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The Germany and the Agricola of Tacitus by Tacitus

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Very little is known concerning the life of Tacitus, the historian, except
that which he tells us in his own writings and those incidents which are
related of him by his contemporary, Pliny.

His full name was Caius Cornelius Tacitus. The date of his birth can only
be arrived at by conjecture, and then only approximately. The younger
Pliny speaks of him as _prope modum aequales_, about the same age. Pliny
was born in 61. Tacitus, however, occupied the office of quaestor under
Vespasian in 78 A.D., at which time he must, therefore, have been at least
twenty-five years of age. This would fix the date of his birth not later
than 53 A.D. It is probable, therefore, that Tacitus was Pliny's senior by
several years.

His parentage is also a matter of pure conjecture. The name Cornelius was
a common one among the Romans, so that from it we can draw no inference.
The fact that at an early age he occupied a prominent public office
indicates that he was born of good family, and it is not impossible that
his father was a certain Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman knight, who was
procurator in Belgic Gaul, and whom the elder Pliny speaks of in his
"Natural History."

Of the early life of Tacitus and the training which he underwent
preparatory to those literary efforts which afterwards rendered him a
conspicuous figure among Roman literateurs we know absolutely nothing.

Of the events of his life which transpired after he attained man's estate
we know but little beyond that which he himself has recorded in his
writings. He occupied a position of some eminence as a pleader at the
Roman bar, and in 77 A.D. married the daughter of Julius Agricola, a
humane and honorable citizen, who was at that time consul and was
subsequently appointed governor of Britain. It is quite possible that this
very advantageous alliance hastened his promotion to the office of
quaestor under Vespasian.

Under Domitian, in 88, Tacitus was appointed one of fifteen commissioners
to preside at the celebration of the secular games. In the same year he
held the office of praetor, and was a member of one of the most select of
the old priestly colleges, in which a pre-requisite of membership was that
a man should be born of a good family.

The following year he appears to have left Rome, and it is possible that
he visited Germany and there obtained his knowledge and information
respecting the manners and customs of its people which he makes the
subject of his work known as the "Germany."

He did not return to Rome until 93, after an absence of four years, during
which time his father-in-law died.

Some time between the years 93 and 97 he was elected to the senate, and
during this time witnessed the judicial murders of many of Rome's best
citizens which were perpetrated under the reign of Nero. Being himself a
senator, he felt that he was not entirely guiltless of the crimes which
were committed, and in his "Agricola" we find him giving expression to
this feeling in the following words: "Our own hands dragged Helvidius to
prison; ourselves were tortured with the spectacle of Mauricus and
Rusticus, and sprinkled with the innocent blood of Senecio."

In 97 he was elected to the consulship as successor to Virginius Rufus,
who died during his term of office and at whose funeral Tacitus delivered
an oration in such a manner to cause Pliny to say, "The good fortune of
Virginius was crowned by having the most eloquent of panegyrists."

In 99 Tacitus was appointed by the senate, together with Pliny, to conduct
the prosecution against a great political offender, Marius Priscus, who,
as proconsul of Africa, had corruptly mismanaged the affairs of his
province. We have his associate's testimony that Tacitus made a most
eloquent and dignified reply to the arguments which were urged on the part
of the defence. The prosecution was successful, and both Pliny and Tacitus
were awarded a vote of thanks by the senate for their eminent and
effectual efforts in the management of the case.

The exact date of Tacitus's death is not known, but in his "Annals" he
seems to hint at the successful extension of the Emperor Trajan's eastern
campaigns during the years 115 to 117, so that it is probable that he
lived until the year 117.

Tacitus had a widespread reputation during his lifetime. On one occasion
it is related of him that as he sat in the circus at the celebration of
some games, a Roman knight asked him whether he was from Italy or the
provinces. Tacitus answered, "You know me from your reading," to which the
knight quickly replied, "Are you then Tacitus or Pliny?"

It is also worthy of notice that the Emperor Marcus Claudius Tacitus, who
reigned during the third century, claimed to be descended from the
historian, and directed that ten copies of his works should be published
every year and placed in the public libraries.

The list of the extant works of Tacitus is as follows: the "Germany;" the
"Life of Agricola;" the "Dialogue on Orators;" the "Histories," and the

The following pages contain translations of the first two of these works.
The "Germany," the full title of which is "Concerning the situation,
manners and inhabitants of Germany," contains little of value from a
historical standpoint. It describes with vividness the fierce and
independent spirit of the German nations, with many suggestions as to the
dangers in which the empire stood of these people. The "Agricola" is a
biographical sketch of the writer's father-in-law, who, as has been said,
was a distinguished man and governor of Britain. It is one of the author's
earliest works and was probably written shortly after the death of
Domitian, in 96. This work, short as it is, has always been considered an
admirable specimen of biography on account of its grace and dignity of
expression. Whatever else it may be, it is a graceful and affectionate
tribute to an upright and excellent man.

The "Dialogue on Orators" treats of the decay of eloquence under the
empire. It is in the form of a dialogue, and represents two eminent
members of the Roman bar discussing the change for the worse that had
taken place in the early education of the Roman youth.

The "Histories" relate the events which transpired in Rome, beginning with
the ascession of Galba, in 68, and ending with the reign of Domitian, in
97. Only four books and a fragment of a fifth have been preserved to us.
These books contain an account of the brief reigns of Galba, Otho and
Vitellius. The portion of the fifth book which has been preserved contains
an interesting, though rather biased, account of the character, customs
and religion of the Jewish nation viewed from the standpoint of a
cultivated citizen of Rome.

The "Annals" contain the history of the empire from the death of Augustus,
in 14, to the death of Nero, in 68, and originally consisted of sixteen
books. Of these, only nine have come down to us in a state of entire
preservation, and of the other seven we have but fragments of three. Out
of a period of fifty-four years we have the history of about forty.

The style of Tacitus is, perhaps, noted principally for its conciseness.
Tacitean brevity is proverbial, and many of his sentences are so brief,
and leave so much for the student to read between the lines, that in order
to be understood and appreciated the author must be read over and over
again, lest the reader miss the point of some of his most excellent
thoughts. Such an author presents grave, if not insuperable, difficulties
to the translator, but notwithstanding this fact, the following pages
cannot but impress the reader with the genius of Tacitus.


1. Germany [2] is separated from Gaul, Rhaetia, [3] and Pannonia, [4] by
the rivers Rhine and Danube; from Sarmatia and Dacia, by mountains [5] and
mutual dread. The rest is surrounded by an ocean, embracing broad
promontories [6] and vast insular tracts, [7] in which our military
expeditions have lately discovered various nations and kingdoms. The
Rhine, issuing from the inaccessible and precipitous summit of the Rhaetic
Alps, [8] bends gently to the west, and falls into the Northern Ocean. The
Danube, poured from the easy and gently raised ridge of Mount Abnoba, [9]
visits several nations in its course, till at length it bursts out [10] by
six channels [11] into the Pontic sea; a seventh is lost in marshes.

2. The people of Germany appear to me indigenous, [12] and free from
intermixture with foreigners, either as settlers or casual visitants. For
the emigrants of former ages performed their expeditions not by land, but
by water; [13] and that immense, and, if I may so call it, hostile ocean,
is rarely navigated by ships from our world. [14] Then, besides the danger
of a boisterous and unknown sea, who would relinquish Asia, Africa, or
Italy, for Germany, a land rude in its surface, rigorous in its climate,
cheerless to every beholder and cultivator, except a native? In their
ancient songs, [15] which are their only records or annals, they celebrate
the god Tuisto, [16] sprung from the earth, and his son Mannus, as the
fathers and founders of their race. To Mannus they ascribe three sons,
from whose names [17] the people bordering on the ocean are called
Ingaevones; those inhabiting the central parts, Herminones; the rest,
Istaevones. Some, [18] however, assuming the licence of antiquity, affirm
that there were more descendants of the god, from whom more appellations
were derived; as those of the Marsi, [19] Gambrivii, [20] Suevi, [21] and
Vandali; [22] and that these are the genuine and original names. [23] That
of Germany, on the other hand, they assert to be a modern addition; [24]
for that the people who first crossed the Rhine, and expelled the Gauls,
and are now called Tungri, were then named Germans; which appellation of a
particular tribe, not of a whole people, gradually prevailed; so that the
title of Germans, first assumed by the victors in order to excite terror,
was afterwards adopted by the nation in general. [25] They have likewise
the tradition of a Hercules [26] of their country, whose praises they sing
before those of all other heroes as they advance to battle.

3. A peculiar kind of verses is also current among them, by the recital of
which, termed "barding," [27] they stimulate their courage; while the
sound itself serves as an augury of the event of the impending combat.
For, according to the nature of the cry proceeding from the line, terror
is inspired or felt: nor does it seem so much an articulate song, as the
wild chorus of valor. A harsh, piercing note, and a broken roar, are the
favorite tones; which they render more full and sonorous by applying their
mouths to their shields. [28] Some conjecture that Ulysses, in the course
of his long and fabulous wanderings, was driven into this ocean, and
landed in Germany; and that Asciburgium, [29] a place situated on the
Rhine, and at this day inhabited, was founded by him, and named
_Askipurgion_. They pretend that an altar was formerly discovered here,
consecrated to Ulysses, with the name of his father Laertes subjoined; and
that certain monuments and tombs, inscribed with Greek characters, [30]
are still extant upon the confines of Germany and Rhaetia. These
allegations I shall neither attempt to confirm nor to refute: let every
one believe concerning them as he is disposed.

4. I concur in opinion with those who deem the Germans never to have
intermarried with other nations; but to be a race, pure, unmixed, and
stamped with a distinct character. Hence a family likeness pervades the
whole, though their numbers are so great: eyes stern and blue; ruddy hair;
large bodies, [31] powerful in sudden exertions, but impatient of toil and
labor, least of all capable of sustaining thirst and heat. Cold and hunger
they are accustomed by their climate and soil to endure.

5. The land, though varied to a considerable extent in its aspect, is yet
universally shagged with forests, or deformed by marshes: moister on the
side of Gaul, more bleak on the side of Norieum and Pannonia. [32] It is
productive of grain, but unkindly to fruit-trees. [33] It abounds in
flocks and herds, but in general of a small breed. Even the beeve kind are
destitute of their usual stateliness and dignity of head: [34] they are,
however, numerous, and form the most esteemed, and, indeed, the only
species of wealth. Silver and gold the gods, I know not whether in their
favor or anger, have denied to this country. [35] Not that I would assert
that no veins of these metals are generated in Germany; for who has made
the search? The possession of them is not coveted by these people as it is
by us. Vessels of silver are indeed to be seen among them, which have been
presented to their ambassadors and chiefs; but they are held in no higher
estimation than earthenware. The borderers, however, set a value on gold
and silver for the purpose of commerce, and have learned to distinguish
several kinds of our coin, some of which they prefer to others: the
remoter inhabitants continue the more simple and ancient usage of
bartering commodities. The money preferred by the Germans is the old and
well-known species, such as the _Serrati_ and _Bigati_. [36] They are also
better pleased with silver than gold; [37] not on account of any fondness
for that metal, but because the smaller money is more convenient in their
common and petty merchandise.

6. Even iron is not plentiful [38] among them; as may be inferred from the
nature of their weapons. Swords or broad lances are seldom used; but they
generally carry a spear, (called in their language _framea_, [39]) which
has an iron blade, short and narrow, but so sharp and manageable, that, as
occasion requires, they employ it either in close or distant fighting.
[40] This spear and a shield are all the armor of the cavalry. The foot
have, besides, missile weapons, several to each man, which they hurl to an
immense distance. [41] They are either naked, [42] or lightly covered with
a small mantle; and have no pride in equipage: their shields only are
ornamented with the choicest colors. [43] Few are provided with a coat of
mail; [44] and scarcely here and there one with a casque or helmet. [45]
Their horses are neither remarkable for beauty nor swiftness, nor are they
taught the various evolutions practised with us. The cavalry either bear
down straight forwards, or wheel once to the right, in so compact a body
that none is left behind the rest. Their principal strength, on the whole,
consists in their infantry: hence in an engagement these are intermixed
with the cavalry; [46] so Well accordant with the nature of equestrian
combats is the agility of those foot soldiers, whom they select from the
whole body of their youth, and place in the front of the line. Their
number, too, is determined; a hundred from each canton: [47] and they are
distinguished at home by a name expressive of this circumstance; so that
what at first was only an appellation of number, becomes thenceforth a
title of honor. Their line of battle is disposed in wedges. [48] To give
ground, provided they rally again, is considered rather as a prudent
strategem, than cowardice. They carry off their slain even while the
battle remains undecided. The, greatest disgrace that can befall them is
to have abandoned their shields. [49] A person branded with this ignominy
is not permitted to join in their religious rites, or enter their
assemblies; so that many, after escaping from battle, have put an end to
their infamy by the halter.

