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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK IV
FTER King Caractacus had died, as I have recounted in the preceding Book, he was buried in a field at Caractonium with what passed at that time for great estate, and a little later a tomb was erected in his honor at public expense, next to which were put up more obelisks in his memory than had ever been erected at the tombs of his ancestors. This king left behind one daughter, unfit for marriage because of chronic illness, with the result that she lived in celibacy until her death, abstaining from all intercourse with men. A parliament was then convened for the election of a king, and Caractacus’ younger brother Corbredus – his elder brother had died as a hostage at Rome, being unable to tolerate Italian hot weather – was chosen by the common vote of them all to replace the deceased king. He was a man of keen wit, not very different from his brother Caractacus. He long remained a trusty friend to the Romans (as King Caractacus had enjoined with his dying words), not harmful to no man nor harmed by any, having had great experience of war’s hardships. At the beginning of his reign he visited the Hebrides, where he remained until he had put down an uprising of certain robbers, who had taken advantage of Caractacus’ ill health to indulge in mischiefmaking. His arrival was therefore most welcome to the islanders. Returning to Albion, he founded or restored cults of the gods, which had been neglected because of the war’s upheaval, and rebuilt ruined strongholds. He visited Lugia and Corana, those northernmost parts of Albion, inflicted many punishments on ravagers who had made themselves hateful to the common folk and rustics, and bestowed generous gifts on those who had protected the people from the injuries of those men.
2. While King Corbredus was occupied with these matters, Roman affairs in Albion under the legate Osgorius began to suffer a decline. For, after a king has been created, Conkist, the chieftain of the Ordoluci and nation of Deira, the Picts entered into a design to recover their liberty and surrounded the Romans, the prefect of their camp, and the legionary cohorts who had been left behind to garrison Pithland, Odolucia and Deira,. For the Romans were less concerned with military affairs, as if, thanks to the removal of King Caractacus, the war was over. Had they not quickly received aid from nearby fortresses, they would have died to the last man. As things were, the prefect, eight centurions, and the best of their ordinary soldiers were killed. Not long they assaulted gangs of Roman soldiers who were out foraging, and in bloody encounters they put them all to rout, together with the squadrons of horse which came to their rescue. Then Ostorius brought up some lightly-armed cohorts and joined battle with the Picts. The Ordolucae persisted in the fight most of all the Picts, fighting in the van and pressing the Romans with great slaughter. The legate observed this and swiftly attempted to support endangered men. But he received a fatal blow and was all but overwhelmed by the violence of the Ordolucae. Since the day was fleeting and deprived those engaged in the fight of their ability to see, the battle was broken off, with no small loss having been suffered by either side. There ensued frequent skirmishes, often resembling those fought by robbers, in forests and marshes, as chance befell. Finally there was a clash between the Romans and the Picts, together with those who had joined them from Britain and the island of Mona. They had scarcely joined battle when they deliberately took to their heels, as if they were fugitives. Their flight induced a number of Romans to pursue them in disorder, without having received any command from their captains, until they came across enemy lurking in ambush, who intercepted and killed them. They caught others in steep, rocky terrain, where they were overcome as they ran away headlong from their returning enemies.
3. Seeing this, Ostorius retired to his camp with a part of his forces, not without trepidation. He then sent a messenger to Rome to inform Caesar of the Pictish rising: they had received refugees from the island of Mona who had come to them, enemies of Rome, and attained such a degree of insolence that they could not be held to their loyalty to Rome by either force or kindly treatment. Caesar’s reply was that henceforth the Picts, and most particularly the Ordolucae, the ones responsible for the mutiny, were not to be received back into Roman faith: even when subdued they were not to be spared, and the name of that nation was wholly to be obliterated. To achieve this, any day now two legions were to be transferred from Gaul to Albion. While Ostorius was awaiting Caesar’s response, the Picts, emboldened by their recent victory and having recruited auxiliaries who hated the Romans from all over, attacked two Roman cohorts which were carelessly foraging, and, by showering spoils and captives on them, enticed neighboring nations, the Candali, Tegeni, and Iceni, into the uprising. At this time Ostorius, exhausted by his worries and the pain of the wound he had received in the recent battle, died, to the great joy of his enemies. Spurred on by Caesar’s reply, the Picts and their confederates immediately drove against the Romans. On the other side, Manlius Valens (upon whom the Roman command had devolved when Ostorius died) led out his legions into flatlands and set his forces in battle array on suitable terrain. There ensued a bitter and bloody battle, with wound dealt out and received on either side. Unanticipated by everybody, about four hundred horsemen of the Candali arrived in support of the greatly endangered Picts Baffled by their arrival, the Romans could not withstand their onslaught and, taking to their heels, they retired to their camp with great loss of life. In that battle more than three thousand Roman soldiers were lost, and two thousand of the Picts and their auxiliaries.
4. At the time these things were transpiring in Britain, since Caesar, having been apprised of the legate’s death, did not wish the province to go without a governor, Aulus Didius hastened to Albion with two legions, and found Roman affairs in poor condition. And so he decided to correct this damage, and put to death each and every Pict, as commanded by Caesar. First he convened an assembly and vehemently reprehended the soldiers because they had failed themselves and the Roman empire, having been less intent on military preparedness since the capture of King Caractacus, and because they had no concept of how to proceed, what to do, or when to stand fast. He reminded them what martial discipline could achieve, and what detriment fighting men often suffered when it was relaxed, and how surprised he was that Roman soldiers’ military virtue had slackened to the point that they were bested by the barbarians so often defeated in the past, to their disgrace. Finally he employed many arguments to brace the soldiers’ minds, imploring them not to be disturbed because of the lost battle, and not to attribute to barbarian virtue what their lack of martial discipline had brought down on themselves. In the future they should be obedient to their general and preserve their modesty and self-control, for there were no better soldierly qualities, lest their skillful commander have any cause to lose heart. When these or similar things were said to the soldiers, their spirits were raised with great hope and eagerness. Nor was there a man in that multitude who did not vow to avenge the disgrace they had received. At first the report of this terrified the Pictish king, his nation, and the auxiliaries who had come in defense of this cause. But the recollection of their recent victory quickly encouraged them, and they sent ambassadors to the Scottish king Corbredus to inform him that the Romans, albeit twice defeated by themselves and having lost a great part of their horse together with their general Ostorius, had restored their army, fetching two legions from Gaul and having Aulus Didius for a newly-created general, with the intent of ravaging Pithland and destroying its people. It was beyond doubt that, were the Romans to prove the victors, the noble realm of the Picts would be reduced to extremity, and that the Romans had already decided to kill off their nation to the last man. Nor were they better disposed towards the Brigantes, against whom they had already made up their minds to practice savagery, and not just to subject them to their sway, as before, but to consign them to the harshest terms of servitude. These things and nothing else were to be expected of the Romans. They therefore earnestly prayed that help be sent to themselves and the Brigantes, now under threat of such great danger, to protect them from their enemies’ harm: better to counter the danger now, while they had the ability, rather than after their powers were exhausted, their armies scattered, their nations conquered, their territories occupied, when the enemies would press them to the point that furnishing help would be an impossiblity.
5. King Corbredus’ response to these things was that he was fully aware that the Roman legate Aulus Didius was ill-disposed and malevolent towards himself and his kingship. He had not only come to Albion to hold to its loyalty that part already gained by the Romans, but also to wage offensive war. with the manifest ambition of subjecting new, untouched districts to Roman rule: therefore he himself would quickly go to Brigantia in order to protect the people of his realm from an enemy attack, should one occur. He would do no harm to the Romans, unless they first inflicted some on himself or his nation: this was a term in the treaty struck between King Caractacus and the Romans, and he was bound by his solemn oath to observe it. Having dismissed the ambassadors, King Corbredus assembled an army and headed for Brigantia. The legate Didius, hearing that Corbredus had come into Briton, immediately sent him a herald requiring that he depart from Brigantia, for it was a Roman province, only granted to King Caractacus for his lifetime out of the good-will of Caesar and the Roman people, with the stipulation that after Caractacus’ death it would return to Roman power. If he opposed these injunctions, he should be aware that henceforth he would be considered an enemy of the Roman people, and driven by force of arms not only from Brigantia, but also from all the other districts he had henceforth governed in peace.
6. The herald had scarcely recited the legate’s command to Corbredus when it was announced to him by spies that Caesius Nasicus (Aulus Didius, burdened by old age, waged the war by his agency) was leading Roman forces into Brigantia, to the great consternation of the rustics. Hearing this news, Corbredus, somewhat angry, asked the herald why he had come: was it to deceive him? When the man attempted to answer, he was prevented a great outcry was raised by the bystanders, all crying out that he should be thrown in chains. Considerations of mankind’s law prevented at that crime, and he retired to his own people. At the same time Corbredus was informed by ambassadors of the king of the Picts what Caesius Nasica was doing against himself and his nation, so he gathered his forces in a strong fortification protected by both art and nature, protecting them against Roman harm until he had gathered an army from all Scottish regions. He thought it greatly touched on his own dignity and the public safety to defend his subjects from all calamities. He himself went to Epiacum to Venusius, the husband of Queen Cartumandua, a man who enjoyed no little authority at that time, to avail himself of his help in the impending time of peril. For a long time this man had been defended against neighboring nations by Roman arms, for they bitterly hated him for having handed Caractacus over to the Romans after he had been deceitfully caught by Cartumandua. But quickly he wearied of the Romans’ haughty rule, and, learning that Corbredus was preparing for war, defected from them to his king. Cartumandua, conscious of guilt in her dealings with Caractacus, was suspicious of Corbredus’ prosperous successes, so she took prisoner his brother together with his kinsmen. Irate because of this insult, when Corbredus had arrived at Epiacum, he freed Venusius and his relatives, and commanded that Cartumandua should be burned alive, as everybody was shouting that she was a witch who deserved death.
7. While these things were transpiring, some ordinary soldiers of Corbredus’ forces attacked and routed foraging Romans without orders. Then they incautiously pursued them, and were surrounded and killed by the enemy. This affair so greatly frightened those remaining in the fortification that they could scarcely be restrained from flight by their officers’ authority. Five days later the Romans, having sent ahead some horseman to terrorize their enemy, began an assault on the fortification. This stronghold was a hill set amidst marshland, impassable for horsemen. All its entrances but one were blocked by felled trees. But when the enemy learned by his scouts that the combined army of the Scots and Picts were scarcely three miles away, they broke off their undertaking. Then the Roman general Caesius Nasica ordered all his cohorts to be led to a nearby field, and stand in battle array to await the engagement. As soon as the arriving Scots and Picts caught sight of the Romans, they ran up with such speed that they were breathless and gasping. And then, as the sun set, they fought with incredible ardor, with many men killed on both sides, and it appeared that victory belonged to the Romans. But the Scottish soldiers who had been waiting in the fortification intervened, and the battle was rejoined. Finally, when darkness fell, both armies retired, the Romans to their camp, and the Scotsmen to nearby hills. During the following night Aulus Didius sent a herald to Caesius, advising him that the Britons in Kent were staging an uprising against the Romans, and he should therefore mind his time. If at all possible, he should strike an honorable peace, lest by protracting this war they should lose the rule over Britain they had gained at the expense of so many exertions, not without disgrace.
8. This situation had the effect of diminishing Caesius’ ardor for a fight, but when the day dawned the confederate kings, shattered in yesterday’s battle, opportunely sent ambassadors to Caeius treating of peace. They informed him of how much damage this war would create if it were to be continued, since they had lost their friends and fortunes in the battle. It should suffice for the Romans henceforth to have as living friends those whom they were unable to overcome in battle. They stated that, by the advice of certain of their noblemen and by their own common vote, they were prepared to submit to his will. Caesius and the Romans with him seized upon this opportunity for an honorable peace and did not refuse the offer, having gained no advantage in that war, but having experienced many disadvantages. But he thought that the final decision about this business needed to be deferred to Aulus Didius, who was staying at Camelodunum awaiting the war’s outcome. He himself would abide by Didius’ decision, and the business brooked no delay. When Aulus Didius learned from a herald how endangered the Romans had been in the previous battle, he had regard for the honor of his republic and elected to send ambassadors to the confederated kings, inviting them to choose some suitable place for a conference: he desired to discuss with them conditions for a peace and matters of high importance. The embassy received this response from the kings, that they would do as Didius requested, if he would come escorted by only ten horsemen, the same number they would have, with both sides leaving their armies a hundred paces away from the place of the conference. They did not see how it could otherwise be held without danger. Didius did not reject their condition, and conference was set for the third day following.
9. There was a broad plain on the border of Britain, with a great stone standing in it, and here, in accordance with their agreement, they met in conference. The Roman took the lead in reminding Corbredus of the kindnesses of Caesar and the senate towards King Caractacus and the Scottish nation. For, when they were holding him captive at Rome, they called him a friend, bestowed on him his liberty and liberal gifts, and allowed him to rule and govern the nation of the Scots as he saw fit. For her father’s sake, they also sent back home the daughter whom they held hostage at Rome, and they were habituated to repaying just and good kings with benefits matching those they received. Therefore Corbredus had no reasons to violate their treaty and wage war against the Romans, who had treated his brother King Caractacus with so many good deeds and such great honors, by invading Roman provinces. Calling the gods to witness, he begged him to remain content with the Scottish nation and his own home, and hold his peace. If he agreed, the Scots would henceforth have Caesar and the senate and people of Rome as their friends and allies; if he were to choose otherwise, the Scots should understand that without doubt, being so foolishly puffed up, they would suffer a downfall, to their destruction. Corbredus’ replay to this was “I call on the gods to witness that I did not begin a war against the Romans, but only warded off harm when Caesus invaded my kingdom, in violation of your treaty with King Caractacus, and cruelly wasted some towns and fortifications by fire and steel. I have always been minded to defend the kingdom and nation of the Scots from foreign harm. I have always felt, and always displayed, gratitude to Caesar and the senate and people of Rome for the kindnesses and honors shown Kign Caractacus, his wife, daughter, and kinsmen. And for this reason I have always tried might and main to keep this home, granted us by the gods’ good-will, free of war with any nation. I have hoped for peace with the Rome, and desired this to endure until my life’s end.”
10. At this point the Roman commander turned to the Pictish king and said he was curious what had inspired him to take up arms against the Romans. For they had not had not imposed on him the conditions victors usually set on the vanquished, such as harsh taxation or a contribution of soldiers, but, quite to the contrary, had kindly given back their hostages and exercised no tyranny over them, only requiring that a small contribution be paid to the veterans at Camelodunum in lieu of tribute, not so that they would be oppressed, but so that those veterans would remain as a memorial of a noble victory and of the greatness of the Roman name. So let the Picts consider whether such benevolence of Caesar and the Roman people deserved such ill-will, rather than gratitude and good-will. If they should decide to persist with the war, they should understand that the Romans would not lay down their arms before the name of the Picts had been wholly obliterated; but if they preferred peace, he was prepared to grant it to them on behalf of Caesar and the Roman people, on certain honorable conditions. The Pict liked this offer, and not much later, by common consent, the former peace was strengthened by a new treaty. The peace conditions were that the Romans would not advance their empire beyond what they presently possessed, and would not wage war against the Scots or the Picts unless previously injured themselves. The Picts should enjoy their own laws. King Conkist, as before, should pay the usual annual contribution to the veterans of the Camelodunum garrison, power of life and death should reside in the Roman legate, and neither the Picts nor the Scots should harbor runaways from Gaul or Britain. The Scots should have free possession of Brigantia and its territories, and enjoy their traditional laws. They should give no aid of arms or provisions to the inhabitants of the island of Mona, a race of men ever hostile to the Romans, who had long ago revolted from the Scots and inflicted great harm on neighboring nations and the Romans’ fathers. Nor, if the Picts or Britons should mutiny, should they furnish any aid, nor wage war against them as long as they abided in peace with the Romans.
