Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Co-opting of the Britons

Tacitus, writing about how his father-in-law Agricola succeeded in further subduing the conquered Britons by appealing to their vanity and snobbery, inviting them in to the power structure, conditionally.  Book 1, Chapter 21.
He likewise provided a liberal education for the sons of the chiefs, and showed such a preference for the natural powers of the Britons over the industry of the Gauls that they who lately disdained the tongue of Rome now coveted its eloquence. Hence, too, a liking sprang up for our style of dress, and the "toga" became fashionable. Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice, the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet. All this in their ignorance, they called civilization, when it was but a part of their servitude.
Lots of good quotes by Tacitus, who felt that Roman honor and virtue were deteriorating in his day, starting with the emperors.  He didn't much like the Christians.


Grim said...

Tacitus’ Germanic is excellent and more commonly read, but this work is also quite good. He was a keen observer.

Grim said...

Hm. “Germania” is apparently a word my phone doesn’t know.

sykes.1 said...

Those were Celts. The Normans couldn't repeat the process with the Anglo-Saxons, and it was the Normans who were absorbed.

Grim said...

Sort of. The Scots were Celts too, but they were just as successful at absorbing the more-numerous Picts as the less-numerous Normans. But Robert the Bruce was Scot-Norman, as were many of the nobility of Scotland at that time.

The Normans remained somewhat distinct in Ireland for centuries, though culturally they adopted Irish mores. Any “Fitz-*” name is Norman rather than Celtic in origin.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The Normans did have quite as much to offer in terms of prestige, either, compared to Rome. Tacitus thought the Franks behaved similarly to the Britons, but I don't know their history. The Goths became pretty romanised