Book Review Antonius: Second in Command by Brook Allen

Antonius: Second in Command (Antonius Trilogy, #2)Antonius: Second in Command by Brook Allen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Antonius: Second in Command” by Brook Allen is the second book in the Antonius Trilogy, spanning the period of 54 BC to 41BC. The saga of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) continues in this book at the time he is accepted as a military officer under the command of Julius Caesar. Marcus demonstrates his prowess as a strategic, courageous military leader that Roman soldiers can enthusiastically follow on the battlefields of Britannia and Gaul. With undying loyalty to Julius Caesar, Marcus becomes second-in-command to the renowned Roman general. However, when Marcus assumes political power in Rome on the behest of Caesar, his reputation and marriages flounder. Even though Caesar repudiates him for his political blunders, Marcus remains loyal. After winning Caesar’s trust again, Marcus becomes consul and adeptly administers Rome through chaos after Caesar’s assassination. However, he then faces his greatest challenger, the nineteen-year-old Octavian and adopted son of Caesar. He eventually allies with Octavian to wreak revenge on Julius Caesar’s assassinators at the battle of Phillipi, where the third book of the series will continue.

Author Brook Allen masterfully weaves battle scenes, family drama, and political conspiracies into the saga of Marcus Antonius. There is no doubt that Marcus is a formidable military commander with flashes of brilliance in the political arena. Yet, his womanizing, gambling and drinking continue to lurk him at critical times which his political rivals can use against him. The epic storytelling is engaging and addictive. The battle scenes are described with vivid details. The characters pop off the page, particularly Flavia (Marcus’s third wife) and Octavian. As a fan of the HBO series, “Rome,” I found this book even more intriguing with its rich historical background. One of the most fascinating incidents is when Marcus Antonius has to exchange his young son as a hostage so he could negotiate a truce with the senators who murdered Julius Caesar.

I highly recommend this superb series for fans of historical fiction set in Rome. The essence of Mark Antony and Roman politics rings true back then as it does in modern politics today.

View all my reviews

Interview Brook Allen, Author of Antonius Trilogy

INTRODUCTION

 

It is my pleasure to introduce Brook Allen, author of the Antonius Trilogy, historical fiction about Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Her first book, Antonius: Son of Rome, caught my attention when it was awarded the must-deserved 2019 Book of the Year Award by The Coffee Pot Book Club. Mark Antony is one of the most fascinating historical figures from Ancient Rome. He is an enigma because most of the accounts about him were written by his enemies. Author Brook Allen realistically captures the essence of Mark Antony and Roman politics. The second book, Antonius: Second in Command), is also an engaging, must-read book for those who love historical fiction set in ancient Rome.

Below you will find a brief biography, interview, and contact information.


BIOGRAPHY

Brook Allen has a passion for ancient history—especially 1st century BC Rome. Her current work is a trilogy on the life of Marcus Antonius—Marc Antony. The first installment, Antonius: Son of Rome was published on March 15, 2019. It follows Antony as a young man, from the age of eleven, when his father died in disgrace, until he’s twenty-seven and meets Cleopatra for the first time. Brook’s newest book is Antonius: Second in Command, dealing with Antony’s tumultuous rise to power at Caesar’s side and culminating with the bloody civil war against Brutus and Cassius.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Would you provide an overview of the books you’ve published in the Antonius series about Marcus Antonius who is considered one of history’s most controversial men?

I guess I’ve always felt a little sorry for Marcus (Marc Antony). Octavian not only demanded his death, but in treating his memory with damnatio memoriae—the damning of one’s memory, his statues and busts were destroyed, his name chiseled off of inscriptions, and even his birth date was designated as a day of “bad omens”. All that is pretty heavy stuff. To this day, he gets Classicists rattled, and they always have opinions about him. Usually it’s either “love him or hate him”!

Certainly, Marcus Antonius had an agenda, but truthfully, nobody knows what it was. There had to be reasons he acted as he did. In approaching his life story, I decided to begin at his father’s death, since it must have been a humiliation for his family. As my book Son of Rome progresses, the Antonii deal with repeated misfortune and humiliation. And all of this was going on in the middle of so much political and social upheaval—the Spartacan Revolt, the Catiline Conspiracy… Patricia Southern, who wrote a fantastic biography on Antonius said it best, stating that he grew up never seeing the Roman Republic work properly. The death throes of the Republic provide a thrilling and breathtaking panorama of events on which to depict his story since not much of his early years is known.

In my second book, Second in Command, Marcus comes into his own. This is where writers like Plutarch especially, kick in and give a lot more details about what he was doing—especially once he joins Caesar in Gaul. Second in Command is one fast-paced read. There’s scandal, political intrigue, tragedy (Marcus’s life was marred by multiple tragedies, poor guy!), and war. Battle scenes have become a personal hobby now and I actually enjoy writing them. Thank you, Adrian Goldsworthy—a man who knows Roman legions and warfare like the back of his hand.

