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XIPHILINE, from Dio Cassius, gives the following account of the expedition of Severus :
Severus, observing that his two sons were abandoned to their pleasures, and that the soldiers neglected their exercises, undertook an expedition against Britain, though he was persuaded from his horoscope, that he should never return from thence to Italy. He had it drawn upon the ceiling of a hall in his palace, where he sat to hear causes. Everything was marked there except the moment of his birth. The augurs had foretold him the same thing, when one of his statues, which was placed upon the gate through which the army was to pass from the camp, was struck with lightning, and three letters of his name effaced. Nor did he ever return from this expedition, but died three years after he first set out from Rome. He got a prodigious mass of riches in Britain. The two most considerable bodies of the people of that island, and to which almost all the rest relate, are the Caledonians and the Mæatæ. The latter dwell near the great wall that separates the island in two parts; the others live beyond them. Both of them dwell upon barren, uncultivated mountains, or in desert marshy plains, where they have neither walls nor towns, nor manured lands, but feed upon tho milk of their flocks, what they get by hunting, and some wild fruits. They never eat fish, though they have great plenty of them. They have no houses but tents, where they live naked. Their government is popular, and the exercise to which they are most addicted is that of robbing. They fight upon chariots, and their horses are low but swift. They have great agility of body, and tread very surely. The arms they make use of are a buckler, a poniard, and a short lance, at the lower end of which is a piece of brass in the form of an apple; with this their custom is to make a noise, in order to frighten their enemies. They are accustomed to fatigue, to bear hunger, cold, and all manner of hardships. They run into the morasses up to the neck, and live there several days without eating. When they are in the woods they feed upon roots and leaves. They make a certain food that so admirably supports the spirits, that when they have taken the quantity of a bean, they feel no more hunger or thirst. This is the manner of living among the inhabitants of Britain. The country is about 7132 furlongs in length; its greatest breadth is about 2310, and its least about 300 furlongs. We are masters of little less than half the island. Severus, having undertaken to reduce the whole under his subjection, entered into Caledonia, where he had endless fatigues to sustain, forests to cut down, mountains to level, morasses to dry up, and bridges to build. He had no battle to fight, and saw no enemies in a body. Instead of appearing they exposed their flocks of sheep and oxen, with a design to surprise our soldiers, that should straggle from the army for the sake of plunder. The waters, too, extremely incommoded our troops, insomuch that some of the soldiers being able to march no farther, begged of their companions to kill them, that they might not fall alive into their enemies' hands. In a word, Severus lost 50,000 men there, and yet quitted not his enterprise. He went to the extremity of the island, where he observed very exactly the course of the sun in those parts, and the length of the days and nights both in winter and summer. He was carried all over the island in a close chair, by reason of his infirmities, and made a treaty with the inhabitants, by which he obliged them to relinquish part of their country to him. In the meantime the debauched course of life that his son Antoninus (Caracalla) led, gave him very sharp disquietudes. He foresaw that he would not fail to rid himself of his brother Geta, when he had an opportunity; and he knew that he had laid snares for himself. This wicked son went out of his tent one day making loud complaints of Castor, the most deserving of any of his father's officers, to whom Severus entrusted his most secret thoughts, and the guard of his head-quarters. He had persuaded some soldiers to join with him in his clamours, and to make a disturbance. But they were hushed at the sight of Severus, who appeared in an instant, and ordered the most mutinous to be seized and punished. Another time as Severus and Antoninus went to meet the Caledonians, in order to receive their arms, and to confer with them about the conditions of peace, being both on horseback at the head of the army that followed them, the army of the enemy being near likewise, Antoninus stopped his horse, drew his sword, and was going to thrust it into the back of Severus, his father. Those who were behind cried out, and by their shrieks stopped his hand. Severus turned back at the noise, saw the naked sword, and held his peace. Having some time after ascended his tribunal, and dispatched some affairs, he went to the prætorium, and sent for his son with Papinian and Castor. Then putting a sword in the midst of them, he upbraided Antoninus with his insolent design of attempting his life, and of committing so horrid a crime in presence of the allies and enemies of the Roman people. It is easy for you, added he, to kill me if you have such a desire, for I am old and almost without motion. But if your own hand abhors the action, employ that of Papinian, the præfectus prætorio, who will not fail to execute what you command him, since you are in possession of the imperial dignity. Severus was satisfied with speaking to him after this manner, without using a greater severity, though he would often blame Marcus Aurelius, for not putting Commodus to death. He would sometimes, too, threaten Antoninus hard ; but then he was in anger, and he really had a greater tenderness for his children than for the republic. Yet one cannot excuse him for having been the cause of the death of the younger, and for having in some sort delivered him over to his brother, who was to put him to death. The inhabitants of Britain having taken up arms contrary to the faith of treaties, Severus commanded his soldiers to enter their country, and to put all they niet to the sword. That which disposed him to make so cruel a war upon these people was, that the Caledonians and the Mæatæ ħad agreed together to join their force in order to break the treaty, and shake off the yoke of obedience. But in the midst of his enterprise he was taken off by a distemper, to which it is said Antoninus had very much contributed.
