spotted the oncoming Romans and raised a shout, and those stationed there attempted to hold off the enemy until their army could arm itself. But at the first encounter these lookouts were killed to the last man. A very sharp battle ensued, with many wounds received on both sides. In the end, when they had fought from dawn until nearly noon, the victory inclined to the Romans after they had suffered great casualties, and they remained masters of the field. Some of the surviving Scots, Picts, and Britons fearfully retreated to rocky and impassable mountains, and others crossed over to the island of Mona in ships they had discovered for that purpose. Caractacus, having received a severe wound, made his way with great difficulty to Aregathelia in the company of some soldiers, and then hastened to his stronghold of Evonium. The report of this reversal was that some British and Pictish nations which had not yet yielded to Vespasian surrendered, a great windfall for the Romans. Those who inhabited Brigantiam, having no confidence in their strength and fortifications, took their wives, children, and all their cattle (which passed for wealth in Brigantia) and departed for deserted and inaccessible places.
50. Four days later, having refreshed his soldiers, Aulus Plautius moved his army to Caractonium, because he had heard that this was King Caractacus’ principal town and kept his royal insignia and treasury there. Taking that town more swiftly than anyone had anticipated, he shared the booty among his soldiers. Meanwhile he sent a herald to Vespasian notifying him of the victory he had gained; Brigantiam and its nearby regions where in his hands, its inhabitants had promised to yield, and it would redound to his honor if he were present in time to preside over the surrender of that indomitable nation, from which great glory for the victory would be obtained. Vespasian approved of Plautius’ devotion towards himself, and immediately took horse for Caractonium. Upon his arrival the men who had remained in Brigantia submitted themselves and all their fortune to the Romans, as being the masters of the world. On the following day Vespasian, moved by the ill fortune of King Caractacus, since he had fought for liberty almost to the utter destruction of his nation although, as it seemed, the gods were against him, sent ambassadors to him to say that he should not continue to resist the immortal gods, to whose decision all victory, all power of rule and government of necessity belonged. Therefore he and his nation, having been afflicted by so many defeats and the manifest wrath of the gods, should voluntarily submit to the Romans, and, as long as he abided by Vespasian’s demands, he would remain safe, and henceforth would be called a friend of the senate and people of Rome. If he unwisely continued his war, to his personal destruction, he would be deprived of his kingship and soon be brought to his downfall, together with his nation. Caractacus’ reply was that was presumptuous and the height of folly for mortals to pretend to an understanding of destiny, as if they were good friends of the gods. It was the gods’ good-will that had granted himself and his nation a home in Albion. It was the Romans, impelled by ambition and criminal greed for possessing all things, who had waged war against himself, although having suffered no wrong: he was defending himself against harm, not inflicting it. In his opinion, the gods were not so unjust as to be willing to grant a happy outcome to evildoers. He was unconvinced that the Romans would preserve his kingship intact, having so often attempted to deprive him of it, and having unjustly taken so many thrones away from kings. He would seek the friendship of the Roman people, but only if this were an honor and protection for himself; but now he must refuse it, for, were he to accept this, would theraten a great detriment for himself and his realm. The kingdom of the Scots was his, just as the Roman realm belonged to Caesar and to the senate and people of Rome. Those who failed to defend their own were no less wrong than those who would invade what belonged to others, and so, invoking the shades of his ancestors, as if they were his ultimate refuge, to the end of his life he would continue fighting the Romans on behalf of his nation, his kingship, his liberty, national gods, and the tombs of his forefathers. The Romans should expect nothing else of him.
