Calgacus

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19t century pictur o Calgacus speakin tae the Caledonians.

Calgacus (whiles cried Calgacos or Galgacus) wis a Caledonian chieftain that wis the leader o the Caledonian Confederacy that focht agin the Roman airmy o Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle o Mons Grapius in northren Scotland in AD 83 or 84.

His name[eedit | eedit soorce]

His name is considered to mean "The Swordsman".

His life[eedit | eedit soorce]

Awmaist naething is kent anent the life o Calgacus. It isna e'en kent whither he existit or no. If he wis real then aw that can be said anent him is that he wis a gey pouerfu man that cam tae be leader o the Pechts. John Prebble haes this tae say anent him:

"If name an man warna invenitit bi Tacitus [a Roman historian] he is the first inhabitant o Scotland tae hae a recordit identity. Prehistory endit wi his appearance."

The ae historical soorce that haes him in it is Tactius' Agricola, that cries him:

"The maist distinguished for birth an valour amang the cheiftains"

Calgacus isna mentiont durin or efter the battle an he isna named as ane o the preesoners Agriocola teuk wi him efter pittin the Caledonians tae flicht. It therefor isna clear as tae whither he wis slain in the fecht or escapit tae play a pairt in the the uneasy peace o the follaein years.

His speech[eedit | eedit soorce]

Tacitus wrate a speech an attributit it tae Calgacus afore the Battle o Mons Grapius that descrieves the exploitation o Britain bi Rome an rouses his sodgers for the fecht. The historian Simon Schama cried it

"the first o the great back-tae-the-waw, anti-imperialist speeches on Scotland's syle, an ringin appeal for his ain kintra's freedom."

Here is the speech as written bi Tacitus in the Agricola (Beuk 30):

"Ilka time I leuk at the stairtin o this war an the needfuness o wir staundin, I hae muckle confidence that this day, an this union o yers, will be the stairtin o freedom tae the hail o Breetain. Tae aw o us slaverie is a thing unkent; the arena ony kintras ayont us, an e'en the sea isna sauf, menaced as we are bi a Roman fleet. An thus in war an battle, that the brave find glore in, e'en the couart will find saufty. Aulder contests, that, wi divers fortuin, the Romans war resistit, still left in us a last howp o easedom, sin we are the maist weel kent kintra o Breetain, bidin in the verra hert o the kintra, an oot o sicht o the shores o the defeatit, we coud aye keep wir een untaintit bi the disease o slavery. Tae us, that bides on the uttermaist launds o the yird an o freedom, this remote sanctuary o Breetain's glore has up tae this time been a defence. Nou, but, the farthest o Breetains mairches is hurled open, an the unkent aye passes for the mervelous. But there's nae tribes ayont us, naething indeed but waves an stanes, an the yet mair terrible Romans, frae whase oppression escape is socht vainlike bi obediance an submeesion. Reivers o the warld, haein bi their hailyird plunder exhaustit the laund, the pilfer the deeps. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be puir they are lusty for lairdship; no the east or the wast haes been able tae please thaim. Tae reivery, slauchter, plunder, they gie the fause name o "empire." They mak a muir an they caw it peace."

O this speech, Schama writes:

"We hae nae evidents, o coorse, that Calgagus iver said sic things. The impassioned appeal for freedom comes straucht frae Roman republican, raither nor Celtic tribal, rhetoric o whilk we can ken naethin."

Soorces[eedit | eedit soorce]