Celtic Britain Different Images Of Boudicca, Queen Of The Iceni, From Roman Times To The Present

1396 words - 6 pages

Celtic Britain - Assessment Task- Explain the different images of Boudicca from Roman times through to the present. -Throughout history, people have had different images of Boudicca, ranging from a barbarian, to an heroine, and even a terrorist. Some, like the Victorians, were inspired by her bravery in leading her people against an oppressive force. Others, like the Romans, thought Boudicca was a savage. Whether they thought well of her or not, the story of Boudicca featured in many poems, paintings, sculptures, or historical records. However, since everything is clouded by bias and prejudice, no one today truly knows which is the most honest account, and we are left to analyse previous sources and form our own view of Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni.The first insights we gain to what Boudicca was seen as are from the only two Roman accounts of her battle with the Roman army, written by Dio Cassius in his History of Rome, and Tacitus in his Annals. Tacitus also mentioned Boudicca and reasons for the Briton's discontent in his monograph on his father-in-law, Agricola.Dio Cassius, a Roman senator and historian, had a harsh view of Boudicca. According to Source 3 (Dio's Roman History - The Revolt of Boudicca handout), Dio said "Moreover, all this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused them the greatest shame". From this one sentence, we can see that Dio did not have respect for a woman leading an army.His description of Boudicca, as "In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace...She now grasped a spear to aid her in terrifying all beholders...", shows his constant reference to her as 'terrifying' and 'fierce', 'harsh'. These adjectives all lead us to think that Dio considered her not much like a woman, but savage.The only redeeming comment he gives her is that she "possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women". Dio treated the entire battle with much disdain, and this tells us he didn't think much of Boudicca and her attempt to overthrow Roman control. We get this idea from the last sentence in Source 3, "...they scattered to their homes. So much for affairs in Britain." We cannot be sure whether to trust his accounts, and they are believed to be likely inaccurate, since it is not a primary source - his History of Rome was written 150 years after the battle.Tacitus, however, unlike Dio Cassius, appears to be far less pro-Roman from his Annals and Agricola. His Agricola was written 35 years after the events, and his Annals 50 years after. In his Agricola, he gives his readers an explanation of the events that caused the Celts to revolt in the way they did, perhaps softening the judgement on Boudicca's actions. He does not spare the Romans in his description of their treatment of the Britons in Source 1 (Agricola, Source 1,...

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