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He undertook only one expedition, and that was of short duration. The triumphal ornaments decreed him by the senate, he considered as beneath the imperial dignity, and was therefore resolved to have the honour of a real triumph. For this purpose, he selected Britain, which had never been attempted by any one since Julius Caesar, 1 and was then chafing with rage, because the Romans would not give up some deserters. Accordingly, he set sail from Ostia, but was twice very near being wrecked by the boisterous wind called Circius, 2 upon the coast of Liguria, near the islands called Stoechades. 3 Having marched by land from Marseilles to Gessoriacum, 4 he thence passed over to Britain, and part of the island submitting to him, within a few days after his arrival, without battle or bloodshed, he returned to Rome in less than six months from the time of his departure, and triumphed in the most solemn manner;5 to witness which, he not only gave leave to governors of provinces to come to Rome, but even to some of the exiles. Among the spoils taken from the enemy, he fixed upon the pediment of his house in the Palatium, a naval crown, in token of his having passed, and, as it were, conquered the Ocean, and had it suspended near the civic crown which was there before. Messalina, his wife, followed his chariot in a covered litter. 6 Those who had attained the honour of triumphal ornaments in the same war, rode behind; the rest followed on foot, wearing the robe with the broad stripes. Crassus Frugi was mounted upon a horse richly caparisoned, in a robe embroidered with palm leaves, because this was the second time of his obtaining that honour.
1 Opposed to this statement there is a passage in Servius Georgius, iii. 33, asserting that he had heard (accipimus) that Augustus, besides his victories in the east, triumphed over the Britons in the west; and Horace says:-
Strabo likewise informs us, that in his time, the petty British kings sent embassies to cultivate the alliance of Augustus, and make offerings in the Capitol: and that nearly the whole island was on terms of amity with the Romans, and, as well as the Gauls, paid a light tribute.-Strabo, B. iv. p. 138. That Augustus contemplated a descent on the island, but was prevented from attempting it by his being recalled from Gaul by the disturbances in Dalmatia, is very probable. Horace offers his vows for its success:
But the word iturus shews that the scheme was only projected, and the lines previously quoted are mere poetical flattery. Strabo's statement of the communications kept up with the petty kings of Britain, who were perhaps divided by intestine wars, are, to a certain extent, probably correct, as such a policy would be a prelude to the intended expedition.
5 In point of fact, he was only sixteen days in the island, receiving the submission of some tribes in the south-eastern districts. But the way had been prepared for him by his able general, Aulus Plautius, who defeated Cunobeline, and made himself master of his capital, Camulodunum, or Colchester. These successes were followed up by Ostorius, who conquered Caractacus and sent him to Rome.It is singular that Suetonius has supplied us with no particulars of these events. Some account of them is given in the disquisition appended to this life of Caligula. The expedition of Plautius took place A. U. C. 796, A D. 44.
6 Carpentum: see note in CALIGULA, c. xv.
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