The final book in my trilogy should be out a little later this year. I’m hoping by early fall. It will be tragic and dark, as that’s the sort of life Antonius endured in his later years. However, to lighten that is one of history’s most celebrated love stories; that of Antonius and Cleopatra. I am doing my best to treat it with justice and empathy. There were kids involved, sadly, and life at its best in the 1st century BC could be brutal. Expect plenty of warfare and emotional torment, both physical and propaganda-driven.

What inspired you to write about the legendary historical enigma, Marcus Antonius?

Way back in high school is where it all began. I had a fabulous Sophomore English teacher and she had us read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. By then, I’d already been bitten by the writing bug, but after studying it, I was hooked on Roman history. I knew I wanted to write on the 1st century BC/end of the Republic dilemma somehow.

Fast-forward now to 2005. I had just completed my Masters with an emphasis in Roman Studies and decided, “It’s time.” By then, I’d had enough life experiences and deep research into Roman culture that I felt as though I could manage the world-building aspect, which, to me—is possibly even more important to historical fiction writing than building character. Anyway, Robert Harris was in the midst of his Cicero trilogy, so Cicero was out. Several series had recently been done on Julius Caesar, who would have been a blast to write on. So, I skipped him. Honestly, I didn’t like Octavian enough to focus on him. I just kept coming back to Antonius. And I’m so glad I did. He’s been my close friend now for fifteen years and my husband even tolerates him well!

How much research was involved in writing your books?

If I was going to make this worthwhile… to succeed with this trilogy, then I had to build a world and character that was so believable and irresistible that people would have no choice but want to read it.

My parents were still alive when I began writing it, and they sent me to Egypt. It was the most incredible trip I’ve ever taken. I spent a week just in Alexandria, walking the beach, taking a boat out into the Great Harbor, exploring the foundations of the ancient Pharos Lighthouse inside Fort Qaitbay, and visiting helpful folks at the Center for Alexandrian Studies.

Naturally, Rome and Greece have been on my itinerary multiple times, and I even made a brief visit to Ephesus. For a guy who lived two-thousand years ago without jet service, Marcus got around! I have some incredible guide-friends now—two in Greece whom I depend on, and one in Rome. They have all been such integral resources for these books and walking ancient sites with them was an experience that I’ll never forget. Several times, either the Greek or Italian government had shut down sites I needed to see. However, with the help from my Classics professor, the Italian government, and even a humble security guard—I’ve been everyplace from Actium in western Greece to Taposiris Magna in Egypt, to the House of Livia in Rome!

Truthfully, I’m still researching, and even as I continue my drafting process, I sometimes take research breaks to fine-tune something I want to be sure of.

How did you go ABOUT researching the history, language, and culture of the 1st Century BC ancient Romans?

The Classics professor with whom I did my Masters thesis, Dr. Christina Salowey, provided me with a Latin book and I self-taught myself a few basics. Fortunately, I speak French, and that helped quite a bit. However, I’ll admit that I never got as far along with Latin as I wanted.

There is so much material out there and sometimes when writing you have to be careful not to “kitchen-sink”—stick in too much detail. Readers want to be immersed but not overwhelmed. When I did my Masters, I did it in order to write this trilogy. Everything I focused on had a place in my story. Once, while in Rome, I remember slipping on my sports sandals and jogging from the Palatine Hill in Rome all the way down to the Curia to determine how long it took to get there in a hurry! And I spent nearly a week in Pompeii, visiting that site multiple times with a friend, just to feel the pulse of ancient Rome. That was time very well-spent.

Were there any unexpected surprises about Marcus Antonius that you found in your research?

Indeed! Perhaps the very thing that is so surprising about him is that he’s still soooooo controversial. Classicists and historians either love him or hate him. After researching the guy for fifteen years, I see communication as having been his biggest issue. Poor Marcus lived in the wrong age. Today, he would’ve been on SKYPE in Greece, defending himself to the Senate in Rome, or on Twitter, tweeting about his REAL intentions regarding his plans in governing the East. Really, I think distance was one of the things that wound up defeating him in the end. Distance from Rome and not being able to be there to stand up for what he believed. Why didn’t he go back? Maybe it was due to Cleopatra… Who knows? I do know that he governed the East and that when Octavian finally took over, he didn’t make immediate changes. Something had to be going fairly well!

Is there any sub-character in the Antonius series that is your favorite? Explain why?

YES! I love Julia Antonia, Marcus Antonius’s mother. Granted, they don’t always see eye-to eye in Antonius: Son of Rome, but I think readers will come to love and respect her. She was one brassy lady, to say the least. During the proscriptions, she confronted a group of soldiers at her doorstep, hunting her brother down, opening her stola and challenging them to kill her first—the mother of their general—before forcing their way in to kill her brother. Needless to say, her brother was safe! Later, in the final book that I’m writing, she winds up on a pirate’s ship! This was a Roman matron—high-born! Ancient sources are chock-full of some pretty incredible stuff. Love it!

