05 October 2008

Chapters I and II

I must admit I find the chronology of the first two chapters of Eagle in the Snow quite confusing. We are told that Maximus was thirteen when his father was sent to Britain by the Caesar Julian. Julian was Caesar from 356 to 360, when he became Augustus. The oldest Maximus could therefore be by the time of the great barbarian incursion of 367 would be 24, which, working backwards, would make him no more than about 16 or 17 when he was serving as equestrian tribune and quite probably younger.

Ammianus Marcellinus' account of Martinus' death is quite different. According to Marcellinus:

Thereupon Martinus, alarmed at this threat, and thinking swift death imminent, drew his sword and attacked that same Paulus. But since the weakness of his hand prevented him from dealing a fatal blow, he plunged the sword which he had already drawn into his own side. (translation by J. C. Rolfe)

Ammianus also gives an account of the barbarians' concerted attack on Britain and how Theodosius was sent to Britain to retrieve the situation. Some present-day historians believe Ammianus exaggerates the situation to make Theodosius, father of the Emperor under whom Ammianus was writing, look good. Others take Ammianus at his word and believe there may have been a single mastermind responsible for coordinating the attacks.

Borcovicum, where Maximus is stationed on Hadrian's Wall, is also known as Vercovicium. The page from roman-britain.org dedicated to Vercovicium also has information about Maximus' cohort, the First Cohort of Tungrians (as is usual with this site, the page is very informative, but also quite hard to read).

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