The Tale Of Boudicca Essay

1555 words - 7 pages

“Great leaders undergo reinvention throughout different periods of history” to what extent does this statement reflect the image and interpretation of Boudicca since the first century AD?
The tale of Boudicca, the warrior queen dates back to 60 AD, when the Celts rose up in revolt against their Roman oppressors. Yet the only ancient written sources about the battle today are riddled with bias and fabrications. All due to the fact that history is written by the victors and in this case the literate. The Celts or the Britons were an illiterate people therefore the majority of our knowledge about these peoples comes from Roman scholars. When analysing these sources it becomes evident that ancient historians were able make an image of Boudicca for how they themselves perceived her or how they wished the readers to view her. As an effect of this her story has been written and viewed in many different lights over the centuries. The main sources for analysis are two ancient Roman historians Tacitus and Dio and sources circa the Victorian Era.
In chronological order the first ancient historian that had a profound impact on the tale of Boudicca was Cornelius Tacitus, the Author of the Annals (109 AD) and Agricola (98 AD); two publishing’s that spoke of Boudicca and her uprising against Rome. The key focus in his writing was highlighting Boudicca as a female leader of war, this generated much disgust from Roman society, in which women were delicate creatures to be owned. Having a female as a leader was not tolerated and conveyed to the Romans that the Britons were an uncivilised, primitive people. Tacitus writes of a pre-battle speech by Boudicca in which her opening statement is ‘not the first time that the Britons have been led to battle by a woman.’ A minor detail for the Britons in which such a line would not be crucial, this was generated by Tacitus in order to highlight her gender and their foreign ways. By feminising the Britons, speaking of their ‘emotion’ it lessens their power in the eyes of the Roman readers. Especially when the Romans used disciplinary war tactics, perceived as a manly feat. Tacitus however, creates Boudicca’s character to be part wronged Roman matron and part Celtic barbarian. By having her not act as a foreign queen but in a way that turns her into an everyday Roman woman. This kindness to her is also displayed when remarking on the fact that there was no national identity between the tribes, therefore the joining of these tribes and by a woman is very powerful, a compliment to her might. Sympathy was conveyed when Tacitus spoke of the conditions under which the Iceni lived ‘treated the Britons with cruelty and oppression… calling them by the names of slaves and captives’ this allows present day readers to understand that his entire tale was not based complete bias. Though this was known there is a predominant focus on her vengeful actions Tacitus is able to sway the readers to regard Boudicca as a violent, alien like...

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