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Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Quote:It is interesting that if they knew the huge numbers that were supposed to be on their way that they stayed. So perhaps they did not know at the time how large the host was coming their way.
This is very likely. It is quite possible that many simply did not know what was going on, particularly if Catus quietly slipped away without anyone being aware of it, as seems quite probable. Apart from those in official circles, few would have had any hard information and, although there were probably rumours, many would probably have been inclined to disbelieve them.


Quote:Of course the really interesting part of this is why Paulinus took any refugees with him. He does not seem the compassionate type – certainly not against the Brythons either at Anglesey, at the Battle or afterwards.
Quite, and he was also impervious to all entreaties not to abandon London, although there were, of course, sound strategic grounds for him to leave. I suspect that those allowed to accompany him were those thought wealthy or influential enough to assist in the reconstruction of the province after the suppression of the revolt. Even so, there would probably have been conditions attached, predominantly that they would be able to keep up with the column and not slow it down in any way. This would probably mean that they would have to have had their own horses or horse-drawn transport and to have provided their own foodstuffs.



Quote:On the other hand the Trinovantes although Roman allies for over a century had their riches and lands taken away from them and treated as second class citizens. A lot of this was about revenge and recapturing what they thought was theirs.

Quote:I am of a mind where I see that each tribe would need to strive to retake their own properties and re-establish the aristocratic structure. There would have been no requirement for a combined force to take Colchester which was virtually undefended.

I still maintain that for the Iceni and the Trinovantes to have vacated their own homelands would have been suicide if the Ninth, Fourteenth and the Second had invaded from the North, East and South East.
I agree that revenge may well have played a large part in the rebels’ actions. However, the sources tell us that there was a conspiracy of the tribes to overthrow the Romans and to regain their freedoms. This could not be achieved by each tribe clearing its own territory of Roman influences and then settling back to await retribution. The route to success would be by carrying the fight to the Romans and eliminating opposition as it presented itself. However, if a tribe were intending to join the main war band, it would be logical for it to dispose of garrisons and centres of Roman influence within its territory before doing so. This may account for the destruction of Verulamium, which does not lie on the direct route of an army advancing from Colchester to London and on into the West.


Quote:Postumus would have been one of the bravest and experienced and trusted men in his Legion so there must have been very good reasons for him not have obeyed the summons from Paulinus.

There are many reasons postulated, a split Legion, being attacked by an uprising, ordered by his superiors to stay put, reports of a countrywide uprising etc.

It may have even been that Postumus like Cerealis had an overriding duty to defend against local uprisings and in fact was doing just that. The difference between him and Cerealis was that Cerealis was well connected.
One explanation that I have read (alas, I cannot remember where) is that the role of the Second Legion was to keep an eye on the tribes of the south-west and Postumus felt that he had to observe that obligation despite Paulinus’ order to join him. He had risen through the ranks to praefectus castrorum and his mind-set was still that of the common soldier. He did not have the strategic vision to see that, if Paulinus were defeated, the province would be lost and the south-west with it, so his duty was to support the governor and, if the south-western tribes did rise, they could be dealt with once the main rebellion had been put down.


Quote:My point is that the other officers must have supported his actions in such an important summons otherwise he would have been replaced.
What other officers? The legate and tribunus laticlavius were evidently absent. Would the centurions have mutinied and overthrown him? Very unlikely, I would have thought. They might not have liked his decision (assuming, of course, that he discussed it with them) but, ultimately, he was the man in charge and the overwhelming probability is that they would have deferred to his authority. What about the tribuni angusticlavii? He might have met more resistance from them but were they even there or were they with the legate? However, if they were there, he would still have outranked them and I think that, in the end, that would have been the deciding factor.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Quote:As Nathan Ross states even the men under Paulinus on Anglesey nearly didn’t obey him and this is by no means the only type of this action.
A further thought: you cannot equate a temporary hesitation on the field of battle when confronted with an unprecedented and alarming display on the part of the enemy with the deliberate and sustained disobedience of a legitimate command of the commander-in-chief.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Renatus wrote:

........if Catus quietly slipped away without anyone being aware of it, as seems quite probable. Apart from those in official circles, few would have had any hard information and, although there were probably rumours, many would probably have been inclined to disbelieve them.