51. When Vespasian received this reply, he admired Caractacus’ greatness of mind. For, although the other rulers of Albion had yielded to Roman arms, he was so stubbornly intent on resisting them with war. First of all, he decided to pursue him with his army. But, learning that a Roman army could not be advanced through impassable and marshy places, and arduous mountains that produced no grain, without suffering great loss, he changed his plan and, placing strong garrisons in the Briton’s strongholds, decided on crossing over to Mona, not many miles distant from the mainland. He sent ahead some faithless British and Pictish deserters to invade the island, which is, as I have previously said, situated between Ireland and Albion. For this purpose he quickly built some ships and collected all the ones he could find along the coast, for the purpose of transporting his soldiers. Meanwhile, it was reported to him that the peoples of Kent and the Isle of Wight had killed the Roman garrisons in various places and undertaken a great mutiny, and that nearly all that part of Britain which faces Gaul was in a state of rebellion, possibly at the instigation of the Gauls. Thinking that this wound should be attended to as quickly as possible, Vespasian handed his forces over to the propraetor Aulus Plautius, in order to keep the inhabitants of that part of Albion loyal to the Romans, abandoned his expedition to Mona, and hurried to Kent by forced marches. Arriving there, he suppressed the inhabitants’ rising with light skirmishes, and executed the men responsible. A few days later, summoned to Rome by Claudius Caesar, he departed for that city covered with great glory, having successfully transacted these things in Albion.
52. When King Caractacus found out that Vespasian had departed for Rome, he turned his attention to the recovery of Brigantia and Pithland, at the instigation of the Pictish elders who had fled to the island of Mona. So men from every nation of Albion flocked to him, moved by an enthusiasm for public liberty or having suffered insults at Roman hands. He quickly formed these into an army and moved against the Romans, having high hopes of encountering a better fortune. Nor were the Romans any slower to arm themselves. A battle was then fought with great energy as both sides contended with might and main, the Scots motivated by the desire to recover the lost part of their kingdom, and the Romans intent on not losing what they had gained at the cost of so much effort. For a while the battle hung in the balance. But their skill and great martial experience gained the victory for the Romans. The routed and scattered Scots disappeared headlong into marshlands, as was their national habit. For them, the battle was so unsuccessful that, as it appeared, they had no remaining hope of resuming the war against the Romans. And yet the Romans did not pursue the fugitives very far, being ignorant of the terrain. When King Caractacus saw that the day was lost, he took the remnants of his army and retired to Evonium as best he could, where a little later a parliament was assembled and a consultation held about the defense of the realm against the Romans. The king’s request that all men of the Scottish districts and the Hebrides capable of bearing arms should be collected, and auxiliaries also fetched from Ireland, whence the Scottish nation took its origin. With such a collection of forces fighting to the death, either the Romans would be conquered or the Scottish would perish to the last man, and in this but no other way they would make an end to the war. Asked their opinions, others stated that King Caractacus’ view did not sufficiently fit the times, since they knew full well that their commonwealth would be endangered if all its fortunes were staked on a single battle between the Scottish, so often vanquished, and the Romans, so often the victors. Rather, they should allow the people, broken by war for so many years, a little while to regain their strength: the Romans should be prevented from extending the boundaries of their empire beyond Brigantia, not with a full army, but with frequent skirmishes. Let them daily incite the Britons, a nation always eager for new government, to forming an association against the Romans. Hence it might come to pass that their enemies, prevented from gathering grain and provisions, done in by starvation, would either quit Brigantia or be driven to a dishonorable surrender. On the next day a levy was held and soldiers were sent under well-tried captains to defend Siluria (currently the district adjoining the Romans) from their enemies.