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

When I have the time to really sit down and focus on a scene, that’s when it happens. And seldom during the first draft, either. It’s when I’m working on the second, third, fourth drafts that stuff just starts flowing and the characters just take total control. I start visualizing the scene and BOOM! For any author, that’s utter bliss. And in a way, when your characters speak to you and work through you like that, I guess it’s sort of creepy, too!

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that surprise you? In what way?

This whole “being an author” thing has been mind-blowing in a lot of ways. I have a reader in Australia who has been so kind—so encouraging. She writes something positive to me almost weekly now. I don’t think there’s any way I could convey how much of a difference it makes when somebody believes in your work in that way. And here she is, literally on the other side of the world from me. And yet, we have this special connection. Then there’s a manager in my local Barnes & Noble who believes in hometown authors and completely supports my work. This guy has become a champion for me. When I walk in and see my books on his shelves, always facing out so that the cover shows… it seems like nothing to most people, but to an author? It means the world.

I think it’s these kindnesses that totally eclipse an agent’s rejection or overshadow negative reviews. Loyal readers truly have the power to make an author. I can see that now.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

This one’s hard, as honestly, I’m pretty hard to pin-down and become really close to, friendship-wise. I suppose it would be somebody who has commonality with me in some way—like writing, perhaps. A person who’s forgiving and forbearing, for sure. I’m not always likable. That’s why my sweet husband it such a diamond.

 If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I’ve always thought it would be super-cool to be able to communicate with animals. I’m talking Dr. Doolittle, here. I would LOVE to be able to touch a grizzly bear’s head, stroke it gently, and tell the biologist, “His tummy hurts because he’s been hibernating for seven months and hasn’t pooped in all that time! That’s the reason he’s so lethargic!” Wow. If I could understand animals, I could quit my day-job!

What might we be surprised to learn about you?

All of the riding scenes and cavalry/horse-related scenarios in my trilogy are from personal experience. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was an equestrienne and did pre-training for the Olympics. But again… that was LONG, long ago. However, my memory of riding and how it felt, and the way I trained— it brought a lot of fine-tuned action into my scenes with young Marcus.

What makes you laugh?

My husband. He’s hilarious—even when he doesn’t mean to be funny.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Just being with my dogs. I’m a dog-person to the max and I’d prefer being in their company any day compared to the company of people. Not that I’m anti-social or anything, but we introverted folk are like that!


You can contact Brook Allen and learn more about her books at:

Amazon Author Page

Website/Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

 

 

Cover Image Apollo's Raven

Upcoming Events Author Linnea Tanner

Upcoming Events Author Linnea Tanner

2017 Colorado Gold Conference

The 2017 Colorado Gold Conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers will be held on September 8-10 at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street, CO 80207. This promises to be an exciting event, as Diana Galbadon, the award-winning author of the OUTLANDER novels, will be a keynote speaker.

I will be participating in the Author Signing and Book Sale that is open to the public from 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 8th in Ballroom A/B at the Renaissance Hotel. My book, Apollo’s Raven, will be available for sale during the conference. There will be approximately 70 authors at the book signing, including Diana Galbadon and myself.

On the following day, September 9th, I’ll be participating in the IPAL First Book Panel that will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 2:20 pm in Ballroom B.

Mark your calendar for this fantastic event where you can meet with your favorite author. If you get a chance, stop by and chat with me.

Library Author Showcase

The Loveland Public Library will be sponsoring the third Local Authors Showcase on Saturday, October 7, 2017. The event will include presentations on marketing, webpage creation and publishing. The event is open to the public from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. You’ll have the rare opportunity to meet and to interact with several Northern Colorado authors, including myself. You can buy books and get them signed at this event. I’ll have both softcover and special edition hardcover books of Apollo’s Raven for purchase and signing.

If you can, drop by. I’d love to meet and to interact with you.

Launch and Facebook Event by Luciana Cavallaro

Luciana Cavallaro, Australian Author, Historical Fiction / Fantasy

Luciana Cavallaro, Australian author and historian, will be releasing Book 2: The Labyrinthine Journey, on Sunday, October 1st. The tale is about a modern day hero, time traveler, and demigod forced back to Sixth Century BCE to begin a quest mandated by his father, Zeus. I highly recommend you read the first book in the series, Search for the Golden Serpent, to prepare yourself for the continuing odyssey in
Book 2.

I’m excited to be a part of Luciana’s launch team. On October 1st, during her global launch of The Labyrinthine Journey, I and other authors of historical fiction/fantasy will be available for Q & A on Facebook at various time slots.

This will be a great opportunity for you to win giveaways, such as Amazon gift cards, copies of e-books, signed books, posters, magnetic postcards and a swag.  I’ll be offering free copies of Apollo’s Raven as part of the celebration for Luciana’s book launch.

More details are forthcoming.

Ongoing Deals for Apollo’s Raven

The Apollo’s Raven e-book will be reduced to 99 cents between September 11-17, 2017. Click on one of the following to purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Also note that you can order a signed, special edition of the hard cover book of Apollo’s Raven that includes free shipping in the USA. Order it under the category of books on my website.

For authors you follow, I encourage you to write reviews of their books. This is the best way you can show your support.

As always, thank you for your continued support and friendship.

 

 

Best,
Linnea Tanner

Bronze Medal Winner Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner 2017 Global Ebook Awards

Bronze Medal Winner Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner 2017 Global Ebook Awards

I am pleased to announce that my debut novel, Apollo’s Raven, is the winner of the BRONZE medal in the  Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards (GeBA) 2017 in the category of Fantasy/Historical. This is the first book in the Apollo’s Raven series.

 

If you haven’t read my novel yet, I invite you to do so. In celebration of my award, e-books have been reduced at all online sites to 99 cents through this weekend: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. For information on where to order the book, check my author website Books – Linnea.Tanner. And remember to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads!

A heartfelt thanks to the judges over at Dan Poynter’s and the honor they have bestowed on me.

Apollo’s Raven Book Review Historical Novel Society

Cover Image Apollo's Raven

Apollo’s Raven Book Review Historical Novel Society

I am pleased to share the book review of Apollo’s Raven (Historical Fiction / Fantasy) that was posted by the Historical Novel Society (HNS) in their recent Newsletter HNR Issue 81 (August 2017) and in Goodreads. The Historical Novel Society is a literary society devoted to promoting the enjoyment of historical fiction of which I am a member and reviewer.

Apollo’s Raven

By

AD 24. Catrin, a Celtic princess, and Marcellus, a Roman, were ordered to gather information about each other’s families. They were never supposed to fall in love. Marcellus is the great-grandson of Mark Antony, and he fears his budding affection for a foreign princess will lead to his own early death as befell his infamous ancestor. Catrin is a warrior princess with the powers of ancient druidesses running through her veins. There is a dark prophecy hanging over her family, and Roman support of her brother, banished for beheading two children and physically attacking Catrin, casts the curse into their midst. As Catrin begins to harbor feelings for her family’s enemy, will she be able to overcome the dark magic which threatens to destroy her homeland? Or will Catrin’s and Marcellus’ forbidden love incite a war for which her brother, the Blood Wolf, will lead the charge?

Apollo’s Raven is a historical fantasy with strong elements of romance, political intrigue, and magic. Many surprising twists enrich the historically-drawn plot. Points of view shift between different characters effectively, heightening the tension from one moment to the next. I love the scenes contrasting the cultures of Celtic Britannia and Rome, during which Tanner’s research really shines. My only complaint is that some of the dialogue is marked by modern words and expressions. Overall, though, this is an intriguing story with multifaceted characters, including confident and intelligent women protagonists, along with high-stakes situations that will keep you turning the pages. Recommended.

REVIEWED BY J. Lynn Else

Special Offer Apollo’s Raven e-book

The Apollo’s Raven e-book is being offered as a special deal of 99 cents at various online sites for a limited time until Aug. 6th.  For further information, visit Bargain and Free highlighted on Uvi Poznansky’s website or click on one of the following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo.

As always, I would greatly appreciate your honest review of Apollo’s Review on the site where you purchase the book. Reviews are one of the best ways readers can help support an author.

Readers in Hitchin UK

Below are photos of special friends and supporters from Hitchin who helped me celebrate the launch of Apollo’s Raven when I visited the United Kingdom in July 2017.

Clara Holding Apollo’s Raven

 

Celtic Irish Friend, Liz, with Apollo’s Raven

Pete with Apollo’s Raven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Reading a Twist in Apollo’s Raven

Courtney and Linnea Celebrating Launch Apollo’s Raven

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,
Linnea Tanner

Cover Image Apollo's Raven

Thunderclap Apollo’s Raven Flying High Deal!

Thunderclap Apollo’s Raven Flying High Deal!

Thank you to all who supported me on my Thunderclap Apollo’s Raven Flying High Deal that offers the e-book for 99 cents at Amazon on June 6th.

Only one day to go! For those who have not yet participated, could you help me reach my goal of 100 supporters? Just click: Soar with Apollo’s Raven Deal! You’ll be taken to my Thunderclap page where you can click on which Social Media format you would like to post the e-book deal for Apollo’s Raven.

That’s it. Thunderclap will automatically post for you on June 6th. More information on what Thunderclap is and instructions on how it works is provided below.

What is ThunderClap?

