Early Britain—Roman Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Early Britain—Roman Britain.

Here we have ten very rough trochaic lines: 

Imminet Leoni Virgo caelesti situ Spicifera, justi inventrix, urbium conditrix; Ex quis muneribus nosse contigit Deos.  Ergo eadem Mater Divum, Pax, Virtus, Ceres, Dea Syria, lance vitam et jura pensitans.  In caelo visum Syria sidus edidit Libyae colendum:  inde cuncti didicimus.  Ita intellexit, numine inductus tuo, Marcus Caecilius Donatianus, militans Tribunus in Praefecto, dono Principis.

This may be thus rendered: 

O’er the Lion hangs the Virgin, in her place in heaven, With her corn-ear;—­justice-finder, city-foundress, she:  And in them that do such office Gods may still be known.  She, then, is the Gods’ own Mother, Peace, Strength, Ceres, all; Syria’s Goddess, in her Balance weighing life and Law.  Syria sent this Constellation shining in her sky Forth for Libya’s worship:—­thence we all have learnt the lore.  Thus hath come to understanding, by the Godhead led, Marcus Caecilius Donatianus Serving now as Tribune-Prefect, by the Prince’s grace.

F. 8.—­These obscure lines Dr. Hodgkin refers to Julia Domna, the wife of Severus, the one Emperor that Africa gave to the Roman world.  He was an able astrologer, and from early youth considered himself destined by his horoscope for the throne.  He was thus guided by astrological considerations to take for his second wife a Syrian virgin, whose nativity he found to forecast queenship.  As his Empress she shared in the aureole of divinity which rested upon all members of the Imperial family.  This theory explains the references in the inscription to the constellation Virgo, with its chief star Spica, having Leo on the one hand and Libra on the other, also to the Syrian origin of Julia and her connection with Libya, the home of Severus.  It may be added that Dr. Hodgkin’s view is confirmed by the fact that this Empress figures, on coins found in Britain, as the Mother of the Gods, and also as Ceres.  The first line may possibly have special reference to her influence in Britain during the reign of Severus and her stepson[299] Caracalla (who was also her second husband), Leo being a noted astrological sign of Britain.[300] The inscription was evidently put up in recognition of promotion gained by her favour, though the exact interpretation of Tribunus in praefecto requires a greater knowledge of Roman military nomenclature than we possess.  Dr. Hodgkin’s “Tribune instead of Prefect” seems scarcely admissible grammatically.

F. 9.—­Another inscription which may be mentioned is that referred to by Tennyson in ‘Gareth and Lynette’ (l. 172), which

  “the vexillary
  Hath left crag-carven over the streaming Gelt."[301]

This is one of the many such records in the quarries south of the Wall telling of the labours of the fatigue-parties sent out by Severus to hew stones for his mighty work, and cut on rocks overhanging the river.  It sets forth how a vexillatio[302] of the Second Legion was here engaged, under a lieutenant [optio] named Agricola, in the consulship of Aper and Maximus (A.D. 207);[303] perhaps as a guard over the actual workers, who were probably a corvee of impressed natives.

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