53. For the following two years the war was postponed, with only raids being conducted by both sides, without great loss of life. During this time Plautius was grievously tormented by the flux. Since he had no faith in either the medical art or nature’s healing power, he wrote that he was now ruined of body, since the malady was increasing; while his strength endured, he had spent his energies on protecting his republic’s interests and expanding its empire, but now he was destitute of all help of either nature or the physicians, and was awaiting certain death. Therefore he requested, lest there be turmoil in provinces gained with such risks and effort for want of a legate, that a man of consular rank, skilled at the military art and grave for his age and manners, be sent as legate to Albion, so that, thanks to his leadership, those who had pledged their faith to Rome could be held to their word. Receiving this message, Claudius sent to Britain Ostorius Scapula, a consular man distinguished by many accomplishments at home and in the field, to preside over Roman affairs. At his arrival, or not much thereafter, Plautius passed away at Camelodunum, and his body was cremated after the Roman fashion. The Romans placed an urn containing his ashes in the temple Vespasian had dedicated to Claudius Caesar and Victory (of which I have written at length above) with great estate. Henceforth, as I have found some writers to have stated, the custom of cremating human bodies grew common among the Picts and the Scots, and many evidences of this practice have been discovered in our times. For in the year of salvation 1521 there was discovered at Findour, a village of Merch five miles from Aberdeen, an ancient tomb in which were two urns of wrought with strange craftsmanship, filled with ashes and both inscribed with Roman letters. Brought out into the open, they quickly turned to dust. And in a field of Kenbothin, a village in Mar ten miles from Aberdeen, at about the same time farmers discovered two tombs made out of squared stone, wherein were four urns of similar workmanship, size, and inscriptions as those just mentioned, partially filled with ashes. A number of antiquities of this kind have been found at many places in Albion, as our ancestors have reported.
54. But I must return to the point where I digressed. When they learned of Ostorius Scapula’s arrival in Britain, the Cambri, Tegeni, Damonii, Corniei, Iceni, and the other peoples of western Britain threw the Roman province into confusion, thinking that under the new commander Ostorius, a stranger to the Roman army and ignorant of British customs, they could easily reclaim their liberty. To do so all the quicker, they invited their neighboring nations to mutiny, the Candali, Silures, Ordovices, and likewise the entire Pictish nation and the Scots of Brigantia. They wrote a letter to Caractacus entrusting the common command to him, saying that the time for recovering their lost liberty was at hand, and that they would do whatever he commanded. Apprised of these things, Ostorius, well aware that a new general’s virtue should not be kept concealed at the outset of his career, led his army against the enemy before they could assemble. At their first engagement, they routed the Cambri and Tegeni and hunted down their fugitives, not without slaughter. Then he moved against the Iceni, a powerful nation that was responsible for the whole uprising. When they saw that they would be obliged to fight, they chose a place for the battle fenced in by a farmer’s earthwork wall and with a narrow entrance, and so inaccessible to Roman cavalry. The Romans promptly broke through this rampart and harassed the Britons, who had penned themselves in. When the Iceni saw they had no avenue for escape, they stood and fought stubbornly, all but perishing to the last man. Few were taken alive. The Candali were terrified by the massacre of the Iceni, and joined their surrounding nations in freely surrendering to the Romans. Then Ostorius made for Carlisle, a town in that part of Candalia now called Cumbria located hard by the Brigantes and Ordovices. This was quickly taken and destroyed, its neighboring fields ravaged, and plunder carried away. He also put down the uprising of the Brigantes, the nation next to the Candali, with small loss of life suffered by those who had taken up arms. Then he marched with full forces against Pithland and the Silures, a nation of uncommon ferocity because it relied on the powers of its king Caractacus, who, they knew for a certainty, would go up against the Romans, should they invade. But on them Ostorius visited great and unheard-of catastrophes: he burnt the grain they had stored up in their barns and killed off their old women, gaffers and beardless boys, but all of those of mature years he could catch were consigned to the vilest of slavery, and anything worse that could be devised to inflict on a human being.