Social media is a powerful tool that helps you to engage with other people. It becomes even more powerful when several people post at the same time. That is where Thunderclap comes in. Instead of having your message now and then on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, the Thunderclap campaign focuses the effect. Thunderclap will publish the same post on your social media at the very same time as other supporters. This is an effective way to get the message out to as many people as possible. Aggregating the posts helps break through the “noise” of general news.

How to Support My Thunderclap

To participate in my Thunderclap campaign, here are the steps:

  • By clicking the link above (Soar with Apollo’s Raven Deal!), you will be directed to a page on Thunderclap.
  • Once there, you can become a supporter of my Thunderclap campaign by clicking one of the social media platforms that you would like to use: Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. See example screenshot below.

    Step 1 Thunderclap Choose Social Media

  •  The default message that Thunderclap will automatically post on your social media on June 6 is provided in the box at the top. See example  screen shot below.

    Step 2 Thunderclap

     

  • To get the special offer, click http://thndr.me/jaBxsu in the message box. You will be taken to a special page on my website where you can click to get the Apollo’s Raven e-book for 99 cents at Amazon.
  • In addition to the e-book deal, you can sign up to get a free bonus article on Ancient Celtic history. And further, you’ll also be entered into a random drawing for a free copy of the limited hard cover edition of Apollo’s Raven.

May Giveaway Winners Announced!

Congratulations to subscribers who won the May Giveaways:

Grand Prize Hand-crafted Book Stand: Fay Johnson (Below is a photo of Fay who graciously sent me a picture of herself with the book stand and Apollo’s Raven book)

Fay Johnson, Grand Prize May Giveaway

Limited Hard Cover Edition of Apollo’s Raven: Gary Dolman (UK Author)

e-book Apollo’s Raven: Janet Cardoza

Photographs of People Reading Apollo’s Raven:

Below are photographs of people who are reading Apollo’s Raven. If you have a photograph with the Apollo’s Raven book, feel free to e-mail it to me at linnea@linneatanner.com and I’ll post it on my blog.

Skye Griffith Reading Apollo’s Raven

Todd Marshall Holding Apollo’s Raven Books

Sonja Brucklacher with Apollo’s Raven

Kristin James, Narrator of Apollo’s Raven audio-book

Anita Meiss with Apollo’s Raven Book

Joni Petrizzo & Linnea Tanner Holding Apollo’s Raven at Johnson’s Corner

APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT . . .
Thank you for helping to get the word out about my debut novel, Apollo’s Raven. My goal as an author is to connect with authors and readers who love both historical fiction and fantasy. I am looking for new ways to connect with readers that are most engaging.

Thank you for helping me on my first Thunderclap campaign!


Best wishes,
Linnea Tanner

Apollo’s Raven Newly Released

Apollo’s Raven New Release and Kirkus Review

I am excited to announce that Book 1: Apollo’s Raven was released on April 10 and a review  by Kirkus Reviews was recently published.

“A complex and promising start to a new fantasy series.” — Kirkus Reviews 

Click on the following to read the full review which provides an in-depth overview of the epic tale: APOLLO’S RAVEN

As a debut author, I’d love to hear your feedback on Apollo’s Raven and encourage you to write your honest review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and/or Goodreads. This is one of the best ways to give your opinion about a book and at the same time give authors your feedback. It also serves as an important guide that readers can use to select their next book.

More information on giveaways and special deals on Apollo’s Raven in May are forthcoming on my author website http://linneatanner.com/.

Bublish Platform

Another platform that I have begun to use is Bublish which provides a dashboard for authors to create and publicize their books. What is most powerful about this platform is that authors can create what is called a “bubble” where they can publicly provide their insight on excerpts from their books. The following link is an example of a bubble that provides my insight on Chapter 1 of Apollo’s Raven bit.ly/2nVPL36 . In the future, I’ll create other bubbles that provide background as to why I wrote a scene in a certain way. The good news is the site is open to readers as well as authors.

Another powerful tool from Bublish is that authors can draft their next book directly into their system. The author can create a bubble that publicly displays an excerpt from a draft  to get comments from other authors and readers. The final plus is the final manuscript can be converted to epub to create an e-book, or downloaded in word or PDF format. The manuscript of Book 2: Empire’s Anvil has been transferred to this site, and I will be seeking comments on certain scenes in the future.

Utube Book Trailer

A new book trailer that my granddaughter, Maylin, created is now on Utube. She is the Celtic Warrior Princess in the video. Check it out by clicking here:  https://youtu.be/zJzqMvsNQ8E

Catrin, Celtic Warrior Princess and Druidess

Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Book review – Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner

It is a pleasure to reblog the Book review of Apollo’s Raven posted by Luciana Cavallaro–an Australian historian and exciting author whom I follow. Be sure to check out her website and blog.

Luciana Cavallaro

Have you ever wondered what life would be like in Ancient Britannia in the 1st Century CE? Or how the British Celts felt about the invasion of the Romans and the political unrest that ensued?

