Galgacus: On Roman Imperialism Essay

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Publius (Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian and senator who wrote several historical documents, including some discussing ancient Britain. In approximately 98 CE, Tacitus wrote a particular document called, “Galgacus: On Roman Imperialism,” which focused on a speech supposedly delivered by Galgacus, a Briton military leader. If Tacitus in fact did write this speech celebrating the Britons and calling them to fight for freedom, why would he use Galgacus’s name? Firstly, Tacitus was a Roman senator who witnessed imperialism’s negative impact so he imagined this speech to criticize the Roman Empire’s barbarism without incriminating himself. Secondly, this speech celebrates the Britons while demonizing the Romans, which again,…show more content…
Next, Galgacus claims that slavery is foreign, yet the Britons experience indirect slavery continuously because of their fear of conquest. Since Briton lies on the periphery of the Roman Empire—the centre—it is protected better from the contagion of slavery, as Galgacus describes the Roman Empire, but it also helps foster nationhood, which the Empire is devoid of, according to Tacitus. Already, through his word choice, Tactitus highlights his disdain, while also providing readers with a believable history. Galgacus continues by calling the Romans the “robbers of the world,” who are “rapacious” and insatiable as “neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them.” These words clearly provide an unfavourable depiction of the Romans, and this is precisely the point. Tacitus did not want to romanticize the Empire, but instead he wanted to expose the rulers as barbarians. Galgacus concludes this section by proclaiming the Empire to be bogus, built upon corrupt morals, lavish lifestyles, and tyranny. The second section of the speech continues with Galgacus’ call to arms, and he declares, “Nature has willed that every man’s children and kindred should be his dearest objects.” By using this statement, Tacitus suggests that the Romans are “freaks of nature” opposed to the Britons who possess natural humanity. This is another example of Tacitus

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