I think that there would have been more than rumours. The uprising must have been going on for some weeks before Catus left. He had received and sent messengers and he had sent soldiers and yet no one would have arrived from Colchester. Then he left. With the rich and powerful.


Renatus wrote:

Quite, and he was also impervious to all entreaties not to abandon London, although there were, of course, sound strategic grounds for him to leave. I suspect that those allowed to accompany him were those thought wealthy or influential enough to assist in the reconstruction of the province after the suppression of the revolt. Even so, there would probably have been conditions attached, predominantly that they would be able to keep up with the column and not slow it down in any way. This would probably mean that they would have to have had their own horses or horse-drawn transport and to have provided their own foodstuffs.

I think that the Romans would have had plenty of people to re construct the Province. The rich would have had information so would have gone either on the ships or by horse.

Horse drawn transport would have slowed down an escaping army if they were indeed running away. If however they were doing an organised withdrawal and had a fair amount of time SP could have taken most types of refugees.

Tacitus says “and receiving into his army all who would go with him”, not the rich or well mounted. The three exceptions were “Those who were chained to the spot by the weakness of their sex, or the infirmity of age, or the attractions of the place”, were cut off by the enemy.”



Renatus wrote:

I agree that revenge may well have played a large part in the rebels’ actions. However, the sources tell us that there was a conspiracy of the tribes to overthrow the Romans and to regain their freedoms. This could not be achieved by each tribe clearing its own territory of Roman influences and then settling back to await retribution.

I do not see that the tribes taking back their lands individually precludes the tribes acting in concert.

It was not the point of settling back to await retribution but take into account what the Romans normally did. Of course the Ninth did exactly that and SP would have also done so had the rest of his troops turned up.

Renatus wrote:

The route to success would be by carrying the fight to the Romans and eliminating opposition as it presented itself. However, if a tribe were intending to join the main war band, it would be logical for it to dispose of garrisons and centres of Roman influence within its territory before doing so. This may account for the destruction of Verulamium, which does not lie on the direct route of an army advancing from Colchester to London and on into the West.

I agree that they would have disposed of the garrisons in their territories.

Perhaps St Albans was destroyed on the way to London by the Iceni.

Renatus wrote:

He did not have the strategic vision to see that, if Paulinus were defeated, the province would be lost and the south-west with it, so his duty was to support the governor and, if the south-western tribes did rise, they could be dealt with once the main rebellion had been put down.

If what you infer is correct it is more likely that Postumus was well aware of the situation with Paulinus (he had enough messages) and felt that he was in a better position with access to a port (Topsham) than he would have been inland.


Renatus wrote:

A further thought: you cannot equate a temporary hesitation on the field of battle when confronted with an unprecedented and alarming display on the part of the enemy with the deliberate and sustained disobedience of a legitimate command of the commander-in-chief.

You are absolutely correct.
Deryk
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Quote:Renatus wrote:

Quite, and he was also impervious to all entreaties not to abandon London, although there were, of course, sound strategic grounds for him to leave. I suspect that those allowed to accompany him were those thought wealthy or influential enough to assist in the reconstruction of the province after the suppression of the revolt. Even so, there would probably have been conditions attached, predominantly that they would be able to keep up with the column and not slow it down in any way. This would probably mean that they would have to have had their own horses or horse-drawn transport and to have provided their own foodstuffs.

I think that the Romans would have had plenty of people to re construct the Province. The rich would have had information so would have gone either on the ships or by horse.

Horse drawn transport would have slowed down an escaping army if they were indeed running away. If however they were doing an organised withdrawal and had a fair amount of time SP could have taken most types of refugees.

Tacitus says “and receiving into his army all who would go with him”, not the rich or well mounted. The three exceptions were “Those who were chained to the spot by the weakness of their sex, or the infirmity of age, or the attractions of the place”, were cut off by the enemy.”
I will revise what I said:

I suspect that those allowed to accompany him were those thought wealthy and influential enough and those with the strength and skills necessary to assist in the reconstruction of the province and its structures after the suppression of the revolt. Even so, there would probably have been conditions attached, predominantly that they would be able to keep up with the column and not slow it down in any way. This would probably mean that those sufficiently wealthy would have had their own horses or horse-drawn transport and those on foot would have needed to have had the stamina to keep pace with the soldiery. The column would not have slowed down for those who could not keep up.

