Mediobogdum; a rant!
By Jupiter, it’s grim here. Three months perched on a mountain at the edge of the empire with nothing to do, except watch the sheep and wait for those damned Brigantes to attack the fort again. Why? Why don’t we leave them to get on with it? We’ll never beat them. We can burn their villages, kill their warriors, terrorise their women and still they come! And they don’t fight like soldiers! They just appear out of the mist, set fire to our farms, steal a few sheep, trample the fields and vanish into the crags.
And the weather, the accursed weather! It has been raining for three days; not just a shower, but sheets, curtains, blankets of it, driving up from the sea, turning the ground to mud, running off the hillside in white torrents, creating rivers of the roads.
Nothing can be kept dry, the grain in the Horrea has gone mouldy, the bedding is damp, there are even drops coming though the roof of the principia! But at least we have the caldarium, one slight token of civilisation, though the other day the rain was so bad, the furnace went out. How can a Roman survive without hot water?
And those Brigantes; they always chose the worst weather to launch another attack. It’s as if they know how much we hate the wind and rain and that awful cold that gets into your very marrow. So we double the guard, sent out another patrol, chase shadows into the cloud.
Why our glorious emperor, the illustrious Hadrian (may the Gods preserve him!) bothers with this barren place, I’ll never know. He even built a wall across the whole country to protect perfidious Albion from the Pictish barbarians in the far north. Protect what? There’s nothing of any value here, just a bit of lead and tin way down in the south. Nothing grows; no grapes, no figs, no olives, not even any spices! What passes for food is dull and tasteless; porridge and warm mutton every day. We can’t even get a tasty dormouse! And there is no wine, just sour beer. And the Britons are impossible; nothing but trouble ever since the dreadful queen of the Iceni had the temerity to sack Camulodunum.
To think we came all the way from Dalmatia for this! Oh Dalmatia! Those warm nights, the wine, the music, the restless warm sea and the women. Ah, the women! But how could I know she was the consul’s woman? She didn’t say, and she was so careless; he was bound to discover us. I thought he was going to kill me, but he had a worse fate in store. I and my men, my brave cohort, all five centuries of them, were banished to Britannia at the very ends of the world, where we cling with freezing fingers to this cold wet mountain, waiting for another futile attack.