7. In the election of kings they have regard to birth; in that of
generals, [50] to valor. Their kings have not an absolute or unlimited
power; [51] and their generals command less through the force of
authority, than of example. If they are daring, adventurous, and
conspicuous in action, they procure obedience from the admiration they
inspire. None, however, but the priests [52] are permitted to judge
offenders, to inflict bonds or stripes; so that chastisement appears not
as an act of military discipline, but as the instigation of the god whom
they suppose present with warriors. They also carry with them to battle
certain images and standards taken from the sacred groves. [53] It is a
principal incentive to their courage, that their squadrons and battalions
are not formed by men fortuitously collected, but by the assemblage of
families and clans. Their pledges also are near at hand; they have within
hearing the yells of their women, and the cries of their children. These,
too, are the most revered witnesses of each man's conduct, these his most
liberal applauders. To their mothers and their wives they bring their
wounds for relief, nor do these dread to count or to search out the
gashes. The women also administer food and encouragement to those who are

8. Tradition relates, that armies beginning to give way have been rallied
by the females, through the earnestness of their supplications, the
interposition of their bodies, [54] and the pictures they have drawn of
impending slavery, [55] a calamity which these people bear with more
impatience for their women than themselves; so that those states who have
been obliged to give among their hostages the daughters of noble families,
are the most effectually bound to fidelity. [56] They even suppose
somewhat of sanctity and prescience to be inherent in the female sex; and
therefore neither despise their counsels, [57] nor disregard their
responses. [58] We have beheld, in the reign of Vespasian, Veleda, [59]
long reverenced by many as a deity. Aurima, moreover, and several others,
[60] were formerly held in equal veneration, but not with a servile
flattery, nor as though they made them goddesses. [61]

9. Of the gods, Mercury [62] is the principal object of their adoration;
whom, on certain days, [63] they think it lawful to propitiate even with
human victims. To Hercules and Mars [64] they offer the animals usually
allotted for sacrifice. [65] Some of the Suevi also perform sacred rites
to Isis. What was the cause and origin of this foreign worship, I have not
been able to discover; further than that her being represented with the
symbol of a galley, seems to indicate an imported religion. [66] They
conceive it unworthy the grandeur of celestial beings to confine their
deities within walls, or to represent them under a human similitude: [67]
woods and groves are their temples; and they affix names of divinity to
that secret power, which they behold with the eye of adoration alone.

10. No people are more addicted to divination by omens and lots. The
latter is performed in the following simple manner. They cut a twig [68]
from a fruit-tree, and divide it into small pieces, which, distinguished
by certain marks, are thrown promiscuously upon a white garment. Then, the
priest of the canton, if the occasion be public; if private, the master of
the family; after an invocation of the gods, with his eyes lifted up to
heaven, thrice takes out each piece, and, as they come up, interprets
their signification according to the marks fixed upon them. If the result
prove unfavorable, there is no more consultation on the same affair that
day; if propitious, a confirmation by omens is still required. In common
with other nations, the Germans are acquainted with the practice of
auguring from the notes and flight of birds; but it is peculiar to them to
derive admonitions and presages from horses also. [69] Certain of these
animals, milk-white, and untouched by earthly labor, are pastured at the
public expense in the sacred woods and groves. These, yoked to a
consecrated chariot, are accompanied by the priest, and king, or chief
person of the community, who attentively observe their manner of neighing
and snorting; and no kind of augury is more credited, not only among the
populace, but among the nobles and priests. For the latter consider
themselves as the ministers of the gods, and the horses, as privy to the
divine will. Another kind of divination, by which they explore the event
of momentous wars, is to oblige a prisoner, taken by any means whatsoever
from the nation with whom they are at variance, to fight with a picked man
of their own, each with his own country's arms; and, according as the
victory falls, they presage success to the one or to the other party. [70]

11. On affairs of smaller moment, the chiefs consult; on those of greater
importance, the whole community; yet with this circumstance, that what is
referred to the decision of the people, is first maturely discussed by the
chiefs. [71] They assemble, unless upon some sudden emergency, on stated
days, either at the new or full moon, which they account the most
auspicious season for beginning any enterprise. Nor do they, in their
computation of time, reckon, like us, by the number of days, but of
nights. In this way they arrange their business; in this way they fix
their appointments; so that, with them, the night seems to lead the day.
[72] An inconvenience produced by their liberty is, that they do not all
assemble at a stated time, as if it were in obedience to a command; but
two or three days are lost in the delays of convening. When they all think
fit, [73] they sit down armed. [74] Silence is proclaimed by the priests,
who have on this occasion a coercive power. Then the king, or chief, and
such others as are conspicuous for age, birth, military renown, or
eloquence, are heard; and gain attention rather from their ability to
persuade, than their authority to command. If a proposal displease, the
assembly reject it by an inarticulate murmur; if it prove agreeable, they
clash their javelins; [75] for the most honorable expression of assent
among them is the sound of arms.

12. Before this council, it is likewise allowed to exhibit accusations,
and to prosecute capital offences. Punishments are varied according to the
nature of the crime. Traitors and deserters are hung upon trees: [76]
cowards, dastards, [77] and those guilty of unnatural practices, [78] are
suffocated in mud under a hurdle. [79] This difference of punishment has
in view the principle, that villainy should he exposed while it is
punished, but turpitude concealed. The penalties annexed to slighter
offences [80] are also proportioned to the delinquency. The convicts are
fined in horses and cattle: [81] part of the mulct [82] goes to the king
or state; part to the injured person, or his relations. In the same
assemblies chiefs [83] are also elected, to administer justice through the
cantons and districts. A hundred companions, chosen from the people,
attended upon each of them, to assist them as well with their advice as
their authority.

13. The Germans transact no business, public or private, without being
armed: [84] but it is not customary for any person to assume arms till the
state has approved his ability to use them. Then, in the midst of the
assembly, either one of the chiefs, or the father, or a relation, equips
the youth with a shield and javelin. [85] These are to them the manly
gown; [86] this is the first honor conferred on youth: before this they
are considered as part of a household; afterwards, of the state. The
dignity of chieftain is bestowed even on mere lads, whose descent is
eminently illustrious, or whose fathers have performed signal services to
the public; they are associated, however, with those of mature strength,
who have already been declared capable of service; nor do they blush to be
seen in the rank of companions. [87] For the state of companionship itself
has its several degrees, determined by the judgment of him whom they
follow; and there is a great emulation among the companions, which shall
possess the highest place in the favor of their chief; and among the
chiefs, which shall excel in the number and valor of his companions. It is
their dignity, their strength, to be always surrounded with a large body
of select youth, an ornament in peace, a bulwark in war. And not in his
own country alone, but among the neighboring states, the fame and glory of
each chief consists in being distinguished for the number and bravery of
his companions. Such chiefs are courted by embassies; distinguished by
presents; and often by their reputation alone decide a war.

14. In the field of battle, it is disgraceful for the chief to be
surpassed in valor; it is disgraceful for the companions not to equal
their chief; but it is reproach and infamy during a whole succeeding life
to retreat from the field surviving him. [88] To aid, to protect him; to
place their own gallant actions to the account of his glory, is their
first and most sacred engagement. The chiefs fight for victory; the
companions for their chief. If their native country be long sunk in peace
and inaction, many of the young nobles repair to some other state then
engaged in war. For, besides that repose is unwelcome to their race, and
toils and perils afford them a better opportunity of distinguishing
themselves; they are unable, without war and violence, to maintain a large
train of followers. The companion requires from the liberality of his
chief, the warlike steed, the bloody and conquering spear: and in place of
pay, he expects to be supplied with a table, homely indeed, but plentiful.
[89] The funds for this munificence must be found in war and rapine; nor
are they so easily persuaded to cultivate the earth, and await the produce
of the seasons, as to challenge the foe, and expose themselves to wounds;
nay, they even think it base and spiritless to earn by sweat what they
might purchase with blood.

15. During the intervals of war, they pass their time less in hunting than
in a sluggish repose, [90] divided between sleep and the table. All the
bravest of the warriors, committing the care of the house, the family
affairs, and the lands, to the women, old men, and weaker part of the
domestics, stupefy themselves in inaction: so wonderful is the contrast
presented by nature, that the same persons love indolence, and hate
tranquillity! [91] It is customary for the several states to present, by
voluntary and individual contributions, [92] cattle or grain [93] to their
chiefs; which are accepted as honorary gifts, while they serve as
necessary supplies. [94] They are peculiarly pleased with presents from
neighboring nations, offered not only by individuals, but by the community
at large; such as fine horses, heavy armor, rich housings, and gold
chains. We have now taught them also to accept of money. [95]

16. It is well known that none of the German nations inhabit cities; [96]
or even admit of contiguous settlements. They dwell scattered and
separate, as a spring, a meadow, or a grove may chance to invite them.
Their villages are laid out, not like ours in rows of adjoining buildings;
but every one surrounds his house with a vacant space, [97] either by way
of security against fire, [97] or through ignorance of the art of
building. For, indeed, they are unacquainted with the use of mortar and
tiles; and for every purpose employ rude unshapen timber, fashioned with
no regard to pleasing the eye. They bestow more than ordinary pains in
coating certain parts of their buildings with a kind of earth, so pure and
shining that it gives the appearance of painting. They also dig
subterraneous caves, [99] and cover them over with a great quantity of
dung. These they use as winter-retreats, and granaries; for they preserve
a moderate temperature; and upon an invasion, when the open country is
plundered, these recesses remain unviolated, either because the enemy is
ignorant of them, or because he will not trouble himself with the search.

17. The clothing common to all is a sagum [101] fastened by a clasp, or,
in want of that, a thorn. With no other covering, they pass whole days on
the hearth, before the fire. The more wealthy are distinguished by a vest,
not flowing loose, like those of the Sarmatians and Parthians, but girt
close, and exhibiting the shape of every limb. They also wear the skins of
beasts, which the people near the borders are less curious in selecting or
preparing than the more remote inhabitants, who cannot by commerce procure
other clothing. These make choice of particular skins, which they
variegate with spots, and strips of the furs of marine animals, [102] the
produce of the exterior ocean, and seas to us unknown. [103] The dress of
the women does not differ from that of the men; except that they more
frequently wear linen, [104] which they stain with purple; [105] and do
not lengthen their upper garment into sleeves, but leave exposed the whole
arm, and part of the breast.