55. Caractacus took this new Roman damage amiss, to the point that te preferred vengeance for this insult to life itself. Therefore he armed himself to gain revenge, and made up his mind to risk his all on a final throw of the dice. When he entered Pithland, men flocked to him from nearly all over Albion, convinced that they must either avenge this Roman humiliation or put an end at once to their disgrace and their servitude by dying. The army Caractacus assembled from his own followers and these auxiliaries contained nearly forty thousand men, whom he drew up for a battle in such a way that at their backs they had deep river with no available crossing, so (as was reasonable to imagine) no man could hope for safety in flight. The older women, who had gathered there in great numbers to witness the final outcome of the entire war, were stationed on either side of the army, to exhort their menfolk to fight with their loud howling, throw stones at the enemy, and cut their throats when they fell. But he commanded that those of the most suitable strength and age should take arms and fight amongst the men. His captains should circulate among the soldiers, exhorting them to fight, bucking up their courage, diminishing their fear, and kindling their hope. They joined the king in dashing about hither and thither, saying that this was the day, this was the battle, which would serve either as the beginning of their recovered freedom or of their perpetual slavery, and they invoked the names of their ancestors who had driven off the dictator Caesar, thanks to whose martial virtue they had been free and kept their persons unsullied by Roman axes or tribute. They said these and similar things the people signaled their favor with a great noise, and no man failed to vow that he would not yield to missiles or arms, fighting on behalf of his nation, on behalf of liberty.
56. This eagerness astounded the Roman general, as did the number of their forces, their strength and unusual ardor for a fight. Many of his men shuddered at the thought of this war’s outcome, since they knew how dangerous it was to fight against those feeling extreme despair. Before giving the signal to join battle, Caractacus, the supreme commander in that war, announced that enduring liberty was the prize for which they fought. After having drawn up his army with great skill, as was a Roman general’s way, Ostorius scarcely failed to match him in exhorting his troops. In an energetic harangue he reminded them that they were Romans, the masters of kings, peoples, and nations, but that those against whom they were fighting were headstrong, untrained barbarians, far removed from all humanity and hence wisely located by nature, that parent of all things, at the end of the earth. Then both sides were ordered to come to blows. And immediately battle was joined with such a degree of fervor as had never been greater in a fight between nations or peoples. For a while hope and fear hung in the balance. But long experience in fighting paved the way for a Roman victory, as the men of Albion fled to hilltops and the Romans gave chase. The victory was a distinguished one. Caractacus’ wife and daughters were taken prisoner and his brothers surrendered themselves. Since adversity is safe for no man, after he entrusted himself to the Scottish queen Cartumandua, his stepmother (after the death of his father Cadavallus she had married Venusius, a noble man possessed of a sly character, to the detriment of the public), he was handed over in chains to the victors, in the ninth year after the Romans had begun the war in Albion.
57. When he was led to Ostorius by those into whose clutches he had fallen, the legate rose to greet him and broke out in tears at the sight of the man, since he had fallen from the higest station. Then, clasping his hand, he said, “Caractacus, you must bear your lot with a calm mind, since you have come into our power by misfortune, but not because of any lack of virtue. You should not be ashamed to become a prize for the Romans, who are accustomed to leading so many wealthy kings and captains in triumph, having taken away their scepters and realms.” At these words Caractacus sighed and responded, “I admit that I must endure this fate, albeit unwillingly. Nor am I distressed that Fortune, so hostile to our cause, has prostrated me before your eyes as a specimen of her unfairness. You have a captive who has been bested by deceit more than by force. As long as I possessed the strength, I fought against the Romans. I have come into your power thanks to the fraud of my very unjust stepmother Cartumandua, to whom I entrusted my life after my army was scattered. It will be my task to obey the victor, and (since thus the gods choose) submit to the will of my enemy. It is yours to enjoy the victor’s lot, but in such a way that you do not abandon clemency, that most excellent of impulses in a leader, in which captives, even when downcast with the greatest misfortune, cannot help but place their trust.” When Caractacus had said these words, he was taken to the camp at Ostorius’ command, where he was treated respectfully by one and all, and handled in no way that did not befit a king. A few days afterwards he was conducted to Rome, together with his wife, daughter, and brothers, to meet Caesar, renowned through the islands, the nearby provinces, and Italy. The people poured forth, eager to have a look at that king who had disdained Roman power for so many years.
