G. 7.—After a short wait, in vain expectation of the sixty ships which Labienus had built in Gaul and which could not beat across the Channel, Caesar crowded his troops and the hordes of British captives on board as best he could, and being favoured by the weather, found himself and them safe across, having worked out his great purpose, and leaving a nominally conquered and tributary Britain behind him. This, as we have seen from Cicero’s letter, was on September 26, B.C. 54.
G. 8.—We have seen, too, that Cicero’s cue was to belittle the business. But this was far from being the view taken by the Roman “in the street.” To him Caesar’s exploit was like those of the gods and heroes of old; Hercules and Bacchus had done less, for neither had passed the Ocean. The popular feeling of exultation in this new glory added to Roman fame may be summed up in the words of the Anthologist already quoted:
Libera non hostem, non passa Britannia regem, Aeternum nostro quae procul orbe jacet; Felix adversis, et sorte oppressa secunda, Communis nobis et tibi Caesar erit. ["Free Britain, neither foe nor king that bears, That from our world lies far and far away, Lucky to lose, crushed by a happy doom, Henceforth, O Caesar, ours—and yours—will be.”]
G. 9.—Caesar never set foot in Britain again, though he once saved himself from imminent destruction by utilizing his British experiences and passing his troops over a river in coracles of British build. He went his way to the desperate fighting, first of the great Gallic revolt, then of the Civil War (with his own Labienus for the most ferocious of his opponents), till he found himself the undisputed master of the Roman world. But when he fell, upon the Ides of March B.C. 44, it was mainly through the superhuman reputation won by his invasion of Britain that he received the hitherto unheard of distinction of a popular apotheosis, and handed down to his successors for many a generation the title not only of Caesar, but of “Divus.”
THE ROMAN CONQUEST, B.C. 54—A.D. 85
Britain after Julius Caesar—House of Commius—Inscribed coins—House of Cymbeline—Tasciovan—Commians overthrown—Vain appeal to Augustus—Ancyran Tablet—Romano-British trade—Lead-mining—British fashions in Rome—Adminius banished by Cymbeline—Appeal to Caligula—Futile demonstration—Icenian civil war—Vericus banished—Appeal to Claudius—Invasion prepared.
A. 1.—With the departure of Caesar from its shores our knowledge of the affairs of Britain becomes only less fragmentary than before he reached them. We do not even learn how far the tribute he had imposed continued to be paid. Most probably during the confusion of the Gallic revolt and the Civil Wars it ceased altogether. In that confusion Commius finally lost his continental principality of