As to your specific comments:

Although the Romans may have had plenty of people to reconstruct the province, I fail to see why this should preclude Paulinus from taking with him those from London with similar abilities.

Horse-drawn transport need not have slowed the column down; it depends upon the type of transport. Light carts, for instance, would not have been a problem. I would expect Paulinus to have had mules, so anything capable of keeping pace with the mules would have been all right.

Be careful with translations. Tacitus does not say that Paulinus received “all” who wanted to go with him. A literal translation is ‘those accompanying he accepted in part of the column’ (comitantes in partem agminis acciperet). This is less inclusive than Church and Brodribb would have it. Nor are the three exceptions exhaustive; what about the sick, for instance? The Loeb translation is ‘he . . . embodied in the column those capable of accompanying the march.’



Quote:It was not the point of settling back to await retribution but take into account what the Romans normally did. Of course the Ninth did exactly that and SP would have also done so had the rest of his troops turned up.
I thought that we had covered this. The Ninth was going to the relief of Colchester, not attacking the homelands. Likewise, had Paulinus had the troops, he would have gone for the rebels’ army first and devastated their homelands afterwards, as he did after the final battle.


Quote:Perhaps St Albans was destroyed on the way to London by the Iceni.
That assumes that the Iceni came down Watling Street, which I doubt that they did.


Quote:If what you infer is correct it is more likely that Postumus was well aware of the situation with Paulinus (he had enough messages) and felt that he was in a better position with access to a port (Topsham) than he would have been inland.
I hope that I misunderstand you! You seem to be suggesting that Postumus, though well aware of Paulinus’ perilous position, refused to go to his aid but remained at his base to secure an escape route for himself and his legion. This changes what could conceivably be characterized as an honourable misjudgement into an act of mutinous cowardice.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Renatus wrote:

I will revise what I said:

I suspect that those allowed to accompany him were those thought wealthy and influential enough and those with the strength and skills necessary to assist in the reconstruction of the province and its structures after the suppression of the revolt. Even so, there would probably have been conditions attached, predominantly that they would be able to keep up with the column and not slow it down in any way. This would probably mean that those sufficiently wealthy would have had their own horses or horse-drawn transport and those on foot would have needed to have had the stamina to keep pace with the soldiery. The column would not have slowed down for those who could not keep up.

As to your specific comments:

Although the Romans may have had plenty of people to reconstruct the province, I fail to see why this should preclude Paulinus from taking with him those from London with similar abilities.

Horse-drawn transport need not have slowed the column down; it depends upon the type of transport. Light carts, for instance, would not have been a problem. I would expect Paulinus to have had mules, so anything capable of keeping pace with the mules would have been all right.

Be careful with translations. Tacitus does not say that Paulinus received “all” who wanted to go with him. A literal translation is ‘those accompanying he accepted in part of the column’ (comitantes partem agminis acciperet). This is less inclusive than Church and Brodribb would have it. Nor are the three exceptions exhaustive; what about the sick, for instance? The Loeb translation is ‘he . . . embodied in the column those capable of accompanying the march.’


I am not sure that we are adressing the underlying problem here. The rich and wealthy would have left once they saw that the Procurator had fled. They could rebuild their lives anywhere. The word would have got around immediately after he had gone.

I never said that people of ability were precluded. I just don’t believe that was a criteria for them to go with Paulinus that you stated in your original argument.

This fascination with speed I find difficult to comprehend. Both you and Nathan state that the horde were actually coming very slowly towards London but Paulinus needs to race away from a horde that is moving at about 5 miles every two days where as the refugees would have been travelling at ten miles per day plenty of time to escape.

I suppose pick your translation applies but I would have thought even with yours and the Loeb translations he took refugees that could travel with him into the column and left.

This of course does not answer the question “why take them at all?"

As has been stated by others this is atypical behaviour for those times.

