“Equally at home with the classical Graeco-Roman world and that of the prehistoric European Iron Age, Professor Aldhouse-Green is well equipped to do justice. Boudica Britannia has 17 ratings and 2 reviews. Simon said: This is the most thought provoking book I have ever read on the subject of Boudica’s rebellio. Boudica and beyond. Folklore needs folk heroes, and Britannia delivers. Its main characters include the warrior queen Antedia (Zoë.
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A young girl is on the verge of an initiation ceremony that will nudge her into adulthood via chanting, dancing and something nasty with a knife. A mysterious outcast from the druids is receiving signs — from the badgers and the frogs, among other authorities — that something in Albion is badly amiss.
Mackenzie Crookwho has clearly spent hours in makeup, is listing and swaying menacingly, face caked with clay-coloured grime, high as a kite on some nameless drug. Crook, a cadaverous vision, is the druidic leader, Veran. Meantime, just over the Channel on the northern shore of Gaul, a Roman general is on the brink of invading Britain, brutannia a bunch of foot soldiers who have expressed, let us say, reservations about crossing a reputedly giant-squid-filled ocean boudkca take arms against a barbarous, terrifying land full of magic and human sacrifice.
This is Britannia, a hugely fun, extremely violent, new series for Sky Atlantic about the Roman invasion of Britain — the second, successful one, by the emperor Claudius, rather than the unsuccessful, probably rather shambolic attempts made by Julius Caesar.
Jez Butterworth, author of the hit plays Jerusalem and The Ferryman, co-writer of the James Bond movie Spectre, is behind the series, with fellow writers Tom Butterworth his brother and James Richardson. It is not the first time he has visited Roman Britain: Butterworth has made it clear in interviews that he is not too worried about historical accuracy: He is a storyteller, not a professor of classics.
And he has long been enchanted by the myths of Britain, by its old gods and spirits — a preoccupation of Jerusalem, with its intimations of the uncanny and the numinous, the hint that the mythical British giants Gog and Magog might one day, quite soon, wake.
Boudica Britannia – CRC Press Book
And yet in one way, Britannia — marvellously preposterous as it frequently seems, with its lurid scenes of drugged up, orgiastic druidic rites — is firmly within a tradition of writing, thinking and fantasising about Roman Britain.
The most compelling picture we have of the Celtic, iron age tribes of Britain, for example, comes from the way the Romans wrote about them.
One such author, Julius Caesar, was writing from first-hand experience, though doubtless not without spin and certainly with prejudice. Another, Tacitus, perhaps the greatest of Roman historians, offered often cynical and piquant critiques of the exercise of Roman power in works that included a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a governor of Britain for several years.
We have, too, the writings of ordinary Roman officers, vivid snatches of real life in the form of letters and memos preserved from the late first century AD in the mud of northern England the famous Vindolanda tablets, discovered in the s and s.
So while Butterworth gives us warlike warrior queens in their chariots, it is the Romans who offered the first vivid accounts of such characters. Boudicca, according to Tacitus, ravaged and almost completely defeated the Roman forces in the 60s AD.
One pretext for invading Britain was, according to the historian Cassius Dio, that a British potentate called Berikos had been expelled from Britain and sought asylum in Rome; Claudius was thus intervening to restore order, the kind of excuse for military action by a superpower that we might recognise from later eras.
By depicting the Britons as decidedly outlandish, if not a touch freakish, Butterworth has also developed a Roman literary trope — one rather undercut by recent archaeological evidence that suggests, at least in south-east Britain, a people vritannia influenced by and connected to Roman Gaul, with elites enjoying Roman wine and Mediterranean figs.
But in Roman literature, Britain is a byword for remoteness and peculiarity, both before its partial conquest and afterwards, when large tracts of it had become an artery in the complex system of bureaucracy, military might and trade that kept the Roman empire functioning. Depictions of druids form part of this exoticism. One can imagine scary passages giving readers, particularly those safely tucked up in Rome, a delicious frisson of distant danger.
Pliny the Elder wrote: Weirdos, the lot of them. There is a strong sense as ancient historian Greg Woolf has pointed out that Tacitus, in his biography of his father-in-law Agricola, was creating a stage on which the governor could appear both heroic and, importantly, unbesmirched by the moral corruption of Rome itself. But the episode certainly scorches Calgacus into the mind: Butterworth is about to begin writing a second series.
There is plenty of room for more. There are another years of Romano-British history to go. Just as important for the writer, there are innumerable gaps in our knowledge — and that is the void into which the imagination of a writer may flow.
Butterworth, with his psychedelic, spooky, sex-obsessed Britons, is not the first to try to fill it, nor will he be the last. Roman Britain Television Sky Atlantic bouvica. Order by newest oldest recommendations.
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