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As part of Channel 4's Bloody Foreigners strand (they are being ironic, before anyone complains...) tonight's episode The Untold Invasion of Britain does the biz for that African chappie who came over here and (spoiler alert!) died at York. Apart from whatever CGI wizardy/slomo Romanalikes they could afford, there is I gather a semi-naked carnyx player and a fully clad Dr Coulston to delight and amuse.

The series has been patchy so far (there were foreigners in Nelson's navy: anyone who has read a Patrick O'Brien book knows that) and the Poles and Czechs played a crucial role in winning the Battle of Britain (anyone who has seen the feature film will also know that, and some of the recreation/mini dramas were spookily reminiscent of bits of that film... helped by the fact a lot of the aerial action clips came from it!). The obligatory historical documentary style (talking down on the assumption that you are a numpty) prevails. Last night's, on the Great Fire of London, and how the plucky little Brits sought anybody foreign they could find to blame (conspiracy theories raged, apparently), beat up, lynch, whatever, was rather interesting, however. How things have changed!

If you are outside the UK, doubtless the production company will be selling it to a TV station near you at some point soon.

Mike Bishop
Darn !!! probably have to wait a long time for this one here in the NL, the country where history is not as big as the UK........ :evil:

M.VIB.M.
You should be able to watch it on 4 on Demand - I notice they have the Great Fire and Battle of Britain episodes up already. Check back later tonight and see...

Thanks for the notification, Mr Bishop!
Thanks will take the time to watch this.....was trying to remember who he was the other day..usual blank :roll:
Mike Bishop wrote:

Quote:Poles and Czechs played a crucial role in winning the Battle of Britain (anyone who has seen the feature film will also know that, and some of the recreation/mini dramas were spookily reminiscent of bits of that film... helped by the fact a lot of the aerial action clips came from it!).

Indeed and what was even more interesting to me than the documentary, was that some of the clips appeared to be unused footage from the film!

Graham.
Quote:Thanks will take the time to watch this.....was trying to remember who he was the other day..usual blank :roll:

Severus? Coulston? The carnyx player?!

Quote:Indeed and what was even more interesting to me than the documentary, was that some of the clips appeared to be unused footage from the film!

Some of the unused footage turned up in the Czech film Dark Blue World, along with freshly shot stuff.

Mike Bishop
Quote:
Gaius Julius Caesar:eyzp84dh Wrote:Thanks will take the time to watch this.....was trying to remember who he was the other day..usual blank :roll:

Severus? Coulston? The carnyx player?!

The Carnyx palyer...who else????? :roll:

No someone had asked me if it was true there was a Black Roman Emperor, and while trying to explain he was from north africa, but not necesarily "black",
but more like what we consider Arabic/tunisian/Libyian, in appearance, I could not for the life of me remember Septimus Severus..... :x
Well, another poor sod crushed by the Scottish weather and midges....
Just watched this one on 4od (link above - possibly UK only?), but I found it a bit underwhelming. The throaty narrator sounded like he was speaking through gritted teeth the whole time, and the actor playing Severus seemed to have taken his inspiration from Brian Blessed. Rather ironically, there was a Scottish archeologist claiming that evidence of large turf roundhouses proved the existence of civilisation and culture in north Britain (implication - equal to that of Rome!), and that Roman sources were therefore 'biased' ( :roll: ), but the program makers seem to have taken this Roman bias entirely seriously in their presentation of ancient Scotland as a gloomy place of perpetual rain and screaming savages...

There was no mention of Geta (which leaves unexplained that sinister Severan family portrait with the scrubbed out face), nor of Julia Domna, who accompanied the emperor on the expedition. No women at all, actually - surely a missed opportunity. The story of the wife of Caledonian chieftain Argentocoxus and her sexual competitiveness with the empress would have added a much-needed dose of humanity and colour to the gloom... The anecdote about Severus and the ill-omened black soldier was missing too: perhaps this would have been too confusing to a modern viewer primed to regard Severus as 'African', but as Britain's first recorded instance of racism (!) it would certainly have made for a more interesting and nuanced portrayal :wink: .

Nothing much about the Roman army itself - aside from serried ranks of legionaries marching 25 abreast across the moorlands with drawn swords :| . The short piece from Mr Birley about the north African irregular horsemen stationed at (I think) Housesteads was an interesting angle, but aside from yawnsomely describing them as 'special forces', like they were the ancient SAS or something, nothing more was suggested about how they might have operated against a scattered enemy. I'm surprised, actually, that the Roman army was left so vague - a few less repetitous murky 'reconstructions', and there could have been a genuinely informative precis of the workings of the Roman 'military machine' (to quote Tom Holland, who seems to have got a very nice holiday in Libya for the price of sitting on a wall in Lepcis Magna musing about Roman public relations!)

:? - Nathan
Quote: but the program makers seem to have taken this Roman bias entirely seriously in their presentation of ancient Scotland as a gloomy place of perpetual rain and screaming savages...