11. When these things had been transacted, both parties return to their armies. That peace endured for the six following years during which the legate Aulus Didius held what had been gained in Albion to its loyalty towards the Roman. After he had died at London, Veranius was bestowed as legate by the Roman emperor Nero, a highly ambitious man. After he had visited many Roman cities in the province of Britain, he came to Camelodunum, where he paid pagan honors to the goddess Victory, and likewise to Claudius Caesar, who had died a little before and been deified by decree of the senate. Stimulated by his predecessors’ glory, which he was very eager to match, he sought a reason for war in every quarter. When he could not achieve this piously, he decided to wage an impious war on the nearby nations, grasping at any pretext he could. It chanced that some robbers of the Scottish Highlands were furtively abstracting driving off plunder from Pictish territory, and the legate Veranius fixed upon this as an opportunity to wage war, rather than demanding that the stolen property be returned, as specified by the treaty. He sent a large force into Scottish territory, who ravaged the nearby forests and strong points with frequent sallies, and carried off a great amount of prizes, in the form of cattle and men, to Pithland. The Scots, irate by this malfeasance, ran to arms. There quickly ensued mutual raid and incursions, albeit not with much bloodshed. In the midst of this upheaval the Roman legate Veranius, taken with a serious illness, died at Camelodunum. As Tacitus writes, his dying words were filled with ambition and a great deal of flattery of Nero, since he boasted that, had he lived another two years, he would have reduced all Albion to Roman rule. After Veranius, by authority of Caesar, Paulinus Suetonius was appointed to the position, a modest-natured man and a lover of peace. He immediately renewed the former treaty with Corbredus, with mutual reparations exchanged and the robbers punished. Then, turning his attention away from the Scots, he readied an expedition against the island of Mona. This was a very populous place at the time, and, as I have already said, a harbor for fugitives. When he had carried across his army faster than its natives had thought possible, employing ships partly built for the purpose and partly obtained elsewhere, he encountered a novel form of battle. A band of fanatical women stood on the shore, dressed as if they were Furies, with disheveled hair and carrying torches. Alongside them stood Druids, those priests of the gods, pouring forth execrations against the Romans with great shouts, raising their hands to heaven. In their midst stood an armed multitude. The Roman soldiers were amazed, not so much by the army of armed men, as by the appearance of those strange, fanatic women and the Druids, so that they were paralyzed and stood stock-still, exposing themselves to wounds. But at the urging of their commander, the standards were raised and an attack was launched against the enemy. They cut down whoever opposed them and tangled them up in their own torches. The islanders were scattered and put to rout, and compelled to surrender. Once they had yielded, a garrison was set over them. The groves, in which (as it was said) the priests practiced foul rites of human sacrifices when consulting their gods, were torn down.
12. Having accomplished these things, the legate Paulinus Suetonius was summoned by the Roman garrisons in Gaul to come to their aid in suppressing some rebellions. So he first set sail from the island of Mona to Cambria, and then crossed over to Armorica. When the Britons discovered the Roman’s absence, they thought they had gain found a suitable time for a rising, and suddenly mutinied against the Romans. The reason for the rebellion, as some write, was as follows. At his death, King Arviragus of the Britons (Cornelius Tacitus calls him Praesutagus), a man born of the Tegeni (as has been told above), distinguished by his great wealth, designated Caesar and his daughters as his heirs, under the impression that this act of flattery would safeguard his kingdom from any harm. But the opposite happened, with the result that his kingdom was ravaged by centurions, and his household by slaves, as if they had been captured. His wife Voada was subject to a lashing, his daughters raped, every powerful man of the Brition race stripped of his ancestral goods, and the royal family were treated as if they were slaves. The Britons, afflicted by these outrages and by the fear of yet greater ones, inasmuch as they had already been unwillingly reduced to the condition of a province, having no ruler of their own nation but many foreigners set over them, snatched up arms and entered into a grand association, inspiring their neighboring nations to do the same. At that times many prodigies were witnessed in Albion. The ocean seemed to run red with blood and images of human bodies were washed ashore. Raving women predicted coming doom. At Camelodunum the statue of Claudius Caesar fell from its pedestal and shattered. And in the same temple, as if the goddess were avoiding her enemies, the statue of victory fell on its back. Asked what these things portended, the seers said that they foretold a baleful slaughter for the Romans, and their loss of victory.
13. These responses inspired the Picts and those who were at Camelodunum and in nearby fortifications to have hopes for a more profitable fortune, and they formed secret associations. Then they raged against Roman garrisons and killed many before they knew that an uprising was afoot. They expelled the veterans (who were exceedingly loathed by the Picts) from their homes and threw them off the land, calling them captives, slaves, and many other insulting terms as they destroyed them. The surviving veterans and those soldiers who had supported them in their helplessness, hearing that the Ordolucae were about to make an appearance, occupied some ancient temple of the gods to avoid their fury, but there they were killed to the last man. A little later, a legion under the command of Paetus Cerialis (who was acting in place of the absent legate) desiring to aid the veterans was routed and scattered. With only his horsemen, Cerialis reached his camp and, packing up his standards during the second watch of the night, eluded the enemy and hastened to Catus, the procurator of Britain, who was then staying in Kent. When Catus learned that a rising was occurring in Albion, he crossed over to Gaul in panic. Meanwhile Queen Voada sent someone in her confidence to King Corbredus of the Scots (who was her brother, as I have previously said) deploring her woes and complaining of the insults she had received at the hands of Roman soldiers. Her two daughters had been debauched, and she herself had received a foul whipping for attempting to preserve their chastity. The kinsmen of King Arviragus and the Scots and Picts who had been with him for duty’s sake were treated like slaves. Patience achieved nothing but to bring down worse things on themselves, as if they were complaisant and all-suffering. The Britons had had a single king, but now they have had two imposed on them, or rather two thieves, the Roman procurator and the legate. The one raged against their blood, the other against their fortunes, and among those Romans the noblest was the one who despoiled the most men, debauched the most poem, and cheated the wealthiest of the most money. Nowadays nothing was spared by the Roman’s insatiable greed and mad lust. The Roman procurator Cato was the most disgraceful of men, the particular author of all their sufferings. She therefore asked her brother to come to her help. Let him not permit his single sister, the victim of such a shameful whipping, and his foully debauched nieces be cast in such servitude. Virtually all Britain (on which, it was reasonable to think, the gods at length would have mercy), vexed by these and countless other insults, had risen up against Catus and the Romans. If he would supply his aid and serve as their general, then, if only the gods were favorable, they would cast off the yoke of servitude and the Romans would be compelled to leave the Britons as a free people, to their great shame. Prodigies lately witnessed by the men of Albion and the responses of their national gods had given courage to herself and to her entire nation.
14. After King Corbredus learned these things from the messenger’s description, his mind was suffused with a mixture of pity and anger that Queen Voada, his sister, a woman ennobled by a royal marriage, was so greatly mistreated. Immediately, by means of a herald, he demanded of the Roman procurator Catus (who had returned from Gaul to Britain with increased forces) that he should refrain from abusing Queen Voada and make reparations for the abuse already inflicted, since this was what equity demanded, and equity was something that the Romans prided themselves on observing more than the rest of mankind. Otherwise he would become an enemy of the Romans. By this message Corbredus obtained nothing from Catus other than a response full of mockery and abuse: whether or not Catus dealt rightly or wrongly with Voada was no business of his. It was flatly absurd for a barbarian, and a subject to Rome, to poke his nose into something that did not concern him. If any insult had been committed against Voada, it deserved to be redoubled. In this way and no other, the impudent rudeness of barbarians was to be given satisfaction in accordance with Roman equity. Whether Corbredus was to be an enemy or friend was all the same: his every enterprise was vain and of no importance, and Catus did not give a fig about him. Irate over this outrage, King Corbredus entered into a league with Charatanus, the current king of the Picts, who with his nation had been awaiting this with flagging spirits, for the purpose of expelling the Romans from their homes. A little latter, having assembled an army composed of Picts, Scots, and what Irelandns they had managed to recruit, they raged through Pithland, Deira, and the territories of the Candali and Iceni with great slaughter: neither age, nor sex, and not even the bonds of friendship and hospitality could rescue anybody from this cruel massacre, so greatly διδ each and every one of burn with hatred against the Romans. They took Ordolucia, a coastal city and the most populous of the entire region, because it appeared to support the Romans, destroyed its stronghold, killed off its garrison, and wholly destroyed it by fire. Many men are of the opinion that this city, restored some time later, is the place we call Berwick. When these things were heard on Mona, the islanders immediately shouted that it was time to take up arms. There followed a deadly massacre, with all the members of the Roman garrison put to the sword. In conjunction with the men of Mona, the Brigantes and Silures, the wildest peoples of them all, ranged through the Roman provinces in Britain, abstaining from no kind of brutality. This foul plague raged against Carlisle, the best-defended city of the Britons. They butchered its townsmen and burnt the place to the ground. During that massacre not even their womenfolk refrained from using arms, for they were all ardent with the desire of taking revenge on the Romans for the abuse they had suffered.
15. At this time, as is said by our annals, a certain people of Moravia, Germanic by origin, were routed by Roman arms and driven from their hopes, and arrived in confusion to the mouths of the Rhine, where they reassembled, and assembled a fleet of ships acquired from all sorts of places. Setting sail under their leader Rodoric, they wandered over immense and unexplored tracts of the sea, for the sake of finding a new home. Debarred from the coasts of Gaul and Britain by their inhabitants, they were borne to the Firth of Forth (this is the name of the estuary that once separated Pithland from Otholinia). The locals gave them a kindly welcome, thinking their help would be useful for the impending war against the Romans, for they anticipated that, with their help and because of their incredible martial virtue, their great experience in fighting, and their implacable hatred of the Romans, liberty from the Romans could easily be achieved. Their hope was increased by the great size of these people’s bodies, their lively and German expressions and carriage, their common origin with the Picts, and the ill treatment they had received at Roman hands (a thing which, as they swore by their national gods, they promised to do all within their power to avenge). Carried with his Moravians to Pithland in this manner, when Rodoric learned that the allied kings of the Scots and Picts were scarcely twenty miles away, he took a great army and, using certain Picts familiar with the land as his guides, went to them with his forces. When he arrived there, he delivered himself of a long speech to the kings complaining of Roman outrages and informed them that the Romans had occupied a large part of Germany for no other reason than their lust for power, had enslaved its inhabitants and, taking away their ancestral laws, had subjected them to foreign ones. The Moravians whom he himself governed had been defeated and put to flight, and not even accepted into slavery. Rather, they had been driven from their homes as fugitive vagabonds, exiled far from their homeland and compelled to seek a new home. This single solace remained, that, thanks to the kindness of the gods, after many wanderings he and his nation had been brought to a place where he could take revenge on the Romans for the sufferings he had suffered. He therefore prayed the confederated kings that he and his nation be allowed to march against the Romans in the company of the Scots and Picts, where they would readily learn what martial virtue and discipline in battle were possessed by Germans. If they drove off the enemy and had earned praise, let himself and his followers be given homes and women for wives, so that the could marge into a single nation with the Scots and Picts. But if they were defeated in battle, they would be satisfied, since by acting bravely they would have revenged themselves on their over-proud enemies.
16. Rodoric’s offers were all the more welcome to the allied kings because they perceived that the Moravian nation was burning with hatred against the Romans, and they greatly rejoiced that these men of great stature, incredible martial virtue, and experience in arms, had come to their aid. Expressing no little gratitude to Rodoric, they readily agreed to his requests. Then, having readied the things needful for their expedition, they made forced marches by day and night to come to Voada, the Britons’ queen. With her were a levy of nearly all the men of the British nation, awaiting the arrival of the Scots and Picts. As soon as Queen Voada became aware that her brother Corbredus and the Pictish king were at hand with their forces, in the company of a band of British nobles escorting her as a sign of respect, she went to meet them. And after many mutual congratulations, the queen said “Had I been born a man, as long as I lived I would never have witnessed or experienced as many intolerable evils inflicted on the race of Albion as we see it to have suffered under such haughty Roman government. But, no matter how nature shaped me, if only you are willing to join me in taking vengeance for our common hardship, those Romans, so brave in their handling of woman, so brutal and unjust in dealing with their subjects, will learn what a womanly hand can achieve in battle, when extreme dangers are pressing. I admit I am a woman, and even if I cannot put off this appearance (and would that I could!), it is granted me to have a manly spirit. I myself shall go before your forces, clad in armor. I shall fight in the van, in the company of five thousand women of British blood who have all entered into a compact to avenge the mistreatment we have received. Forgetful of our sex, we shall be the first to join battle, yielding to no arms, yielding to no wounds. Nor will the enemies’ slaughters and cruel woundings deter me, as women are wont to be frightened. For I cannot be induced to show any mercy on those who have afflicted my friends and kinsmen with so many varieties of murder. I think they have abandoned all kindness and forgotten they are men, for in Britain they have unabashedly visited so much debauchery on upright matrons and chaste virgins, having sacked their cities and killed off their inhabitants. And so, right illustrious kings, you must arm yourselves against our common foe, mindful of the insults you have suffered both old and new, and imitate that which you see helpless women daring to do. Victory is within your grasp, something no man can doubt. For the Romans are now so panic-stricken that they place their hope for safety in nothing more than flight. And you should think that speed is of the essence, lest, if a new assembly of Roman legions and Gallic auxiliaries join themselves to the forces Catus controls in Britain, you will have more difficulty in withstanding such a great multitude. And lastly I beg you not to fail yourselves, and, neglecting the duty of men, surrender yourselves, your wives, and your children (who are bound together by the greatest affection known to mankind) without a struggle.”
17. Voada’s words were met with the great enthusiasm of all her hearers: they admired how the weakness of her sex had been transformed into manly courage. In all that multitude there was no man who did not like the queen’s expression, carriage, and words. When these things were reported to the Roman commander Carus, the forces of the men of Albion began to be a terror to the Roman, and, pressed by news of his enemies’ movements, the Roman general took a numerous army and marched against them. Nor did they avoid his approach. Rather, coming to blows with great eagerness, they first scattered the Romans cavalry. Quickly they surrounded the infantry, denuded of the protection of its horeseman, and immediately defeated them and put them to rout. A dire slaughter of the fugitives then ensued. Wounded by a spear-thrust, Catus avoided the clutches of his enemy with the help of a slave, and fearfully crossed over to Gaul. Elated by their new success, after looting the spoils of the slain, they wrathfully raged against the all persons of the Roman citizens and their allies in Albion, employing the utmost cruelty. As Cornelius Tacitus reports, in that battle nearly seventy thousand Romans were killed, and thirty thousand of the men of Albion. Thanks to this ill-starred defeat, Roman affairs in Britain reached such a state of calamity that, had not the Roman legate Paulinus Suetonius (who was at that time acting in Gaul, as instructed by Nero Caesar) learned of the islanders’ uprising and hastened to the rescue, they would have lost all Britain. Not long thereafter he made an appearance with two legions and ten thousand auxiliaries, and with these forces, together with those already in Britain, he resolved to do battle against the immense multitude of his enemies. When Queen Voada learned that Seutonius had arrived with new Roman forces, she recalled those Britons she had sent home to live in ease. With these and the women who had followed their queen’s example and armed themselves, she quickly assembled a great army to conduct the rest of the war. The Scots, Picts, and German Moravians hastened up in their bands and squadrons, boastfully prideful over their recent victory, since they had appeared to have chosen a fit time and occasion for warring against the Romans. They placed the wives they brought with them, in accordance with their national custom, at the edge of the battlefield, earnestly exhorting them be present as witnesses to their victory.
18. Voada drove around the bands of Scots, Picts, Moravians, and Britons, duly drawn up for battle, displaying her daughters, and telling them that she was numbered among their commanders, not only so she might defend her wealth and kingdom, but also so she might exact revenge for her lost liberty, her scourged body, and the ruined chastity of her royal daughters, for she was indignant that Roman lust had come to the point that, abandoning all distinction of persons and age, they left neither old age nor virginity free of pollution. She kept saying that the gods, who had witnessed this thing, were at hand as the just avengers of their injuries, and that in the recent battle very many of them had been slain by their wrath for waging such an unjust war against a free people. They must now fight against men whom flight had rescued from previous destruction: a new general could exhort them to fight, but could not restore their courage, since they had already experienced defeat. If they considered the defeated and routed enemy against whom they must fight, if they considered their own forces and the reasons for this war, they would believe that in this battle they must either prevail or fall: gods forbid that should happen, but better to choose that than disgracefully to live on as slaves. Nor did the Roman legate Suetonius hold his silence at this critical juncture. Although he had confidence in Roman martial virtue, he nevertheless delivered himself of a mixture of exhortations and entreaties: they should scorn the barbarians’ loud and empty threats; it was evident that more of them were women than men, and that the men they had were beardless and unarmed boys who would fall back as soon as they had a taste of the steel and virtue of men who had so often proved victorious. In their few legions were plenty enough men to finish off this battle with good success, and it would redound to their glory that by their modest band the reputation of the entire Roman army would be retrieved. So they should energetically fall to blows with the enemy, doing deadly work with their javelins and swords, and ignoring booty for the moment. For once the victory was gained, all the spoils would fall to themselves.
19. The general’s words were met by great ardor in them all. Thus the veterans made ready to ply their javelins, relying on their experience in many a battle, as if knowing for a certainty that Suetonius would give the signal to fight in full assurance of a happy outcome. For their part the leaders of the men of Albian, trusting in their huge number of fighting men, bade them join battle, as if sure of victory. From its very outset the fight was bitter, but in the end the men of Albion were routed and scattered, sent flying with much slaughter. And yet their avenue of escape was a difficult one, since the battlefield was fenced in by their wagons, and the Roman soldiers did not even refrain from killing their women. In that battle, as Tacitus records, eighty thousand men of Albion were killed (although, in accordance with his habit, he calls them Britons). Nearly all the Moravians were lost, together with their leader Rodoric. Lest she be taken alive by her enemy, Queen Voada committed suicide. Her captive daughters were led to the Roman legate, since they had fought in armor. A few months later Marius, the Roman aristocrat who had seduced the elder of these, was installed as King of the Britons by authority of Caesar, and then, so that the condition of the island could be pacified, he married the girl. Having gained the kingdom, the named that part of Candalia near to the Ordovices and Brigantes, where he used to go to hunt, Westmaria after himself, although, after the Romans had been expelled from Britain, the portion nearest the Scots was called Cumbria, and even in our day a certain part of the ancient land of Candalia retains a slightly changed version of the same name, being commonly called Kendale.
20. Afflicted by great sorrow, Corbredus departed for Scotland, together with the surviving part of his army. When he arrived there, out of his royal munificence, as a reward for their proven valor, he bestowed on the Moravians who escaped the catastrophe the lands enclosed by the rivers Forth and Spey, which bequeathed to posterity its name of Moray, taken from this new nation, although it previously been called Vararis. Its previous inhabitants (about whom I have written at large already) had been expelled and scattered to various regions, because they were more prone to waging ware at home, to the destruction of their neighboring nations, than abroad on behalf of the public safety. Then Scottish maidens were given in marriage to the Moravians, and they wonderfully increased in numbers. But their posterity forgot their fathers’ language and adopted that of their mothers, so that after a few years they merged with the Scots into a single people speaking the same tongue. But their name has persisted down to our own day for both the district and its people. His strength broken and his wealth exhausted, King Corbredus abstained from war for the rest of his life, troubled by no man. For the Romans were preoccupied by their civil wars and for a number of years thereafter attacked neither the Picts nor the Scots, resting content with holding the southern part of Albion to its loyaly by means of its legates, albeit with difficulty. King Corbredus finally died at Evonium, notable for the greatness of his deeds at home and abroad, after having governed the Scots for eighteen years, and was buried in a nearby field, after the manner of his forebears. In accordance with his ancient national custom, no few obelisks were set up at his grave. His reign extended down to the principate of the emperor Vespasian, the year of Christian salvation 71. While Corbredus was flourishing in Scotland, the following men distinguished themselves in Italy: the lyric poet Statius Papinius, the satirist Persius, the lyric poet Lucan, born at Cordova, and Plutarch of Chaeronea, the great historian and teacher of moral precepts. Christian churches were piously established in various parts of the world thanks to the preaching of the Apostles. At Rome, a pious congregation, reborn at the holy font of baptism, received instruction in contempt of all the things of this world and its fortune, by the sacred teachings and sermons of Peter and Paul. Both were finally put to death, martyred by command of Nero, but in different ways and not in the same place. Peter was crucified on the Mons Aurea, feet uppermost, a form of execution they say he himself requested. Paul was beheaded at the gate of the Ostian Way.
21. But I must continue concerning the Scots. Dardannus (who received the nickname “the Gross” because of his immense physical size), the great-grandson of Metallanus, who after the death of King Corbredus immediately took possession of the Scottish government, will provide the starting-point for my next narrative. For Corbredus had three sons, two of whom were children and a third who had not yet come to manhood, Cobredus, Tulcanus and Brecus. The eldest of these was raised by his aunt Queen Voada of the Britons, whom I have already mentioned, and was imbued with British manners and civilization. This earned him the nickname Galdus, for even in our age men are wont to give this name to a man of their blood whom has acquired foreign manners and ways. So that the kingship would be left undisturbed for Cobredus when he reached his maturity, by popular choice the Scottish elders bade Dardannus rule. Before he took the throne, Dardanus was the dearest of all nobles to King Cobredus, always at his side at home and in the field, obedient to his commands, and helpful for governing the commonwealth thanks to his useful and honest advice. Hence all men were convinced that their new sovereign would walk in the footsteps of those best of kings, Metellanus, Caractacus, and Corbredus (all of whom I have already described). And the common folk embraced him with very sincere affection and incredible joy, for he had gained the favor of one and all by the fresh memory of the good-will he had displayed towards nobles and commoners alike. He was possessed of a tall body and liberal-looking face. But, as the outcome showed, there lurked within a criminal mind. At the outset of his reign he acted the part of a moderate king, relying on the advice of his nobles in his public government and honorably defending his subjects from harm both domestic and external. But soon, when his third year had barely passed, he stripped their magistracies and public responsibilities from good and upright men, and bestowed them on certain unsavory and base-born flattering courtiers. For he had a deep suspicion of those distinguished for either nobility or virtue, and he himself, wallowing in his disgusting pleasures, daily descended to worse things. And not long thereafter, having squandered his own wealth on rascals who had extolled his actions with great exclamations for the sake of their self-advantage, although they were unworthy, he became so insatiably greedy that he developed an inhuman appetite for other men’s property. He set snares for his kinsman Cordorus, a very noble man who had served as Great Justice during the reign of Corbredus (such they call the magistrate who has supreme power over life and death, second only to the king), and had him beheaded, because the man had been dead set against his outrages.
22. At about this same time a great number of nobles were killed by similar devices. This provoked the undying hatred of the elders and commoners of the kingdom. And not long thereafter, Dardanus hatched a scheme for killing Gorbredus Galdus, now entering adulthood, who was the rightful heir to the kingdom after his own lifetime, and his brothers, thinking that, with these men taken out of the way, the kingship would be procured for himself and his posterity. At that time, Galdus was living on the island of Mona under the supervision of publicly-appointed custodians and tutors, as was then the custom. The task of killing the royal lads was entrusted to a certain courtier, Carmonacus. Taking his fee, he straightway crossed over to Mona. He decided to attack Galdus during an audience, which would give him the opportunity, but he was apprehended by the custodians while holding a drawn dagger and haled before the magistrates. Put to the question, he revealed the king’s scheme and his own plan for committing the murder, and, convicted of attempted murder, was put to death on the spot. When this was reported, the elders entered into an association against the king: he was so much hated because of his monstrous crimes and his intention to kill the royal young men, and his supporters were put to death everywhere. At this juncture, a base-born fellow named Conan, put in charge of nearly everything by royal authority, a man who not only served as a supporter of the king’s outrages, but was also accustomed to praise them as if they were fine deeds, had become greatly over-proud and forgetful of his own station, having appropriated many fortunes, to the great damage of the entire commonwealth, sought to recruit an army to defend the king’s cause. But he was arrested by the association and, bereft of his forces, was obliged to end his life on a very high gallows. Next Galdus, whom the members of the association had made their leader, assembled an army and marched against the king. After this had been announced to Dardannus, he took to his heels in search of a hiding-hole. But when he understood that no refuge remained, since the enemy were pressing with such force, he tried to kill himself. Prevented by his courtiers, he was taken and handed over alive in chains to his enemies. Led before Galdus, he was commanded to be killed. His severed head, fixed to a pole, was carried around the army, to great jeering, and his body was dragged by a hook to the nastiest sewer. Such was the end of insolent Dardannus, in the fourth year after he received supreme power over the Scots. This was about the sixth year of the principate of the Roman emperor Vespasian, and the year of Christ our Savior 75.
23. At the same time these things were being transacted, Roman affairs in Britain began to totter thanks to the lax administration of legates, since the civil wars persisted. For Paulinus, who (as I have said above) obtained Britaain as its legate, was commonly regarded as arrogant towards those who had surrendered and a hard-handed avenger of injuries, and urged Caesar to send Petronius Turpilianus to Britain as legate, although he was more malleable and milder to delinquents. But Caesar, having settled his previous conflicts and not daring to engage in new ones, bestowed the province on Trebellius Maximus. Trebellius, being slothful by nature and almost wholly ignorant of military matters, governed the province by a certain kind of affability. But since he could scarcely avoid the wrath of the army, suffering from internal dissension, since the soldiers were accustomed to martial exploits but were now indulging themselves in idleness, he yielded place to Vectus Volanus. And that man displayed the same lack of energy against his enemy, using the civil war as an excuse for his laziness, and subdued the unruly camps more by kindness than authority. He lasted until the times of Corbredus Galdus, the subject of my following narrative.
24. After King Dardannus had been put to death, the Scottish elders convened a parliament. There was much talk about Galdus: that he had been born of a royal father and not fetched from elsewhere, that as a boy he had crawled about in royal emblems and had grown to manhood in the embrace of noblemen, that he had often been commended to each of them by his father, that he was destined to be no mean governor of the commonwealth, being born of a king. Then he was decorated with the emblems of royalty by vote of them all, sitting on the Stone of Destiny in accordance with the ancient national custom, as every man cried out that he should be happy and fortunate and he was hailed as king by one and all. Having been declared king, Galdus (Tacitus calls him Galgacus) first thanked the gods and the nobles, and then the rest of the Scottish nation who were present to witness the spectacle, and promised upon his oath that he would abide by his father’s way of rule and be governed by the counsels of the elders and those who were most prudent. This wonderfully endeared him to them all, and gained him incredible popularity. For he was possessed of excellent comeliness, and of his nobility both domestic and foreign, being ennobled by royal blood on both sides of his family, since, in addition to his paternal ancestry, his mother was a daughter of a Pictish king, born of an ancient line of kings. In short, he lacked nothing which was conducive to gaining the favor of the multitude. At the beginning of his reign, because the commonwealth was exhausted by the vices of King Dardannus and the felons to whom he had entrusted his government, to show all men what kind of king he was, he employed exquisite tortures to put to death those by whose suasion and guidance Dardannus had murdered a number of noblemen, so as both to seem and to be an avenger of public wrongs. He crossed over to the Hebrides with an army, and there, with little difficulty, he suppressed an uprising of many riotous fellows who had taken advantage of Dardannus’ negligence. He next employed many ships to transport an army to Lewis and Skye, the two most distant islands of the Hebrides, very rarely visited by Scottish kings, where he put to death certain enemies of the commonwealth who had gone there to avoid the authority of his judges. He thence returned to Lugia, to settle the turbulent affairs of its inhabitants. While he was in Lugia the men of Moray came to him, giving their great congratulations for having removed Dardanus, that enemy of the nobles and the public welfare. The Moray men were greatly obliged for his returning the nation and commonwealth to that condition from which it had degenerated after the death of his father. They had caught some pillagers, ravagers of fields, thieves, and robbers and brought them to the king in chains. By royal decree, on the spot they were executed to the last man. Some robbers took refuge at the Winged Castle at Dunedin, and the king’s agents pursued them, caught them before they could shut themselves up in the stronghold, and compelled them to end their lives at the end of a rope on the gallows. From that time forward, the condition of the realm was more peaceful.