18. The matrimonial bond is, nevertheless, strict and severe among them;
nor is there anything in their manners more commendable than this. [106]
Almost singly among the barbarians, they content themselves with one wife;
a very few of them excepted, who, not through incontinence, but because
their alliance is solicited on account of their rank, [107] practise
polygamy. The wife does not bring a dowry to her husband, but receives one
from him. [108] The parents and relations assemble, and pass their
approbation on the presents--presents not adapted to please a female
taste, or decorate the bride; but oxen, a caparisoned steed, a shield,
spear, and sword. By virtue of these, the wife is espoused; and she in her
turn makes a present of some arms to her husband. This they consider as
the firmest bond of union; these, the sacred mysteries, the conjugal
deities. That the woman may not think herself excused from exertions of
fortitude, or exempt from the casualties of war, she is admonished by the
very ceremonial of her marriage, that she comes to her husband as a
partner in toils and dangers; to suffer and to dare equally with him, in
peace and in war: this is indicated by the yoked oxen, the harnessed
steed, the offered arms. Thus she is to live; thus to die. She receives
what she is to return inviolate [109] and honored to her children; what
her daughters-in-law are to receive, and again transmit to her

19. They live, therefore, fenced around with chastity; [110] corrupted by
no seductive spectacles, [111] no convivial incitements. Men and women are
alike unacquainted with clandestine correspondence. Adultery is extremely
rare among so numerous a people. Its punishment is instant, and at the
pleasure of the husband. He cuts off the hair [112] of the offender,
strips her, and in presence of her relations expels her from his house,
and pursues her with stripes through the whole village. [113] Nor is any
indulgence shown to a prostitute. Neither beauty, youth, nor riches can
procure her a husband: for none there looks on vice with a smile, or calls
mutual seduction the way of the world. Still more exemplary is the
practice of those states [114] in which none but virgins marry, and the
expectations and wishes of a wife are at once brought to a period. Thus,
they take one husband as one body and one life; that no thought, no
desire, may extend beyond him; and he may be loved not only as their
husband, but as their marriage. [115] To limit the increase of children,
[116] or put to death any of the later progeny [117] is accounted
infamous: and good habits have there more influence than good laws
elsewhere. [118]

20. In every house the children grow up, thinly and meanly clad, [119] to
that bulk of body and limb which we behold with wonder. Every mother
suckles her own children, and does not deliver them into the hands of
servants and nurses. No indulgence distinguishes the young master from the
slave. They lie together amidst the same cattle, upon the same ground,
till age [120] separates, and valor marks out, the free-born. The youths
partake late of the pleasures of love, [121] and hence pass the age of
puberty unexhausted: nor are the virgins hurried into marriage; the same
maturity, the same full growth is required: the sexes unite equally
matched [122] and robust; and the children inherit the vigor of their
parents. Children are regarded with equal affection by their maternal
uncles [123] as by their fathers: some even consider this as the more
sacred bond of consanguinity, and prefer it in the requisition of
hostages, as if it held the mind by a firmer tie, and the family by a more
extensive obligation. A person's own children, however, are his heirs and
successors; and no wills are made. If there be no children, the next in
order of inheritance are brothers, paternal and maternal uncles. The more
numerous are a man's relations and kinsmen, the more comfortable is his
old age; nor is it here any advantage to be childless. [124]

21. It is an indispensable duty to adopt the enmities [125] of a father or
relation, as well as their friendships: these, however, are not
irreconcilable or perpetual. Even homicide is atoned [126] by a certain
fine in cattle and sheep; and the whole family accepts the satisfaction,
to the advantage of the public weal, since quarrels are most dangerous in
a free state. No people are more addicted to social entertainments, or
more liberal in the exercise of hospitality. [127] To refuse any person
whatever admittance under their roof, is accounted flagitious. [128] Every
one according to his ability feasts his guest: when his provisions are
exhausted, he who was late the host, is now the guide and companion to
another hospitable board. They enter the next house uninvited, and are
received with equal cordiality. No one makes a distinction with respect to
the rights of hospitality, between a stranger and an acquaintance. The
departing guest is presented with whatever he may ask for; and with the
same freedom a boon is desired in return. They are pleased with presents;
but think no obligation incurred either when they give or receive.

22. [129] [Their manner of living with their guest is easy and affable] As
soon as they arise from sleep, which they generally protract till late in
the day, they bathe, usually in warm water, [130] as cold weather chiefly
prevails there. After bathing they take their meal, each on a distinct
seat, and a a separate table. [131] Then they proceed, armed, to business,
and not less frequently to convivial parties, in which it is no disgrace
to pass days and nights, without intermission, in drinking. The frequent
quarrels that arise amongst them, when intoxicated, seldom terminate in
abusive language, but more frequently in blood. [132] In their feasts,
they generally deliberate on the reconcilement of enemies, on family
alliances, on the appointment of chiefs, and finally on peace and war;
conceiving that at no time the soul is more opened to sincerity, or warmed
to heroism. These people, naturally void of artifice or disguise, disclose
the most secret emotions of their hearts in the freedom of festivity. The
minds of all being thus displayed without reserve, the subjects of their
deliberation are again canvassed the next day; [133] and each time has its
advantages. They consult when unable to dissemble; they determine when not
liable to mistake.

23. Their drink is a liquor prepared from barley or wheat [134] brought by
fermentation to a certain resemblance of wine. Those who border on the
Rhine also purchase wine. Their food is simple; wild fruits, fresh
venison, [135] or coagulated milk. [136] They satisfy hunger without
seeking the elegances and delicacies of the table. Their thirst for liquor
is not quenched with equal moderation. If their propensity to drunkenness
be gratified to the extent of their wishes, intemperance proves as
effectual in subduing them as the force of arms. [137]

24. They have only one kind of public spectacle, which is exhibited in
every company. Young men, who make it their diversion, dance naked amidst
drawn swords and presented spears. Practice has conferred skill at this
exercise; and skill has given grace; but they do not exhibit for hire or
gain: the only reward of this pastime, though a hazardous one, is the
pleasure of the spectators. What is extraordinary, they play at dice, when
sober, as a serious business: and that with such a desperate venture of
gain or loss, that, when everything else is gone, they set their liberties
and persons on the last throw. The loser goes into voluntary servitude;
and, though the youngest and strongest, patiently suffers himself to be
bound and sold. [138] Such is their obstinacy in a bad practice--they
themselves call it honor. The slaves thus acquired are exchanged away in
commerce, that the winner may get rid of the scandal of his victory.

25. The rest of their slaves have not, like ours, particular employments
in the family allotted them. Each is the master of a habitation and
household of his own. The lord requires from him a certain quantity of
grain, cattle, or cloth, as from a tenant; and so far only the subjection
of the slave extends. [139] His domestic offices are performed by his own
wife and children. It is usual to scourge a slave, or punish him with
chains or hard labor. They are sometimes killed by their masters; not
through severity of chastisement, but in the heat of passion, like an
enemy; with this difference, that it is done with impunity. [140] Freedmen
are little superior to slaves; seldom filling any important office in the
family; never in the state, except in those tribes which are under regal
government. [141] There, they rise above the free-born, and even the
nobles: in the rest, the subordinate condition of the freedmen is a proof
of freedom.

26. Lending money upon interest, and increasing it by usury, [142] is
unknown amongst them: and this ignorance more effectually prevents the
practice than a prohibition would do. The lands are occupied by townships,
[143] in allotments proportional to the number of cultivators; and are
afterwards parcelled out among the individuals of the district, in shares
according to the rank and condition of each person. [144] The wide extent
of plain facilitates this partition. The arable lands are annually
changed, and a part left fallow; nor do they attempt to make the most of
the fertility and plenty of the soil, by their own industry in planting
orchards, inclosing meadows, and watering gardens. Corn is the only
product required from the earth: hence their year is not divided into so
many seasons as ours; for, while they know and distinguish by name Winter,
Spring, and Summer, they are unacquainted equally with the appellation and
bounty of Autumn. [145]

27. Their funerals are without parade. [146] The only circumstance to
which they attend, is to burn the bodies of eminent persons with some
particular kinds of wood. Neither vestments nor perfumes are heaped upon
the pile: [147] the arms of the deceased, and sometimes his horse, [148]
are given to the flames. The tomb is a mound of turf. They contemn the
elaborate and costly honours of monumental structures, as mere burthens to
the dead. They soon dismiss tears and lamentations; slowly, sorrow and
regret. They think it the women's part to bewail their friends, the men's
to remember them.

28. This is the sum of what I have been able to learn concerning the
origin and manners of the Germans in general. I now proceed to mention
those particulars in which they differ from each other; and likewise to
relate what nations have migrated from Germany into Gaul. That great
writer, the deified Julius, asserts that the Gauls were formerly the
superior people; [149] whence it is probable that some Gallic colonies
passed over into Germany: for how small an obstacle would a river be to
prevent any nation, as it increased in strength, from occupying or
changing settlements as yet lying in common, and unappropriated by the
power of monarchies! Accordingly, the tract betwixt the Hercynian forest
and the rivers Rhine and Mayne was possessed by the Helvetii: [150] and
that beyond, by the Boii; [151] both Gallic tribes. The name of Boiemum
still remains, a memorial of the ancient settlement, though its
inhabitants are now changed. [152] But whether the Aravisci [153] migrated
into Pannonia from the Osi, [154] a German nation; or the Osi into Germany
from the Aravisci; the language, institutions, and manners of both being
still the same, is a matter of uncertainty; for, in their pristine state
of equal indigence and equal liberty, the same advantages and
disadvantages were common to both sides of the river. The Treveri [155]
and Nervii [156] are ambitious of being thought of German origin; as if
the reputation of this descent would distinguish them from the Gauls, whom
they resemble in person and effeminacy. The Vangiones, Triboci, and
Nemetes, [157] who inhabit the bank of the Rhine, are without doubt German
tribes. Nor do the Ubii, [158] although they have been thought worthy of
being made a Roman colony, and are pleased in bearing the name of
Agrippinenses from their founder, blush to acknowledge their origin from
Germany; from whence they formerly migrated, and for their approved
fidelity were settled on the bank of the Rhine, not that they might be
guarded themselves, but that they might serve as a guard against invaders.

29. Of all these people, the most famed for valor are the Batavi; whose
territories comprise but a small part of the banks of the Rhine, but
consist chiefly of an island within it. [159] These were formerly a tribe
of the Catti, who, on account of an intestine division, removed to their
present settlements, in order to become a part of the Roman empire. They
still retain this honor, together with a memorial of their ancient
alliance; [160] for they are neither insulted by taxes, nor oppressed by
farmers of the revenue. Exempt from fiscal burthens and extraordinary
contributions, and kept apart for military use alone, they are reserved,
like a magazine of arms, for the purposes of war. The nation of the
Mattiaci [161] is under a degree of subjection of the same kind: for the
greatness of the Roman people has carried a reverence for the empire
beyond the Rhine and the ancient limits. The Mattiaci, therefore, though
occupying a settlement and borders [162] on the opposite side of the
river, from sentiment and attachment act with us; resembling the Batavi in
every respect, except that they are animated with a more vigorous spirit
by the soil and air of their own country. [163] I do not reckon among the
people of Germany those who occupy the Decumate lands, [164] although
inhabiting between the Rhine and Danube. Some of the most fickle of the
Gauls, rendered daring through indigence, seized upon this district of
uncertain property. Afterwards, our boundary line being advanced, and a
chain of fortified posts established, it became a skirt of the empire, and
part of the Roman province. [165]

30. Beyond these dwell the Catti, [166] whose settlements, beginning from
the Hercynian forest, are in a tract of country less open and marshy than
those which overspread the other states of Germany; for it consists of a
continued range of hills, which gradually become more scattered; and the
Hercynian forest [167] both accompanies and leaves behind, its Catti. This
nation is distinguished by hardier frames, [168] compactness of limb,
fierceness of countenance, and superior vigor of mind. For Germans, they
have a considerable share of understanding and sagacity; they choose able
persons to command, and obey them when chosen; keep their ranks; seize
opportunities; restrain impetuous motions; distribute properly the
business of the day; intrench themselves against the night; account
fortune dubious, and valor only certain; and, what is extremely rare, and
only a consequence of discipline, depend more upon the general than the
army. [169] Their force consists entirely in infantry; who, besides their
arms, are obliged to carry tools and provisions. Other nations appear to
go to a battle; the Catti, to war. Excursions and casual encounters are
rare amongst them. It is, indeed, peculiar to cavalry soon to obtain, and
soon to yield, the victory. Speed borders upon timidity; slow movements
are more akin to steady valor.

31. A custom followed among the other German nations only by a few
individuals, of more daring spirit than the rest, is adopted by general
consent among the Catti. From the time they arrive at years of maturity
they let their hair and beard grow; [170] and do not divest themselves of
this votive badge, the promise of valor, till they have slain an enemy.
Over blood and spoils they unveil the countenance, and proclaim that they
have at length paid the debt of existence, and have proved themselves
worthy of their country and parents. The cowardly and effeminate continue
in their squalid disguise. The bravest among them wear also an iron ring
[171] (a mark of ignominy in that nation) as a kind of chain, till they
have released themselves by the slaughter of a foe. Many of the Catti
assume this distinction, and grow hoary under the mark, conspicuous both
to foes and friends. By these, in every engagement, the attack is begun:
they compose the front line, presenting a new spectacle of terror. Even in
peace they do not relax the sternness of their aspect. They have no house,
land, or domestic cares: they are maintained by whomsoever they visit:
lavish of another's property, regardless of their own; till the debility
of age renders them unequal to such a rigid course of military virtue.

