Thread Rating:
  • 3 Vote(s) - 4.33 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica's Last Stand.
Quote:"deligitque locum artis faucibus et a tergo silva clausum"

Church and Brodribb... "chose a position approached by a narrow defile, closed in at the rear by a forest"

Michael Grant... "chose a position in a defile with a wood behind him"

So, the key word is "faucibus" [faux] variously translated as throat, gullet, jaws, gorge, ravine, chasm, isthmus, pass and defile. In this context 'defile' seems quite a tame description in comparison to 'gorge' or 'chasm'.
Now this is interesting. The two translations actually seem to site the battle differently - C & B place the position behind the defile (approached by it), whereas Grant has it in the defile... Which is the more accurate translation of 'locum artis faucibus'? The word artis here seems odd, and I can't figure it out: at a guess I'd connect it with art, and say the position was 'shaped like a defile' or something... :???:

On faucibus itself - I'm also reminded of the use of fauces for the vestibule of a Roman house, the entry-way between the street and the atrium. Translating it as 'throat' or 'pass' might imply a position with a road passing over a saddle between sloping hillsides, which open to a wood beyond. Not the narrowing bottleneck valley I'd been imagining...

You seem to be right about the position of the woods though - definitely behind the position, not flanking it. There's the note in Dio's account about Paulinus dividing his force into three - I'd previously imagined that this might be some garbled reference to the three-pronged tactical advance, but that might be fanciful. If the main Roman line closed the 'defile', with auxiliaries and cavalry holding the high ground to either side, that would be a division into three, more or less. Fairly standard formation too, of course.

Still, I would have to argue that descriptions of terrain are necessarily relative. If we imagine Paulinus heading up Watling street, for example, or even along the Portway towards Silchester, then he would be crossing a comparatively flat gentle landscape. In this environment, even a shallow depression between low hills could be considered a 'pass' or 'defile' - he had to work with the terrain that was available to him. To insist on Paulinus's 'defile' matching our criteria for one is potentially to distort the shape of the campaign, sending the Roman force many miles away in search of a battlefield that better meets what we would consider appropriate topography...

Having said this, I would fully endorse your point about sticking close to the texts we have available, and not glossing over aspects that seem troublesome! It's how we interpret the evidence that's important.

(EDIT - I've just realised that this is my 1000th post on RAT! Confusedhock: Not bad after nearly ten years...)
Nathan Ross
Reply


Messages In This Thread
Re: Calling all armchair generals! - by Ensifer - 03-11-2010, 03:13 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-18-2012, 06:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 12:02 AM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 02:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 05:40 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Nathan Ross - 02-19-2012, 08:24 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 02-19-2012, 11:26 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 05:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 09:42 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-24-2012, 10:10 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:11 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 03:25 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-25-2012, 08:36 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 04-27-2012, 01:50 PM
Re: Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by Steve Kaye - 08-05-2012, 02:24 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-07-2014, 02:18 PM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-08-2014, 01:50 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-11-2014, 02:03 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-18-2014, 07:54 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-20-2014, 02:37 AM
Calling all armchair generals! Boudica\'s Last Stand. - by antiochus - 11-25-2014, 08:29 AM

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Armchair Wall walking mcbishop 3 2,624 01-11-2012, 03:22 AM
Last Post: Vindex

Forum Jump: