Book 1, Chapter 4, 78 AD to 306 AD – Agricola – Continued
The first act of Agricola, after his arrival, was to march against the Ordovices, who had attacked and nearly destroyed a troop of cavalry, and although the season for field operations had passed, he pursued them among their hills and fastnesses with such vigour, that they were all but exterminated. He also reconquered Mona, which, after Suetonius had left it, was again occupied by the natives. By these two achievements he struck terror into other tribes, and having shown his military capacity, he next sought by mild and wise measures to win them over. He opened a court for the redress of native grievances, he readjusted, with much fairness the proportions of tribute, he put a stop to the exaction of subordinate officials, he regulated the public granaries which the purveyors had opened and closed for their exclusive private gain.
By such means he won the confidence, and inspired the esteem of the natives, whom he gradually induced by example and offers of help to erect more convenient dwellings for themselves, and then to build temples and forums. He attached the sons of some of the most eminent chiefs to himself, and by judicious treatment awakened a desire to emulate the nations of Gaul in the arts of civilised life. Gradually, the language, dress, and customs of Rome came to be adopted by many of these youths and even the luxuries and refinements of the Romans were also assumed. The weaknesses and the vices of the conquerors were imitated and in the process of years, it was found, as probably it was intended should be the case that what military force could not accomplish, might be done by social stratagem. Tacitus distinctly says, “The Britons willingly supply our armies with recruits, pay taxes without a murmur, and perform all the services of government with alacrity, provided they have no reason to complain of oppression. When injured, their resentment is quick, sudden, and impatient they are conquered, but not spirit broken, they may be reduced to obedience, not to slavery.”
These employments, as an administrator, occupied the winter months of the eight years during which Agricola held the government. In the summer, when it was possible to take the field, he pushed his explorations and conquests as far north as the Grampians, and in one battle, fought A.D. 84, against thirty thousand of the bravest of the Caledonian tribes, ten thousand are reported to have been killed, while the Roman loss amounted to only four hundred. It was the policy of Agricola to erect forts over newly acquired territory, and the judgment with which sites were chosen, and the strength with which the forts were built, were such that it was a common remark that no castellum built by Agricola, was ever taken by the enemy. During his rule, four great military roads were commenced, which were completed and extended by his successors. It was also proved by circumnavigation, that Britain was an island, though the mariners brought back fabulous accounts of the remote north, which even imposed upon Tacitus, who probably had the story from Agricola, or from some of the officers of the fleet, for he says that “Thule which had lain concealed in gloom and eternal snows, was seen by them, and that the sea in those parts was a sluggish mass of stagnated water, hardly yielding to the stroke of the oar, and never agitated by winds and storms.”
Chapter 4, Agricola
Chapter 4, Roman Roads and Towns
Chapter 4, Roman Memorial of Death
Categories: Book 1