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Scottish Myths

An excerpt from the beginning of Scottish Myths. IT is somewhat remarkable that of the parentage claimed for Welsh, Irish, or Scot, there is none from our Roman invaders, though, as Camden says, " meet it is we should believe, that the Britons and Romans in so many ages, by a blessed and joyful mutual engraffing, as it were, have grown into one stock and nation, seeing that the Ubii in Germany, within twenty-eight years after a colony was planted, where now Colein is, made answer to their countrymen as touching the Roman inhabitants there, in this wise: - This is the natural country as well to those that being conveyed hither in time past, are conjoined with us by marriages, as to their offspring. Neither can we think you so unreasonable as to wish us for to kill our parents, brethren, and children. The Roman legionary troops employed in the conquest of Britain were not, even a majority of them, Italians. The auxiliaries were of all nations. Petilius Cerealis, addressing the Treviri, said, when explaining their relations with the Romans: "To maintain the tranquility of nations arms are necessary, soldiers must be kept in pay, and, without a tribute, supplies cannot be raised, all other things are placed on a footing of equality" (between them and the Romans); "our legions are often commanded by you; you are governors of your own provinces, and even of others; nothing is reserved to ourselves, no exclusiveness exercised." Tacitus says: "There is no strength in the Roman armies, but it is of foreign strangers;" and to go back a century before his time, we are told of Pompey's legions in Spain: "Two were natives (Spaniards), one was formed out of the Roman colonies in those parts, and a fourth, belonging to Afranius, he had brought with him from Africa. The rest were for the most part made up of fugitives and deserters." This may not be a fair example, but it is evident that a Roman soldier was not necessarily a Roman. The long occupation of modern Wales by the Romans has undoubtedly coloured Welsh traditions, but the Welsh call themselves "Cymri," as the Irish and Scotch Highlanders call themselves "Gael." I wish at present to devote attention specially to two tribes who did good service to the Romans in - Wales and Scotland, if not also in Ireland. The first of these, the Batavians, Tacitus tells us, were a tribe of the great nation of the Catti, who inhabited part of the Hercynian forest, and had latterly settled chiefly on an island in the Rhine, washed on the north extremity by the ocean, and at the back and both sides by the river. They furnished men and arms for the empire, and afterwards (he speaks before Agricola's invasion of Wales) "added to their fame by their service in Britain, whither cohorts of them were conveyed under the command of the most distinguished chiefs of their country, in conformity with their long established practice...". ...The other tribe was the Tungri, of whose origin we have the following account in Tacitus's Manners of the Germans, c. 2: - "The name of Germany they (the Germans) assert to be a modern addition, for that the people who first crossed the Rhine and expelled the Gauls and are now called Tungri, were then named Germans, which appellation of a particular tribe, not of a whole people, gradually prevailed, so that the title of Germans, first assumed by the victors in order to excite terror, was afterwards adopted by the nation in general...".
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