[17.1] Sed ubi cum cēterō orbe Vespasiānus et Britanniam recuperāvit, magnī ducēs, ēgregiī exercitūs, minūta hostium spēs. Et terrōrem statim intulit Petīlius Ceriālis, Brigantum cīvitātem, quae numerōsissima prōvinciae tōtīus perhibētur, adgressus. Multa proelia, et aliquandō nōn incruenta; magnamque Brigantum partem aut victōriā amplexus est aut bellō. [17.2] Et Ceriālis quidem alterīus successōris cūram fāmamque obruisset: subiit sustinuitque mōlem Iūlius Frontīnus, vir magnus, quantum licēbat, validamque et pugnācem Silurum gentem armīs subēgit, super virtūtem hostium locōrum quoque difficultātēs ēluctātus. 

Overview: Under Vespasian there is a change for the better in the administration of Britain; subjugation of the Brigantes and the Silures. (Stuart); this chapter begins on f. 57r of the codex Aesinas.


recuperāvit: said from the point of view of a partisan of Vespasian, "rescued from usurpation," or "restored to order. (Pearce); Vespasian recovered the Roman world from the successive dominations of warring factions, and restored it to law. (Stuart)

magnī ducēs: Vespasian's service in Britain had rendered him familiar with the problems of administration. He naturally chose as governors able men who kept the armies in a high state of effectiveness. (Stuart)

et minūta: sc. est. On et after an asyndeton, the third member being amplified and adding a new idea, see the exact parallel, ch. 13.3, and Introd. p. xxviii, #11. (Gudeman)  et is added to the text by some editors. (Damon)

Petīlius Ceriālis: see note on chapter 8.1. (Gudeman)

Brigantum: they dwelt in northern England; Eburacum (York) was their chief city. (Stuart)

perhibētur: because little was known about the numerical strength of the tribes in the north of Caledonia, which is included under the term totius provinciae. (Gudeman)

aut victoriā … aut bellō, "either conquered or overran." (Pearce); i.e. he subdued some tribes in a single battle, others in a series of campaigns. On the position of the verb, see Introd. p. xxvi, #4. (Gudeman) amplexus est: a metaphor, as also at 25.1 (with a different sense and construction) and elsewhere in Tacitus. The ablatives here are instrumental. (Damon) [A&G 409]


alterīus, "any other," for alius, which Tacitus never uses. ... Contrast alium ducem in 22.2. (Pearce); any other except Frontinus. (Stuart); in the sense of alius. See note on 5.3. (Gudeman)

cūram fāmamque: a hendiadys. The fama is derived from the cura, "administration" (see note on curandi, 16.3). (Pearce)

obruisset: "would have consigned to oblivion." (Stuart); sc. si diutius in Britannia mansisset. He was governor from 71-74 CE. obruere, to throw into the shade. So again ch. 46.4. (Gudeman)

subiit: the asyndeton conceals an adversative sense. (Stuart)

mōlem: the heavy responsibility which devolved upon him of showing himself a worthy successor of such a man as Cerealis. (Stuart)

Iūlius Frontīnus: governor of Britain from 74 to 77 —  the date is not altogether certain — and one of the great men of his time. He was three times consul, twice as a colleague of Trajan, and held the proconsulship of Asia and other important posts, such as the cura aquarum or superintendence of water supply. (Stuart); famous as a writer on aqueducts and the art of war. (Pearce); S. Iulius Frontinus, ... praetor urbanus in 70 CE; three times consul, 74, 98, 100 CE; legatus Britanniae about 74/5-77; proconsul of Asiae about 93; curator aquarum 97; a friend of Martial and Pliny, and the author of many technical works, of which the Strategemata and the famous de aquis urbis Romae are extant. He died about 103/104. (Gudeman)

quantum licēbat: limits magnus. Even good emperors necessarily limited the individual prestige of subjects. (Stuart); i.e. as far as he could be under a regime which repressed conspicuous merit. (Pearce); to be taken with sustinuitque molem. (Gudeman)

Silurum: see note on 11.2. (Gudeman)

subēgit: he forced them to acknowledge the supremacy of Rome. But, as is shown by the persistence of Celtic civilization to this day and by the scarcity of Roman remains, Wales was never really Romanized. (Stuart)

super = praeter. See our "over and above." (Stuart); "besides," a post-classical use. (Pearce) 

virtūtem … difficultātēs: observe the chiasmus. (Gudeman)

orbis orbis m.: the world (with and without terrarum)

Vespasiānus –ī m.: Vespasian, emperor 69-79

Britannia –ae f.: Britain

reciperō –āre (also recuperō –āre): to recover

minuō minuere minuī minūtus: to lessen

terror terrōris m.: fear

Petīlius –ī m.: Petilius Cerialis

Cereālis –is: Petilius Cerealis

Brigantes –um m.: Brigantes, a British tribe

numerōsus –a –um: populous

perhibeō –ēre –uī –itus: to relate, state

aggredior aggredī aggressus sum: to attack

incruentus –a –um: bloodless

amplector amplectī amplexus sum: to encompass, embrace

successor successōris m.: successor

obruō obruere obruī obrutum: to overwhelm, crush

mōlēs mōlis f.: mass, weight

Iūlius –iī m.: Julius

Frontīnus –ī m.: Julius Frontinus

pugnāx –ācis: warlike

Silures Silurum m.: Silures

subigō subigere subēgī subāctum: to subdue

difficultās difficultātis f.: difficulty

ēluctōr ēluctārī ēluctātus sum: to struggle against

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Suggested Citation

Cynthia Damon, Tacitus: Agricola. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2016. ISBN: 978-1-947822-09-2. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/tacitus-agricola/17