That is still true in 21st century, so Romans were not that wrong. Big Grin
Well, they did end up in aberdeen.....summer = 1 day sunshine per year the rest is perpetual gloomy rain and screaming savages... :twisted:
I think the only bit that I enjoyed was the helmet he was wearing with the Praetorian symbol of the Scorpion, I have to say that as it's the helmet that I did the decorations for. Apart from all that I just found it a load of old cobblers to be honest.
Quote:.... Apart from all that I just found it a load of old cobblers to be honest.

Sadly, I would have to agree! Aerial shots of Newstead (excavated by Curle around the year 1900), with some very fanciful lines drawn on the picture to indicate that the fortress was 'enormous' (ditto for Ardoch) didn't help. A quoted force size of 40,000 seems a little unlikely - as this would equate to around 8 legions (or combinations of legions and auxiliaries) - and where would dear Septimius get THAT number of troops from? I think that Trajan took a similar force into Dacia in 104 - but that was more than 100 years previous when the Empire was at its height!

There was no attempt to explain what happened to Geta, or why SS brought his two 'lads' along with him. Nothing to describe what Caracalla did after Pa died. According to the programme, "the dynasty ended with Caracalla". Oh yes, in terms of blood relationships true, but what about Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus (not to mention his somewhat odd Ma, Julia Mamaea)? I can't remember the Mrs (Julia Domna) being mentioned either - but maybe I was asleep by then? Crucially, the programme never made any serious attempt to see if it could discover (or, at least, present) a cogent arguement for SS invading 'Scotland' in the first place. There was a passing reference to the governor of 'Britannia' asking for help because those nasty barbarians were acting up there in the frozen wastes of Caldeonia but this was not examined in any great detail. Three (out of 40,000, ye faith) crazed legionary soldiers wandering around the Highlands/Bogs and being duffed up by some understandably p*ss*d off locals is hardly a basis for an interesting programme.

I don't know if the same people did the Trafalgar episode (which I thought was excellent) and the other two (which I haven't seen) were the same as those that did this sad little effort - but they fell into the usual trap that we have noted before in discussions here, namely (a) repeat things ad nauseam because the people who look at these things cannot remember what was said either side of the advert break (they think), (b) find a dubious 'supposition', which sudddenly becomes a 'fact' and © construct a whole scenario on this 'fact', which then becomes gospel. Couple this with repeated use of the very same clip (or, sometimes, clips) of film, which bear very little (i.e. 'no') relationship to the story being unfolded before us. All of this was depressingly presented here. Where did they get the 'fact' of the size of this army from? How do they 'know' what SS was actually 'thinking' about things. And so on. I don't know why I watch this Channel 4 tosh every time they put it on. I should know what to expect by now. "Hope springs eternal", I suppose! Just once, I wish that those responsible at Ch4 for these programmes would try and do a proper job and treat the audience like adults instead of retarded children. Too much to ask for? Sadly - probably.

Mike Thomas
(Caratacus)
Quote:A quoted force size of 40,000 seems a little unlikely - as this would equate to around 8 legions (or combinations of legions and auxiliaries) - and where would dear Septimius get THAT number of troops from? I think that Trajan took a similar force into Dacia in 104 - but that was more than 100 years previous when the Empire was at its height!

The Severan army was slightly larger than that of Trajan - there were three new legions (I-III Parthica), plus the double-strength new Praetorian Guard as well. This would give him something around 170,000 legionary troops, and with auxiliaries to match that was a very substantial army! It was also, at least at first, a very mobile one - after over a century of fairly static legion dispositions, the opening decade of Severus' reign saw legions (or more probably vexillations) travelling from one end of the empire to the other: the Danubian force he led from Carnuntum in 193 later fought against Nigrinus in Syria. Men of a Danubian legion are attested campaigning in Mesopotamia a few years later, and the Severan force at Lugdunum was drawn from the Danube and the Rhine. This could almost be seen as a prototype of the 'field armies' of the later empire. Whether this mobility continued after the end of the Parthian war in 199 is unknown, and perhaps unlikely - by the British campaign in 208 there had been almost a decade of comparative peace (excepting a brief African foray), and quite likely the legions had returned to their accustomed bases.

The figure of 40,000 for the army in Scotland is quoted a bit online, and seems to derive from an estimate of the force needed to fill the series of (probably Severan) 165-acre camps. Dio isn't much help - he claims that 50,000 men died on the expedition! Nicholas Reed (The Scottish Campaigns of Septimius Severus) estimates the total force as something equivilent to six legions (the three 'British' legions, plus the 10,000-strong Praetorian Guard and II Parthica) - which, with auxiliaries added, could indeed total around 40,000. His analysis of the campaign based on camp sizes is pretty speculative - and although there are no 'foreign' legions attested in the province for this period, it perhaps might be better to picture a Severan field army assembled from vexillations drawn from a veriety of sources rather than entire legions.

- Nathan
Quote:
I don't know why I watch this Channel 4 tosh every time they put it on. I should know what to expect by now. "Hope springs eternal", I suppose! Just once, I wish that those responsible at Ch4 for these programmes would try and do a proper job and treat the audience like adults instead of retarded children. Too much to ask for? Sadly - probably.

Mike Thomas
(Caratacus)

I do the same, but I guess it is expecting too much from a channel resposible for Big Brother.... :roll:
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