Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.
which doubtless found a sale amongst the virtuosi of Rome, as like products of savage industry from Africa or Polynesia find a sale amongst our virtuosi nowadays.  Meanwhile, Roman dignity was saved by considering these duties to be in lieu of the unpaid tribute imposed by Caesar, and the island was declared by courtly writers to be already in practical subjection.  “Some of the chiefs [Greek:  dunastai] have gained the friendship of Augustus, and dedicated offerings in the Capitol....  The island would not be worth holding, and could never pay the expenses of a garrison."[121]

A. 7.—­At the same time the Romans of the day evidently took a very special interest in everything connected with Britain.  The leaders of Roman society, like Maecenas, drove about in British chariots,[122] smart ladies dyed their hair red in imitation of British warriors,[123] tapestry inwoven with British figures was all the fashion,[124] and constant hopes were expressed by the poets that, before long, so interesting a land might be finally incorporated in the Roman Empire.[125]

A. 8.—­Augustus was too prudent to be stirred up by this “forward” policy; which, indeed, he had sanctioned once too often in the fatal invasion of Germany by Varus.  But the diseased brain of Caligula was for a moment fired with the ambition of so vast an enterprise.  He professed that the fugitive Adminius had ceded to him the kingship of the whole island, and sent home high-flown dispatches to that effect.  He had no fleet, but drew up his army in line of battle on the Gallic shore, while all wondered what mad freak he was purposing; then suddenly bade every man fill his helmet with shells as “spoils of the Ocean” to be dedicated in the Capitol.  Finally he commemorated this glorious victory by the erection of a lofty lighthouse,[126] probably at the entrance of Boulogne harbour.

A. 9.—­It was clear, however, that sooner or later Britain must be drawn into the great system so near her, and the next reign furnished the needful occasion.  Yet another exiled British pretender appealed to the Emperor to see him righted—­this time one Vericus.  His name suggests that he may have been Verica son of Commius; but the theory of Professor Rhys and Sir John Evans seems more probable—­that he was a Prince of the Iceni.  The earliest name found on the coins of that clan is Addeomarus (Aedd Mawr, or Eth the Great, of British legend), who was contemporary with Tasciovan.  After this the tribe probably became subject to Cymbeline, at whose death[127] the chieftainship seems to have been disputed between two pretenders, Vericus and Antedrigus; and on the success of the latter (presumably by Cateuchlanian favour) the former fled to Rome.  Claudius, who now sat on the Imperial throne, eagerly seized the opportunity for the renown he was always coveting, and in A.D. 44 set in motion the forces of the Empire to subdue our island.


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Early Britain—Roman Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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