Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roman General: Gnaeus Julius Agricola

Roman soldier, politician, statesman and general. Born in Forum Julii (Frejus) in 37 AD, he became consul in AD 77, and then governor of Britain AD 78 - 87. Agricola was the first Roman to verify the fact that Britain was an island.

In 59 he served under Suetonius Paulinus in Britain; was quaestor in Asia 63, tribune in 65, praetor in 68.

Two years later he was placed in command of the XXth legion in Britain. Returning to Rome in 73, Agricola was raised to patrician rank (his family had hitherto belonged to the equestrian order), and served as governor of Aquitania from 74 to 78. In 79 he was consul suffectus, and was appointed governor of Britain. He extended Roman rule to the Firth of Forth in Scotland and won the battle of Mon Graupius. His fleet sailed round the north of Scotland and proved Britain an island.

Here he spent at least seven years, consolidating Roman power, and, in the intervals of campaigning and exploring, contributed much to the romanisation of the province. His success aroused the jealousy of Domitian, who recalled him to Rome, where he spent the remainder of his life in retirement.

Shortly before his appointment to the government of Britain Agricola gave his daughter in marriage to the historian Tacitus. Tacitus wrote about his life. Agricola died in 93 AD.

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