Monday, May 4, 2009

Legion of the Damned

Legion of the Damned: Did Boudicca's curse cause 6,000 of Rome's fiercest warriors to vanish without trace? William Napier explores this theory in his article for the Daily Mail.

Two yet to be released movies (the Eagle of the Ninth and Centurion) are tackling the topic of the mysterious disappearance of the infamous Roman Ninth Legion - the IX Hispanica - who vanished (c.117AD) in the mists of Roman Caledonia - Scotland to you and me.

It was claimed that as she lay dying, Boudicca used her last breath to curse forever the Legion that had led to her defeat and to the destruction of her peoples - the Ninth Legion.


ShaktiValkyrie said...

Yes, what happened to them is a curious thing. However, I'm not sure
Boudicca had much to do with it. The claim of her dying curse is what I like to call a double rumor.

See, no one actually knows what happened to her and her daughters. They were never found among the dead. "According to Tacitus, Boudica poisoned herself; Dio says she fell sick and died, and was given a lavish burial."

Given that they were never found and what Tacitus did to the the few remaining rebels (Nero of all people had to call on Tacitus to stop being so hard on the survivors. That gives us some idea of how horrible there life was after the rebellion). If her body were to be found, he would have found her.

What I mean by a double rumor is that whatever happened to her, we can only speculate. In some ways making the speculation itself a rumor. Then when "her dying words" are added on top of that would make a double rumor.

My personal thoughts are that she did die that day. I think her daughters probably died fighting and either after she found out or she knew that they were loosing that battle, she killed herself. In her culture, that would not have been a bad thing. Especially when considering the consequences.

Some think that she lived and managed to escape, however, I highly doubt this. Given all she went through to unite fighting tribes and what she was fighting for she would not have just stood by and watched her people being massively abused and tortured. Her doing that seems greatly out of character.

I'm sure she cast a thousand curses that day with this being one of them. So, say I am utterly wrong and those are her last words. Why would it "kick in" place 57 years later?
Then again, curses are a tricky and curious thing. :)

Huscarl said...

Good topic.

I've no doubt that 'Celtic' gods had power enough to affect things in supernatural ways, and that Druids/peoples of the time would cast curses, but what was their actual potency or effect- 57yrs later?

Couldn't that particular legion simply have been overrun by the Picts and the womenfolk/animals picked the Roman bodies clean, and their remains return to the earth, unfound by their comrades?

After all, the II Gemina legion inexplicably failed to march towards Paulinus's two legions at that last battle against Boudicca- yet there was nothing supernatural here.

There have been many instances of whole bodies of troops 'vanishing' (ie. 3 crack Roman legions at Wald in 9ad; British infantry units in WWI 'mists')

And at several sieges and battles, huge numbers of bodies were still bleaching in the sun decades later (ie. The slain Norse army at Stamford Bridge in 1066; The horrific sacking of Peking by Ghengis Khan in the 13thC)

These vanishings make for great legend, and attract such interest, but there may well be a less cosmic explanation?