25. In the following year, which was the third of Galdus’ reign, at a parliament of elders held at Evonium, a large number of laws conducive to the public welfare were enacted. The king tried his hardest wholly to abolish King Evenus’ abominable law (which I have described above, in dealing with his reign), but only obtained that henceforth nobles would not enjoy the use of commoners’ wives. The rest he could not remove, over the objections of the multitude. And while, using many arguments, he was striving to turn the nobles’ minds against these foul customs, it was announced that the legate Petilius Cerialis had arrived in Britain with an army, sent by Vespasian Caesar to recover Albion, all but lost to Rome together with the rest of the world, and was on the verge of invading Ordovicia and Brigantia. This news immediately filled King Galdus and his nobles with dread. Nevertheless, they preferred not to declare war throughout the land until they were certain what the Romans were undertaking against the Scots and the Picts. Therefore, by command of the king, some horsemen with martial experience were dispatched to divine the Romans’ plans. When they had looked over the Roman forces carefully, they reported back that the number and organization of their soldiers were fearful beyond all human imagination. They added that the Romans had laid foul waste to Ordolucia and Deira, the Pictish districts nearest the Britons: their crops had been ruined and all their cattle driven off. The Picts, their forces enlarged by the accession of men from the neighboring nations of Deira and Orduucia, had unwisely come to blows with the enemy and had suffered a brutally deadly reversal. Puffed up with their victory, the Romans were making great inroads into the Pictish lands and, heading into the western part of the kingdom, were preparing an immediate expedition against Brigantia. This news was spread abroad, and, not without great trepidation, people railed against the Britons’ great perfidy. For, heedless of the great kin dness with which the Scottish and Picts had recently fought for their welfare nearly to the point of extermination, they had neglected to provide any kind of forewarning of this Roman invasion of their territories. Galdus, think that the Romans were to be countered before they could penetrate to the vitals of his realm, held a diligent levy in all districts. It is said that fifty thousand men went to war beneath his standards, and no man in Scotland failed to rush immediately to arm himself.
26. It is said that an assortment of prodigies confronted Galdus as he marched against the Romans. For the better part of a day an eagle hovered over his army with great effort. This frightened many of his followers, who interpreted it as meaning that they were to be handed over the Romans, whose emblem was an eagle. But Galdus cried out that they should be of high hopes, interpreting it to mean that their expedition was to cause the Romans much labor and anxiety. And an armed soldier was seen flying through the air, and when he had sailed over the army he disappeared from everybody’s sight. Various kinds of blood-stained birds dropped out of the cloudy sky, falling on the fields where the battle was the be fought. He put a favorable interpretation on all these things, by many urgings filling his men with hope of victory, seconded by those who were preeminent for their prudence and authority. Then he raised his standards and commanded them to march against the enemies. Meanwhile it was reported to the king and his elders that the Romans had come into Brigantia with far greater numbers and equipment than ever before, as if not just to fight a battle, but to reduce it to a province, since in the past it had all been conquered and come under the power by the rights of war: they placed that great reliance on their martial virtue and trusted that no human power, no matter how great, could resist it. To these things King Galdus, as instructed by the elders, replied that their harsh military might must be set in opposition to Roman virtue, and that it would come to pass that Fortune, that fickle governess of human affairs, would someday use all their successes to set a trap for the Romans (as was plausible to imagine), and that the gods were accustomed to stand on the side of those piously striving to ward off harm. There were those who urged the king not to make such haste towards the enemy. Rather, he should use a few forces to delay them and send the rest home, so that, after the Romans had consumed their provisions, they would be obliged to depart Brigantia or suffer from hunger and many other inconveniences. The elders approved this plan, but said they feared lest delay blunt the soldiers’ eagerness. For the spirits of Scottish soldiers were very fierce and most ready to endure a battle when their army had first been assembled, but prone to be broken by delay, and grew somewhat more slack while they loitered in their tents under arms: it was therefore necessary to lead them against the enemy with vigor.
27. The captains and soldiers complied with this opinion, and on the third day came within sight of the enemy. The Romans’ numbers and often-tried martial virtue frightened the Scottish fighting-bands, so that many thought their self-confidence had turned into anxiety. But, thanks to the timely exhortations of their captains, they regained their erstwhile eagerness, and, having prayed the gods for a fair result, joined battle with incredible ardor. With great ferocity the battle-line of the Silures, in which Galdus fought, pressed back the Roman right. But when Petilius saw this, he sent a legion to aid his men, who were all but overcome, and so the battle was rejoined and the Silures driven off by Roman might. Their ensued a most bloody battle, with many men lost on both sides. While the soldiers were thus engaged in the struggle, their captains performed their duties with excellence. Petilius surveyed his Romans, harassed in the conflict, and immediately reinforced the places where he observed them to be failing. And soon, while ranging about the battlefield, he caught sight of Galdus, caught up in a savage fight, and, desiring either to capture or kill him, launched a very hot attack, together with those ordinary soldiers who always accompanied him in readiness for any emergency. At that place a yet more savage battle was begun, where the bravest of the Scotsmen, leaving nothing undone while within Galdus’ sight which you could say pertained to the best of soldiers, fell in most honorable fighting. The king himself, having received a great wound in the face, mounted a fresh horse and left the battle. Then the rest, disheartened by their king’s flight, turned tail and ran through terrain both flat and impassible at headlong speed. The Roman soldiers put to the sword all those they could catch. Those who evaded the clutches of their pursuers retired to a marshy place, as if it were their safest refuge, and kept themselves there throughout the following night. In that battle, as is recorded in our annals, nearly twelve thousand Scotsmen and six thousand Romans were killed. On the following day, thanks to the efforts of their offices the remnants of the Scottish army were gathered together. King Galdus, wounded, was carried to the very stout stronghold of the Lelgui. The Romans occupied Epiacum and the greater part of Brigantia with no great effort, and for the rest of the year refrained from fighting any large battles.
28. In the following summer the legate Petilius, not so eager to enlarge the Roman empire as to match the glory of his predecessors, led his soldiers out of camp and tried his best to reduce the rest of Brigantia. By vexing him with frequent skirmishes and light battles, the Brigantes managed to ward off their enemy’s onslaught for a while. For by public decree of their elders it was forbidden henceforth to employ their entire army in fighting set-piece battles against the Romans, lest they risk their all on the fortune of a single battle. Meanwhile, while the Romans ranged Brigantia with great devastation, Vodicia, the younger daughter of King Arviragus, whom I have already described as being debauched by the Romans and captured in battle by the legate Suetonius, collected some fighting-bands from the inhabitants of the island of Mona and the Brigantes who had fled there to avoid Roman depredations, for she was living there in exile to avoid the deceits of Marius, with the intention of avenging herself for her ruined chastity and the mistreatment of her mother. She attacked the Romans, who were fearing nothing less than an assault from the rear. First they heard discordant noise and the shouts of those encouraging each other to fight. Then a host of arrows and slingshot-stones were shot at the Romans. Stupefied by these, they had no idea what to was best to do amidst this sudden peril. For they could neither avoid their enemies nor dared join battle against forces whose number and martial virtue they could not determine, since the dark of night prevented them from seeing. While the Romans thus dithered, the enemy employed no pointless boldness in breaking down the walls of the camp, and inflicted a very horrible slaughter, with the bravest of men often falling to the axes and missiles of cowards. The Roman army would have been lost, and the Brigantes would have cast off the yoke of servitude by Vodicia’s action, if Petilius’ foresight had not quickly come to the rescue. For he set ablaze torches made of pitch, resin, sulfur and tallow, which he kept handy for night-time use, and went where the loudest uproar could be heard. By hurling torches and firebrands at the enemy along with missiles, he fended off a bit of their violence from the camp. But Vodicia, encouraging her soldiers with great enthusiasm, rejoined the battle. The fighting was then conducted with such great ardor that the whole night did not make an end to their struggle. At length it grew light, Roman numbers prevailed, and Voadica and her followers were routed. Petilius forbade his men to pursue the fugitives, fearing lest the Romans stumble into an ambush. On the day following the night-battle, Vodicia, angry over the many wrongs done her and driven by a noble woman’s frenzy, hastened to Epiacum. She took the city with violence and burned it, mercilessly killing many Romans of the garrison together with veteran soldier settled there by order of the legate, gaining from Roman garrisons and veterans the revenge she could not obtain from Petilius. In order to erase the shame inflicted by a band of women, Petilius sent a legion against Vodicia, by which she was captured, losing virtually all her followers, and brought alive to the Roman commander. Accused of having dared venture on such an undertaking in violation of normal womanly modesty, she replied that, as an enemy, she had desired to kill her enemies; for this she had lacked the strength, but not the disposition; and that she bore nothing with more pain than happy Roman successes, since they had conquered her father, killed her mother in battle, and stolen the kingship from the house of Arviragus. She died by the swords of the soldiers standing around Petilius.
29. After these things it was announced to Petilius that the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight were making trouble, that many of the men of Kent had joined them, that King Marius had all but expelled from his kingdom, and that the affair was tending towards open rebellion, were it not very quickly suppressed. This news called the legate back to Kent, where he put down the troublemakers’ undertakings, not without difficulty. In the legate’s absence, the Romans left behind in Brigantia struggled to retain the loyalty of what they had already gained in war, rather than to extend the empire further. Two years thereafter, after Petilius had died of the flux, lest there be no legate in Albion to attend to Roman interests, Caesar sent there Julius Frontinus, a man of consular rank, together with two legions. King Marius gave the new legate a warm welcome on his arrival. After his weary soldiers had been refreshed from the great hardships they had endured by land and sea, the legate, joined by Marius, made an inspection of the Roman provinces in Albion, and urged them by many arguments to remain loyal to the Romans. And when he found that all things had been pacified and there was not even a semblance of sedition among the Britons, he decided to penetrate the forest and attack the most far-flung nations of Albion, thus far conquered by no general, and compel their surrender. He bent all his energy to making preparations for this war.
30. Not long thereafter, with King Marius left behind in Kent to hold the Britons in their loyalty to Rome, he started for Brigantia, ignoring the Picts, since he had persuaded himself that they would easily yield once the Scots had been conquered. Upon his arrival, Scotsmen everywhere were terrified, so much fear did the name of Julius Frontinus inspire in them all. And so, entering Brigantia, Julius bestowed no small praise on the Roman garrisons which had been holding its strongholds and castles, for having done their duty, for the honor of the Roman name and the prosperity of its republic, with such great faith and exertion amidst their enemies. He urged every man to be of good spirits and to place his hopes in their well-tried martial virtue: it would come about that, with the barbarians defeated without Roman loss, they would soon have all Albion in their power. He then handed a letter to a herald, to be delivered to the king of the Picts, in which he requested him to abide by his old friendship and alliance with the Romans or, if he preferred, to enter into a new one. They ought to bear in mind the catastrophes inflicted on them in prior wars by the Romans under the command of Ostorius, Caesio Nasica, and Aulus Didicius, lest, if they had any sense, they join with the Scots, a nation always wild and rebellious, whom Caesar had now decreed must either be wholly eradicated or reduced to perpetual slavery. Let them adopt wholesome counsels, lest they suffer far harsher things than they had in the past. To these things the Pictish king, who mistrusted Julius Frontinus’ demands no less than did his entire nation and its elders, responded in accordance with the decision of a public discussion: he was curious that the Romans could have a just reason for waging such a great war against the Scots, or what could motivated the Romans, not content with the world and its mainlands, to march against the far-flung islands of the ocean so often, impiously to assault the freedom of the men of Albion. They were scarce acting justly to campaign with such strength so they might overthrow realms not their own. and to hold the gods, those avengers of crimes and impiety, in low regard. Under the gods’ guidance, he and his nation would join in fighting with their friends and allies the Scots, on behalf of their common nation and its liberty. Nor could he and the best and most prudent of his subjects devise any more wholesome counsels for themselves, for their liberty, for the defense of their realm, since they were bound to do so by treaty, and they could discover no law which allowed them to break their word. The Roman legate disdained the Pictish king’s response and immediately marched against the Silures, the most pugnacious of all the Scots nations Roman arms had thus far reached. King Galdus, disturbed by this new Roman movement, collected his forces to protect Scottish interests, and, although tormented by his battle-wound, set out.
31. There followed battles fought after the manner of skirmishers, with light casualties. Using his health as a pretext, Galdus’ strategy was to exhaust the Roman army more than to do battle with it. In these fights the fortune was various, with the Romans sometimes conquering and sometimes being conquered. At length the Scottish fighting-bands were greatly diminished, killed off by the Roman troops, and King Galdus, suffering from his ailment to the point that he could not play the part of a vigorous commander because of his weak body and far weaker spirits, placed garrisons in the strongholds of Siluria and, departing the district, was with great difficulty borne to Argathelia on a litter. Not many days thereafter the Scottish forces which remained in Siluria were attacked, defeated, and put to rout by the Romans, with a loss of three thousand men. Siluria was thrown into a state of panic by this reversal, for they could look to no man to fend off Roman might, with all their men who could bear arms used up, either by flight or by death, and so they yielded to Roman arms. After these things, the victorious Roman soldiers were led into camp.
32. At the conclusion of the following winter, Frontinus fell seriously ill from an excess of pituitary humor, acquired by living in the heavy, cloudy, and humid climate which is constant in those parts because of the great height of its mountains and the proximity to lakes and rivers. And there was no way in which he could protect this throat and feet from the unaccustomed great cold. When this was reported to Domitian at Rome (who ruled the Roman empire at the time), out of concern for the welfare of the legate and the Roman army he recalled Frontinus to Italy and placed him in the care of very skilled physicians and sent to Britain as legate Julius Agricola, a man of consular rank, to command the Roman forces. Agricola was the best of all Roman generals who had heretofore come to Britain. At the time these things transpired, the Ordovices all but wholly destroyed a cavalry squadron active in the territory of Brigantia, and, encouraged by that success, they provoked the Picts, Brigantes, and Silures to rebel against the Romans. When Julius Agricola had been brought to Britain, and had learned of the Ordovices’ savage deed, and that the Picts and Silures had taken up arms against the Romans, he moved more quickly than any man would have imagined to Pithland, with his legions and Gallic and British auxiliaries, to provide defense against this common danger. Without great difficulty he brought about the surrender of the Ordolucae (I have already explained what this nation was), and protected the strongholds and fortifications he had acquired with Roman garrisons. Then he moved his forces to Camulodunum. King Karanathus of the Picts came a-running here with his army to counter him, but was bested and compelled to retire within the city, where their fortune was no better than in the earlier battle. For they were conquered, and virtually all who had continued in their fight were slain. Camulodunum was quickly taken by force, with a large number of its inhabitants killed, and Agricola chose to surround it immediately with a second ditch and rampart. And the Pictish King Karanathus, having lost his army but rescued by flight, crossed the river Forth with a few soldiers and betook himself to Otolinia. At the time Otolinia was a district of the Piths lying between the two estuaries of the Forth and the Tay (both of which still retain their names), a region gifted with fertile soil, full of forests, pasturage very fit for both cattle and sheep, lakes, ponds, and rivers full of various kinds of fish, and an abundance of every kind of game which lives in Albion. Today this area contains the smaller counties of Fife, Kinross-shire and Clackmannanshire. These continue to flourish with their erstwhile abundance, but by the efforts of the Scottish kings who occupied these parts after the Picts had been destroyed, they have in large part been denuded of their forests, since they could not otherwise get rid of robbers.
