Agricola, Cneius Julius

was born at the colony of Forum-Julii, or Frejus in Provence, A. D. 40, in the reign of Caligula. His father’s name was Julius Græcinus, a man of senatorian rank, and famous for his eloquence. He was put to death by Caligula for refusing to accuse Marcus Silanus. His mother’s name was Julia Procilla, a lady of exemplary virtue. He studied philosophy and civil law at Marseilles, as far as was suitable to his character as a Roman and a senator. His first service in war was under Suetonius Paulinus in Britain; and upon his return to Rome he married Domitia Decidiana, with whom he lived in the utmost harmony and tranquillity. He was chosen questor: | in Asia at the same time that Salvius Titianus was pro-consul there; and he preserved his integrity, though that province was extremely rich, and Titianus, who was very avaricious, would have readily countenanced his extortions in order to screen his own. He was afterwards chosen tribune of the people, and then praetor, under the emperor Nero. In Vespasian’s time he was made legate to Vettius Bolanus in Britain, and upon his return was ranked among the patricians by that emperor, and afterwards appointed governor of Aquitania; which post he held for three years, and upon his return was chosen consul, and then governor of Britain, where he distinguished himself by his courage and conduct in several campaigns. He subdued the Ordovices, or people of North Wales, and the island Mona, or Anglesey; and then reformed the abuses occasioned by the avarice or carelessness of the former governors, putting a stop to all manner of extortions, and causing justice to be impartially administered.

Vespasian dying about this time, Titus his son, knowing Agricola’s great merit, continued him in the government. In the spring he marched towards the north, where he made some new conquests, and ordered forts to be built for the Romans to winter in. He spent the following winter in endeavouring to bring the Britons to conform to the Romish eustoms. He thought the best way of diverting them from rising and taking arms, was to soften their rough manners by the more refined amusements of Rome; and soon after, the country was adorned with magnificent temples, porticoes, baths, and other fine public and private edifices. The British nobles had their sons educated in learning, and they who before had the utmost aversion to the Roman language, now made it their study. They wore likewise the Roman habit; and, as Tacitus observes, they were brought to consider those things as signs of politeness, which were only so many badges of slavery. In his third campaign he advanced as far as the river Tweed; and in his fourth he subdued the nations between the Tweed and the firths of Edinburgh and Dumbarton, into which the Clyde and the Tay discharge themselves. Here he built castles and fortresses, in order to shut up the nations which were yet unconquered. In his fifth campaign he marched beyond the firths, where he subdued some nations, and fixed garrisons along the western coasts over-against Ireland, designing to make a descent upon that island, having had perfect | information of its state from a chief who had been banished from thence. In his sixth campaign he passed the firth of Forth, ordering his fleet, the first which the Romans ever had upon those seas, to row along the coasts, and take a view of the northern parts. He was advancing farther northwards, when he was informed that the northern nations were marching against him with a formidable army, which he routed. In the following spring the Britons raised an army of thirty thousand men, commanded by Galgacus, who endeavoured to rouse their patriotism by an admirable speech which may be seen in Tacitus, and which seems adapted to the case of every nation about to lose its liberties by the invasion of a powerful enemy. Agricola on this occasion likewise addressed his soldiers in a very eloquent harangue, which was so prevailing, that the Britons were routed, with the loss of ten thousand killed; whereas but three hundred and forty of the Romans were killed. Domitian, being informed of this victory, grew jealous of the conqueror, and recalled him under pretence of making him governor of Syria. His death was suspected to have been occasioned by poison given him by that emperor; and, as Tacitus remarks, happened very seasonably for him, as he did not live to witness the calamities brought upon his country by the cruelty of Domitian. He died Aug. 23, A. D. 93, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. It is scarcely needful to remind our readers that his life was affectionately written by his son-in-law Tacitus, who gives him a very high character, but not more than is warranted by contemporary authority; at least we are acquainted with no documents that can detract from it. 1


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