58. And Caractacus had no mean name at Rome. When the people were summoned to witness the spectacle, the Praetorian Guard were drawn up at arms on the parade-ground adjoining their camp. Then there marched past the king’s clients, wearing the torques and collars in which they had begun their war. Soon came long the brothers, wife and daughter, and last of all Caractacus himself was put on display. The others issued unbecoming plaints because of their fear, but Caractacus, not abject even amidst such misfortune or asking for pity with by downcast look or with his words, is reported to have said when he stood before Caesar’s tribunal, “If I had enjoyed a reign as prosperous as were my nobility and wealth, I should have come to this city as a friend rather than a captive, nor, being born of distinguished ancestry and ruling many nations, would I have disdained to enter into a treaty of peace. But Caesar, my lot in life is as bad as yours is magnificent. I possessed horses, men, arms, wealth — what wonder that I have lost these against my will? For, if you desire to rule all men, it follows that all men must accept their servitude. If I had surrendered myself as soon as Roman arms entered Albion, neither your glory nor my tragedy would have become so famous among mortals. And if you execute me now, being your captive, as soon as I die oblivion will befall you. But if you bid me depart unharmed, this will be an enduring example of Caesar’s and Rome’s clemency.” At these words, Caesar pardoned him, his wife and brothers, and they were instantly freed from their chains. Subsequently he said many boastful things about Caractacus’ captivity in speaking before the senate, calling it no less distinguished than Scipio’s defeat of Syphax, Lucius Paulus’ victory over Perses, and triumphs of all the rest who had put conquered kings on display for the edification of the Roman people, and they voted triumphal insignia for Ostorius. And Caractacus, having sworn a great oath of abiding loyalty to Caesar and the senate and people of Rome, and leaving behind the elder of his brothers and his daughter as hostages, returned to Scotland, by permission of Caesar.
59. Many prodigies were observed that year on Scottish soil, a little before Caractacus spent his ultimate strength in his struggle with the Romans. A fierce equestrian battle seemed to be fought in a field, with great casualties suffered on both sides, but they quickly disappeared, leaving no trace of the combat. They say that on the site of the battle many wolves came together on the day before the men of Albion fought the Romans, and attacked those standing watch at night, snatching one of them away into a nearby forest, but releasing him at first light. A son was born to Caractacus with the head of a crow, but otherwise not unhandsome of aspect. These prodigies were a terror to the people prior to the battle, since soothsayers interpreted them as foretelling a great reversal for Caractacus’ person and for his kingdom. But after the battle had been concluded and Caractacus emerged safe and sound, they all began to be taken in better part. And when he returned to his homeland thanks to the clemency of Claudius Caesar, men poured out into the streets to greet him, and attended on him with incredible honors. By command of Caesar, his town was returned to him, together with the lands of the Brigantes and Siluri. From that time forward a general peace ensued, and he continued as a most loyal friend and ally of the Romans, spending the remainder of his life in untroubled peace, which in all men’s opinion he had earned by his great labor. Frequently speaking of the hardships of war, he greatly strove to maintain the peace and fidelity of all men. When Caesar learned of this from the dispatches of his legate Ostorius, he sent home Caractacus’ daughter, who had been pining with longing for her father, and for nearly two years the peace was maintained, with no battles fought anywhere.
60. And then Caractacus died at Caractonium, worn out by his exertions more than by old age, in the twenty-first year after the death of his uncle King Metellanus, having governed his kingdom with greater bravery than good fortune, the noblest of Scottish kings down to his day and the most distinguished of them all at war, since he had devoted his entire life to protecting his commonwealth against the Romans, those masters of the world, and in the end had turned his attention to outfitting it with the finest institutions. His life extended to about the thirteenth year of the principate of Claudius Caesar, the year of human salvation 45. At about this time there lived at Rome men famed for their genius, the two satirists Persius and Juvenal, the fine epic poet Lucan, and Seneca, that champion of the Stoic school, later put to death by Nero. St. Jerome appears to have included him in his roster of Saints because of the letters he exchanged with St. Paul. And, thanks to the preaching of Christ’s Apostles, nations throughout the world were beginning to adopt the worship of general piety, with the cheats of evil demons, that had beguiled mankind for many a century, shown up for what they were.
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