Agri'cola, Gnaeus Julius
is one of the most remarkable men whom we meet with in the times of the first twelve emperors of Rome, for his extraordinary ability as a general, his great powers, shewn in his government of Britain, and borne witness to by the deep and universal feeling excited in Rome by his death (Tac. Agric. 43), his singular integrity, and the esteem and love which he commanded in all the private relations of life.
His life of 55 years (from June 13th, A. D. 37, to the 23rd August, A. D. 93) extends through the reigns of the nine emperors from Caligula to Domitian.
He was born at the Roman colony of Forum Julii, the modern Fréjus in Provence. His father was Julius Graecinus of senatorial rank; his mother Julia Procilla, who throughout his education seems to have watched with great care and to have exerted great influence over him.
He studied philosophy (the usual education of a Roman of higher rank) from his earliest youth at Marseilles. His first military service was
the daughter of Aretas, in consequence of having formed an incestuous connexion with Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, as we learn from the Evangelists. To revenge the wrongs of his daughter, Aretas made war upon Herod, and defeated him in a great battle. Herod applied for assistance to the Romans; and Vitellius, the governor of Syria, received an order to punish Aretas.
He accordingly marched against Petra; but while he was on the road, he received intelligence of the death of Tiberius (A. D. 37), and gave up the expedition in consequence. (J. AJ 18.5. §§ 1, 3.) This Aretas seems to have been the same who had possession of Damascus at the time of the conversion of the Apostle Paul, A. D. 31. (2 Corinth. 11.32, 33; Acts 9.19-25.)
It is not improbable that Aretas obtained possession of Damascus in a war with Herod at an earlier period than Josephus has mentioned; as it seems likely that Aretas would have resented the affront soon after it was given, instead of allowing so many years