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Ancient History Quote of the Day: "Popular opinion demanded Agricola as general, as everyone compared his vigour, fortitude and mettle tested in wars, with the lethargy and cowardice of the others" (Tacitus, Agricola 41.3). #AHQOTD #Agricola

Image: William Brassey Hole (1897)
Born on this day - 13 June - in AD 40, Gnaeus Julius Agricola was one of the most successful military commanders of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian periods, with his career being fully documented by his son-in-law, Tacitus.
His legionary command was undertaken around AD 60, though his career was advanced by Vespasian, whom he had supported during the civil war of AD 69, and he received command of Legio XX in Britain in March AD 70.
Tacitus (Agricola 9.1) notes that he was then enrolled among the patricians by Vespasian, in the census of 73/4, placing him in command of the province of Aquitania and signalling the suffect consulship which he would hold in AD 77.
Yet it was to be his return to Britain in AD 77-84 that would be his most famous undertaking, serving as governor in the same province where he had been both military tribune and legionary commander.
He would campaign far to the north, winning a decisive battle at Mons Graupius in AD 84. This campaign cemented Agricola's status as the preeminent Roman military commander of the period, but it equally ensured his downfall.
Agricola's campaign in Britain coincided with that of Domitian himself against the Chatti in Germany, for which he took the title 'Germanicus' as part of his victory celebrations.

Image: RIC 2.1 Domitian 173
Tacitus (Agricola 39.1; Germania 37.5) claims that this was 'false triumph'. Pliny the Younger (Panegyric 16.3) likewise describes 'sham chariots, faked images of a false victory'. Thus Agricola's legitimate campaign is seen in stark contrast to the 'fake news' of Domitian.
Agricola was recalled from Britain and seems to have kept a deliberately low profile if Tacitus is to be believed (Agricola 40) to "downplay his military reputation". However, given Tacitus' text is our primary source on Agricola, plus the issues of the 'damnatio memoriae'...
...suffered by Domitian after his own death in AD 96, only three years after Agricola, complicate the source tradition about both men.

#AHQOTD #Agricola
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