32. Next to the Catti, on the banks of the Rhine, where, now settled in
its channel, it is become a sufficient boundary, dwell the Usipii and
Tencteri. [173] The latter people, in addition to the usual military
reputation, are famed for the discipline of their cavalry; nor is the
infantry of the Catti in higher estimation than the horse of the Tencteri.
Their ancestors established it, and are imitated by posterity.
Horsemanship is the sport of their children, the point of emulation of
their youth, and the exercise in which they persevere to old age. Horses
are bequeathed along with the domestics, the household gods, and the
rights of inheritance: they do not, however, like other things, go to the
eldest son, but to the bravest and most warlike.

33. Contiguous to the Tencteri were formerly the Bructeri; [174] but
report now says that the Chamavi and Angrivarii, [175] migrating into
their country, have expelled and entirely extirpated them, [176] with the
concurrence of the neighboring nations, induced either by hatred of their
arrogance, [177] love of plunder, or the favor of the gods towards the
Romans. For they even gratified us with the spectacle of a battle, in
which above sixty thousand Germans were slain, not by Roman arms, but,
what was still grander, by mutual hostilities, as it were for our pleasure
and entertainment. [178] May the nations retain and perpetuate, if not an
affection for us, at least an animosity against each other! since, while
the fate of the empire is thus urgent, [179] fortune can bestow no higher
benefit upon us, than the discord of our enemies.

34. Contiguous to the Angrivarii and Chamavi backwards lie the Dulgibini,
Chasauri, [180] and other nations less known. [181] In front, the Frisii
[182] succeed; who are distinguished by the appellations of Greater and
Lesser, from their proportional power. The settlements of both stretch
along the border of the Rhine to the ocean; and include, besides, vast
lakes, [183] which have been navigated by Roman fleets. We have even
explored the ocean itself on that side; and fame reports that columns of
Hercules [184] are still remaining on that coast; whether it be that
Hercules was ever there in reality, or that whatever great and magnificent
is anywhere met with is, by common consent, ascribed to his renowned name.
The attempt of Drusus Germanicus [185] to make discoveries in these parts
was sufficiently daring; but the ocean opposed any further inquiry into
itself and Hercules. After a while no one renewed the attempt; and it was
thought more pious and reverential to believe the actions of the gods,
than to investigate them.

35. Hitherto we have traced the western side of Germany. It turns from
thence with a vast sweep to the north: and first occurs the country of the
Chauci, [186] which, though it begins immediately from Frisia, and
occupies part of the seashore, yet stretches so far as to border on all
the nations before mentioned, till it winds round so as to meet the
territories of the Catti. This immense tract is not only possessed, but
filled by the Chauci; a people the noblest of the Germans, who choose to
maintain their greatness by justice rather than violence. Without
ambition, without ungoverned desires, quiet and retired, they provoke no
wars, they are guilty of no rapine or plunder; and it is a principal proof
of their power and bravery, that the superiority they possess has not been
acquired by unjust means. Yet all have arms in readiness; [187] and, if
necessary, an army is soon raised: for they abound in men and horses, and
maintain their military reputation even in inaction.

36. Bordering on the Chauci and Catti are the Cherusci; [188] who, for
want of an enemy, long cherished a too lasting and enfeebling peace: a
state more flattering than secure; since the repose enjoyed amidst
ambitious and powerful neighbors is treacherous; and when an appeal is
made to the sword, moderation and probity are names appropriated by the
victors. Thus, the Cherusci, who formerly bore the titles of just and
upright, are now charged with cowardice and folly; and the good fortune of
the Catti, who subdued them, has grown into wisdom. The ruin of the
Cherusci involved that of the Fosi, [189] a neighboring tribe, equal
partakers of their adversity, although they had enjoyed an inferior share
of their prosperity.

37. In the same quarter of Germany, adjacent to the ocean, dwell the
Cimbri; [191] a small [192] state at present, but great in renown. [193]
Of their past grandeur extensive vestiges still remain, in encampments and
lines on either shore, [194] from the compass of which the strength and
numbers of the nation may still be computed, and credit derived to the
account of so prodigious an army. It was in the 640th year of Rome that
the arms of the Cimbri were first heard of, under the consulate of
Caecilius Metellus and Papirius Carbo; from which era to the second
consulate of the emperor Trajan [195] is a period of nearly 210 years. So
long has Germany withstood the arms of Rome. During this long interval
many mutual wounds have been inflicted. Not the Samnite, the Carthaginian,
Spain, Gaul, or Parthia, have given more frequent alarms; for the liberty
of the Germans is more vigorous than the monarchy of the Arsacidae. What
has the East, which has itself lost Pacorus, and suffered an overthrow
from Ventidius, [196] to boast against us, but the slaughter of Crassus?
But the Germans, by the defeat or capture of Carbo, [197] Cassius, [198]
Scaurus Aurelius, [199] Servilius Caepio, and Cneius Manlius, [200]
deprived the Roman people of five consular armies; [201] and afterwards
took from Augustus himself Varus with three legions. [202] Nor did Caius
Marius [203] in Italy, the deified Julius [204] in Gaul, or Drusus, [204]
Nero, [204] or Germanicus [204] in their own country, defeat then without
loss. The subsequent mighty threats of Caligula terminated in ridicule.
Then succeeded tranquillity; till, seizing the occasion of our discords
and civil wars, they forced the winter-quarters of the legions, [205] and
even aimed at the possession of Gaul; and, again expelled thence, they
have in latter times been rather triumphed over [206] than vanquished.

38. We have now to speak of the Suevi; [207] who do not compose a single
state, like the Catti or Tencteri, but occupy the greatest part of
Germany, and are still distributed into different names and nations,
although all hearing the common appellation of Suevi. It is a
characteristic of this people to turn their hair sideways, and tie it
beneath the poll in a knot. By this mark the Suevi are distinguished from
the rest of the Germans; and the freemen of the Suevi from the slaves.
[208] Among other nations, this mode, either on account of some
relationship with the Suevi, or from the usual propensity to imitation, is
sometimes adopted; but rarely, and only during the period of youth. The
Suevi, even till they are hoary, continue to have their hair growing
stiffly backwards, and often it is fastened on the very crown of the head.
The chiefs dress it with still greater care: and in this respect they
study ornament, though of an undebasing kind. For their design is not to
make love, or inspire it; they decorate themselves in this manner as they
proceed to war, in order to seem taller and more terrible; and dress for
the eyes of their enemies.

39. The Semnones [209] assert themselves to be the most ancient and noble
of the Suevi; and their pretensions are confirmed by religion. At a stated
time, all the people of the same lineage assemble by their delegates in a
wood, consecrated by the auguries of their forefathers and ancient terror,
and there by the public slaughter of a human victim celebrate the horrid
origin of their barbarous rites. Another kind of reverence is paid to the
grove. No person enters it without being bound with a chain, as an
acknowledgment of his inferior nature, and the power of the deity residing
there. If he accidentally fall, it is not lawful for him to be lifted or
to rise up; they roll themselves out along the ground. The whole of their
superstition has this import: that from this spot the nation derives its
origin; that here is the residence of the Deity, the Governor of all, and
that everything else is subject and subordinate to him. These opinions
receive additional authority from the power of the Semnones, who inhabit a
hundred cantons, and, from the great body they compose, consider
themselves as the head of the Suevi.

40. The Langobardi, [210] on the other hand, are ennobled by, the
smallness of their numbers; since though surrounded by many powerful
nations, they derive security, not from obsequiousness, but from their
martial enterprise. The neighboring Reudigni, [211] and the Avions, [212]
Angli, [213] Varini, Eudoses, Suardones, and Nuithones, [214] are defended
by rivers or forests. Nothing remarkable occurs in any of these; except
that they unite in the worship of Hertha, [215] or Mother Earth; and
suppose her to interfere in the affairs of men, and to visit the different
nations. In an island [216] of the ocean stands a sacred and unviolated
grove, in which is a consecrated chariot, covered with a veil, which the
priest alone is permitted to touch. He becomes conscious of the entrance
of the goddess into this secret recess; and with profound veneration
attends the vehicle, which is drawn by yoked cows. At this season, [217]
all is joy; and every place which the goddess deigns to visit is a scene
of festivity. No wars are undertaken; arms are untouched; and every
hostile weapon is shut up. Peace abroad and at home are then only known;
then only loved; till at length the same priest reconducts the goddess,
satiated with mortal intercourse, to her temple. [218] The chariot, with
its curtain, and, if we may believe it, the goddess herself, then undergo
ablution in a secret lake. This office is performed by slaves, whom the
same lake instantly swallows up. Hence proceeds a mysterious horror; and a
holy ignorance of what that can be, which is beheld only by those who are
about to perish. This part of the Suevian nation extends to the most
remote recesses of Germany.

41. If we now follow the course of the Danube, as we before did that of
the Rhine, we first meet with the Hermunduri; [219] a people faithful to
the Romans, [220] and on that account the only Germans who are admitted to
commerce, not on the bank alone, but within our territories, and in the
flourishing colony [221] established in the province of Rhaetia. They pass
and repass at pleasure, without being attended by a guard; and while we
exhibit to other nations our arms and camps alone, to these we lay open
our houses and country seats, which they behold without coveting. In the
country of the Hermunduri rises the Elbe; [222] a river formerly
celebrated and known among us, now only heard of by name.

42. Contiguous to the Hermunduri are the Narisci; [223] and next to them,
the Marcomanni [224] and Quadi. [225] Of these, the Marcomanni are the
most powerful and renowned; and have even acquired the country which they
inhabit, by their valor in expelling the Boii. [226] Nor are the Narisci
and Quadi inferior in bravery; [227] and this is, as it were, the van of
Germany as far as it is bordered by the Danube. Within our memory the
Marcomanni and Quadi were governed by kings of their own nation, of the
noble line of Maroboduus [228] and Tudrus. They now submit even to
foreigners; but all the power of their kings depends upon the authority of
the Romans. [229] We seldom assist them with our arms, but frequently with
our money; nor are they the less potent on that account.

43. Behind these are the Marsigni, [230] Gothini, [231] Osi, [232] and
Burrii, [233] who close the rear of the Marcomanni and Quadi. Of these,
the Marsigni and Burrii in language [234] and dress resemble the Suevi.
The Gothini and Osi prove themselves not to be Germans; the first, by
their use of the Gallic, the second, of the Pannonian tongue; and both, by
their submitting to pay tribute: which is levied on them, as aliens,
partly by the Sarmatians, partly by the Quadi. The Gothini, to their
additional disgrace, work iron mines. [235] All these people inhabit but a
small proportion of champaign country; their settlements are chiefly
amongst forests, and on the sides and summits of mountains; for a
continued ridge of mountains [236] separates Suevia from various remoter
tribes. Of these, the Lygian [237] is the most extensive, and diffuses its
name through several communities. It will be sufficient to name the most
powerful of them--the Arii, Helvecones, Manimi, Elysii, and Naharvali.
[238] In the country of the latter is a grove, consecrated to religious
rites of great antiquity. A priest presides over them, dressed in woman's
apparel; but the gods worshipped there are said, according to the Roman
interpretation, to be Castor and Pollux. Their attributes are the same;
their name, Alcis. [239] No images, indeed, or vestiges of foreign
superstition, appear in their worship; but they are revered under the
character of young men and brothers. The Arii, fierce beyond the
superiority of strength they possess over the other just enumerated
people, improve their natural ferocity of aspect by artificial helps.
Their shields are black; their bodies painted: [240] they choose the
darkest nights for an attack; and strike terror by the funereal gloom of
their sable bands--no enemy being able to sustain their singular, and, as
it were, infernal appearance; since in every combat the eyes are the first
part subdued. Beyond the Lygii are the Gothones, [241] who live under a
monarchy, somewhat more strict than that of the other German nations, yet
not to a degree incompatible with liberty. Adjoining to these are the
Rugii [242] and Lemovii, [243] situated on the sea-coast--all these tribes
are distinguished by round shields, short swords, and submission to regal

44. Next occur the communities of the Suiones, [244] seated in the very
Ocean, [245] who, besides their strength in men and arms, also possess a
naval force. [246] The form of their vessels differs from ours in having a
prow at each end, [247] so that they are always ready to advance. They
make no use of sails, nor have regular benches of oars at the sides: they
row, as is practised in some rivers, without order, sometimes on one side,
sometimes on the other, as occasion requires. These people honor wealth;
[248] for which reason they are subject to monarchical government, without
any limitations, [249] or precarious conditions of allegiance. Nor are
arms allowed to be kept promiscuously, as among the other German nations:
but are committed to the charge of a keeper, and he, too, a slave. The
pretext is, that the Ocean defends them from any sudden incursions; and
men unemployed, with arms in their hands, readily become licentious. In
fact, it is for the king's interest not to entrust a noble, a freeman, or
even an emancipated slave, with the custody of arms.