Apollo’s Raven is insightful and informative historical novel from new American writer Linnea Tanner. It paints a picture of Ancient Britannia and the ruling structure of the Celtic tribes, an antithesis of what made the Roman Empire powerful and dominant dictators.

View original post 518 more words

Prequel Roman Invasion Britain

Celtic Spiritual Warrior

In the end, Caligula drew up his army in battle array on the shore of the ocean…and gave the order: “Gather seashells!”

–Suetonius

Prequel to Roman Invasion of Britain 43 AD

Introduction

Claudius declared Britain was a country ‘where a real triumph could most readily be earned’. Several of the events leading up to the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD were bizarre based on accounts by Roman historians.

Britain's White Cliffs

White Cliffs Near Dover

Unlike the stiff British resistance in Caesar’s expeditions to Britain in 55-54 BC, there was no initial battle when the Romans landed in 43 AD. Though Claudius claimed glorious victory, he only took charge at the end of the campaign. His role in the invasion appeared staged like a Hollywood production. He was in Britain for only sixteen days and took command of the following activities:

  • Ceremonial arrival
  • Treaty discussions with local chieftains
  • Battle for capture of Camulodunum (modern day Colchester)
  • Victory celebrations
Linnea at Roman Wall at Colchester

Linnea in front of Roman wall at Colchester

This article provides an overview of key events and players leading up to the invasion based on the historical accounts from Dio Cassius and Seutonius. Some archaeological experts propose the Claudian invasion was the last in a line of interventions, both and planned, that spanned the period between 55 BC and AD 43. Some have suggested that there was already a Roman military force in Britain prior to 43 AD. The invasion was nothing more than a peace-keeping expedition. This theory will be discussed in a future post.

Colchester Sphinx Dated About 43 AD

Colchester Sphinx dated about 43 AD from Colchester

Aftermath of Augustus  

One of the greatest British kings, Cunobelin, was an astute politician who came into power about 9 AD. At this time Emperor Augustus faced one of Rome’s most calamitous periods when the German Prince Arminius destroyed three Roman legions in Germany. Cunobelin maintained a balance of power with Rome by welcoming their traders into his capital, Camulodunum (modern day Colchester). Cunobelin reigned over the Trinovantes and the Catuvellauni.  A great statesman, he skillfully balanced between the bitterly opposing pro-and anti-Roman factions.

Caesar Augustus Marble Head

Emperor Caesar Augustus Marble Head

Augustus died in 14 AD and was succeeded by Tiberius. He accepted Augustus’ injunction to allow things to stay as they were and to concentrate on sound administration. There was renewal of diplomatic activity with Verica (King of the Atrebates).

Tiberius Caesar Augustus

Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus

The final years of Cunobelin was marred by a family upset around 40 AD, when Caligula was Emperor.  The elderly king appointed his pro-Roman son, Adminius, as ruler of the northeast tip of Kent. This included the land-locked harbor along the southeast coast and the Wansum Channel into the Thames Estuary. It appears it was Roman policy to ensure that the main landing points remain in friendly hands.

640px-Horned_helmet

Celtic Horned Helmet

The precise date of Cunobelin’s death is not certain, but it is within 1 year before or after 40 AD. His eldest son, Togodumnus, inherited the kingdom while his brother, Caratacus, struck out on his own conquering other territories. Their brother, Adminius, was ousted from Britain about 40 AD. His flight may have been connected with these events.

Caligula’s Staged Invasion

When Caligula visited the Germanian legions and auxiliaries in 40 AD, Adminius and his followers sought the Emperor’s aid to restore the status quo ante. The Roman historian Suetonius said Adminius surrendered to the Emperor after he had been banished by his father, Cunobelin. Caligula then dispatched a message claiming all of Britain had surrendered to him. He ordered his couriers to drive their chariots all the way to the Forum and the Senate house to deliver his letter.

Status of Caligula on Horseback

Statue of Caligula on Horseback

Caligula then ordered all troops and siege engines to be positioned on the ocean shoreline for battle. It was as if he was going to conduct a campaign in Britain. He embarked on a trireme (ship with multiple banks of rowers), sailed a short distance from shore, and then returned. He took his seat on a lofty platform and gave the soldiers the signal to charge with trumpeters urging them on.

Replica Ancient Roman Ship

Replica Ancient Roman Ship

No one understood what Caligula had in mind when he suddenly gave the order to gather seashells as plunder owed to Rome. He ordered the soldiers to fill their helmets and folds of their cloths with the ocean loot. Having secured these spoils, he became elated as if he had enslaved the ocean. He commemorated the victory by erecting a tall lighthouse where fires would guide ships at night.

Roman Soldiers in Formation

Roman Soldiers in Formation

Caligula gave his soldiers many presents and took their shells back to Rome to exhibit the bounty from Britain. He also selected a few German prisoners to parade in an extravagant triumph that he told his agents to prepare in Rome.

