Agricola, Gnaeus Iulius

views updated May 21 2018

Agricola, Gnaeus Iulius. Governor of Britain 77–83. Thanks to the fortunate circumstances first of Agricola's daughter having married the historian Tacitus and second that Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law survived, we are better informed about Agricola than any other provincial governor in the Roman empire. Agricola came of a senatorial family in southern Gaul. He progressed through the usual career of a senator, but was exceptional in spending all three of his periods of provincial service in Britain, culminating in an unusually long governorship. He first served in Britain as a military tribune at the time of the Boudiccan revolt (60/1). He returned as legate (commander) of legio XX Valeria Victrix 69–73, during which time his legion took part in the advance north of the Humber–Mersey line. He served as a consul in the year 77 and probably arrived in Britain as governor late in that year. Tacitus' account of Agricola's governorship is dominated by narratives of the seven seasons of campaigning, advancing Roman power far into Scotland and culminating in the defeat of the Caledonian tribes under Calgacus at the battle of Mons Graupius (83/4). The route of advance east of the Highland massif can be traced through the sites of ‘marching camps’, temporary campaign fortifications. In the intervals from fighting he is shown governing wisely and promoting Roman ways amongst the Britons. But our view of Agricola has been over-influenced by Tacitus' laudatory biography, portraying him as an exceptional general and a just governor.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary


views updated Jun 27 2018


Name adopted by mineralogist Georg Bauer (1490-1555), who had also searched for the elixir of life and the secret of the Philosophers' Stone.