Saturday, 24 February 2018

#7 Saturday Shorts – with #Gnaeus Iulius Agricola

It's Saturday again and today I have an esteemed 'guest' for my #Saturday Shorts interview.

General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, one of my main characters in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series (to be published in 2018), has kindly agreed to sit on my comfy interview chair. He's never ever seen anything like it - not on his Campaigns in Caledonia and probably not in Rome either - so, bear with him, he'll probably do a bit of swinging around on it! 

I've tweaked the general author questions used for my Saturday Shorts interview to suit today's guest, though you'll read by only a little if you've been enjoying my other guests.

Welcome to my blog, General Agricola. Pop your helmet on the floor and please take a seat. I hope you can enjoy a little relaxation from your excessively busy campaigns during the interview.

Please introduce yourself:
Wikimedia Commons
My name is Gnaeus Iulius Agricola. I was born and brought up in the colonia of Forum Julii in Gallia Narbonensis, Gaul.  I was educated at Massilia. 
I have no permanent home, and will have none while I remain in the service of the Roman Empire- though I expect I may go back to Rome, or perhaps even Gallia Narbonensis, at some future date. 
I am presently the Governor of Britannia; Commander of all Britannic Armies and all vexillationes currently assigned to me.

When is your best time to work?
There is no best time, I work all day long. If a critical situation arises, I expect to be awakened from sleep. I plan and make decisions from dawn till dusk- both military and civic. I think while I am eating, I plan while on the march. On rare occasions, I am with my wife and…family but those are highly private.

Which forms of communication do you find most comfortable to use?
Communication? I wish I had regular communications. If so, my daily task list would be so much easier. While on campaign, I prefer verbal communication but sometimes details need to be recorded on wax: they are easily transferred to permanent records if required. If the details are travelling a short distance then wood is generally sufficient but coming from a long distance then scrolls travel lighter on the horse. Here in Caledonia the blasted problem is not the method of recording, or the weight of communications a horse may carry- the problem is not having roads laid down! Slow, slow, slow communications are the frustrating result!

Please tell us what your current campaign is about.
When I came into the post of Governor of Britannia, seven summer seasons ago, my task was to ensure the tribes on the fringes of the Roman Empire’s western boundary were subdued- especially the Ordovices. When that was established my next task was to move northwards and acquire more land and subsume more tribes into the Roman Empire.  

Was that a simple process?
Simple? Nothing is simple about bringing the virtues and values of Rome to barbarians. The Brigantes and their neighbours still need to be monitored carefully but by my third and fourth seasons the might of my Roman legions was sufficient to cow the Selgovae, the Novantes and those of southern Caledonia.

I had heard the Votadini were easier to subdue. Is that correct?
Of course. My predecessors- Frontinus and Cerialis - had made seasons worth of treaties with them, so yes, it was easier to march my troops up the east coast of southern Caledonia.

You mentioned you are in your seventh summer of campaigning. Can you describe for my readers those last few seasons?
Certainly. My legions now have control of the southern Caledonian tribes, those of central Caledonia not yet mentioned like the Damnonii and the Venicones of the east. I am currently subduing the Taexali and the Vacomagi of the Varar Aestuarium.

Did anything in particular influence you to undertake this present campaign?
Of course. I want to extend the Roman Empire western boundary and have every step of every mile of the island of Britannia under Roman domination.

What has helped you conduct these campaigns in Caledonia ?
Not a thing. I am the advance forces and I create the new itinerary of Caledonia and its place in Britannia. The barbarian north is unknown till I tame it and call it Roman and I want to prove that the ancient seafarer Pytheas was correct about Britannia being an island.

Who, currently, is your main enemy?
Enemies. The craven Caledons and their allies- the Taexali, Venicones, maybe Vacomagi and who knows who else – who skulk in the Craupian mountains since the confrontation at Beinn na Ciche.

What’s the greatest weakness of your enemies?
They have no structure. The have no proper army, or established discipline, or civic awareness. They do not even have proper trade established in northern Caledonia. They will have none of this till after I defeat them!

What are your enemies’ greatest strengths?
They are sneaky, stealthy and - I really would rather not admit it - good at petty raids and devious murderous attacks on my patrols. Their cowardice in not capitulating is also a strange strength and until we have treaties in place they remain a hidden threat.  

Do you regularly report your achievements to Rome?
Of course I do, when I have something of merit to send. If the Emperor Domitian acknowledged my success more often, I would report more frequently to him. I fear that he is not particularly interested in Britannia.
Wikimedia Commons

What’s your favourite pastime?  
Bathing. I have not had that pleasure for months now. I do not expect such comforts while on campaign but my civic measures and developments in subdued southern Britannia are already establishing daily Roman rituals. The progress being made in the bath complex at Aquae Sulis should make bathing a safer occupation.

I’m confused. Are you saying that bathing is not a safe occupation? Yet, you are promoting it?
Make no mistake. The bathing process is an excellent one. Not only is your body exercised, massaged and well cleansed it is the opportunities for social discourse that are also the huge advantages of public bathing. Civilised. They are civilised proceedings. It is miscreants stealing the property of an individual when he is bathing that must be stamped out. I have organised civic measures to ensure this type of theft is eradicated.

Do you have a favourite place to ‘hide’ out from life?
On campaign? – None at all.

Do you have a favourite food and a favourite drink?
I suppose I’ve learned to suppress any craving when on campaign because the likelihood of fresh grapes or the summer fruits of Gaul are just not possible. The wine transported to Caledonia by the Roman Army is inferior quality so again it is wise to not think about a fresh white Baeterrae wine from my near Gallia Narbonensis - but I do highly recommend it!

Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, today General Agricola. It's such a pleasure to meet you. I'll let you get back to the business of subduing the Taexali and Caledon barbarians.

Of course, my readers can look forward to a lot more of you in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series - Agricola's Bane- when it's published! 

Details are coming soon of huge changes to my Celtic Fervour Series- look out for that in a few days. 


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