33. The result of news of this victory gained by the Romans in their fighting against the Picts, which I have described, was that the forts and strongholds of Pithland voluntarily submitted to Agricola. A little later, so as to confront the remaining danger, Agricola gathered up his legionary standards, took along a band of auxiliaries, and marched against the Ordovices. Hearing of the legate’s arrival, after issuing forth from their huts together with those of their womenfolk capable of bearing arms, they received the Roman onslaught, drawn up in battle array. They continued to fight until nearly all of them had been killed. Those who avoided the massacre by flight were killed to the last man by their wives on the night of their homecoming, for this was their traditional way of erasing the shame of having runaways for husbands. Pleased by that victory and scarcely unaware that he must take advantage of his reputation so that these first surrenders might become universal, Agricola took all his forces and hastened against the island of Mona. As I have related earlier, Paulinus Suetonius had conquered it, but for many years it had been in a state of rebellion, and he wished to subdue it once more, lest it continue as a haven for runaways. Since an adequate supply of shipping did not exist for a crossing, some of his soldiers crossed over on ships, and others took advantage of low tide and swam over, so that by their commander’s steadfast effort they suddenly appeared on the island. The islanders were stupefied: observing their fleet, they were convinced that for the Romans nothing was difficult or insuperable, and so they sued for peace and surrendered themselves to the Romans. Agricola placed garrisons in strongpoints and took hostages, but allowed the conquered locals to live in their own way, and in accordance with their own laws. He then took his army to Brigantia, where the men were dismissed into winder quarters. These were Agricola’s achievements during his first year in Albion. When summer came, he brought his forces out of camp. After having said much to them about martial affairs and about the modesty and steadfastness that ought to be displayed by their officers, he scoured Brigantia and Siluria with his army. On that expedition he himself selected the campsites, he himself led the way over estuaries and through forests. With his forces and arms he so greatly frightened the locals that upon his arrival very many of them abandoned their farmsteads, villages, and cities, and departed for other parts headlong. And so he spent that summer more in imposing his control on the conquered than in subduing new peoples.
34. During the following winter, after dismissing his soldiers to their camp, he summoned the more noble men of Albion who were obedient to Rome, and urged them to adopt more urbane and civil manners: they ought to build temples, forums, and buildings designed in the Roman style, and entrust their sons to well-tried tutors, so that, now that the wars were finished, they might receive training in eloquence, the Liberal Arts, and goodly manners. They should adopt ways which were, if not elegant, at least decent. By giving such exhortations and wholesome, honorable counsels and by preparing his warlike equipment, he passed the winter, looking forward to the coming summer. In the third year of his expedition, he readied himself to visit new peoples hitherto untroubled by Roman arms, the Otolini and Vicomagi. The Vicomagi were a Pictish people, who lived south of Caledonia, mentioned by Ptolemy, Vairement, and many other approved writers. After they and the rest of the Pictish nation were destroyed, the Scots occupied the same places and called them Sterling. And so Agricola, having gone through the southern part of Caledonia with his army, came to Mons Dolorosus, now Castle Sterling. This name was given to the mountain, or at least the citadel, because sounds resembling the groans of lamenting men could be heard at night by the locals, which are doubtless to be understood as tricks of evil demons designed to deceive mortals, who at that time were still demented with their silly superstitions. Agricola beheld the nature of the mountain and the site of an ancient tumbledown stronghold on a hill, which was uninhabited, and since he realized that it was nearly impregnable, he lavished great expense and hard work on repairing the fortification. He threw a bridge over the river Forth, and brought his entire army across it. On the following day, learning by spies that the king of the Picts was there, he set siege to a stronghold very well defended both by art and nature, set on a lofty mountain (nowadays it is called Montbennart, which means “Castle Mount”). But a little earlier the Pictish king had taken fright at the coming of the Romans, and abandoned the castle and betaken himself to the flatlands, where he gathered his forces and marched to destroy the newly-built bridge over the Forth. His intention was to pen the Romans between the Tay and the Forth. Agricola, not failing to appreciate the Pict’s strategy, broke off his siege of the castle and immediately followed him, together with his Roman forces. When they were warded off by those who had been left to guard the bridge, the Picts could not achieve their undertaking, the left the business undone and returned from the bridge. A little later they came in sight of Agricola, and, obliged to come to blows, were beset by great slaughter. Nor, since their desperate enemy fought to the death, was this a bloodless victory for the Romans. The Roman soldiers did not break off their pursuit of the Pictish king himself, who, with a few others, deserted the battle, traversing mountain ridges, until they were checked by the firth of the Tay, where Karanathus discovered some skiffs and, at great risk to his life, crossed over the estuary to the opposite shore, and escaped safe and sound together with his followers.
35. Frightened by the defeat, the Otolini freely submitted to the Romans, lest they suffer worse. Others sought safety in flight and, penetrating the Caledonian Forest, came to the Scottish King Galdus in Argathelia, begging for his protection and support. Agricola returned to the siege of the citadel, and after he had stormed it with no great trouble, there ensued a series of surrenders of the strongholds, forts, and cities of the Otolini. Feeling confidence over these successes, Agricola and his army ranged through Otolinia for the purpose of selecting suitable sites to build forts at many places, so that the provinces gained by his efforts could be more securely retained in their loyalty. But he pulled down a number of citadels because the roughness of the terrain prevented their garrisons from making sallies, when need arose. With things in Otolinia duly put in order, he and the army spent the following winter in constructing new fortifications and repairing old ones. Meanwhile the king of the Picts kept himself at Alectum (the name of a town at the mouth of the river Tay, present-day Dundee), a place where long thereafter, as will be told at its proper place, a very strong castle was destroyed by King Robert Bruce at a time when the English were stubbornly defending it. A throng of Pictish nobles came to the king for consolation, particularly those who had eluded the might of the pursuing Romans, urging him not to lose confidence in himself or his nation, and to have high hopes for his commonwealth: men of Pictish blood lived on, their powers unbroken, to fight the Roman army, which was daily diminishing. When the gods were propitious, it was to be driven out of the Pictish territories it occupied by arms. It would come to pass (for such are human affairs) that the Romans, puffed up by to many successes and enjoying so many increases of luxury, would incur Fortune’s envy when they least expected it, and those who had inflicted injury on so many peoples throughout the world would be made a laughing-stock for the nations at the end of the earth, since thus shifting tosses mortal affairs around in her swift whirlwind. This goddess had set up other kingdoms with happy auspices before the Romans, and after they had been lifted up by happy successes and growth, she had destroyed them. Nor was it to be expected that the Roman empire, created by mortal powers, would be enduring and immortal.
36. Although the king greatly praised these and similar exhortations uttered by his nobles, they were nevertheless unable to buck up his courage: he was that afraid of Romans strength and the greatness of their name, always convinced that the Roman empire had grown loftier than the height of all human good fortune, to the point that it could not be resisted by any power. There ensued many and various deliberations by the nobles concerning management of the impending war. In the end they settled on sending ambassadors to Galdus King of Scots and the elders of his nation, with whom they enjoyed an ancient friendship cemented by many ties over the long centuries, so that they might inform this friendly confederated king of the harm they had received at Roman hands, and in what great peril their Pictish commonwealth now stood. They were to ask his help in fending off the danger that threatened. Nor did this matter tolerate delay. So ambassadors were sent and repeated their instructions in Galdus’ presence, easily obtaining their requests, because they touched on the safety of both peoples. The king took it amiss that not only the Pictish regions of Deira, Ordolucia, Pithland, and Otolinia had been occupied by Roman arms, but also a large part of his realm, Brigantia and Siluria. And so, with his nobles voting their support, he elected to go on campaign with the Picts, daring the utmost rather than be worn down by daily war and injuries and at length see himself and his subjects to the Romans, those most arrogant of all mortals, with their national religion and liberty taken away.
37. While the confederated kings of the Scots and Picts were intent on these matters, the Silures, whom a little before I reported to have vacated their districts out of fear of the Roman name, returned, and inflicted a very bad slaughter on the Romans appointed by Agricola to manage the public government in Siluria, capturing its citadels, killing off its garrisons, wasting its crops and burning all its grain beyond what they could carry off with themselves. Hearing of the great massacre, Agricola immediately marched against the Silures, and by forced marches pursued this rebellious nation, which had scarcely been expecting the legate’s arrival, and had taken refuge in mountains which were unapproachable because of the inhospitable climate. He commanded all captives to be crucified, rebuilt destroyed citadels and defended them with new garrisons, and brought in grain from the Britons’ fields. When he learned from his scouts that the enemy had collected not far away and were preparing to do something undetermined against the Romans, he assaulted them with great violence. He drove their fugitives beyond the Clyde (the name of the river called the Glotta by Tacitus), not without great risk. In that place this river is separated from the river Botodria (now called the Leven), which flows from nearly the same place, by a small stretch of land. There is a castle therein, defended by nature more than any human art, then called Acluth (meaning “Wholly Stone”), but now Dunbriton (meaning “Castle or Fortification of the Britons”). This stronghold was defended by a strong garrison of Scotsman, so much so that the Romans could not storm it at the time by any application of art or violence. Agricola passed his fourth summer in these exertions.
38. In the fifth year of the expedition, at the beginning of springtime the Roman fleet which was attending on the legate’s command at the Isle of Wight, took advantage of a fair wind and, in accordance with Agricola’s order, arrived at the Living Loch (now commonly called Lochfine) in Argathelia, where there is the best anchorage, as a warning to the enemy henceforth not to hope for any safety but that provided by the Roman empire: not by land, since Roman forces were pressing forward, nor by sea, since a Roman fleet was dominating it. Agricola himself, crossing the Clyde with his enemy by means of shipping found there, began to subdue the Selgonae, a nation previously unknown to the Romans. But, informed by a letter from the garrison at Camulodunum that certain Pictish nobles had started an uprising, and that the affair was headed for open rebellion, he was compelled to abandon his project. Taking a legion and a handful of auxiliaries, and leaving the remainder of his forces at the Clyde, he marched to Pithland and put down the revolt with no great difficult, either killing or placing under arrest its authors, to their great detriment. Having thus pacified Pithland, he recrossed the Clyde to rejoin his forces, and there he passed his winter. And then, at the commencement of his sixth year in office, he gave orders that the ports and harbors of Argathelia and adjoining islands should be explored, while he himself, having passed beyond the river Leven, took a land route to subject all forts and strongholds, so that his enemies might understand that they had no refuge by land or sea to save them from yielding to Roman power.
39. The first thing that terrified the Roman soldiers was the steepness of the mountains of Argathelia, the marshlands that lay at their bases, and the intervening forests, choked with vines, brambles, and thorns, which looked as if it would create no small impediment for the army, if it sought to enter the region. But the Romans did not forget their customary martial virtue, so that, undaunted by the effort and regarding nothing as impassable for themselves, they industriously overcame these barriers, albeit at the cost of considerable exertion. They climbed the highest mountaintops, where they acquired great spoils of both men and cattle. Having swum across rivers with wonderful skill, they stormed and destroyed some strongholds they discovered in the midst of forests, which, as it appeared, had been built for civil wars, to which the locals had fled. Others they took and defended with their own garrisons. Thus ravaging their way through the fields, they visited great suffering on the rustics and others who had awaited their coming rather than abandoning the district. At this time, by decision of King Galdus and the elders of his nation, the forces of Novata, Moravia, Lugemartha, the Hebrides, and the other districts which were subject to Scottish government assembled at Athol, at a place scarce five miles distant from a castle of Caledonia now called Dunkeld, where they awaited the arrival of King Karanathus of the Picts with his army, so that the combined forces of their two nations might more easily resist the Romans. But while the Pictish king and his army of fifteen thousand armed men was making their way along the Grampian Hills (a mountain range which, as I have already explained extends in a long expanse through the middle of Scotland, from the mouths of the river Dee almost as far as Alcluth, the modern Dunbriton) on their way towards the Scottish army, for a trifling reason a quarrel arose among some ordinary soldiers. This had the effect of dividing the Pictish army into two factions, so they immediately came to blows, and friendly hands were turned against each other, with mutual killing.
40. This affair shocked the Pictish king, and, while he came along to settle the commotion he carelessly exposed himself to danger, being unarmed and without his emblems of royalty. And so, unrecognized, he was slain by a common soldier. They struggled onward a little while, not without internal strife, but when they learned of their king’s death, the expedition was dissolved and every man went home. When he learned of these things, Galdus was greatly grieved, both because of the unfortunate end of an allied king and because of his intended campaign against the Romans, which he was now obliged to postpone because of the Picts’ departure. He summoned the leading men of his nation to a conference, and in a brief oration deplored the untimely strife among the Picts. Since he lacked the strength for an immediate confrontation with the Romans, he entreated them to come to a speedy decision what was best to be done on behalf of the Scottish cause, so greatly endangered. After many different opinions had been voiced, they voted to decree that, during the present summer, they should hinder the Romans from extending their empire by light skirmishes and raids, rather than fight a set battle against them. By their ambassadors, they should employ timely, honorable, and friendly arguments to urge them to make an end to their domestic dissent as swiftly as possible: otherwise their imminent peril could scarcely be avoided. Then, in the following summer, a great army was to be assembled from all Scottish and Pictish regions together with their friendly neighbors and allies, the men of Ireland, the Orkneys, and the Danes and Norwegians, and this was to be led against the Romans. It would come about that, because of the roughness of the terrain and the protracted time they would be obliged to spend, the exhausted Romans would either be obliged to quit their nation or be reduced to extremities by hunger.
41. Everybody like the plan, and not long thereafter ambassadors sent to the nobles of the Picts’ nation delivered a lengthy oration, in which they deplored civil wars and the ills they visited on rulers, for kingdoms are weak when they are afoot, and expressed their sorrow over the Picts’ wretched and afflicted commonwealth, employing many timely arguments to encourage them to achieve civil concord. They improved the situation to the point that the quarreling was ended and, by the harmonious vote of them all, they chose Garnardus to replace the dead King Karanathus, and took up arms to defend their liberty against their old and bitter enemies, the Romans. In the same assembly it was decided to send embassies to the the Norwegians and Danes or Dacians (from whom the Picts drew their ancient origins), to the inhabitants of Ireland, the old Scots who were the ancestors of those living in Albion. By their effort it was procured that in the following summer these aforementioned nations would help the Scots and Picts against the Romans with provisions and armed support. While these things were being accomplished, King Galdus divided his army into many segments, which he commanded to attack the Romans at various places, under the guidance of men familiar with the terrain. These fighting-bands impeded the Romans (more by their reputation than by their actual accomplishments, as often happens concerning unknown things) from attacking Caledonia during that summer.