45. Beyond the Suiones is another sea, sluggish and almost stagnant, [250]
by which the whole globe is imagined to be girt and enclosed, from this
circumstance, that the last light of the setting sun continues so vivid
till its rising, as to obscure the stars. [251] Popular belief adds, that
the sound of his emerging [252] from the ocean is also heard; and the
forms of deities, [253] with the rays beaming from his head, are beheld.
Only thus far, report says truly, does nature extend. [254] On the right
shore of the Suevic sea [255] dwell the tribes of the Aestii, [256] whose
dress and customs are the same with those of the Suevi, but their language
more resembles the British. [257] They worship the mother of the gods;
[258] and as the symbol of their superstition, they carry about them the
figures of wild boars. [250] This serves them in place of armor and every
other defence: it renders the votary of the goddess safe even in the midst
of foes. Their weapons are chiefly clubs, iron being little used among
them. They cultivate corn and other fruits of the earth with more industry
than German indolence commonly exerts. [260] They even explore the sea;
and are the only people who gather amber, which by them is called _Glese_,
[261] and is collected among the shallows and upon the shore. [262] With
the usual indifference of barbarians, they have not inquired or
ascertained from what natural object or by what means it is produced. It
long lay disregarded [263] amidst other things thrown up by the sea, till
our luxury [264] gave it a name. Useless to them, they gather it in the
rough; bring it unwrought; and wonder at the price they receive. It would
appear, however, to be an exudation from certain trees; since reptiles,
and even winged animals, are often seen shining through it, which,
entangled in it while in a liquid state, became enclosed as it hardened.
[264] I should therefore imagine that, as the luxuriant woods and groves
in the secret recesses of the East exude frankincense and balsam, so there
are the same in the islands and continents of the West; which, acted upon
by the near rays of the sun, drop their liquid juices into the subjacent
sea, whence, by the force of tempests, they are thrown out upon the
opposite coasts. If the nature of amber be examined by the application of
fire, it kindles like a torch, with a thick and odorous flame; and
presently resolves into a glutinous matter resembling pitch or resin. The
several communities of the Sitones [266] succeed those of the Suiones; to
whom they are similar in other respects, but differ in submitting to a
female reign; so far have they degenerated, not only from liberty, but
even from slavery. Here Suevia terminates.

46. I am in doubt whether to reckon the Peucini, Venedi, and Fenni among
the Germans or Sarmatians; [267] although the Peucini, [268] who are by
some called Bastarnae, agree with the Germans in language, apparel, and
habitations. [269] All of them live in filth and laziness. The
intermarriages of their chiefs with the Sarmatians have debased them by a
mixture of the manners of that people. [270] The Venedi have drawn much
from this source; [271] for they overrun in their predatory excursions all
the woody and mountainous tracts between the Peucini and Fenni. Yet even
these are rather to be referred to the Germans, since they build houses,
carry shields, and travel with speed on foot; in all which particulars
they totally differ from the Sarmatians, who pass their time in wagons and
on horseback. [272] The Fenni [273] live in a state of amazing savageness
and squalid poverty. They are destitute of arms, horses, and settled
abodes: their food is herbs; [274] their clothing, skins; their bed, the
ground. Their only dependence is on their arrows, which, for want of iron,
are headed with bone; [275] and the chase is the support of the women as
well as the men; the former accompany the latter in the pursuit, and claim
a share of the prey. Nor do they provide any other shelter for their
infants from wild beasts and storms, than a covering of branches twisted
together. This is the resort of youth; this is the receptacle of old age.
Yet even this way of life is in their estimation happier than groaning
over the plough; toiling in the erection of houses; subjecting their own
fortunes and those of others to the agitations of alternate hope and fear.
Secure against men, secure against the gods, they have attained the most
difficult point, not to need even a wish.

All our further accounts are intermixed with fable; as, that the Hellusii
and Oxionae [276] have human faces, with the bodies and limbs of wild
beasts. These unauthenticated reports I shall leave untouched. [277]


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

1. The ancient custom of transmitting to posterity the actions and manners
of famous men, has not been neglected even by the present age, incurious
though it be about those belonging to it, whenever any exalted and noble
degree of virtue has triumphed over that false estimation of merit, and
that ill-will to it, by which small and great states are equally infested.
In former times, however, as there was a greater propensity and freer
scope for the performance of actions worthy of remembrance, so every
person of distinguished abilities was induced through conscious
satisfaction in the task alone, without regard to private favor or
interest, to record examples of virtue. And many considered it rather as
the honest confidence of integrity, than a culpable arrogance, to become
their own biographers. Of this, Rutilius and Scaurus [1] were instances;
who were never yet censured on this account, nor was the fidelity of their
narrative called in question; so much more candidly are virtues always
estimated; in those periods which are the most favorable to their
production. For myself, however, who have undertaken to be the historian
of a person deceased, an apology seemed necessary; which I should not have
made, had my course lain through times less cruel and hostile to virtue.

2. We read that when Arulenus Rusticus published the praises of Paetus
Thrasea, and Herennius Senecio those of Priscus Helvidius, it was
construed into a capital crime; [3] and the rage of tyranny was let loose
not only against the authors, but against their writings; so that those
monuments of exalted genius were burnt at the place of election in the
forum by triumvirs appointed for the purpose. In that fire they thought to
consume the voice of the Roman people, the freedom of the senate, and the
conscious emotions of all mankind; crowning the deed by the expulsion of
the professors of wisdom, [4] and the banishment of every liberal art,
that nothing generous or honorable might remain. We gave, indeed, a
consummate proof of our patience; and as remote ages saw the very utmost
degree of liberty, so we, deprived by inquisitions of all the intercourse
of conversation, experienced the utmost of slavery. With language we
should have lost memory itself, had it been as much in our power to
forget, as to be silent.

3. Now our spirits begin to revive. But although at the first dawning of
this happy period, [5] the emperor Nerva united two things before
incompatible, monarchy and liberty; and Trajan is now daily augmenting the
felicity of the empire; and the public security [6] has not only assumed
hopes and wishes, but has seen those wishes arise to confidence and
stability; yet, from the nature of human infirmity, remedies are more
tardy in their operation than diseases; and, as bodies slowly increase,
but quickly perish, so it is more easy to suppress industry and genius,
than to recall them. For indolence itself acquires a charm; and sloth,
however odious at first, becomes at length engaging. During the space of
fifteen years, [7] a large portion of human life, how great a number have
fallen by casual events, and, as was the fate of all the most
distinguished, by the cruelty of the prince; whilst we, the few survivors,
not of others alone, but, if I may be allowed the expression, of
ourselves, find a void of so many years in our lives, which has silently
brought us from youth to maturity, from mature age to the very verge of
life! Still, however, I shall not regret having composed, though in rude
and artless language, a memorial of past servitude, and a testimony of
present blessings. [8]

The present work, in the meantime, which is dedicated to the honor of my
father-in-law, may be thought to merit approbation, or at least excuse,
from the piety of the intention.

4. CNAEUS JULIUS AGRICOLA was born at the ancient and illustrious colony
of Forumjulii. [9] Both his grandfathers were imperial procurators, [10]
an office which confers the rank of equestrian nobility. His father,
Julius Graecinus, [11] of the senatorian order, was famous for the study
of eloquence and philosophy; and by these accomplishments he drew on
himself the displeasure of Caius Caesar; [12] for, being commanded to
undertake the accusation of Marcus Silanus, [13]--on his refusal, he was
put to death. His mother was Julia Procilla, a lady of exemplary chastity.
Educated with tenderness in her bosom, [14] he passed his childhood and
youth in the attainment of every liberal art. He was preserved from the
allurements of vice, not only by a naturally good disposition, but by
being sent very early to pursue his studies at Massilia; [15] a place
where Grecian politeness and provincial frugality are happily united. I
remember he was used to relate, that in his early youth he should have
engaged with more ardor in philosophical speculation than was suitable to
a Roman and a senator, had not the prudence of his mother restrained the
warmth and vehemence of his disposition: for his lofty and upright spirit,
inflamed by the charms of glory and exalted reputation, led him to the
pursuit with more eagerness than discretion. Reason and riper years
tempered his warmth; and from the study of wisdom, he retained what is
most difficult to compass,--moderation.

5. He learned the rudiments of war in Britain, under Suetonius Paullinus,
an active and prudent commander, who chose him for his tent companion, in
order to form an estimate of his merit. [16] Nor did Agricola, like many
young men, who convert military service into wanton pastime, avail himself
licentiously or slothfully of his tribunitial title, or his inexperience,
to spend his time in pleasures and absences from duty; but he employed
himself in gaining a knowledge of the country, making himself known to the
army, learning from the experienced, and imitating the best; neither
pressing to be employed through vainglory, nor declining it through
timidity; and performing his duty with equal solicitude and spirit. At no
other time in truth was Britain more agitated or in a state of greater
uncertainty. Our veterans slaughtered, our colonies burnt, [17] our armies
cut off, [18]--we were then contending for safety, afterwards for victory.
During this period, although all things were transacted under the conduct
and direction of another, and the stress of the whole, as well as the
glory of recovering the province, fell to the general's share, yet they
imparted to the young Agricola skill, experience, and incentives; and the
passion for military glory entered his soul; a passion ungrateful to the
times, [19] in which eminence was unfavorably construed, and a great
reputation was no less dangerous than a bad one.

6. Departing thence to undertake the offices of magistracy in Rome, he
married Domitia Decidiana, a lady of illustrious descent, from which
connection he derived credit and support in his pursuit of greater things.
They lived together in admirable harmony and mutual affection; each giving
the preference to the other; a conduct equally laudable in both, except
that a greater degree of praise is due to a good wife, in proportion as a
bad one deserves the greater censure. The lot of quaestorship [20] gave
him Asia for his province, and the proconsul Salvius Titianus [21] for his
superior; by neither of which circumstances was he corrupted, although the
province was wealthy and open to plunder, and the proconsul, from his
rapacious disposition, would readily have agreed to a mutual concealment
of guilt. His family was there increased by the birth of a daughter, who
was both the support of his house, and his consolation; for he lost an
elder-born son in infancy. The interval between his serving the offices of
quaestor and tribune of the people, and even the year of the latter
magistracy, he passed in repose and inactivity; well knowing the temper of
the times under Nero, in which indolence was wisdom. He maintained the
same tenor of conduct when praetor; for the judiciary part of the office
did not fall to his share. [22] In the exhibition of public games, and the
idle trappings of dignity, he consulted propriety and the measure of his
fortune; by no means approaching to extravagance, yet inclining rather to
a popular course. When he was afterwards appointed by Galba to manage an
inquest concerning the offerings which had been presented to the temples,
by his strict attention and diligence he preserved the state from any
further sacrilege than what it had suffered from Nero. [23]

7. The following year [24] inflicted a severe wound on his peace of mind,
and his domestic concerns. The fleet of Otho, roving in a disorderly
manner on the coast, [25] made a hostile descent on Intemelii, [26] a part
of Liguria, in which the mother of Agricola was murdered at her own
estate, her lands were ravaged, and a great part of her effects, which had
invited the assassins, was carried off. As Agricola upon this event was
hastening to perform the duties of filial piety, he was overtaken by the
news of Vespasian's aspiring to the empire, [27] and immediately went over
to his party. The first acts of power, and the government of the city,
were entrusted to Mucianus; Domitian being at that time very young, and
taking no other privilege from his father's elevation than that of
indulging his licentious tastes. Mucianus, having approved the vigor and
fidelity of Agricola in the service of raising levies, gave him the
command of the twentieth legion, [28] which had appeared backward in
taking the oaths, as soon as he had heard the seditious practices of his
commander. [29] This legion had been unmanageable and formidable even to
the consular lieutenants; [30] and its late commander, of praetorian rank,
had not sufficient authority to keep it in obedience; though it was
uncertain whether from his own disposition, or that of his soldiers.
Agricola was therefore appointed as his successor and avenger; but, with
an uncommon degree of moderation, he chose rather to have it appear that
he had found the legion obedient, than that he had made it so.

