Agricola and Roman Britain

By Andrew Robert Burn | Go to book overview

Chapter Eleven
Winter in the North

BY the time Agricola heard the news this time, the army must have been moving towards its winter quarters. Its main force, indeed, had probably never been concentrated, since there had been no major advance this year. In the circumstances, the business of swearing-in and securing the acclamation of the troops, especially the citizen legions, would have to be done through the legion-commanders. The governor himself could take the place of honour this time in loyal ceremonies at some of the chief civil centres: the ex-soldier colony of Colchester, tribal capitals like Verulam, and trading centres like the great sprawling settlement of London, whose corporate status at this time is uncertain.

At the earliest opportunity, too, he would naturally draft another suitably complimentary message of enthusiasm, loyalty and condolence on the death of his brother to the young emperor: Generalissimo Cæsar Domitianus Augustus. His feelings about the change, like those of most senators, must have been mixed. Domitian's chief hour of glory hitherto had been in the winter of 69-70, during the revolution, while his father and elder brother were still in the east; and he had shown such eagerness in grasping at power on that occasion that old Vespasian, reading, at Alexandria, a long list of new appointments, said dryly: "I'm surprised that he hasn't superseded me so far." At the same time, Agricola's most personal interest just then must have been in the question whether, from the new Chief, he could obtain an extension of his command and permission to cross the Forth and complete the conquest of Britain.

While correspondence on this subject between Agricola

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