Renatus wrote:

I thought that we had covered this. The Ninth was going to the relief of Colchester, not attacking the homelands. Likewise, had Paulinus had the troops, he would have gone for the rebels’ army first and devastated their homelands afterwards, as he did after the final battle.

I am not suggesting that he was going for the homelands, I never have. Typical Roman tactics would suggest that they would have gone to beat the opposing army (or in this case horde). What I have said is that the Ninth were ambushed on the borders of the Iceni on their way to Colchester. I have not said that the Ninth were marching on the Iceni but that they were going past their territory.

The other reason is that the Brythons tactics were more guerrilla tactics where they were highly successful in ambush and siege warfare not massed formations where they knew they were likely to get beaten.

Everything points to that set of tactics in this war.

Once Paulinus was retreating the Brythons were still in their element of pursuing and harrying.

Renatus wrote:

That assumes that the Iceni came down Watling Street, which I doubt that they did.

No reason to doubt that at all.

Renatus wrote:

I hope that I misunderstand you! You seem to be suggesting that Postumus, though well aware of Paulinus’ perilous position, refused to go to his aid but remained at his base to secure an escape route for himself and his legion. This changes what could conceivably be characterized as an honourable misjudgement into an act of mutinous cowardice.

Not at all. It would have made sense for him to have secured the port to receive re-inforcements from Gaul. As I have maintained the Romans were very stretched with a possible countrywide uprising which everyone was trying to keep in check.

Perhaps he had already sent for re-inforcements and was waiting for them to arrive before setting off. It comes back to the question why was he in charge? Why would the officers of the Second be with Paulinus and if they were why wouldn't Paulinus have sent them to get the Legion?

Postumus would have been one of the most courageous men in his Legion. He stayed where he was because of his bravery and trying to perform for Rome. It was just that events conspired against him. What we need to understand is what those events were.

Kind Regards - Deryk
Deryk
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Quote:Both you and Nathan state that the horde were actually coming very slowly towards London but Paulinus needs to race away from a horde that is moving at about 5 miles every two days where as the refugees would have been travelling at ten miles per day plenty of time to escape.

I don't think anyone's suggested Paulinus 'racing' anywhere! ;-)

His 'strategic withdrawal' from London could have been accomplished in normal legionary marching stages of 15-20 miles a day, or less. But even ten miles a day is hard for anyone untrained or unfit to keep up with for long. So 'those capable of accompanying the march' would exclude the old, the very young, the unfit, the sick and the unwilling. These were left for the Britons.


Quote:What I have said is that the Ninth were ambushed on the borders of the Iceni on their way to Colchester. I have not said that the Ninth were marching on the Iceni but that they were going past their territory.

We should remember there's no actual evidence for Cerialis being 'ambushed'. An ambush sounds dramatic (like this, maybe!) but T merely tells us the Romans were defeated by 'victorious' rebels. Quite possibly Cerialis had reached the outskirts of Colchester itself but realised that the city had fallen and he didn't have the numbers to retake it, so attempted a fighting retreat. Superior enemy numbers overwhelmed his infantry force, and he escaped with the cavalry. Equally plausible, I'd say.


Quote:Why would the officers of the Second be with Paulinus and if they were why wouldn't Paulinus have sent them to get the Legion?

A mounted relay messenger could move much faster than a Roman officer travelling with his slaves and bodyguard (they wouldn't just ride about by themselves!). Paulinus clearly trusted Postumus to follow orders, and was let down. As I've said before, we don't know what Postumus didn't do - I suspect he failed to move his legion fast enough, or paused somewhere en route waiting for confirmation of what could have been confusing orders from the chief... not treason then, just ineptitude.
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Quote:
Deryk post=323482 Wrote:Why would the officers of the Second be with Paulinus and if they were why wouldn't Paulinus have sent them to get the Legion?

... we don't know what Postumus didn't do - I suspect he failed to move his legion fast enough, or paused somewhere en route waiting for confirmation of what could have been confusing orders from the chief... not treason then, just ineptitude.