Although Caligula’s real plan is obscured by these wanton acts, he clearly intended to invade Britain. It may have been at Adminius’ urging. But this invasion was deferred, most likely as a result of mutinous soldiers refusing to cross the monster-infested British Channel.

In early 41 AD, Caligula was assassinated in Rome for his crazed behavior.

Rise of Anti-Roman Factions

The political strife in Britain did not come all at once, but by stages, starting with the removal of Adminius. Cunobelin felt he could entrust his son with the strategically important area of Kent to rule. After the death of Cunobelin, Togodumnus and Caratacus pursued an expansionist policy even more vigorously than their father. And they did this with less respect for what seemed an indecisive and ineffectual Roman authority across the Channel.

Dynasties of Southeast Britain

Date Rome Southern Dynasty Northern Dynasty
50 BC Civil War, Murder of Caesar;
40 BC Commius
30 BC Octavian and Mark Antony Civil War Addedomaros
20 BC Augustus Tasciovanus
10 BC Tincommius Dubnovellaunos
1 AD
AD 10 Epatticus Cunobelin
Vodenos
AD 20 Tiberius Eppillus
AD 30 Verica Adminius
AD40 Caligula Caratacus
AD50 Claudius

There was ongoing, bitter rivalry between the ruling houses of the Atrebates and the Catuvellauni. The control of lands in Kent teetered back and forth between these dynasties. The Atrebates laid claim to east Kent through Eppillus, who reigned there from 5 to 20 AD until Cunobelin took control.

Verica succeeded his elder brother Eppillus as king of the Atrebates about 15 AD. He established his capital at Calleva (modern-day Silchester). Verica’s territory was pressed from the east by Cunobelin’s brother, Epatticus, who conquered Calleva (modern day Silchester) about 25 AD.

When Epatticus died in 35 AD, Verica regained his original territory. Cunobelin chose not to challenge Verica. He instead honored Verica’s treaty agreement with Rome.

Map Ancient Britain 1st Center

Map Ancient Britain 1st Century

With the death of Cunobelin, the political balance tipped when Caratacus first took control of Kent from his brother Adminius. Not content with this, he invaded south of the Thames. He succeeded where his uncle Epatticus had failed: gain control of territories in southern Britain and forge them into his kingdom. Sometime after 40 AD, he conquered the entire Atrebates territory.

This time, the British King taking flight and seeking protection was Verica. Appearing as a suppliant before Claudius, Verica claimed he had been driven out of Britain by an uprising. He called upon Claudius to fulfill his obligation under their treaty.

Clearly, critical land areas on the southeast coasts of Britain were now under hostile control and the political balance so skillfully developed and maintained by Augustus was in shambles. Evidence of further expansion of the Catuvellaunian power was provided by Dio Cassius in his Roman History. Soon after the Roman landing, Commander Aulus Plautius received the surrender of some Dobunni, who, he adds, were subjects of the Catuvellauni.

This gave the newly empowered Claudius a cast-iron justification for an invasion. Victory would elevate him to the same glory as Julius Caesar and divert Rome’s attention away from his relationship with the Senate that was charged with suspicion and hostility.

Imperial portrait of Roman emperor Claudius

Imperial portrait of Roman Emperor Claudius

To be continued:

The next post will highlight the Roman pre-launch activities that almost ended in disaster and the relative ease of the Legions to occupy Britain initially.

References:

John Manley, AD 43 The Roman Invasion of Britain: A reassessment; Tempus Publishing, Inc., Charleston, SC, 2002.

David Miles, The Tribes of Britain; Phoenix, Imprint of Orion Books, Ltd., London, UK, 2006.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, The Twelve Caesars, Translated by Robert Graves; Reprinted 2007 by Penguin Books, New York.

Graham Webster, Roman Invasion of Britain, Reprinted 1999 by Routledge, London.

Graham Webster, Rome Against Caratacus: The Roman Campaigns in Britain AD 48-58; Reprinted 2002 by Routledge, London.

Graham Webster, Boudica: The British Revolt Against Rome AD 60; Reprinted 2004 by Routledge, London.

Cassius Dio, Roman History, published in Vol. VII of the Loeb Classical Library, Edition 1924; Book LX   http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/60*.html

 

Celtic Warrior: Greek and Roman Accounts

 

 

Their [Celtic warriors] songs as they go into battle, their yells and leaping, and the dreadful noise of arms as they beat their shields in some ancestral custom, all this is done with one purpose: to terrify their enemies

— Livy, Roman Historian

Age of the Warriors

As discussed in a previous post on APOLLO’S RAVEN, the 3rd Century was classified as the Age of the Warriors for the Continental Celts, based upon Greek and Roman written accounts of their exploits. Burial sites also provide evidence that the warrior nobility was the dominant social group in the Celtic society, as evidenced by the stockpile of swords, lances, armor and shields in the burial sites. The emphasis on weaponry suggests a society geared for war.