A.D. 290 to 300. Eutropius relates that Carausius, though very meanly born, obtained a considerable post in the army, and acquired a great reputation, whilst he enjoyed it. He, at Bononia, received a commission to keep all quiet at sea upon the Belgic and Armorican coast, infested by the Franks and Saxons; and having taken many of the barbarians, without either returning the whole booty to the provincials, or remitting the same to the emperors, when a suspicion arose that he designedly suffered the barbarians to make inroads, that he might catch them as they were going off with their booty, and by this means enrich himself. Orders were given by Maximian to kill him; upon which he assumed the purple, and seized on Britain; and when force had been used in vain, they were glad at last to conclude a peace with him. Seven years after he was killed by Allectus, his companion, who himself took possession of Britain for three
years after the death of Carausius, and then was suppressed by the management of Asclepiodotus, the captain of the guards. After ten years Britain was recovered to the Roman empire.
A.D. 408 and 409. Sozomen informs us that the inhabitants and troops that were quartered in Britain, fearing lest the Vandals should pass over the sea, and subdue them with the rest, revolted from their obedience to Honorius, and set up one Mark, whom they declared emperor. But they soon deprived him of his life and dignity, and placed Gratian in his room, who was countryman of their
Within four months they murdered him too, and conferred the sovereignty upon one Constantine, not so much in respect of his courage or quality, for he was a very inconsiderable man in the army; but in regard to his name, which they looked upon as fortunate; hoping he would do as much as Constantine the Great had done, who had been advanced to the imperial dignity in the same island. This new prince immediately after his promotion, passed over into Gaul, and taking with him the very flower of the British youth, so utterly exhausted the military force of the island, that it was wholly broken, and the island left naked to new invaders. Constantine spent the remainder of his life out of Britain.
Ammianus Marcellinus, ex Lib. XV. As men in those parts grew a little more civilized the studies of laudable arts and sciences flourished. These were begun by the Bards, the Euvates, and the Druids. The Bards sung to the sweet music of the harp the brave deeds of illustrious men composed in heroic verses. The Euvates, by their observations, endeavoured to lay open the order of things and the course of nature. The Druids, of a higher ability, bound by ties into societies, according to the authority of Pythagoras, were elevated by the study of deep and hidden points; and despising human things declared that men's souls were immortal.
Ex Lib. XX. In the tenth year of the consulship of Constantius and the third of Julian (A.D. 360), when, in Britain, inroads of the Picts and Scots, savage nations, were wasting the parts near the borders, and terror seized upon the provinces with a continued series of calamities, the emperor, who was spending the winter at Paris, and who was distracted by various anxieties, was afraid to go and succour those beyond the seas, lest he should be leaving Gaul without a ruler, especially when the Germans were roused to cruel wars. It seemed good, therefore, that Lupicinus should go for this purpose. So this leader, having raised some light-armed allies, viz., the Heruli, the Batavi, and two companies of the Mosi, came to Boulogne in the middle of winter; and, having collected transports and embarked all his troops, arrived at Richborough and made straight for London.
Ex Lib. XXVII. Valentinian (A.D. 380) having departed from Amboise and hasting to Treves is met with the serious news that Britain, by a general conspiracy and banding of the barbarians, was brought to the utmost misery; that Nectaridius, count of the sea coast, was slain; that Fullofaud, warden of the marches, was beset on all sides. When he heard that, being in great fear, he sent Severus; but recalled him a little while after, as Jovinus was going into the same parts. At length, by reason of the many bad reports brought from the island, Theodosius, a man well known for his martial feats, was chosen to go thither. At that time the Picts were divided into two nations, the Dicaledones and the Vecturiones; likewise the Attacots and the Scots, warlike races of people in their ravages, were utterly destroying the land; while the Franks and Saxons were making similar havoc in Gaul. To restrain these outrages, if fortune should give him an opportunity, this mighty leader set out for those most distant parts; and, having reached Boulogne, crossed the narrow seas to Richborough, a quiet roadstead nearly opposite, and when all his bold and hardy followers had come up, he marched on towards London, an ancient town, which was afterwards called Augusta. He then charged the forces of the enemy as they were loading themselves with pillage, and having quickly routed them as they were driving the poor prisoners before them, he took back all the booty which those wretched tributaries of ours had lost. After this, distracted by anxious cares of state, he begged that Civilis might be sent to govern Britain as deputy prefect: a man of sharp wit and a strict observer of justice; likewise Dulutius, a leader renowned for his knowledge of warfare.
Zosimus (A.D. 359). The Roman colonies on the Rhine having been burnt by the enemy, the emperor (Julian) built a fleet of 800 barks, which he sent to Britain for corn ; and these brought over so much that the inhabitants of the plundered towns and districts received enough not only to support them during the winter, but also to sow their lands and to serve them till the next harvest.
Eutropius, Lib. VII. Claudius made war upon Britain, which no one of the Romans after Julius Cæsar had made the least attempt upon; and having conquered it by Cnæus Sextus and Aulus Plautius, illustrious