8. Vettius Bolanus was at that time governor of Britain, and ruled with a
milder sway than was suitable to so turbulent a province. Under his
administration, Agricola, accustomed to obey, and taught to consult
utility as well as glory, tempered his ardor, and restrained his
enterprising spirit. His virtues had soon a larger field for their
display, from the appointment of Petilius Cerealis, [31] a man of consular
dignity, to the government. At first he only shared the fatigues and
dangers of his general; but was presently allowed to partake of his glory.
Cerealis frequently entrusted him with part of his army as a trial of his
abilities; and from the event sometimes enlarged his command. On these
occasions, Agricola was never ostentatious in assuming to himself the
merit of his exploits; but always, as a subordinate officer, gave the
honor of his good fortune to his superior. Thus, by his spirit in
executing orders, and his modesty in reporting his success, he avoided
envy, yet did not fail of acquiring reputation.

9. On his return from commanding the legion he was raised by Vespasian to
the patrician order, and then invested with the government of Aquitania,
[32] a distinguished promotion, both in respect to the office itself, and
the hopes of the consulate to which it destined him. It is a common
supposition that military men, habituated to the unscrupulous and summary
processes of camps, where things are carried with a strong hand, are
deficient in the address and subtlety of genius requisite in civil
jurisdiction. Agricola, however, by his natural prudence, was enabled to
act with facility and precision even among civilians. He distinguished the
hours of business from those of relaxation. When the court or tribunal
demanded his presence, he was grave, intent, awful, yet generally inclined
to lenity. When the duties of his office were over, the man of power was
instantly laid aside. Nothing of sternness, arrogance, or rapaciousness
appeared; and, what was a singular felicity, his affability did not impair
his authority, nor his severity render him less beloved. To mention
integrity and freedom from corruption in such a man, would be an affront
to his virtues. He did not even court reputation, an object to which men
of worth frequently sacrifice, by ostentation or artifice: equally
avoiding competition with, his colleagues, [33] and contention with the
procurators. To overcome in such a contest he thought inglorious; and to
be put down, a disgrace. Somewhat less than three years were spent in this
office, when he was recalled to the immediate prospect of the consulate;
while at the same time a popular opinion prevailed that the government of
Britain would he conferred upon him; an opinion not founded upon any
suggestions of his own, but upon his being thought equal to the station.
Common fame does not always err, sometimes it even directs a choice. When
consul, [34] he contracted his daughter, a lady already of the happiest
promise, to myself, then a very young man; and after his office was
expired I received her in marriage. He was immediately appointed governor
of Britain, and the pontificate [35] was added to his other dignities.

10. The situation and inhabitants of Britain have been described by many
writers; [36] and I shall not add to the number with the view of vying
with them in accuracy and ingenuity, but because it was first thoroughly
subdued in the period of the present history. Those things which, while
yet unascertained, they embellished with their eloquence, shall here be
related with a faithful adherence to known facts. Britain, the largest of
all the islands which have come within the knowledge of the Romans,
stretches on the east towards Germany, on the west towards Spain, [37] and
on the south it is even within sight of Gaul. Its northern extremity has
no opposite land, but is washed by a wide and open sea. Livy, the most
eloquent of ancient, and Fabius Rusticus, of modern writers, have likened
the figure of Britain to an oblong target, or a two-edged axe. [38] And
this is in reality its appearance, exclusive of Caledonia; whence it has
been popularly attributed to the whole island. But that tract of country,
irregularly stretching out to an immense length towards the furthest
shore, is gradually contracted in form of a wedge. [39] The Roman fleet,
at this period first sailing round this remotest coast, gave certain proof
that Britain was an island; and at the same time discovered and subdued
the Orcades, [40] islands till then unknown. Thule [41] was also
distinctly seen, which winter and eternal snow had hitherto concealed. The
sea is reported to be sluggish and laborious to the rower; and even to be
scarcely agitated by winds. The cause of this stagnation I imagine to be
the deficiency of land and mountains where tempests are generated; and the
difficulty with which such a mighty mass of waters, in an uninterrupted
main, is put in motion. [42] It is not the business of this work to
investigate the nature of the ocean and the tides; a subject which many
writers have already undertaken. I shall only add one circumstance: that
the dominion of the sea is nowhere more extensive; that it carries many
currents in this direction and in that; and its ebbings and flowings are
not confined to the shore, but it penetrates into the heart of the
country, and works its way among hills and mountains, as though it were in
its own domain. [43]

11. Who were the first inhabitants of Britain, whether indigenous [44] or
immigrants, is a question involved in the obscurity usual among
barbarians. Their temperament of body is various, whence deductions are
formed of their different origin. Thus, the ruddy hair and large limbs of
the Caledonians [45] point out a German derivation. The swarthy complexion
and curled hair of the Silures, [46] together with their situation
opposite to Spain, render it probable that a colony of the ancient Iberi
[47] possessed themselves of that territory. They who are nearest Gaul
[48] resemble the inhabitants of that country; whether from the duration
of hereditary influence, or whether it be that when lands jut forward in
opposite directions, [49] climate gives the same condition of body to the
inhabitants of both. On a general survey, however, it appears probable
that the Gauls originally took possession of the neighboring coast. The
sacred rites and superstitions [50] of these people are discernible among
the Britons. The languages of the two nations do not greatly differ. The
same audacity in provoking danger, and irresolution in facing it when
present, is observable in both. The Britons, however, display more
ferocity, [51] not being yet softened by a long peace: for it appears from
history that the Gauls were once renowned in war, till, losing their valor
with their liberty, languor and indolence entered amongst them. The same
change has also taken place among those of the Britons who have been long
subdued; [52] but the rest continue such as the Gauls formerly were.

12. Their military strength consists in infantry; some nations also make
use of chariots in war; in the management of which, the most honorable
person guides the reins, while his dependents fight from the chariot. [53]
The Britons were formerly governed by kings, [54] but at present they are
divided in factions and parties among their chiefs; and this want of union
for concerting some general plan is the most favorable circumstance to us,
in our designs against so powerful a people. It is seldom that two or
three communities concur in repelling the common danger; and thus, while
they engage singly, they are all subdued. The sky in this country is
deformed by clouds and frequent rains; but the cold is never extremely
rigorous. [55] The length of the days greatly exceeds that in our part of
the world. [56] The nights are bright, and, at the extremity of the
island, so short, that the close and return of day is scarcely
distinguished by a perceptible interval. It is even asserted that, when
clouds do not intervene, the splendor of the sun is visible during the
whole night, and that it does not appear to rise and set, but to move
across. [57] The cause of this is, that the extreme and flat parts of the
earth, casting a low shadow, do not throw up the darkness, and so night
falls beneath the sky and the stars. [58] The soil, though improper for
the olive, the vine, and other productions of warmer climates, is fertile,
and suitable for corn. Growth is quick, but maturation slow; both from the
same cause, the great humidity of the ground and the atmosphere. [59] The
earth yields gold and silver [60] and other metals, the rewards of
victory. The ocean produces pearls, [61] but of a cloudy and livid hue;
which some impute to unskilfulness in the gatherers; for in the Red Sea
the fish are plucked from the rocks alive and vigorous, but in Britain
they are collected as the sea throws them up. For my own part, I can more
readily conceive that the defect is in the nature of the pearls, than in
our avarice.

13. The Britons cheerfully submit to levies, tributes, and the other
services of government, if they are not treated injuriously; but such
treatment they bear with impatience, their subjection only extending to
obedience, not to servitude. Accordingly Julius Caesar, [62] the first
Roman who entered Britain with an army, although he terrified the
inhabitants by a successful engagement, and became master of the shore,
may be considered rather to have transmitted the discovery than the
possession of the country to posterity. The civil wars soon succeeded; the
arms of the leaders were turned against their country; and a long neglect
of Britain ensued, which continued even after the establishment of peace.
This Augustus attributed to policy; and Tiberius to the injunctions of his
predecessor. [63] It is certain that Caius Caesar [64] meditated an
expedition into Britain; but his temper, precipitate in forming schemes,
and unsteady in pursuing them, together with the ill success of his mighty
attempts against Germany, rendered the design abortive. Claudius [65]
accomplished the undertaking, transporting his legions and auxiliaries,
and associating Vespasian in the direction of affairs, which laid the
foundation of his future fortune. In this expedition, nations were
subdued, kings made captive, and Vespasian was held forth to the fates.

14. Aulus Plautius, the first consular governor, and his successor,
Ostorius Scapula, [66] were both eminent for military abilities. Under
them, the nearest part of Britain was gradually reduced into the form of a
province, and a colony of veterans [67] was settled. Certain districts
were bestowed upon king Cogidunus, a prince who continued in perfect
fidelity within our own memory. This was done agreeably to the ancient and
long established practice of the Romans, to make even kings the
instruments of servitude. Didius Gallus, the next governor, preserved the
acquisitions of his predecessors, and added a very few fortified posts in
the remoter parts, for the reputation of enlarging his province. Veranius
succeeded, but died within the year. Suetonius Paullinus then commanded
with success for two years, subduing various nations, and establishing
garrisons. In the confidence with which this inspired him, he undertook an
expedition against the island Mona, [68] which had furnished the revolters
with supplies; and thereby exposed the settlements behind him to a

15. For the Britons, relieved from present dread by the absence of the
governor, began to hold conferences, in which they painted the miseries of
servitude, compared their several injuries, and inflamed each other with
such representations as these: "That the only effects of their patience
were more grievous impositions upon a people who submitted with such
facility. Formerly they had one king respectively; now two were set over
them, the lieutenant and the procurator, the former of whom vented his
rage upon their life's blood, the latter upon their properties; [69] the
union or discord [70] of these governors was equally fatal to those whom
they ruled, while the officers of the one, and the centurions of the
other, joined in oppressing them by all kinds of violence and contumely;
so that nothing was exempted from their avarice, nothing from their lust.
In battle it was the bravest who took spoils; but those whom _they_
suffered to seize their houses, force away their children, and exact
levies, were, for the most part, the cowardly and effeminate; as if the
only lesson of suffering of which they were ignorant was how to die for
their country. Yet how inconsiderable would the number of invaders appear
did the Britons but compute their own forces! From considerations like
these, Germany had thrown off the yoke, [71] though a river [72] and not
the ocean was its barrier. The welfare of their country, their wives, and
their parents called them to arms, while avarice and luxury alone incited
their enemies; who would withdraw as even the deified Julius had done, if
the present race of Britons would emulate the valor of their ancestors,
and not be dismayed at the event of the first or second engagement.
Superior spirit and perseverence were always the share of the wretched;
and the gods themselves now seemed to compassionate the Britons, by
ordaining the absence of the general, and the detention of his army in
another island. The most difficult point, assembling for the purpose of
deliberation, was already accomplished; and there was always more danger
from the discovery of designs like these, than from their execution."

16. Instigated by such suggestions, they unanimously rose in arms, led by
Boadicea, [73] a woman of royal descent (for they make no distinction
between the sexes in succession to the throne), and attacking the soldiers
dispersed through the garrisons, stormed the fortified posts, and invaded
the colony [74] itself, as the seat of slavery. They omitted no species of
cruelty with which rage and victory could inspire barbarians; and had not
Paullinus, on being acquainted with the commotion of the province, marched
speedily to its relief, Britain would have been lost. The fortune of a
single battle, however, reduced it to its former subjection; though many
still remained in arms, whom the consciousness of revolt, and particular
dread of the governor, had driven to despair. Paullinus, although
otherwise exemplary in his administration, having treated those who
surrendered with severity, and having pursued too rigorous measures, as
one who was revenging his own personal injury also, Petronius Turpilianus
[75] was sent in his stead, as a person more inclined to lenity, and one
who, being unacquainted with the enemy's delinquency, could more easily
accept their penitence. After having restored things to their former quiet
state, he delivered the command to Trebellius Maximus. [76] Trebellius,
indolent, and inexperienced in military affairs, maintained the
tranquillity of the province by popular manners; for even the barbarians
had now learned to pardon under the seductive influence of vices; and the
intervention of the civil wars afforded a legitimate excuse for his
inactivity. Sedition however infected the soldiers, who, instead of their
usual military services, were rioting in idleness. Trebellius, after
escaping the fury of his army by flight and concealment, dishonored and
abased, regained a precarious authority; and a kind of tacit compact took
place, of safety to the general, and licentiousness to the army. This
mutiny was not attended with bloodshed. Vettius Bolanus, [77] succeeding
during the continuance of the civil wars, was unable to introduce
discipline into Britain. The same inaction towards the enemy, and the same
insolence in the camp, continued; except that Bolanus, unblemished in his
character, and not obnoxious by any crime, in some measure substituted
affection in the place of authority.

17. At length, when Vespasian received the possession of Britain together
with the rest of the world, the great commanders and well-appointed armies
which were sent over abated the confidence of the enemy; and Petilius
Cerealis struck terror by an attack upon the Brigantes, [78] who are
reputed to compose the most populous state in the whole province. Many
battles were fought, some of them attended with much bloodshed; and the
greater part of the Brigantes were either brought into subjection, or
involved in the ravages of war. The conduct and reputation of Cerealis
were so brilliant that they might have eclipsed the splendor of a
successor; yet Julius Frontinus, [79] a truly great man, supported the
arduous competition, as far as circumstances would permit. [80] He subdued
the strong and warlike nation of the Silures, [81] in which expedition,
besides the valor of the enemy, he had the difficulties of the country to
struggle with.

18. Such was the state of Britain, and such had been the vicissitudes of
warfare, when Agricola arrived in the middle of summer; [82] at a time
when the Roman soldiers, supposing the expeditions of the year were
concluded, were thinking of enjoying themselves without care, and the
natives, of seizing the opportunity thus afforded them. Not long before
his arrival, the Ordovices [83] had cut off almost an entire corps of
cavalry stationed on their frontiers; and the inhabitants of the province
being thrown into a state of anxious suspense by this beginning, inasmuch
as war was what they wished for, either approved of the example, or waited
to discover the disposition of the new governor. [84] The season was now
far advanced, the troops dispersed through the country, and possessed with
the idea of being suffered to remain inactive during the rest of the year;
circumstances which tended to retard and discourage any military
enterprise; so that it was generally thought most advisable to be
contented with defending the suspected posts: yet Agricola determined to
march out and meet the approaching danger. For this purpose, he drew
together the detachments from the legions, [85] and a small body of
auxiliaries; and when he perceived that the Ordovices would not venture to
descend into the plain, he led an advanced party in person to the attack,
in order to inspire the rest of his troops with equal ardor. The result of
the action was almost the total extirpation of the Ordovices; when
Agricola, sensible that renown must be followed up, and that the future
events of the war would be determined by the first success, resolved to
make an attempt upon the island Mona, from the occupation of which
Paullinus had been summoned by the general rebellion of Britain, as before
related. [86] The usual deficiency of an unforeseen expedition appearing
in the want of transport vessels, the ability and resolution of the
general were exerted to supply this defect. A select body of auxiliaries,
disencumbered of their baggage, who were well acquainted with the fords,
and accustomed, after the manner of their country, to direct their horses
and manage their arms while swimming, [87] were ordered suddenly to plunge
into the channel; by which movement, the enemy, who expected the arrival
of a fleet, and a formal invasion by sea, were struck with terror and
astonishment, conceiving nothing arduous or insuperable to troops who thus
advanced to the attack. They were therefore induced to sue for peace, and
make a surrender of the island; an event which threw lustre on the name of
Agricola, who, on the very entrance upon his province, had employed in
toils and dangers that time which is usually devoted to ostentatious
parade, and the compliments of office. Nor was he tempted, in the pride of
success, to term that an expedition or a victory; which was only bridling
the vanquished; nor even to announce his success in laureate despatches.
[88] But this concealment of his glory served to augment it; since men
were led to entertain a high idea of the grandeur of his future views,
when such important services were passed over in silence.

19. Well acquainted with the temper of the province, and taught by the
experience of former governors how little proficiency had been made by
arms, when success was followed by injuries, he next undertook to
eradicate the causes of war. And beginning with himself, and those next to
him, he first laid restrictions upon his own household, a task no less
arduous to most governors than the administration of the province. He
suffered no public business to pass through the hands of his slaves or
freedmen. In admitting soldiers into regular service, [89] to attendance
about his person, he was not influenced by private favor, or the
recommendation or solicitation of the centurions, but considered the best
men as likely to prove the most faithful. He would know everything; but
was content to let some things pass unnoticed. [90] He could pardon small
faults, and use severity to great ones; yet did not always punish, but was
frequently satisfied with penitence. He chose rather to confer offices and
employments upon such as would not offend, than to condemn those who had
offended. The augmentation [91] of tributes and contributions he mitigated
by a just and equal assessment, abolishing those private exactions which
were more grievous to be borne than the taxes themselves. For the
inhabitants had been compelled in mockery to sit by their own locked-up
granaries, to buy corn needlessly, and to sell it again at a stated price.
Long and difficult journeys had also been imposed upon them; for the
several districts, instead of being allowed to supply the nearest winter
quarters, were forced to carry their corn to remote and devious places; by
which means, what was easy to be procured by all, was converted into an
article of gain to a few.

20. By suppressing these abuses in the first year of his administration,
he established a favorable idea of peace, which, through the negligence or
oppression of his predecessors, had been no less dreaded than war. At the
return of summer [92] he assembled his army. On their march, he commended
the regular and orderly, and restrained the stragglers; he marked out the
encampments, [93] and explored in person the estuaries and forests. At the
same time he perpetually harassed the enemy by sudden incursions; and,
after sufficiently alarming them, by an interval of forbearance, he held
to their view the allurements of peace. By this management, many states,
which till that time had asserted their independence, were now induced to
lay aside their animosity, and to deliver hostages. These districts were
surrounded with castles and forts, disposed with so much attention and
judgment, that no part of Britain, hitherto new to the Roman arms, escaped

21. The succeeding winter was employed in the most salutary measures. In
order, by a taste of pleasures, to reclaim the natives from that rude and
unsettled state which prompted them to war, and reconcile them to quiet
and tranquillity, he incited them, by private instigations and public
encouragements, to erect temples, courts of justice, and dwelling-houses.
He bestowed commendations upon those who were prompt in complying with his
intentions, and reprimanded such as were dilatory; thus promoting a spirit
of emulation which had all the force of necessity. He was also attentive
to provide a liberal education for the sons of their chieftains,
preferring the natural genius of the Britons to the attainments of the
Gauls; and his attempts were attended with such success, that they who
lately disdained to make use of the Roman language, were now ambitious of
becoming eloquent. Hence the Roman habit began to be held in honor, and
the toga was frequently worn. At length they gradually deviated into a
taste for those luxuries which stimulate to vice; porticos, and baths, and
the elegancies of the table; and this, from their inexperience, they
termed politeness, whilst, in reality, it constituted a part of their

22. The military expeditions of the third year [94] discovered new nations
to the Romans, and their ravages extended as far as the estuary of the
Tay. [95] The enemies were thereby struck with such terror that they did
not venture to molest the army though harassed by violent tempests; so
that they had sufficient opportunity for the erection of fortresses. [96]
Persons of experience remarked, that no general had ever shown greater
skill in the choice of advantageous situations than Agricola; for not one
of his fortified posts was either taken by storm, or surrendered by
capitulation. The garrisons made frequent sallies; for they were secured
against a blockade by a year's provision in their stores. Thus the winter
passed without alarm, and each garrison proved sufficient for its own
defence; while the enemy, who were generally accustomed to repair the
losses of the summer by the successes of the winter, now equally
unfortunate in both seasons, were baffled and driven to despair. In these
transactions, Agricola never attempted to arrogate to himself the glory of
others; but always bore an impartial testimony to the meritorious actions
of his officers, from the centurion to the commander of a legion. He was
represented by some as rather harsh in reproof; as if the same disposition
which made him affable to the deserving, had inclined him to austerity
towards the worthless. But his anger left no relics behind; his silence
and reserve were not to be dreaded; and he esteemed it more honorable to
show marks of open displeasure, than to entertain secret hatred.

23. The fourth summer [97] was spent in securing the country which had
been overrun; and if the valor of the army and the glory of the Roman name
had permitted it, our conquests would have found a limit within Britain
itself. For the tides of the opposite seas, flowing very far up the
estuaries of Clota and Bodotria, [98] almost intersect the country;
leaving only a narrow neck of land, which was then defended by a chain of
forts. [99] Thus all the territory on this side was held in subjection,
and the remaining enemies were removed, as it were, into another island.

24. In the fifth campaign, [100] Agricola, crossing over in the first
ship, [101] subdued, by frequent and successful engagements, several
nations till then unknown; and stationed troops in that part of Britain
which is opposite to Ireland, rather with a view to future advantage, than
from any apprehension of danger from that quarter. For the possession of
Ireland, situated between Britain and Spain, and lying commodiously to the
Gallic sea, [102] would have formed a very beneficial connection between
the most powerful parts of the empire. This island is less than Britain,
but larger than those of our sea. [103] Its soil, climate, and the manners
and dispositions of its inhabitants, are little different from those of
Britain. Its ports and harbors are better known, from the concourse of
merchants for the purposes of commerce. Agricola had received into his
protection one of its petty kings, who had been expelled by a domestic
sedition; and detained him, under the semblance of friendship, till an
occasion should offer of making use of him. I have frequently heard him
assert, that a single legion and a few auxiliaries would be sufficient
entirely to conquer Ireland and keep it in subjection; and that such an
event would also have contributed to restrain the Britons, by awing them
with the prospect of the Roman arms all around them, and, as it were,
banishing liberty from their sight.

25. In the summer which began the sixth year [104] of Agricola's
administration, extending his views to the countries situated beyond
Bodotria, [105] as a general insurrection of the remoter nations was
apprehended, and the enemy's army rendered marching unsafe, he caused the
harbors to be explored by his fleet, which, now first acting in aid of the
land-forces gave the formidable spectacle of war at once pushed on by sea
and land. The cavalry, infantry, and marines were frequently mingled in
the same camp, and recounted with mutual pleasure their several exploits
and adventures; comparing, in the boastful language of military men, the
dark recesses of woods and mountains, with the horrors of waves and
tempests; and the land and enemy subdued, with the conquered ocean. It was
also discovered from the captives, that the Britons had been struck with
consternation at the view of the fleet, conceiving the last refuge of the
vanquished to be cut off, now the secret retreats of their seas were
disclosed. The various inhabitants of Caledonia immediately took up arms,
with great preparations, magnified, however, by report, as usual where the
truth is unknown; and by beginning hostilities, and attacking our
fortresses, they inspired terror as daring to act offensively; insomuch
that some persons, disguising their timidity under the mask of prudence,
were for instantly retreating on this side the firth, and relinquishing
the country rather than waiting to be driven out. Agricola, in the
meantime, being informed that the enemy intended to bear down in several
bodies, distributed his army into three divisions, that his inferiority of
numbers, and ignorance of the country, might not give them an opportunity
of surrounding him.