Many Celts searched for fame and fortune in the rich, exotic Mediterranean world, in the hope of returning home with their reputations made. Many young warriors sought mercenary service that removed them from the tribe at a time when their drive to achieve high status was most intense. The Greek historian Strabo wrote: “The whole race is war mad, high-spirited and quick to battle.”

Coastline Near Marseille

Provence Coastline Near Marseille

The stereotypical image of the Celtic warrior was engraved onto the consciousness of Greeks and Romans after their fierce encounters with these pillagers.

Greek Accounts

Celtic groups moved southeast that took some of them through the Balkans, into Greece and across into Asia Minor. During this age, many foreign armies used Celtic mercenaries in their ranks, including Greece, Macedonia, Sicily, and Egypt. It is known that Alexander the Great had established friendly relations with Celts in the Balkans before embarking upon his campaigns in Asia.

Dagda Gundestrup cauldron

Dagda Gundestrup cauldron

What encouraged the Celts to continue their mass invasion into Macedonia in the early 3rd Century BC is uncertain, but the area was in turmoil after the break-up of Alexander’s empire. In 280 B.C., Celtic hoards led by Brennus pillaged Macedonia and, then in the middle of winter, some thirty thousand warriors attacked Greece itself. The Greek author Pausanias wrote that Brennus campaigned against Greece to take advantage of the nation’s weakness at the time and to gain even greater wealth from its great sanctuaries. The richest of these was Delphi located high on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, where a temple had been dedicated for the worship of Apollo.

Apollo-WaltersArs

Apollo, God of Sun

Brennus had initial success, but his army was ultimately defeated by forces of nature: lightning, hail, and landslides. Terrified, the Celtic leader interpreted these natural forces as punishment from the gods, and he withdrew his army. The retreating Celtic forces suffered retribution at the hands of the Greeks and subsequently,  Brennus committed suicide.

The Greek historian Polybius wrote of one encounter of how the Celtic enemies were terrified by the dreadful din of innumerable horn blowers and trumpeters, the whole army shouting their war cries. After these events, the Celtic fury was deeply etched in the Greek minds.

Celtic Shield British Museum

Celtic Shield La Tène Style

Roman Accounts

In 391 B.C., Celtic warriors marched on Rome and captured the entire city, except for the capital which was saved by the Roman garrison. After receiving a bribe of one thousand pounds of gold, the Celtic attackers moved northward to what would be known as Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy). From this time forward, the Celtic attacks were so numerous upon the Roman territory that it can be argued that the city was obliged to become a major military power—the first step towards becoming a world power—because of their need to crush the Celtic barbarians. During the long conflict between 390-285 B.C., the Celts were a close-range threat. The best known Celtic mercenaries were those who joined Hannibal during his invasion of Italy during the Second Punic War and helped contribute to his victories. Hence, Rome’s image of the fierce Celtic warriors was created.

Replica Celtic Helmet Britain

Celtic Helmet

In 225 B.C., another group of Celtic mercenaries came south over the Alps to fight with the Cispalpine Gauls against the Romans in the Battle of Telamon. These Celtic mercenaries were called the Gaesataetranslated as ‘spearmen’. These mercenary warriors were a distinct group outside the normal social structure of the clan and tribe. The custom of the Gaesatae was to appear naked on the field of battle, a ritual action to demonstrate their ferocity and lack of fear. The Romans threw volleys of javelins at the naked Gaesatae who fought only with small shields. Some of them rushed wildly at the Romans and were slaughtered. Others withdrew, their retreat causing disorder among their allies.

Dying Gladiator

Statue of Dying Gaul

According to Caesar, the bravery of Celts sprang from their lack of fear of death. They believed the soul did not die. The classical authors, Lucan and Diodorus Siculus, emphasized the Celt’s belief in metempsychosis—that after death the soul passes from one body to another. Welsh and Irish mythologies talk about the easy passage to and fro from the physical world to the Otherworld, the world of the dead.

In his accounts, Julius Caesar regarded only two classes of any status in the Celtic society—the druids (priests) and the knights (noble warriors)—which were evidenced in Irish and Welsh culture. Druids were recruited from the sons and daughters of free-born warriors. They officiated the worship of the gods and interpreted divine purpose and will. The druids had a strong political role in this warrior society.

Julius Caesar Statue

Statue of Julius Caesar

The next posts will further describe the Celtic warrior culture and their religious beliefs.

References:

John Davies, The Celts: Prehistory to Present Day;  2005; United States: Sterling Publishing Co., New York.
Stephen Allen, Celtic Warrior: 300 BC — AD 100; 2001 Osprey Publishing LTD., Westminster, MD, USA.
Julius Caesar, translated by F. P. Long, 2005. The Conquest of Gaul; United States: Barnes & Noble, Inc.