February 28, 2017 Politics

With reference to both modern and ancient sources, account for the changing image of Boudicca through different periods in history.


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Tactitus/ Dio Cassius > downplay the leadership of Boudicca

Archaeology in Colchester


Re- emergence of Boudicca in the renaissance with the discovery of writings of tacitus > shakes peares yound contempories > portrayed as

Victorian era named as queen victorias name sake + building of statue by prince albert

Inclusion of Boudicca in recent films and novels > fiction > legend

Ancient accounts of Boudicca often downplay her success and undermine her heroic nature. Dio Cassius, for instance, describes Boudicca as ???not someone descended from great ancestors avenging her kingdom and her wealth, rather she was an ordinary woman avenging the freedom she had lost, her body worn out with flogging and the violated chastity of her daughters??™ such an account highlights her womanly flaws in leadership as she has a personal attachment to the conflict. Such illustrations of Boudicca accompanied with a possibly exaggerated number in the defeat of 80 000 fallen Britons in comparison to 400 roman casualties portray Boudicca??™s ultimate failure in leadership of the 60AD revolt. As Dio Cassius was a Roman consult his accounts of Boudicca are quite unreliable as they are from the perspective of a Roman bias who not only were the enemies of Boudicca and the Britons but also refused culturally condone women as leaders.

Similarly, Tacitus also degraded Boudicca on account of her gender however he acknowledges her leadership qualities as he describes her as having ???a woman of the British royal family, who possessed more spirit than is usual in a woman??™, such acknowledgement of royalty and spirit indicates the Roman ability to recognise the perspective of the opposition. Tacitus also describes Boudicca as tall in stature and impressively dressed. The greater ability of Tacitus to highlight the attributes of Boudicca were likely to have been a result of Tacitus as a primary writer of the time where as the writings of Dio Cassius occurred almost one hundred years after Boudicca??™s death, subjecting him to greater Roman bias as his writings are more based upon research regarding other Roman writers as well as his status in politics as a Roman senator.

Advances in the archaeological field have also contributed to shaping the image of Boudicca as more of a ruthless warrior. Excavations in 1927 of shops of glassware and pottery in Colchester, the first location of Boudicca??™s mass attack, reveal destruction by intense heat, later excavations in the 1970s support this theory. Furthermore excavations of London and St. Albans have revealed a similar layer of burnt daub and ash indicating that the destruction of these cities was methodical and thorough, as the destruction of Roman infrastructure would have proven a difficult task. This act of methodical destruction undermines the Roman conception of Boudicca and the Britons as barbaric and disorganised. Moreover, proving the power and ruthless nature of Boudicca the warrior queen through her thorough destruction of three Roman cities.

Throughout the middle ages, Boudicca was lost. However with the rediscovery of Tacitus??™ writings in the Renaissance period the story of Boudicca became an inspiration to the Shakespeare and his younger contemporaries; Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. Beaumont and Fletcher were playwrights to Bonduca in 1610 in which the story of Boudicca was dramatized and her character transformed from a failing female leader into a heroic avenging mother. Similarly, Shakespeare??™s poem ???Boadicea. An Ode??™ expressed anger towards the Romans, ???Shame and ruin wait for you??™ and respect towards Boudicca and Celtic culture. Such incorporation into the literary world transformed Boudicca from a historical figure of Roman hatred into a poetic device of inspiration.


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