Or perhaps the Second were so dispersed across the south west he needed more time to assemble them? Poor old Postumus does take a bashing, especially since "we don't know what Postumus didn't do" :|
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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Quote:Poor old Postumus does take a bashing

Ah, but he was harder on himself! :-(

So what didn't Postumus do? All we know is that he failed to follow an order, and thereby cheated his legion of a share in the glory. Possibly he didn't follow the order (whatever it was) because he didn't fully understand it, and preferred not to hazard a guess... For all his battlefield experience and logistical knowledge, a praefectus castrorum possibly wouldn't have had the background in independent command necessary for effective strategic thinking. As we've said before, a veteran at the top of the centurion tree wouldn't want to risk his whole career on a gamble...
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Quote: As we've said before, a veteran at the top of the centurion tree wouldn't want to risk his whole career on a gamble...

So why ruin it on the ultimate sin of (apparently) ignoring an order? If he didn't undersatnd it, his better course would be to get clarification, surely (which takes time).

May there not be an element of Tacitus making Postumous look bad in order to make his patron Vespasian look better? Postumus would not move the Legion without the Legate's agreement, surely - particularly if the latter was on Anglesey (?). Was Postumus not securing the rear of the detached force asnd his commander?
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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Quote:If he didn't undersatnd it, his better course would be to get clarification, surely (which takes time).

I would guess that's exactly what he was doing. Only in retrospect did it appear that he had ignored the order.

We can only imagine the pressure that he must have been under - an unfamiliar acting command position, his notoriously-cautious governor ordering a sudden cross-country march against unknown enemies, and perhaps quite soon afterwards rumours of a Roman force defeated by rebels. Then some contrary orders of march to an alternative destination, maybe... Not surprising if Postumus found discretion the better part of valour, and chose to sit tight (somewhere on the route of march perhaps) until the confusing orders could be confirmed.


Quote:Postumus would not move the Legion without the Legate's agreement, surely - particularly if the latter was on Anglesey (?)

I would guess that a direct order from the governor would have overruled the legate's agreement. But Postumus may have been unsure of the chain of command.

There's also the possibility that he was made to carry the can for what had happened. Cerialis was far more to blame for his recklessness, and for losing the eastern flank of Paulinus' advance in the process. But Cerialis was a senator, with powerful friends in Rome... There's a strong air of blame-slinging in the closing stages of Tacitus' account of the uprising.
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Quote:I am not sure that we are adressing the underlying problem here. The rich and wealthy would have left once they saw that the Procurator had fled. They could rebuild their lives anywhere. The word would have got around immediately after he had gone.
This is an assumption for which there is no evidence. We do not know the manner of Catus’ departure but I suspect that it was clandestine. His absence may not have been generally noticed for at least a couple of days and, even then, the reason may not have been realised. It might have been thought that he was ill or that he had been recalled to Rome or that he had gone to inspect some estate that was to be taken over or even that he had been summoned to see Paulinus for a dressing-down over some misdemeanours of his staff in the east of the province that the populace had only vaguely heard about. Some of the wealthy may have left, not with him but shortly afterwards, but this may well have depended upon their having somewhere to go: estates or relatives in the country, perhaps, or even in Gaul. However, some will almost certainly have stayed for the reasons that I suggested in an earlier post, in the same way that today there are those who refuse to move in the face of some impending natural disaster, such as a hurricane or forest fire. These are the ones, I suggest, who finally decided to leave with Paulinus.



Quote:I never said that people of ability were precluded. I just don’t believe that was a criteria for them to go with Paulinus that you stated in your original argument . . . This of course does not answer the question “why take them at all?"
I suggested that those who accompanied Paulinus were those whose wealth and influence could assist in the reconstruction of the province and I stand by that. I do not accept that there would have been no such persons remaining in London after the flight of Catus. The fact that there were other persons with similar resources elsewhere need not have prevented Paulinus from accepting those from London. I have now added those whose manual skills would be helpful. One may speculate about what caused Paulinus to accept civilians into his column. He may have been so appalled by the atrocities committed by the Britons that he was willing to protect as many as possible from a similar fate, provided, of course, that it did prejudice his strategic withdrawal. I suspect that his motives were more practical; as I have suggested already, these people would be useful in the work of reconstruction after the suppression of the revolt.