42. During the following winter there was a general cessation from fighting, thanks to the bad weather, the worst in human memory. And then in the next summer, which was the seventh of Agricola’s British campaign, a levy of first-rate soldiers crossed over from Ireland to Albion to aid the Scots against their enemies, and came to King Galdus at Athol. There also assembled many men from all Scottish districts, awaiting the king’s command. Present also was Gardardus, the newly created King of the Picts, with a large force of soldiers. All of these, inspired by a desire to defend their liberty, bestowed the supreme command in the war on Galdus. He immediately attempted to march against the enemy through Caledonia, having learned from its locals that the Romans had occupied a great part of the area. Fearlessly, he attempted to attack his enemies with his army arranged in a threefold formation. When Agricola found this out, lest he be surrounded by the superior numbers of the Scots and Picts (our old annals say that fifty thousand men were in arms) and their greater familiarity with the topography, he too went forward with his army organized in three divisions. Learning of Agricola’s preparations, King Galdus had a sudden change of plan. Taking part of his forces, he launched a night attack at the strongest Roman legion, which happened to be the nearest, when they were addled by sleep and fear, having killed their sentinels, so the Scots broke into the camp itself. But when Agricola had been informed by his scouts of the enemy intention and route of march, he immediately followed after them and ordered the swiftest of his horse and infantry to assault them from behind as they fought, raising a shout as they did so. When the Scots and Picts engaged in the fight sensed this, they turned against those attacking from behind, and inflicted scarce less less damage than they themselves received. Savage fighting continued until the dawn, with great loss of life on both sides, at which time the flashing of their standards revealed that all the Roman forces were at hand, together with the legate. The Scots and Picts, daunted by this double danger and fearing for their safety, took to their heels, and were driven headlong into the marshlands and thick forests, their usual refuge.
43. The result of this reversal was that, while very hopefully awaiting Danish and Norwegian auxiliaries, the confederated kings and their nations spent the present summer more in defending their cattle, farmsteads and fields by staging frequent light raids then in mounting attacks on their enemies. But the Romans, emboldened by their frequent victories, thought that nothing was insuperable for their virtue, and so decided to penetrate Caledonia and at length discover the the northern extremity of Albion. And when they had achieved this, albeit with great difficulties because of the rough land they had to traverse, they crossed the river Almond (which still retains that name) and encamped at a place on the river Tay not far from Dunkeld. Here the Tay flows through Athol and Caledonia, deep, rapid, difficult, and offering almost no fords. And where it discharges into the German Sea not far from Dundee there is an estuary (mentioned by Cornelius Tacitus in his Life of Agricola), more than two miles wide, which divides the erstwhile Pictish region of Horestia, modern Angus, from Otholina. The Picts, frightened by the close approach of the Romans, emptied Tulina, a populous city, of its inhabitants and property and burned it to the ground, lest it be surrendered to the Romans and become a refuge for them, to their own discomfort. This was once a large city on the bank of the Tay, fair for its defenses and strongholds, as is still shown by its ruins, protected by human art more than nature; nowadays it is called Inchtuthill. They transferred their wives, children, and cattle to the Grampian Hills.
44. While the Scots and Picts were thus attending to their affairs, an unanticipated opportunity to attack the Romans chanced to present itself. For the Usipii, a certain people who dwelt not far from the mouth of the Rhine where it discharges at the coast of Germany, were by edict of Caesar drafted and sent to Britain. They murdered their centurion and Roman officers, came across some light boats, and set sail from the river Thames for the sake of finding a new home. They were carried to the Tay estuary, afraid that, if they crossed over to Germany, they would encounter the Romans’ wrath for their misdeed. Since this folk harbored an undying hatred against the Romans, it was allowed them to settle together with their fellow-Germans the Moravians. At about the same time about ten thousand Danes and Norwegians, equipped with provisions and all the equipment of war and under the leadership of Gildo, put in at the Firth of Forth between Pithland and Otolinia, bringing aid to their allies the Scots and Picts against the Romans. Prevented from disembarking by the Roman forces that occupied those parts, they sailed around to the Tay and set forth all their forces on the nearby land. The peril in which Scottish and Pictish affairs then stood made their long-awaited arrival welcome and gratifying to both nations. In the company of his nation’s elders, King Garnardus of the Picts left Alectum and received the newcomers with incredible kindness. With many honors he escorted Gildo into the stronghold, and entertained him with lavish gifts and banquets. His soldiers were sent to neighboring villages, castles and farmsteads to recuperate after their sufferings on the savage sea, not without risk to their life. Hearing of Gildo’s arrival with his auxiliaries, King Galdus hastened to Alectum, to greet the man and the Norwegians and Danes who had come with them. Gildo and a choice number of his soldiers happily came out to meet him.
45. The king, receiving Gildo with wonderful affability and deference, said “I think, bravest Gildo, that I have been well treated when I see you and so many soldiers, excellent for their martial virtue and comeliness, flourishing in their youth, brought safe and sound to Albion by the kindness of the gods. For you would like to drive our enemies far away and return to their erstwhile dignity the Picts, a race of Agathyrsa which has long lived among the Danes, and has been all but driven from its homes by Roman arms, and also myself and my nation, who have long enjoyed an ancient pact of friendship with the Danes and Norwegians, but, manifestly, are now suffering because our kingdom is in great jeopardy. Hence we Scots and Picts have lingered for many days, awaiting the long-anticipated arrival of you and your men. We all turn our eyes and minds to you and these noble young men, and when we see you before us we are inexpressibly overjoyed, and welcome you with our utmost good wishes. For each and every one of us is filled with such hope by your most welcome arrival that we fully trust that by means of these auxiliary forces, conjoined with our own strength, the Romans can be overcome and, driven far from our homes. So when I look upon you and this levy, I imagine I am seeing, not just the equipage of war, but victory already in our grasp.” In response, Gildo stated that he and his soldiers were cheerfully prepared to fight to the end on behalf of friendly peoples, of allies and confederates, for the sake of their nation and its liberty. For this reason he and his army had come to Albion, that their alliance and faith, formed when their ancestors clasped hands and called the gods to witness, would always remain inviolate. He had scarcely different sentiments towards Galdus, as would no doubt be discovered in the deeds of himself and his soldiers.
46. After these formalities had been transacted, for a few days the confederated kings lingered at Alectum with Gildo and the Danish and Norwegian elders for the sake of congratulations. Then they launched their ships and went to Forfar. Even then Forfar was a strongly defended castle, as its ruins shows, surrounded by a great loch on all sides. After the destruction of the Picts, the kings of Scotland became captivated by the pleasantness of its situation and used to stay there frequently. But (the vicissitudes of things being what they are) nowadays it has been reduced to a village, only retaining its name in our times. At a congress of the Scots, Picts, and auxiliaries who had come from Ireland, Denmark and Norway, it was deliberated how their common cause might be protected amidst such great danger. After many sundry views had been voiced, they arrived at the common conclusion that battle was to be avoided for the coming winter, lest the soldiers (who for the greater part lacked tents) might be exposed on open fields and be harmed by the cold weather to which that region is very liable. They would spend that time in preparing the things needful for war. A levy of soldiers was held, for the purpose of keeping the Romans from coming out of their camp and intercepting all their provisions, and to prevent a bridge from being thrown over the Tay to facilitate Roman occupation of Pictish territories beyond the river. King Galdus afterwards went to Athol, where he wintered in the company of the auxiliaries fetched from Ireland. Meanwhile the Pictish king and Gildo, together with the Norwegians, Danes, and Usipii held themselves in the forts and strongholds which then existed in Horestia hard by the Tay, with great eagerness awaiting the summer.
47. Thus they all spent the winter. At the beginning of the following summer Agricola made an inspection of the Roman fleet, which had spent the winter in safe harbors and anchorages, and ordered that it should weigh anchor and circumnavigate the remainder of Albion, leaving no harbor, anchorage, promontory, bay or island unexplored. No doubt he did this so that the northernmost land and sea, and the islanders who were little known until this time, would have a taste of Roman arms under his generalship. During that voyage, the Hebrides and Orkneys were explored and some were ravaged. Two islands sometimes identified as Thule were sighted, Islay and Lewis. Then the Romans learned that the Pictish Bosphorus, which flows with a very swift flood between the Orkneys and Caithness, were not more than twenty miles away. Because of its cross-currents it threatened to capsize ships and could not be entered without great risk. They found some rustics on nearby islands and used great force to get them aboard ship. Then, by issuing great promises, they made them their pilots. They were convinced that with the help of these men, whom they fancied to be skilled at navigating the straits, they could avoid all the danger of those waters.
48. But what happened was quite otherwise. For the rustics thought they would obtain quite enough revenge for their deaths if the Roman fleet, carrying so many excellent sailors and crammed full of so many fine spoils, were to be sunk by their effort, even at the cost of their own lives. So, although the Bosphorus should have been studiously avoided because of the vehemence of its current, they commanded the ships to be steered there. A little later some of these were swept away and dashed on rocks. Others dropped anchor to avoid this fate, but were unmoored by the heaving waves and were driven over a huge stretch of sea by the gales and currents, and suddenly sank. A very few of the men aboard escaped by clinging to flotsam. But when they were washed ashore they were taken for pirates and captured by the locals, either to be killed or to be kept as butts for mockery. No few Romans declined to participate in this nautical exploration because they distrusted the violent current and preferred to watch others run the risk. Afterwards, deterred by the misfortunes of their friends, which they witnessed close at hand, lest they encounter even worse thanks to their ignorance of the area, they returned to Agricola, taking the same route by which they had come.
49. While the Roman fleet was enduring these hardships, Agricola, unaware of its unfortunate voyages, supervised the construction of wooden bridge within his camp by hand-picked craftsmen, made out of trees cut down in a nearby forest, letting only a few in on the secret of this project. This was thrown over the Tay quicker than anyone had thought possible, and by its means he brought his army over the river to the plains not far from the upslopes of the Grampian Hills. Report of this sudden development amazed the Pictish forces who had been wintering in nearby strongholds and farmsteads so greatly that they sent an embassy to advise King Galdus of their common danger, and invited him to take revenge for the Romans’ insult by joining them in the fight. Galdus raised forces from all the districts which obeyed his writ. By now forty thousand had assembled, and still young men kept coming in, as well as those whose old age still retained its vigor. They were undaunted by the outcome of the previous battle, and looked forward either to slavery or to gaining a final revenge. After a few days had passed, after crossing over the Grampian Hills, Galdus and his army entered a valley, where they were joined by the forces of the Picts, Norwegians, and Danes, at a place not far from the Roman army. There, after many deliberations by the kings and leading men, Galdus (to whom the supreme command had already been entrusted), is supposed to have addressed the assembled multitude in this way, when it was clamoring for a battle.
50. “When I come to reflect upon what leads to war, as well as the circumstances of our present plight, I am convinced that our combined efforts will introduce liberty to all of Britain. For we are all without the plague of slavery; and there is no land behind us, nor does even the sea afford a refuge, whilst the Roman fleet hovers around. Thus the resort to arms, which is at all times honorable to the brave, now offers even to cowards the only form of safety. In all the battles which have been fought to this point, with their varied outcomes, against the Romans, our countrymen have placed their confidence, their hopes, their treasure in us: for we, the best sons of Britain, and her last best hope, far from the view of captive shores, have kept our vision and thoughts pure from the corrupting influence of subjugation. Seated at the extremities of land and of freedom, we have so far been defended to this day by our very remoteness and by our notoriety. The extremity of Britain is now known; and whatever is unknown becomes an object of curiosity. But there is no nation beyond us; nothing but waves and rocks, and the still more hostile Romans, whose arrogance we cannot hope to avoid, not even by submission and servitude. They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger, they loot even the ocean: they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; neither the wealth of the east nor the west can satisfy them: they are the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal passion to dominate. They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace. Our children and relations are by the appointment of nature the dearest of all things to us. These are torn away by levies to serve in foreign lands. Our wives and sisters, though they should escape the violation of hostile force, are polluted under names of friendship and hospitality. Our estates and possessions are consumed in tributes; our grain in contributions. Even our bodies are worn down amidst stripes and insults in clearing woods and draining marshes. Wretches born to slavery are once bought, and afterwards maintained by their masters: Britain every day buys, every day feeds, her own servitude. And as among domestic slaves every new comer serves for the scorn and derision of his fellows; so, in this ancient household of the world, we, as the newest and vilest, are sought out to destruction. For we have neither cultivated lands, nor mines, nor harbors, which can induce them to preserve us for our labors. The valor too and recalcitrant spirit of subjects only render them more obnoxious to their masters; while remoteness and secrecy of situation itself, in proportion as it conduces to security, tends to inspire suspicion.
51. “Since then all hopes of mercy are vain, at length assume courage, both you to whom safety and you to whom glory is dear. The Brigantes, even under a female leader, had force enough to burn a colony, to storm camps, and, if success had not damped their vigor, would have been able entirely to throw off the yoke; and shall not we, untouched, unsubdued, and struggling not for the acquisition but the security of liberty, show at the very first onset what men Caledonia has reserved for her defense? Can you imagine that the Romans are as brave in war as they are licentious in peace? Acquiring renown from our discords and dissensions, they convert the faults of their enemies to the glory of their own army; an army compounded of the most different nations, which success alone has kept together, and which misfortune will as certainly dissipate. Unless, indeed, you can suppose that Gauls, and Germans, and (I blush to say it) even Britons, who, though they expend their blood to establish a foreign dominion, have been longer its foes than its subjects, will be retained by loyalty and affection! Terror and dread alone are the weak bonds of attachment; which once broken, they who cease to fear will begin to hate. Every incitement to victory is on our side. The Romans have no wives to animate them; no parents to upbraid their flight. Most of them have either no home, or a distant one. Few in number, ignorant of the country, looking around in silent horror at woods, seas, and a heaven itself unknown to them, they are delivered by the gods, as it were imprisoned and bound, into our hands. Be not terrified with an idle show, and the glitter of silver and gold, which can neither protect nor wound. In the very ranks of the enemy we shall find our own bands. The Britons will acknowledge their own cause. The Gauls will recollect their former liberty. The rest of the Germans will desert them, as the Usipii have lately done. Nor is there anything formidable behind them: ungarrisoned forts; colonies of old men; municipal towns distempered and distracted between unjust masters and ill- obeying subjects. Here is a general; here an army. There, tributes, mines, and all the train of punishments inflicted on slaves; which whether to bear eternally, or instantly to revenge, this field must determine. March then to battle, and think of your ancestors and your posterity.”
