Moses Hadas of Columbia University Term Paper

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Tacitus avers that from childhood Agricola possessed that attributes that would make him a legendary leader. He was of sensitive disposition more tuned to intellectual pursuits. On the other hand he pursued the achievement of physical prowess with dogged determination and excelled at these and other "war" games. The following time line more than adequately illustrates Agricola's meteoric rise. Agricola served as a military tribune to Britain under two governors-- Gaius Suetonius Paulinus and Publius Petronius. Later Agricola was named tribune of the Roman people; and promoted to Praetor at Rome. Later, he was a commander of a legion in Britain under Quintus Petilius Cerialis; then, governor of Aquitania; consul in Rome and finally governor of Britain, where his deeds are legend.

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Appointed as Governor of Britain in 77 AD, by the Emperor Vespian, he led an invasion of Scotland in 80 AD and consolidated his position by building a series of forts. Between 81 and 83 AD he advanced further north, trying to encircle the Pictish tribes of the highlands. At the battle of 'Mons Graupius' (the Grampian Hill) Agricola brought an 11,000-strong force to face the group of resistors. The auxiliaries were given the task of fighting the bulk of the battle with the legionaries kept in the rear of the battlefield. They were out-manoeuvred by Scottish chariots, but Agricola would not send in the legionaries, but instead kept them ready to rush into battle at a moment's notice. Agricola had made sure the Romans surrounded the Scottish clan warriors and made them all fight in confusion while the legions kept co-ordinated and methodically cutting away line after line. The Picts were soundly defeated, prompting Tacitus to write, that Britain "was completely subdued." Agricola's navy also proved for the first time, that Britain was indeed an island, by sailing up the west coast and reaching the Fair Isle and the Orkney Islands. Agricola was a Roman general and governor of the province of Britannia from 78-84 AD.

Term Paper on Moses Hadas of Columbia University, Assignment

Agricola was a master strategist: After the Romans incurring heavy cavalry losses to the Ordovices tribe in North Wales Agricola was named governor. He did not try to appease the Ordovices or make peace; he brought his legion straight towards them. Demonstrating his courage by marching at the front of the line, he led the Roman legionaries and auxiliaries into the hills and they decimated the tribe's warriors. He struck at hostile coastal tribes and ports using ships, which advanced up the shore ahead of the marching legions. An organized push of infantry, cavalry and marines meant the opposing forces had little chance in ragtag groups. This caused the mountainous villages and tribes to unite and rally together. Rather than retreat to set up forts, Agricola pushed forwards to meet the oncoming force. While the fleet of ships harassed coastal towns, he called up Romanised Britons to join the legions and strengthen his army.

Eventually the legions were sent forth. The battle was an exchange of spears to start with, but not many losses were sustained on either side. When the two sides collided in close quarters combat, however, the gladius (short-sword) proved its worth as the best close-range infantry weapon of all history and with the Romans keeping formation against the disorganized Britons, the enemy was sliced apart. Meanwhile, Roman cavalry defeated the British chariots and then the infantry plunged deeper and deeper into the British lines.

With the collisions with British clans decreasing in frequency, Agricola settled back into an administrative role. He made perceptive political decisions and attacked trigger factors that may have caused rebellion. He reduced resentment of the Roman occupation by removing the excesses of patronage, and did not enforce such harsh penalties for small criminal infractions. Taxation methods were made less brutal and more smoothly regulated, so that corrupt officials and unnecessary rules were rooted out. He recognized that it was not so much the taxation itself which was resented; rather, it was the fund-misappropriation by petty attendants who were constantly looking for a payday.

Agricola was effective in increasing the security of the province, and making the citizens content with their situation. Garrisons were built in various places to prevent uprising, and incentives for erecting Roman-style buildings such as forums, temples, and modern (by standards in those days) housing. Sons of chiefs were taught Roman philosophy and given knowledge of the Roman arts. "Romanisation" was the term given to the bridging of the gap between rulers and the ruled. The sons of chiefs were taught Latin, and so when they inherited their fathers' townships they encouraged less hostile treatment of the Roman invaders.

The standard of buildings was increased. A ship quay which was built in 79, and discovered in 1981, was found. The quay was made of strong, sturdy timber of two feet in width, which would be able to stand up to any storm. A road and warehouses were built nearby. These types of constructions began the building of the port that is London.

Agricola took every new task in his life as a chance to prove himself as able to excel in another position. As a politician in Rome, as a military commander, and as an administrative governor of a province, he established himself as a more than adept leader.

On the battlefield, he led from the front, demonstrating his courage and the respect he demanded from his soldiers. Against the Ordovices he "went to meet the peril" as Tacitus writes. Concerning logistical and situational awareness, Agricola was second-to-none. He had an eye for ground which was unparalleled by any other commander, and chose exquisite sites for situating camps. He was bold, yet perhaps over-cautious to needlessly risk Roman life as he demonstrated at the battle at Mt. Grapius. Yet Agricola was optimistic and resolute in the face of difficulties. Rarely has there been a more adequate Roman leader - this was demonstrated when Domitian recalled him from Britain due to his gaining too much popularity.

Agricola was recalled to Rome in 87 AD by a ruler, who according to Tacitus," was the foe of virtue." He died in Rome on the 23rd August 93 AD aged 56.

In summary, Tacitus presents an objective report on the Germanic tribes. He presents information as they appear to him with very little emotional baggage. We realize the background from which he writes. He admires what he sees worth admiring; he criticizes that which he deems worthy of disdain. His objectivity is evident because if he showed the ethnologists' "love" for his subjects, he would go to great lengths to obfuscate findings that he did not like. Also, he would treat mores he admired the same way if he wanted to be overtly critical. He does not do either. That treatise has stood the test of time is a testament to his fairness and objectivity.

While this essay has largely been critical of Tacitus' intent, the work has been the only one that has brought the exploits of Agricola to the reader and student of history. He was the consummate leader, politician, warrior and social scientist. But one must realize from leaders everywhere: The road to power-brokering is always fraught with "Sin." But until another historian presents those facts… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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