Quote:I am not suggesting that he was going for the homelands, I never have. Typical Roman tactics would suggest that they would have gone to beat the opposing army (or in this case horde). What I have said is that the Ninth were ambushed on the borders of the Iceni on their way to Colchester. I have not said that the Ninth were marching on the Iceni but that they were going past their territory.
I’m sorry. I misunderstood you. However, in my own defence, I will set out your previous comments that led me into error:


Quote: The Roman Army on the other hand like the Super Powers of today preferred to fight "toe to toe" and the difficulty (as in today's Afghanistan or the Iraq War) was actually getting the enemy to "stand and fight" mainly because the Romans always won because of superior weaponry and tactics.

The one way that the Romans could get people to fight them in a "battle" was to march onto the homelands of their enemies and destroy them until people came and fought them.

In AD60 they had been doing this for 17 years in Britain; the locals would have known this and perhaps we can see this in the way that the Ninth Legion were destroyed on the borders of the Iceni on their way to Colchester in a typical Brythonic ambush.

The Iceni and Trinovantes were prepared and I believe that they were expecting Seutonius Paulinus to march on them perhaps at Colchester and also at Thetford. For them to have marched on London would have left their own lands, which they had literally just taken back from the Roman State open to attack with no one there to defend them.

Quote:I think that the very act of SP leaving triggered the attack on London as Pualinus realised it would due to its being undefended. Also the Brythons could leave their homelands because there was no longer a threat to their territories.

Quote:To say that the Brythons were “hovering on the outskirts of London” is not my interpretation but that they were in fact defending their borders and ready to move to intercept his column/s on the march.

After 17 years of watching how the Romans operated (which was to march on an enemy’s territory to force them in a battle to defend it) the Brythons had changed their tactics to one of guerrilla fighting and siege warfare. They had obviously been successful at this as the Romans after 17 years still had not conquered the far West or the North . . . The Brythons were expecting the other Legions from the West to join Paulinus and march on their territories to exact revenge, as would have been a typical Roman tactic (exactly what the Ninth did).

Quote:I still maintain that for the Iceni and the Trinovantes to have vacated their own homelands would have been suicide if the Ninth, Fourteenth and the Second had invaded from the North, East and South East.

Quote:It was not the point of settling back to await retribution but take into account what the Romans normally did. Of course the Ninth did exactly that and SP would have also done so had the rest of his troops turned up.



Quote:The other reason is that the Brythons tactics were more guerrilla tactics where they were highly successful in ambush and siege warfare not massed formations where they knew they were likely to get beaten.
This is where I display my ignorance. Can you give me chapter and verse on this proposition? I am aware of Tacitus’ description of Ostorius Scapula’s campaigns against the Silures.



Quote: Renatus wrote:

That assumes that the Iceni came down Watling Street, which I doubt that they did.

No reason to doubt that at all.
There is every reason to doubt it. The sources give no hint of any such thing. Your contention, as I understand it, is that the Iceni cleared the Roman forces from their territory and then remained there while the Trinovantes attacked and destroyed Colchester. Tacitus, in the Annals, describes the Iceni flying to arms in response to the outrages against the royal house and the nobility and rousing other tribes to regain their freedom. He then immediately moves on to the threat to Colchester and its eventual destruction, followed by the threat to London. There is no suggestion that this was anything other than a continuous process in which the Iceni were involved throughout. In the Agricola, he describes the Britons discussing their woes, taking up arms under the command of Boudica and then, after dealing with the Roman forts, invading the “colony”, which can only be the territorium of Camulodunum. Dio has Boudica rousing the Britons with two lengthy speeches and then leading her forces against the Romans, sacking and plundering two Roman cities. These can be identified from their descriptions in Paulinus’ speech to his troops as Colchester and London. None of this involves travelling down Watling Street.