52. The assembled multitude this harangue with alacrity, and testified their applause after their manner, with songs, and yells, and dissonant shouts. And now the several divisions were in motion, the glittering of arms was beheld, while the most daring and impetuous were hurrying to the front, and the line of battle was forming; when Agricola, although his soldiers were in high spirits, and scarcely to be kept within their entrenchments, did his general’s duty by delivering the following harangue: “It is now the eighth year, my fellow-soldiers, in which, under the high auspices of the Roman empire, by your valor and perseverance you have been penetrating Britain and conquering that rebellious people the Ordovices, the island of Mona, the Silures, and manhy previous-unknown nations in Albion. In so many expeditions, in so many battles, whether you have been required to exert your courage against the enemy, or your patient labors against the very nature of the country, neither have I ever been dissatisfied with my soldiers, nor you with your general. In this mutual confidence, we have proceeded beyond the limits of former commanders and former armies; and are now become acquainted with the extremity of the island, not by uncertain rumor, but by actual possession with our arms and encampments. Britain is discovered and subdued. How often on a march, when embarrassed with mountains, bogs and rivers, have I heard the bravest among you exclaim, ‘When shall we descry the enemy? when shall we be led to the field of battle?‘ At length they are unharbored from their retreats; your wishes and your valor have now free scope; and every circumstance is equally propitious to the victor, and ruinous to the vanquished. For, the greater our glory in having marched over vast tracts of land, penetrated forests, and crossed arms of the sea, while advancing towards the foe, the greater will be our danger and difficulty if we should attempt a retreat. We are inferior to our enemies in knowledge of the country, and less able to command supplies of provision; but we have arms in our hands, and in these we have everything. For myself, it has long been my principle, that a retiring general or army is never safe. Hot only, then, are we to reflect that death with honor is preferable to life with ignominy, but to remember that security and glory are seated in the same place. Even to fall in this extremest verge of earth and of nature cannot be thought an inglorious fate. If unknown nations or untried troops were drawn up against you, I would exhort you from the example of other armies. At present, recollect your own honors, question your own eyes. These are they, who, the last year, attacking by surprise a single legion in the obscurity of the night, were put to flight by a shout: the greatest fugitives of all the Britons, and therefore the longest survivors. As in penetrating woods and thickets the fiercest animals boldly rush on the hunters, while the weak and timorous fly at their very noise; so the bravest of the Britons have long since fallen: the remaining number consists solely of the cowardly and spiritless; whom you see at length within your reach, not because they have stood their ground, but because they are overtaken. Torpid with fear, their bodies are fixed and chained down in yonder field, which to you will speedily be the scene of a glorious and memorable victory. Here bring your toils and services to a conclusion; close a struggle of fifty years with one great day; and convince your countrymen, that to the army ought not to be imputed either the protraction of war, or the causes of rebellion.”
53. While Agricola was yet speaking, the ardor of the soldiers declared itself; and as soon as he had finished, they burst forth into cheerful acclamations, and instantly flew to arms. He sought to arrange them with such skill that, although they were outnumbered by their enemy, they would not be assaulted at once from the front and sides. Nor was King Galdus any the more behindhand in drawing up his forces. Trusting in the size of his army, he drew it up in a long line on higher ground, with the idea of outflanking the Roman army, so that it might be assailed with great force from all sides. And so, having employed the loudest-voiced officers to instruct his men they should maintain highest hopes as they stubbornly endured the battle, and be prepared to gain either immortal glory among posterity or perpetual servitude: this was the critical day for achieving either honor or the height of shame. Then he immediately gave his followers leave to fight. The first engagement was fought at a distance. For when the masses of men of Albion, the Scots and Picts with their Danish and Norwegians, joined battle with Galdus their general, they first shot a great number of darts and arrows. But the Romans employed their large shields, and fought with great steadfastness, skill, and their old military experience. The archers of the alliance, casting aside their slingshots, fought with swords and small leather shields, more suitable for private fights than formal battles, such as we continue to employ today. And so, when it came to the close fighting, they found their shields and swords to be of little use. When they appreciated this, the spear-carriers and archers who had been stationed behind them at Galdus’ orders began to inflict bloody blows with their javelins, poleaxes, spears, and similar weapons. Those who came up later, wielding long battle-spears and iron-shod sticks, inflicted such slaughter on the Romans that they were turned back and seemed to be all but defeated.
54. The Roman army would have been destroyed then and here, had not a cohort of Germans come to the rescue, enlisted and transported to Britain by command of Caesar. For in response to an order of Agricola, given when he perceived that the moment of crisis was at hand, they came up vigorously and cut down whoever was within reach. They struck, did their butchery, and left many men of the enemy ranks half-dead, such was their zeal for pressing forward. For a little while a fresh terror affected the allied peoples, since every man saw his neighbor being pressed back, until they resumed their strength as they thought of their nation and its liberty. Disdaining wounds and death, having no hope for safety beyond what was in their own hands, they banded together, determined to fight to the end. The struggle that followed was atrocious, with the confederates fighting with far more violence than martial skill. Then Agricola sent in a cohort previously held in reserve, which he had been saving for sudden emergencies, to confront these fierce fighters. But the confederates, remaining in the battle-line with indescribable stubbornness, could not be budged. A sad, wretched spectacle ensued, with the confederate wounded falling on top of their dead comrades. Some voluntarily exposed themselves to their executioners, and others escaped their enemy only to commit suicide. Everywhere you could see human limbs, weapons, bodies, and blood-soaked earth. The battle continued in this manner until night deprived the combatants of their ability to see. Then the signal for retreat was sounded, and both sides retired.
55. Soon the surviving Scots and Picts, together with their Danes and Norwegian auxiliaries, having lost the greater part of their forces, took up their wounded and, abandoning the battlefield, retreated to nearby hills during the night, so as to avoid harm from their enemies. There they kindled great bonfires and there was a great, confused concourse of men, women, friends, parents, and sons, come to discover what fortune each man had suffered in the battle. When they learned that such a large number of their near and dear had been slain, the women filled the air with a mixture of wails and howling. Then, lest Roman spies who were possibly lurking in the neighborhood discover what was occurring, King Galdus commanded them all to call out, as if rejoicing and congratulating each other on their safety, and to continue doing this until the women could be removed a considerable distance from the army. Before the dawn, he held a conference of his surviving nobles, and when it was realized that at that time they lacked the strength to repair the army, they voted to allow each man to retire to some safe place where he could conveniently avoid the enemy’s violence. King Galdus himself, together with King Garnardus of the Picts and a chosen band of soldiers composed partly of Danish and Norwegians, and partly of his own followers, left great fires blazing in the sight of their enemies and quickly departed for Athol. Our annals record that twelve thousand Romans died in that unhappy conflict, and about twenty thousand Scots, Picts, and auxiliaries. Among these was the Danish leader Gildo, who was surrounded by the enemy while fighting with great ferocity and ardor, together with a few chosen comrades.
56. On they day following this fatal night, the departure of the confederates, something very like a flight, became evident to the Romans. Everywhere the fields were denuded of soldiers, being filled only with the dead. Nobody could be seen on the hills or in the enemy camp, and everywhere there was a great stillness. Most of the Romans, imagining that some deceit was afoot, argued against a pursuit or chase of the enemy. Others, uplifted by their happy successes, urged that strong chosen soldiers should be sent to scour the thickest forests and their enemies’ close refuges, for the purpose of intercepting fugitives, lest anyone seek safety by shameful flight. Some young hotheads, unaccustomed to military discipline, took this advice and, while pursuing their enemy in disorder, unexpectedly encountered enemies drawn up in formation. These were surrounded and killed. With great shouts and fierce spirits, those who had inflicted this slaughter, cheerfully ran off to a nearby mountaintop. When on the day following that victory Agricola, happy with his plunder, had learned from the scouts he had sent in all directions that the enemy army was beyond repair and had not collected itself anywhere, led his victorious army into Horestia. For, with summer nearly finished, he could not lead his army over the Grampian Hills without great Roman losses. There, having subdued the district with no great trouble, since it was exhausted by protracted war and the disastrous battle which had just been fought, he chose to take hostages, pitch his camp, and spend the winter.
57. At this time it was reported to Agricola that the Roman fleet he had commanded to sail around Albion had been greatly damaged in the Pictish Bosphorus, by the treachery of certain seamen whom his sailors had taken from the Hebrides as pilots to their own destruction, entrusting their safety to their enemies. The greater and better part of his ships had been sunken, either capsized by waves or run onto rocks. Another part of the fleet, barely escaping the tragedy, had returned to Argathelia, from whence it had sailed, after suffering many woes. Unmoved by this news, Agricola put on a happier face than usual, for he was convinced that this unlucky excursion had freed his army of Fortune’s snares, for he had regarded her with suspicion after so many happy successes. So he reinforced his fleet with many ships. Roman sailors, and auxiliaries, recruited pilots familiar with the waters through which it would pass, and ordered his fleet to cruise around the island once more, as if he were obliged to fight against Fortune. Not long thereafter, the Roman fleet obtained fair sailing-weather and successfully circumnavigated Albion, fetching up at the Tay estuary, where it discovered and burned all the Danish ships I have already mentioned, and then wintered while riding at anchor.
58. Our annals record that a large variety of prodigies had occurred in Albion a little before Galdus’ battle with the Romans. Flaming brands were seen to fly through the air, a great part of Caledonia appeared to be ablaze at night, but to be untroubled by fire in the daytime. Phantom ships appeared in the sky, in Athol it rained stones, and in Horestia there was a torrential downpour of frogs. At Tulina, a town I have already mentioned, a hermaphrodite was born, a foul monster in every respect, and was put to death lest it offend men’s eyes. These prodigies troubled many men’s minds and divided their opinions: as happens in such situations, some put a good interpretation on them, and others a bad. When these happy Roman success in Albion were reported to Domitian Caesar in dispatches of senior officers with the army, although he feigned a happy expression, they deeply troubled his fretful heart. For the emperor exceedingly disliked having a private man’s reputation, fame, and glory extolled above his own. And so, after many honors had been heaped on Agricola by decree of the senate, he sent a letter recalling him to Rome, as if to replace the dead Attilius Ruffus, a man of consular rank, as legate of Syria. But once in Rome, he died not long thereafter, as rumor had it, thanks to Caesar’s machinations. But while still alive, he had handed over the province to Gnaeus Trebellius, Domitian’s new appointee, prior to his departure. Up to this point, Roman affairs had been prosperous, but a little after Agricola’s departure they went into a decline.
59. A certain kinsman of Agricola named Trebellianus, who was greatly liked by the soldiers because the memory of that general was still fresh, quarreled with Gnaeus over which was senior man in the province, the latter relying on Caesar’s authority and the former on the good-will of the army. For his avarice and viciousness made Gnaeus an object of contempt and hatred in the eyes of the soldiers, whereas Trebellianus’ liberality, friendly disposition, and honorable morality rendered him the most popular of all men. When the soldiers’ good discipline had been undermined by many foul and dangerous squabblings, the discord reached such a point that the cohorts sided with Gnaeus, by his command more than because they had any liking for him, Trebellianus, joined by some choice soldiers who supported him, retired to Gaul. But after Trebellianus’ disappearance, the Romans did not enjoy peace for long. King Galdus, learning of these Roman dissensions, burst into Horestia, where Roman forces were at the time, with an army recruited from all the Scottish districts which obeyed his rule, joined by a multitude of Picts. Gnaeus was astonished at his enemies’ sudden appearance, and thought that there was need for action rather than consultation, for the army still loathed him, he ordered them to advance the standards, arm themselves, and march against the foe. The soldiers obeyed his commands. But when they discovered that Gnaeus was a fearful sluggard when he should have been performing a general’s duties with energy, they appointed Trebellianus’ brother Gaius Sisinnius as their commander. Holding Gnaeus in contempt, they looked to him for their marching orders. Sisinnius refused this position, pleading that, should he accept it, a division would be created, to the great detriment of the army. While the Romans were suffering from quarrels of this kind, Galdus came into sight with his army. In a panic, the Romans came to meet them, but scarcely in good order. A battle was immediately joined, with great ardor displayed on both sides. The Scots and Picts persisted in fighting against their enemy with such fury and frenzy that they seemed to be madmen. At length Gaius Sisinnius left the field, having received a mortal wound, a great number of Roman soldiers followed him, and thus the Romans were routed in disorder, with each man looking to someone else for his guidance, and they sought shelter in a nearby woods. When they approached this, the Scots and their allies banded together, surrounded the Romans (who had no fear that their nearby enemies might be setting a trap for themselves), and inflicted a very cruel massacre.
60. Learning this and fearing lest his soldiers endanger themselves as a result of over-confidence, he sounded the recall. But neither his command nor the authority of their officers could make an end of their pursuit of the enemy until late in the night, such was their hatred of the Roman empire and its rule. The following night was a happy one for the overjoyed victors, who passed it with many happy shouts and songs, and playing on the musical instruments used in that age of the world. They were joined by priests come to congratulate the victors, who offered many pious supplications to the gods because they had deigned to smile on the Scots and Picts, who experienced so many unhappy reverses and suffering so much slaughters for a span of more than fifty years. But the Romans, having no commanding general and having lost their camp, thinking that Horestia was unsafe now that so many fierce enemies were threatening, came to Tulina by night, in dejected silence. Having rested there a little while, they took down the bridge which they had set across the river Tay in the previous year, and by which they had brought across the army, to deprive the enemy of the ability to pursue them beyond the river. Galdus, learning of the Roman retreat, took possession of their camp and its very rich plunder, and shared it out among his soldiers in proportion to their rank. On the following day he held a conference of his elders, and their unanimous opinion was that the enemy should be pursued immediately. The Scots quickly took up arms, with the Pictish forces joining them, and with great confidence and pursued the Romans with no less hatred than exertion, exhorting each other to fight a battle both honorable and necessary, and not to allow the injuries they had so long received to go unpunished. When in their headlong course they had reached Tulina, they saw that the bridge had been broken and, adopting another plan, moved on to Dunkeld. There they threw a wooden bridge over the Tay at a point where it narrows as it runs between high banks, and easily brought their forces over to the opposite shore. Not unaware of what their enemy were doing, the Romans drew up their forces for a battle. And, since this would be fought against a victorious army at a time when Gnaeus was imprisoned and Gaius Sisinnius wounded, they chose Titus Caelius as their commander, a noble Roman with considerable military skill, according to whose orders everything would be done in the management of this war. Then they moved against their enemies, but the Romans were eventually defeated and put to rout, and disappeared into the Caledonian Forest. Five thousand Romans were killed that day, and about two thousand Scots and confederates.
61. After this victory, King Galdus and the Picts had the benefit of a great influx of Britons. For when it was announced in Cambria that the Romans had twice been defeated by the Scots and Picts, the locals in this region, ever ill-disposed towards the Romans, killed the veterans in their colonies, the garrisons in their cities, the centurions of the cohorts conscripted throughout the province, together with the first-rate Roman soldiers who had been mixed in with British maniples to instill military discipline, and launched a great uprising. For the elders of Cambria and Ticinia, whose fathers the Romans had overcome by force rather than kindness, discovered they were freer thanks to the Roman rout and, entertaining higher hopes, sent him lavish gifts and congratulated him for at length, thanks to the gods’ kindness, being able to enjoy some respite after Fortune had raged against him for such a long time. Meanwhile the Romans in Caledonia sent ambassadors to King Marius of the Britons, complaining of the harm they had suffered from the arms of the Scots and Picts: having lately suffered a double catastrophe, lacking a commander, and ill-treated by many misfortunes; in the absence of a legate and assistance, they could no longer resist their enemies’ force, and would be obliged to abandon the territories of the Picts and Scots, and likewise the Roman provinces in Britain, like so many fugitives, if help were not quickly furnished. To this King Marius responded that a general conspiracy of all Britons was now impending: he himself was being attacked with deadly hatred, so that he was afraid for his children, his kinship, and his very life. Everywhere little boys, women, stage-actors, and the entire British rabble were jeering at the Romans with their songs, scourging them with their insults, and damning them with their curses. He had no idea which Britons would remain loyal to the Romans and which would not, but he had a suspicion that they had a common agreement to reassert their liberty. He had learned from his friends’ letters that, because of his cruel murder of citizens and senators, Caesar Domitian was no longer held in reverence by the Roman people, and that a hateful civil war was imminent for Rome, so that there was no remaining hope for sending aid to Britain. Thought therefore needed to be given to the safety of the empire: better to hold a single part of Albion, and the better part at that, to its duty and loyalty, since they lacked to strength to retain the whole of it.
62. There was no little trepidation in the Roman camp upon receipt of this news, and they thought of nothing so much as keeping the army intact. Another impending evil increased their anxiety. At the same time, scouts reported that the Scots and Picts in great force were barely ten miles away. Galdus had written to all the districts of the Scots that they should not only send all their men who could bear arms, but also women of an age and physical strength fit for fighting, so that with increased forces he might by force of arms expel the Romans from Caledonia, Siluria, and the other Scottish and Pictish territories. So the Romans made the decision to lose Caledonia, lest they struggle on amidst such danger, and on the following night, concerned about their common safety, all their cohorts abandoned Caledonia and went on a forced march to Siluria. Nor did they linger long there: fearing treachery by the Silures, who had hated them since the war’s onset, they went on to Brigantia. Learning from his scouts the route chosen by the enemy and how far they had progressed, he decided to employ guides familiar with those parts and follow quickly in their footsteps, thinking it of no small importance to their common safety and the future peace of all who lived in Albion to intercept them before the Romans had a breathing-space to renew their strength. He therefore bypassed the forts and citadels in Siluria presently occupied by Roman garrisons, and made forced marches towards Brigantia. And has he made his way, he was joined by great accessions of locals who had been oppressed by servitude at home and those who had fled from Roman tyranny, offering their king great congratulations because, having been storm-tossed by such great perils and so many evils, having suffered so many tragic defeats, and having all but lost his kingdom, he did not lose hope, and, scorning the utmost perils, by his counsel and consolation had preserved himself and his nation to enjoy a better fortune.
63. With a calm demeanor the king received these folk who had come a-flocking to him, and consoled them with timely words, urging them to hope for the better: he was not leading his forces to a battle so much as to assured victory. Fortune, which had mistreated him and his nation for so many years, was accustomed to produce great transformations in all things, but especially in martial ones, in a single brief moment, was now all but overcome. He was confident that he, who had suffered so many rebuffs, woes, and tragedies in war, was on the verge of gaining a glorious triumph over the Romans, since the gods were now seen to be favorable. Encouraging the minds of the Scots and Picts with words of this kind, he headed for Brigantia, and when he had arrived there the Romans were stricken by a sudden, great panic. Since they had no hope for rescue in anything save their own hands, they ordered their cohorts to be set in battle array, for their standards to be brought out of their camp, and for all men to arm themselves for battle, proclaiming that that day would bring either a glorious victory or enduring disgrace. While the Romans were intent on these things, it was announced that their enemy were hand in great numbers, drawn up for battle. Then the Roman officers encouraged their soldiers to fight, telling them not to despair, particularly as they were about to contend against men who had been conquered and who were possessed of barbarians’ foolish, innate arrogance. Let them keep in mind their ancestors’ martial virtue and glory, and fix their attention on the public welfare rather than their own personal safety. They should choose death over shame, grace, and an enduring disgrace never to be obliterated. Let them fight to the very end, should the gods so decree. In this way and none other would they prevail.
64. While the Romans were using these mutual exhortations, or at least ones very similar to them, and their enemy were shooting at them with arrows and slingshots, the levy of Picts sent them by Marius defected to the Scots and Picts. This plunged many Romans into deep despair, but kindled great ferocity in others. With great eagerness for the fight, these pushed back their enemies’ left wing, where the women were fighting amongst the men, with great loss of life. Observing this reversal, Galdus sent to help his oppressed men the fighting-bands he had been holding inv reserve for emergencies of this kind and, thus reinforced, they employed great violence to compel the Romans to yield place. In this encounter, which manifest omens had convinced them would be a victory, these women fought more fiercely than any man, taking no prisoners and heeding no pleas for mercy. Finally, the Romans fighting on the left wing were routed and would immediately have been surrounded by our soldiers if they did not have their camp at their backs. During this struggle some Romans attempted to run away, while others persisted in the fight. They were killed, and the victors chased the fugitives into their camp and cast many of them into its surrounding ditch; then, they tried with great force to make their way into the camp over their dead bodies. The Romans in possession of the camp, defending themselves with great vigor, managed by incredible exertion to keep them from its entrance, which was very narrow. Nightfall finally deprived them of their ability to see, putting an end to the battle.
65. On the following morning some Scotsmen, acting on Galdus’ orders, went into a nearby woods and quickly brought back wood to fill the camp’s ditch. Others prepared machines of various kinds to break down its ramparts and walls. A number of watchmen stayed awake at night under arms, forbidding the Romans any exit from their camp. They all awaited the following day with incredible ardor. At first light, when everything had been readied for storming the camp with full force, loud-voiced soldiers within the camp called out to the watchmen, who were still keeping their stations, that the Romans wished to treat about peace with the Scots and Picts, and were prepared to accept the conditions dictated by their kings, and they humbly requested that their spokesmen be granted safe-conduct through the army to meet with the kings and transact this business. There were those who urged the confederate kings to give no such permission to the Roman representatives, and under no conditions to enter into a treaty with them. Now they should make use of their victory: those who had fled to the camp ought to be put to death, so that their memorable example would warn men how hateful a thing to gods and men it was boldly to invade other sovereigns’ kingdoms without having suffered and harm, to wage war on their legitimate inhabitants. Others, for their part, argued that their good fortune was to be used moderately: mortals should not be so puffed up by a single success, happy thought it might be, especially since mankind is subject to Fortune’s uncertain laws, in accordance with which prosperity often grows out adversity, and adversity out of prosperity. It sometimes happens that those upon Fortune has happily smiled at something’s happy beginning are subject to the greatest tragedy before that thing is concluded: this is the law of that shifting goddess, mortal realms are subject to these alternating outcomes. Therefore the Roman ambassadors were to be admitted, their requests heard, mankind’s law not violated, lest they annoy the gods, patrons of embassies, anew, now that they had granted such a fair victory over their enemy. The kings adopted this latter recommendation, since it was far more civilized, and commanded their followers to break off the siege of the camp and refrain from inflicting any harm on the ambassadors until the ambassadors had fulfilled their mandate and returned to their camp, pronouncing dire penalties for those who disobeyed.
66. There then emerged from the Roman camp four men of venerable appearance, clad after the Roman fashion in garments no less decent than costly, to meet the confederated kings in that same congress, with a circle of noblemen of both nations sitting round about them. As soon as they were granted an audience with the kings they fell to the ground and were immediately bidden to stand by the magistrates. And the one of them charged with speaking said, “The Roman army and its commanders, the masters of the world, come begging your protection, mighty kings; those who have beset you for several years now humbly beg your pardon and to be spared. Amidst all the glory of your accomplishments, nothing more honorable could befall you, nothing more worthy of being remembered by your posterity, than to have Roman ambassadors prostrate at your feet, men whom by whom almost all kings and peoples have been subdued and who they are compelled to obey. You have bested us, we admit. Thanks to the gods, whom we find to be angry because we have impiously waged war against you, you have the power of life and death over us. Use it as you will, since it will redound to your glory. We only ask you to conquer your wrath against us, since you have conquered the masters of the world; or, if you prefer to be conquered by your anger, you may kill us to the last man. We cannot deny that this is what we deserve. But since you, set at the end of the earth, surpass the rest of mankind in martial virtue, there is nothing by which you can transcend the summit of all kindness than if, the more opulent the men you have conquered, the more you choose for them to be spared by yourselves. We have experienced your arms, we have experienced the wrath of the gods; let us experience, we pray, your mercy. And, since we admit we are conquered and surrendered, we shall freely accept whatever conditions of peace you choose to impose.”
67. When these things had been said, they all fell at his feet, weeping, and with many a tear begged that he spare their conquered, abased selves, and acknowledge the gods had now taken sufficient vengeance for their unjust war and impious insult. Then, in accordance with the opinion of his elders, King Galdus replied. The Picts and Scots, men of Albion living at the end of the world, were content with the homes granted them by the kindness of the gods, and with their kingdoms and royal institutions, and scarcely desired anything more. They had never fought against others unless provoked by others. The had first made the acquaintance of the Romans, robbers motivated by a criminal greed for kingdoms, when they had attacked the Britons. Then, after they had persisted in this adventure for nearly a hundred and fifty years, having reduced to submission nearly the entire world and the greater part of Albion, at great cost to its inhabitants they had reached the extreme north of the island. There they were conquered in battle, put to rout, and afflicted by a wretched slaughter, by peoples whom they had held in such great contempt as crude, ignorant barbarians and weaklings, and driven into their camp bereft of all hope of a better fortune. Now they were begging their enemy for mercy, providing posterity with a notable example of the unstable lot of the human condition and shifting fortune. Among his people there was no shortage of those who were very plausibly thinking that they should take advantage of this present God-given stroke of luck, and that their conquered enemy ought to be killed to the last man, since the damage inflicted on themselves could not be avenged in any other way, nor avoided in the future, if the Romans were to make the attempt. But the idea of exterminating a Roman army was not to the liking of the the elders of their confederated people. For they thought it sufficient, both for their present glory and their future reputation, that they were able to witness the spectacle of the ambassadors of the masters of the world groveling at their feet and humbly begging for mercy. And so they voted, under certain conditions to grant their enemies the peace which they had so often refused the Picts and Scots. The conditions were that this very day the Romans would make an end to ravaging their territories; that they return the districts, castles, strongholds and fortifications they had wrongly seized; as they made their voluntary departure, they would return the captives hostages, refugees and runaways, together with the things they recently stole; they would henceforth wage no war against either the Scots or the Picts; and they would enter into a perpetual pact with those people, to be confirmed by their oath.
68. When the ambassadors had returned and announced these conditions, all the Romans were very pleased. After peace had been made on these stated terms, and hostages given in accordance with their enemies’ dictate, the Romans were permitted to depart with all their goods. Gnaeus, released from bondage a little earlier, led the remnants of this army back to King Marius in Kent, marching at great speed. When at Domitian’s command Agricola had handed it over to his successor, the Roman army consisted of about sixty thousand legionary soldiers and auxiliaries, and at the finish of the war scarcely twenty thousand departed Brigantia, the rest having been put to the sword in the three recent battles. They immediately yielded to the Scots and Picts Ordolucia, Deira, Pithland, Otolinia, Vicomagia, and Siluria, together with the forts, strongholds, and castles that had been occupied by Roman arms, as their garrisons departed in accordance with the treaty. After this King Galdus dismissed his army and granted leave to his soldiers to depart for home. After having made tour of Siluria and Brigantia, now fortified by strong garrisons, he went to Epiacum. This was an old city, the chief seat of kings, and here he spent some time with the elders of his realm, trying, inasmuch as he could, to accustom the Scots to better manners now that the wars were concluded. He took vagrant discharged soldier and placed them in the garrisons of forts and strongholds on the border with Britain to deprive them of any opportunity for freebooting. Soon he bestowed rewards upon each and every Scottish nobleman in proportion to his good performance in the war. And when all had duly been put in order and arms stored away, he made a progress through all the districts of Scotland. At his arrival, many men flocked together, not just to have a look at this man, their beloved king, but also to attend on this most excellent general, outstanding for his consummate virtues, the liberator of his nation, the man who had restored their lost liberty, with all honor and deference. Everywhere trumpets sounded, songs were performed after their national manner, the voices of singers could be heard, as could the people’s happy shouts. Wherever he went, everything resounded to the praise and glory of King Galdus.
69. While Galdus was occupied with these happy excursions through his districts, certain fellows with guilty consciences, white with fear about the way justice would be managed now that the war was finished, arranged for quarrels to arise between the Scots and the Picts concerning their national borders. For the sake of resolving these disputes, King Galdus with a large escort rode to Caledonia to meet with King Garnardus of the Picts. When they had heard this dispute, which was frivolous and virtually about nothing at all, having for the most part been provoked by the insults and squabbling of villains, they imposed various penalties on the disturbers of the peace they had struggled so hard to achieved, and entirely ended the dispute. Henceforth King Galdus ruled for a number of years with wonderful happiness, having overcome the fortune that had been so savage to himself. Finally, after the wars had been finished and he had painstakingly devoted himself to making the Scottish commonwealth more bright and noble, its people equipped with better manners, having been undermined by a protracted spell of ill health, dearer than life itself to his nobles and commoners, and superior to all his ancestors in the greatness of his accomplishments, in the thirty-fifth year of his reign he died at Epiacum. This was about the third year of the principate of the emperor Hadrian, the year 5502 of Creation, and the year 132 of our Salvation.
70. His body was borne in full estate, formal and sorrowful, with many men in deep mourning, to a nearby field, where, in accordance with the instructions he had given in life, a very ornate tomb was built for him, constructed in the national manner from great stones, on the largest of which was carved his image with an inscription telling how he had freed his nation from Roman arms. Many obelisks were set up next to the tomb, as was the custom then, as a memorial of his excellent virtue in war. So that the memory of so great a king might never fade from men’s minds, as a way of reminding posterity of the excellent achievements of Galdus, by decree of the elders. the name of the district of Brigantia was changed, and henceforth called Galdia in his honor, for it was there that he made an ending to the Roman war, which had been protracted for so many years. With a slight change in the word (as happens with old things), the name of this district endures in our time, for it is called Galloway.
71. The facts I have set forth in this Book concerning Kings Caractacus, Corbredus, and Galdus, are in part taken from our national annals, but far more copiously from Cornelius Tacitus, for I have not only employed his historical information, but also, not infrequently, his very words, so that those who read my history and his Roman one side-by-side may appreciate how well the one squares with the other, and from our enemy’s testimony they may appreciate what bloody and protracted wars our ancestors fought against the Romans. In this work of mine I have not thought it amiss to include the speeches which Tacitus records have been delivered to their followers at the Grampian Hills by King Galdus and the legate Agricola, since they are very skillfully composed and most suitable to the occasion, such as scarce anybody in our times could compose. And the fact that Tacitus designates us all by the common name of Britons should surprise no man, since our name of Scotsmen was unfamiliar in his time, and because it had been customary for the earlier Romans to identify all the inhabitants of Albion by that name, inasmuch as they first invaded Britain, the regain closest to Gaul and the first to be subdued. They did not see fit to designate the remainder of the island by a new name but identified the entire island and its individual districts as the province of Britain, as each district came to be conquered and led in triumph. And so it came about that Roman emperors celebrated triumphs for gaining separate parts of that same province, deeming it sufficient, since they could not subdue the entire island, to award themselves a triumph for some part thereof under the name properly reserved for the whole, as if they had achieved something great. And so even Strabo, Pliny, Mela, Cornelius Tacitus, and likewise Ptolemy of Alexandria after them, have indiscriminately called Albion Ireland, and the adjoining islands British, and their inhabitants Britons. And now I think that sufficient has been said about Albion, its parts, and its peoples.