Britannia, by William Camden

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CALEDONIA.

Caledonia. Small A ALL that part of Britain, which lies Northward beyond Graham’s Dyke, or the forementioned Wall of Antoninus Pius, and jets out on both sides, is called by Tacitus Caledonia; and the People, The Britains inhabiting Caledonia. Ptolemy divides them into many Nations, viz. the Caledonii, Epidii, Vacomagi, &c. All these were afterwards, from their retaining that custom of painting their bodies, called Picts by the Romans and Provincials. They are divided by Ammianus Marcellinus into two Nations, the Dicaledones, and Vecturiones, which have been treated of before. ⌈The Dicaledones seem to have possessed the Countries of Argile, Perthshire, and part of Loughaber, with the mountainous part of Angus; and the Vecturiones, the rest of Scotland, north of the Firth of Forth.⌉ But, in Classick Authors, they all go under the name of Caledonii; who, I should think, were so called of Kaled, a British word signifying hard, which in the Plural number is Kaledion; whence Caledonii, that is, a people hardy, rough, unciviliz’d, wild and rustick, such as the Northern People generally are; of a fierce temper, from the extream coldness of their climate; and bold and forward, from their abundance of blood. And besides their climate, the nature of the Country contributes to it, rising up every where in rough and rugged mountains; and Mountaineers are known by all to be a hardy and robust People. But whereas Varro alledges out of Pacuvius, that Caledonia breeds men of exceeding large bodies, I should rather think it meant of that part of Epirus called Caledonia, than of our’s; although our’s too may justly challenge this commendation. Sylva Caledonia. Among these, was the Sylva Caledonia, called by Lucius Florus Saltus Caledonius, spread out to a vast compass, and by reason of the thickness of trees, impassable; and, divided by the Mountain Grampius, now called Grantzbaine, that is, the crooked Mountain. Solinus tells us, It is plain, that Ulysses arrived in Caledonia, by a votive AltarUlysses’s Altar. inscrib’d with Greek Characters: But I should rather think, it was set up in honour of * * Concerning his being in Britain, and his Altars in several Nations, see the General Part, pag.xliv.Ulysses, than by Ulysses himself. Martial also in this verse mentions the Caledonian Bears:

Nuda Caledonio sic pectora præbuit urso.

His naked breast to Caledonian bears
He thus expos’d.———

Plutarch also writes, that they transported Bears from Britain to Rome, where they had them in great admiration; but Britain has bred none for many ages. What sort of Monster that should be, which is mentioned by Claudian,

—Caledonio velata Britannia monstro.

With Caledonian monsters cover’d o’er
Great Britain next appears;——

I cannot really tell. Caledonian Bulls. It certainly bred in ancient times abundance of wild milk-white Bulls, with thick manes like Lions; but it breeds few now a-days, and those very cruel and fierce, having such an aversion to mankind, that for some time they cannot endure any thing handled or breathed upon by them; nay, they value not the baiting of dogs, though Rome in former ages wonder’d at the fierceness of Scottish Dogs, to such a degree, that they thought they were brought over in cages of Iron. However, this word Caledonii grew so common among the Roman writers, that they made use of it to express all Britain, and all the Forests of Britain. Hence Florus tells us, that Cæsar pursued the Britains as far as the Caledonian Forests; and yet he never saw them. caesar Hence also Valerius Flaccus addresses himself thus to Vespasian;

—Caledonius postquam tua Carbasa vexit Oceanus.—

When Caledonian waves your streamers bore;

That is, the British Sea. Hence likewise Statius addresses his verses to Crispinus, concerning Vectius Volanus, his Father, and Proprætor of Britain about Vitellius’s time.propraetor

Quanta Caledonios attollet gloria campos,
Cum tibi longævus referet trucis incola terræ,
Hic suetus dare jura parens, hoc cespite turmas
Affari, ille dedit, cinxitque hæc mœnia fossa,
Belligeris hæc dona deis, hæc tela dicavit,
Cernis adhuc titulos, hunc ipse vacantibus armis
Induit, hunc regi rapuit thoraca Britanno.

What glories Caledonian plains shall boast,
When some rude native of the barb’rous coast
Salutes you thus,—Here, Sir, with awful state
Your noble father oft in judgment sate.
On this small hill I’ve seen the Heroe stand,
While willing Legions heard his just command.
These walls, these ditches, own his mighty hand.
These Arms (their old inscriptions yet appear,)
He fix’d, glad trophies to the God of War.
This sumptuous Corslet for the fight put on,
And this from
Britain’s Prince in combat won.

But in these, as in other things,

Crescit in immensum facunda licentia vatum.

Nor laws nor bounds poetick licence owns:

For neither Cæsar nor Volanus ever so much as knew the Caledonians. caesar In Pliny’s time (as himself witnesses) which is almost thirty years after Claudius, the Romans with all their expeditions, had carried their victories in Britain no farther than to this neighbourhood of the Caledonian Forest. For Julius Agricola, under Domitian, was the first that enter’d Caledonia, which was then under the government of GalgacusGalgacus the Britain. (called in the Triadum Liber, amongst the three Worthies of Britain, Galauc ap Liennauc) a Prince of mighty spirit and courage; who having routed the ninth Legion, did with an undaunted resolution charge the Romans, and with the utmost bravery defended his country, till fortune, rather than his own valour, fail’d him. For then (as he saith) these northern Britains were the utmost bounds both of land and liberty. And they certainly were the utmost Inhabitants of this Island; as Catullus calls the Britains the utmost Inhabitants of the world, in his verses to Furius:

Cæsaris visens monumenta magni,
Gallicum Rhenum, horribiles & ultimosque Britannos.

To view the noble marks of Cæsar’s power,
The Gallick Rhine, and Britain’s farthest shore.

Argetecoxus. In the time of Severus (as we read in Xiphiline) Argetecoxus, a petty King, reigned over this Tract; whose wife, being reproached as an Adulteress by Julia the Empress, frankly made this answer; We British Dames have to do with the bravest men, but you Roman Ladies with every base lewd fellow, in private.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06