Meanwhile, in Britain, Publius Ostorius, the propraetor, found himself
confronted by disturbance. The enemy had burst into the territories
of our allies with all the more fury, as they imagined that a new
general would not march against them with winter beginning and with
an army of which he knew nothing. Ostorius, well aware that first
events are those which produce alarm or confidence, by a rapid movement
of his light cohorts, cut down all who opposed him, pursued those
who fled, and lest they should rally, and so an unquiet and treacherous
peace might allow no rest to the general and his troops, he prepared
to disarm all whom he suspected, and to occupy with encampments the
whole country to the Avon and Severn. The Iceni, a powerful tribe,
which war had not weakened, as they had voluntarily joined our alliance,
were the first to resist. At their instigation the surrounding nations
chose as a battlefield a spot walled in by a rude barrier, with a
narrow approach, impenetrable to cavalry. Through these defences the
Roman general, though he had with him only the allied troops, without
the strength of the legions, attempted to break, and having assigned
their positions to his cohorts, he equipped even his cavalry for the
work of infantry. Then at a given signal they forced the barrier,
routing the enemy who were entangled in their own defences. The rebels,
conscious of their guilt, and finding escape barred, performed many
noble feats. In this battle, Marius Ostorius, the general’s son, won
the reward for saving a citizen’s life.

The defeat of the Iceni quieted those who were hesitating between
war and peace. Then the army was marched against the Cangi; their
territory was ravaged, spoil taken everywhere without the enemy venturing
on an engagement, or if they attempted to harass our march by stealthy
attacks, their cunning was always punished. And now Ostorius had advanced
within a little distance of the sea, facing the island Hibernia, when
feuds broke out among the Brigantes and compelled the general’s return,
for it was his fixed purpose not to undertake any fresh enterprise
till he had consolidated his previous successes. The Brigantes indeed,
when a few who were beginning hostilities had been slain and the rest
pardoned, settled down quietly; but on the Silures neither terror
nor mercy had the least effect; they persisted in war and could be
quelled only by legions encamped in their country. That this might
be the more promptly effected, a colony of a strong body of veterans
was established at Camulodunum on the conquered lands, as a defence
against the rebels, and as a means of imbuing the allies with respect
for our laws.

The army then marched against the Silures, a naturally fierce people
and now full of confidence in the might of Caractacus, who by many
an indecisive and many a successful battle had raised himself far
above all the other generals of the Britons. Inferior in military
strength, but deriving an advantage from the deceptiveness of the
country, he at once shifted the war by a stratagem into the territory
of the Ordovices, where, joined by all who dreaded peace with us,
he resolved on a final struggle. He selected a position for the engagement
in which advance and retreat alike would be difficult for our men
and comparatively easy for his own, and then on some lofty hills,
wherever their sides could be approached by a gentle slope, he piled
up stones to serve as a rampart. A river too of varying depth was
in his front, and his armed bands were drawn up before his defences.

Then too the chieftains of the several tribes went from rank to rank,
encouraging and confirming the spirit of their men by making light
of their fears, kindling their hopes, and by every other warlike incitement.
As for Caractacus, he flew hither and thither, protesting that that
day and that battle would be the beginning of the recovery of their
freedom, or of everlasting bondage. He appealed, by name, to their
forefathers who had driven back the dictator Caesar, by whose valour
they were free from the Roman axe and tribute, and still preserved
inviolate the persons of their wives and of their children. While
he was thus speaking, the host shouted applause; every warrior bound
himself by his national oath not to shrink from weapons or wounds.

Such enthusiasm confounded the Roman general. The river too in his
face, the rampart they had added to it, the frowning hilltops, the
stern resistance and masses of fighting men everywhere apparent, daunted
him. But his soldiers insisted on battle, exclaiming that valour could
overcome all things; and the prefects and tribunes, with similar language,
stimulated the ardour of the troops. Ostorius having ascertained by
a survey the inaccessible and the assailable points of the position,
led on his furious men, and crossed the river without difficulty.
When he reached the barrier, as long as it was a fight with missiles,
the wounds and the slaughter fell chiefly on our soldiers; but when
he had formed the military testudo, and the rude, ill-compacted fence
of stones was torn down, and it was an equal hand-to-hand engagement,
the barbarians retired to the heights. Yet even there, both light
and heavy-armed soldiers rushed to the attack; the first harassed
the foe with missiles, while the latter closed with them, and the
opposing ranks of the Britons were broken, destitute as they were
of the defence of breast-plates or helmets. When they faced the auxiliaries,
they were felled by the swords and javelins of our legionaries; if
they wheeled round, they were again met by the sabres and spears of
the auxiliaries. It was a glorious victory; the wife and daughter
of Caractacus were captured, and his brothers too were admitted to

There is seldom safety for the unfortunate, and Caractacus, seeking
the protection of Cartismandua, queen of the Brigantes, was put in
chains and delivered up to the conquerors, nine years after the beginning
of the war in Britain. His fame had spread thence, and travelled to
the neighbouring islands and provinces, and was actually celebrated
in Italy. All were eager to see the great man, who for so many years
had defied our power. Even at Rome the name of Caractacus was no obscure
one; and the emperor, while he exalted his own glory, enhanced the
renown of the vanquished. The people were summoned as to a grand spectacle;
the praetorian cohorts were drawn up under arms in the plain in front
of their camp; then came a procession of the royal vassals, and the
ornaments and neck-chains and the spoils which the king had won in
wars with other tribes, were displayed. Next were to be seen his brothers,
his wife and daughter; last of all, Caractacus himself. All the rest
stooped in their fear to abject supplication; not so the king, who
neither by humble look nor speech sought compassion.
The Annals by Tacitus