26. When this was known to the enemy, they suddenly changed their design;
and making a general attack in the night upon the ninth legion, which was
the weakest, [106] in the confusion of sleep and consternation they
slaughtered the sentinels, and burst through the intrenchments. They were
now fighting within the camp, when Agricola, who had received information
of their march from his scouts, and followed close upon their track, gave
orders for the swiftest of his horse and foot to charge the enemy's rear.
Presently the whole army raised a general shout; and the standards now
glittered at the approach of day. The Britons were distracted by opposite
dangers; whilst the Romans in the camp resumed their courage, and secure
of safety, began to contend for glory. They now in their turns rushed
forwards to the attack, and a furious engagement ensued in the gates of
the camp; till by the emulous efforts of both Roman armies, one to give
assistance, the other to appear not to need it, the enemy was routed: and
had not the woods and marshes sheltered the fugitives, that day would have
terminated the war.

27. The soldiers, inspirited by the steadfastness which characterized and
the fame which attended this victory, cried out that "nothing could resist
their valor; now was the time to penetrate into the heart of Caledonia,
and in a continued series of engagements at length to discover the utmost
limits of Britain." Those even who had before recommended caution and
prudence, were now rendered rash and boastful by success. It is the hard
condition of military command, that a share in prosperous events is
claimed by all, but misfortunes are imputed to one alone. The Britons
meantime, attributing their defeat not to the superior bravery of their
adversaries, but to chance, and the skill of the general, remitted nothing
of their confidence; but proceeded to arm their youth, to send their wives
and children to places of safety, and to ratify the confederacy of their
several states by solemn assemblies and sacrifices. Thus the parties
separated with minds mutually irritated.

28. During the same summer, a cohort of Usipii, [107] which had been
levied in Germany, and sent over into Britain, performed an extremely
daring and memorable action. After murdering a centurion and some soldiers
who had been incorporated with them for the purpose of instructing them in
military discipline, they seized upon three light vessels, and compelled
the masters to go on board with them. One of these, however, escaping to
shore, they killed the other two upon suspicion; and before the affair was
publicly known, they sailed away, as it were by miracle. They were
presently driven at the mercy of the waves; and had frequent conflicts,
with various success, with the Britons, defending their property from
plunder. [108] At length they were reduced to such extremity of distress
as to be obliged to feed upon each other; the weakest being first
sacrificed, and then such as were taken by lot. In this manner having
sailed round the island, they lost their ships through want of skill; and,
being regarded as pirates, were intercepted, first by the Suevi, then by
the Frisii. Some of them, after being sold for slaves, by the change of
masters were brought to the Roman side of the river, [109] and became
notorious from the relation of their extraordinary adventures. [110]

29. In the beginning of the next summer, [111] Agricola received a severe
domestic wound in the loss of a son, about a year old. He bore this
calamity, not with the ostentatious firmness which many have affected, nor
yet with the tears and lamentations of feminine sorrow; and war was one of
the remedies of his grief. Having sent forwards his fleet to spread its
ravages through various parts of the coast, in order to excite an
extensive and dubious alarm, he marched with an army equipped for
expedition, to which he had joined the bravest of the Britons whose
fidelity had been approved by a long allegiance, and arrived at the
Grampian hills, where the enemy was already encamped. [112] For the
Britons, undismayed by the event of the former action, expecting revenge
or slavery, and at length taught that the common danger was to be repelled
by union alone, had assembled the strength of all their tribes by
embassies and confederacies. Upwards of thirty thousand men in arms were
now descried; and the youth, together with those of a hale and vigorous
age, renowned in war, and bearing their several honorary decorations, were
still flocking in; when Calgacus, [113] the most distinguished for birth
and valor among the chieftans, is said to have harangued the multitude,
gathering round, and eager for battle, after the following manner:--

30. "When I reflect on the causes of the war, and the circumstances of our
situation, I feel a strong persuasion that our united efforts on the
present day will prove the beginning of universal liberty to Britain. For
we are all undebased by slavery; and there is no land behind us, nor does
even the sea afford a refuge, whilst the Roman fleet hovers around. Thus
the use of arms, which is at all times honorable to the brave, now offers
the only safety even to cowards. In all the battles which have yet been
fought, with various success, against the Romans, our countrymen may be
deemed to have reposed their final hopes and resources in us: for we, the
noblest sons of Britain, and therefore stationed in its last recesses, far
from the view of servile shores, have preserved even our eyes unpolluted
by the contact of subjection. We, at the furthest limits both of land and
liberty, have been defended to this day by the remoteness of our situation
and of our fame. The extremity of Britain is now disclosed; and whatever
is unknown becomes an object of magnitude. But there is no nation beyond
us; nothing but waves and rocks, and the still more hostile Romans, whose
arrogance we cannot escape by obsequiousness and submission. These
plunderers of the world, after exhausting the land by their devastations,
are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by
ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people
who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to
slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they
make a desert, they call it peace. [114]

31. "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. [115] 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. [116] 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 unsubmitting 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. Since then all Lopes of mercy are vain, at length assume
courage, both you to whom safety and you to whom glory is dear. The
Trinobantes, 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 defence?

32. "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."

33. They received this harangue with alacrity, and testified their
applause after the barbarian 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
intrenchments, kindled additional ardor by these words:--

"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
conquering Britain. 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.

34. "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 [118]
with one great day; and convince your country-men, that to the army ought
not to be imputed either the protraction of war, or the causes of

35. Whilst 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. Thus eager and impetuous, he
formed them so that the centre was occupied by the auxiliary infantry, in
number eight thousand, and three thousand horse were spread in the wings.
The legions were stationed in the rear, before the intrenchments; a
disposition which would render the victory signally glorious, if it were
obtained without the expense of Roman blood; and would ensure support if
the rest of the army were repulsed. The British troops, for the greater
display of their numbers, and more formidable appearance, were ranged upon
the rising grounds, so that the first line stood upon the plain, the rest,
as if linked together, rose above one another upon the ascent. The
charioteers [119] and horsemen filled the middle of the field with their
tumult and careering. Then Agricola, fearing from the superior number of
the enemy lest he should be obliged to fight as well on his flanks as in
front, extended his ranks; and although this rendered his line of battle
less firm, and several of his officers advised him to bring up the
legions, yet, filled with hope, and resolute in danger, he dismissed his
horse and took his station on foot before the colors.

36. At first the action was carried on at a distance. The Britons, armed
with long swords and short targets, [120] with steadiness and dexterity
avoided or struck down our missile weapons, and at the same time poured in
a torrent of their own. Agricola then encouraged three Batavian and two
Tungrian [121] cohorts to fall in and come to close quarters; a method of
fighting familiar to these veteran soldiers, but embarrassing to the enemy
from the nature of their armor; for the enormous British swords, blunt at
the point, are unfit for close grappling, and engaging in a confined
space. When the Batavians; therefore, began to redouble their blows, to
strike with the bosses of their shields, and mangle the faces of the
enemy; and, bearing down all those who resisted them on the plain, were
advancing their lines up the ascent; the other cohorts, fired with ardor
and emulation, joined in the charge, and overthrew all who came in their
way: and so great was their impetuosity in the pursuit of victory, that
they left many of their foes half dead or unhurt behind them. In the
meantime the troops of cavalry took to flight, and the armed chariots
mingled in the engagement of the infantry; but although their first shock
occasioned some consternation, they were soon entangled among the close
ranks of the cohorts, and the inequalities of the ground. Not the least
appearance was left of an engagement of cavalry; since the men, long
keeping their ground with difficulty, were forced along with the bodies of
the horses; and frequently, straggling chariots, and affrighted horses
without their riders, flying variously as terror impelled them, rushed
obliquely athwart or directly through the lines. [122]

37. Those of the Britons who, yet disengaged from the fight, sat on the
summits of the hills, and looked with careless contempt on the smallness
of our numbers, now began gradually to descend; and would have fallen on
the rear of the conquering troops, had not Agricola, apprehending this
very event, opposed four reserved squadron of horse to their attack,
which, the more furiously they had advanced, drove them back with the
greater celerity. Their project was thus turned against themselves; and
the squadrons were ordered to wheel from the front of the battle and fall
upon the enemy's rear. A striking and hideous spectacle now appeared on
the plain: some pursuing; some striking: some making prisoners, whom they
slaughtered as others came in their way. Now, as their several
dispositions prompted, crowds of armed Britons fled before inferior
numbers, or a few, even unarmed, rushed upon their foes, and offered
themselves to a voluntary death. Arms, and carcasses, and mangled limbs,
were promiscuously strewed, and the field was dyed in blood. Even among
the vanquished were seen instances of rage and valor. When the fugitives
approached the woods, they collected, and surrounded the foremost of the
pursuers, advancing incautiously, and unacquainted with the country; and
had not Agricola, who was everywhere present, caused some strong and
lightly-equipped cohorts to encompass the ground, while part of the
cavalry dismounted made way through the thickets, and part on horseback
scoured the open woods, some disaster would have proceeded from the excess
of confidence. But when the enemy saw their pursuers again formed in
compact order, they renewed their flight, not in bodies as before, or
waiting for their companions, but scattered and mutually avoiding each
other; and thus took their way to the most distant and devious retreats.
Night and satiety of slaughter put an end to the pursuit. Of the enemy ten
thousand were slain: on our part three hundred and sixty fell; among whom
was Aulus Atticus, the praefect of a cohort, who, by his juvenile ardor,
and the fire of his horse, was borne into the midst of the enemy.

38. Success and plunder contributed to render the night joyful to the
victors; whilst the Britons, wandering and forlorn, amid the promiscuous
lamentations of men and women, were dragging along the wounded; calling
out to the unhurt; abandoning their habitations, and in the rage of
despair setting them on fire; choosing places of concealment, and then
deserting them; consulting together, and then separating. Sometimes, on
beholding the dear pledges of kindred and affection, they were melted into
tenderness, or more frequently roused into fury; insomuch that several,
according to authentic information, instigated by a savage compassion,
laid violent hands upon their own wives and children. On the succeeding
day, a vast silence all around, desolate hills, the distant smoke of
burning houses, and not a living soul descried by the scouts, displayed
more amply the face of victory. After parties had been detached to all
quarters without discovering any certain tracks of the enemy's flight, or
any bodies of them still in arms, as the lateness of the season rendered
it impracticable to spread the war through the country, Agricola led his
army to the confines of the Horesti. [123] Having received hostages from
this people, he ordered the commander of the fleet to sail round the
island; for which expedition he was furnished with sufficient force, and
preceded by the terror of the Roman name. Pie himself then led back the
cavalry and infantry, marching slowly, that he might impress a deeper awe
on the newly conquered nations; and at length distributed his troops into
their winter-quarters. The fleet, about the same time, with prosperous
gales and renown, entered the Trutulensian [124] harbor, whence, coasting
all the hither shore of Britain, it returned entire to its former station.

39. The account of these transactions, although unadorned with the pomp of
words in the letters of Agricola, was received by Domitian, as was
customary with that prince, with outward expressions of joy, but inward
anxiety. He was conscious that his late mock-triumph over Germany, [126]
in which he had exhibited purchased slaves, whose habits and hair [127]
were contrived to give them the resemblance of captives, was a subject of
derision; whereas here, a real and important victory, in which so many
thousands of the enemy were slain, was celebrated with universal applause.
His greatest dread was that the name of a private man should be exalted
above that of the prince. In vain had he silenced the eloquence of the
forum, and cast a shade upon all civil honors, if military glory were
still in possession of another. Other accomplishments might more easily be
connived at, but the talents of a great general were truly imperial.
Tortured with such anxious thoughts, and brooding over them in secret,
[128] a certain indication of some malignant intention, be judged it most
prudent for the present to suspend his rancor, tilt the first burst of
glory and the affections of the army should remit: for Agricola still
possessed the command in Britain.

40. He therefore caused the senate to decree him triumphal ornaments,
[129]--a statue crowned with laurel, and all the other honors which are
substituted for a real triumph, together with a profusion of complimentary
expressions; and also directed an expectation to be raised that the
province of Syria, vacant by the death of Atilius Rufus, a consular man,
and usually reserved for persons of the greatest distinction, was designed
for Agricola. It was commonly believed that one of the freedmen, who were
employed in confidential services, was despatched with the instrument
appointing Agricola to the government of Syria, with orders to deliver it
if he should be still in Britain; but that this messenger, meeting
Agricola in the straits, [130] returned directly to Domitian without so

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