Quote:Not at all. It would have made sense for him to have secured the port to receive re-inforcements from Gaul . . . Perhaps he had already sent for re-inforcements and was waiting for them to arrive before setting off . . . Postumus would have been one of the most courageous men in his Legion. He stayed where he was because of his bravery and trying to perform for Rome. It was just that events conspired against him. What we need to understand is what those events were.
As Nathan rightly says, we do not know what Postumus did not do. All that Tacitus tells us is that he committed suicide, having heard of the exploits of the Fourteenth and Twentieth Legions, because he had cheated his legion of sharing in the glory and because he had disobeyed the orders of his commander. We have to infer that these two failings were connected, although it seems logical that they should be, despite Tacitus mentioning them in what seems to be reverse order. The logical inference is that, but for Postumus’ disobedience, his legion would have joined Paulinus’ army and participated in the final battle. Further than this we cannot go. We do not know precisely when in the sequence of events that we have Postumus failed and any attempt to attribute any particular action or motive to him is pure speculation. Much as we may sympathise with a man who may have been out of his depth, any suggestion that he actually was obeying his orders, but slowly or hesitantly, or that he was seeking to clarify them is overly generous to him. The verb that Tacitus uses to describe his failure to obey is abnuo, which means ‘to deny, refuse, decline, reject’. There is no room to interpret this in any other way than as the absolute refusal to accept the order, whatever it was.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Reflecting further on this topic, I have come up with this scenario. I should be interested to know what others think of it.

Paulinus embarked upon his Anglesey campaign with the bulk of three legions, the Second, Fourteenth and Twentieth, under their legates, and an unknown number of auxiliaries. The veterans of the three legions remained behind to guard their base fortresses under the command of their respective praefecti castrorum.

When he received news of the revolt, Paulinus set off with the Fourteenth Legion. Why did he only take one? Perhaps, the messages from Catus, by accident or design, downplayed the seriousness of the situation. Perhaps, he felt that the North Welsh tribes, inflamed by the destruction of the sacred groves on Anglesey, would rise up in his rear unless he left behind a force strong enough to contain them. Almost certainly, he expected to be supported by Cerialis and the Ninth. At some stage, possibly after he had learned of the defeat of Cerialis, he sent messages to the praefecti of the Second, Fourteenth and Twentieth Legions ordering them to join him with all available men. The praefecti of the Fourteenth and Twentieth responded to the command; Postumus of the Second did not. Where the veterans of the Fourteenth and Twentieth joined Paulinus’ army is not known. It could have been on his march south, in London or during his withdrawal. In any event, they were on hand to join in the final battle. We know of the presence of the veterans of the Twentieth from Tacitus; we do not hear of those of the Fourteenth because they would have been subsumed in their parent legion.

All this would have added to the discomfiture of Postumus. Not only had he disobeyed an order and denied his legion a share in the glory of defeating the rebels, but he had before him the example of his opposite numbers in the Fourteenth and Twentieth to show him what he should have done. Hence his suicide.

What do you think?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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Quote:The verb that Tacitus uses to describe his failure to obey is abnuo, which means ‘to deny, refuse, decline, reject’. There is no room to interpret this in any other way than as the absolute refusal to accept the order, whatever it was.

Well that does indeed clarify things - thanks! Fascinating how our interpretations can turn on a single translated word.


Quote:Paulinus...sent messages to the praefecti of the Second, Fourteenth and Twentieth Legions ordering them to join him with all available men. The praefecti of the Fourteenth and Twentieth responded to the command; Postumus of the Second did not.

Interesting! And quite plausible. But if the entire second legion was in North Wales with its legate, why does it fall to Postumus to refuse the reinforcement order? Surely the order would have gone to the legati, who would have been responsible for passing it on down?
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Quote:Interesting! And quite plausible. But if the entire second legion was in North Wales with its legate, why does it fall to Postumus to refuse the reinforcement order? Surely the order would have gone to the legati, who would have been responsible for passing it on down?
I think that you have answered this yourself in response to Vindex: as governor, Paulinus could over-ride the usual chain of command. In this case, time was at a premium and sending a messenger to the legate directing him to send another messenger to Postumus ordering him to march would have created an unnecessary delay. However, you raise the interesting point (as you hinted at in the same post) that, perhaps, Postumus was doing things by the book and insisting on waiting for the command to come from his legate. On my scenario, the other praefecti recognised the situation for what it was and followed Paulinus' orders immediately.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
Reply
Quote:time was at a premium and sending a messenger to the legate directing him to send another messenger to Postumus ordering him to march would have created an unnecessary delay.

Aaah - seems I'm not understanding something here... If the legate was with the legion, and Postumus was with the legion too, why wasn't Postumus with the legate?

:unsure:
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