Celtic Britain - Different images of Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni, from Roman times to the Present

Essay by ochibiHigh School, 11th grade August 2005

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Celtic Britain - Assessment Task

- Explain the different images of Boudicca from Roman times through to the present. -

Throughout history, people have had different images of Boudicca, ranging from a barbarian, to an heroine, and even a terrorist. Some, like the Victorians, were inspired by her bravery in leading her people against an oppressive force. Others, like the Romans, thought Boudicca was a savage. Whether they thought well of her or not, the story of Boudicca featured in many poems, paintings, sculptures, or historical records. However, since everything is clouded by bias and prejudice, no one today truly knows which is the most honest account, and we are left to analyse previous sources and form our own view of Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni.

The first insights we gain to what Boudicca was seen as are from the only two Roman accounts of her battle with the Roman army, written by Dio Cassius in his History of Rome, and Tacitus in his Annals.

Tacitus also mentioned Boudicca and reasons for the Briton's discontent in his monograph on his father-in-law, Agricola.

Dio Cassius, a Roman senator and historian, had a harsh view of Boudicca. According to Source 3 (Dio's Roman History - The Revolt of Boudicca handout), Dio said "Moreover, all this ruin was brought upon the Romans by a woman, a fact which in itself caused them the greatest shame". From this one sentence, we can see that Dio did not have respect for a woman leading an army.

His description of Boudicca, as "In stature she was very tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh; a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace...She...