16 March, 2006

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, by Joseph E Roesch. Book review

Robert Hale, London, 2006, ISBN 0-7090-7958-3
Website at www.boudica-roesch.com for more information and to contact the author.

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni is set in Britain in AD 33–62 and tells the story of the historical British queen Boudica and her rebellion against the Roman government of Britain.

Boudica’s story is well known, so there is no need to worry about giving away the plot. In AD 43 the Roman army successfully invaded Britain. The Iceni, a tribe based in what is now Norfolk and north Suffolk, voluntarily allied with Rome. In AD 60 or 61, Prasutagus, client-king of the Iceni, died and left his kingdom half to the then Emperor Nero and half to his two daughters. The tribe chose his widow Boudica (variously spelled Boudicca or Boadicea) as their leader. However, the Roman procurator, one Decianus, ignored the will, seized the Iceni kingdom for Rome and had Boudica flogged and her two daughters raped. This triggered a destructive revolt against Roman rule, in the course of which the Roman towns of Londinium (London), Camulodunum (Colchester) and Verulamium (St Albans) were burned to the ground and many of their inhabitants killed. The legacy of this destruction turns up regularly in archaeological digs in the three towns, visible as a dense red layer of burned debris. The revolt was bloodily suppressed by the Roman governor Suetonius in a pitched battle, and Boudica died or was killed. The main sources are accounts written by the Roman historian Tacitus about 40 years after the event and believed to be based in large part on the recollections of Tacitus’ father-in-law Agricola who was a junior army officer in Britain at the time. A second Roman historian, Dio Cassius, wrote another account in about 200 AD. Curiously (to my mind), there appears to be no mention of Boudica or the revolt in later Welsh sources such as the Triads, although there are references that can plausibly be connected to Caratacus (Caradoc), the British warrior who fought a guerilla war against the Roman army in the years after the AD 43 invasion. So the Roman records are the only documentation extant.

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tells the story of Boudica’s life from early childhood to death, concentrating mainly on the period of the revolt. For me, one of its key strengths is its historical accuracy and attention to detail. The events in the story follow the accounts of Tacitus and Dio, with minor variations that are detailed in the Historical Note, and the imaginative infilling appears plausible to me. The material culture of Romans and Britons fits what I know of the archaeology, with some vignettes recreated in considerable detail. For example, the remains of a glass and pottery shop have been excavated on what was the main street of Roman Camulodunum. The glass had been stored on a shelf above the pottery and the heat from the fire was so intense that the shattered pottery was covered in drips of melted glass. In Boudica, Queen of the Iceni this shop (or one remarkably like it) is kept by a retired centurion. A few minor niggles; a Roman lady is described as wearing a toga, whereas I understand that the toga was a male garment; the Britons are regularly referred to as ‘Celts’ although the term was not used of British people at the time; and I’m not convinced that “one farm wagon, sawn in half and modified, would yield two war chariots”. The reconstructed chariots I’ve seen look purpose-built as two-wheeled vehicles and the British Museum reconstruction of the Wetwang (Yorkshire) chariot burial is a dual-purpose vehicle without the need for major surgery.

The novel presents a British religion centred on the worship of a central mother goddess, and makes Boudica the High Priestess of this religion for the Iceni, without drowning the story in New Age mysticism. It also shows feuding and rivalry between the British tribes, especially in the early part of the book, and makes a creditable attempt to show some of the Roman point of view as well as the British point of view. Some of the Roman soldiers in particular are presented as sympathetic characters, doing an unpleasant duty with strict military discipline, though the Roman politicians tend to come off rather less well (see below). The plot moves along at a fair clip and doesn’t meander or get bogged down, and there is some humour (it happens not to match my sense of humour, but that is a personal taste). The battles are quickly covered; if you don’t like lengthy battle scenes this will suit you very well. And although the book features both a warrior queen and a warrior princess, there are thankfully none of the sub-erotic undertones that are sometimes associated with such characters.

Very much to the author’s credit is the presence of a Historical Note, a character list and a glossary of place names indicating what is documented and what is invented. A website adds further information.

There were some aspects of the novel that didn’t work so well for me. Although, as noted above, the novel does avoid painting all the Romans as evil bad guys, there were scenes when the portrayal seemed to me a little heavy-handed. Decianus the procurator is shown as a greedy, violent, arrogant creep who richly deserves a sticky end - I had no problem with this, as it is consistent with Tacitus’ account. However, when Emperor Claudius is made to deliberately stop his triumphal procession to gloat over a little British girl who has just been trampled to death by a stampeding elephant, this is a little too much of the stage villain for me. It seemed to me that Boudica’s revolt could be amply justified without having to resort to this invented tableau. In places the writing felt a little ‘flat’ to me, despite the stirring events, and I found it hard to relate to some of the characters. This is a matter of personal preference.

I could also have done without the references to prophecies foretelling the coming of King Arthur. I figured out on page 3 that the heirloom sword Calabrenn was going to morph into Caliburn=Excalibur and really didn’t need it explained to me. Some character sensibilities seemed rather modern to me. The grisly human sacrifice described by Dio Cassius is presented as the work of a handful of violent drunks and is quickly stopped by an appalled Boudica, and a little Roman boy is horrified by a bear-baiting in the arena. Both these are possible; we do not know if Dio’s account of human sacrifice is accurate or what Boudica’s reaction was, and no doubt individuals varied in their reaction to blood sports then as they do now. I’m also not entirely convinced that the Late Pre-Roman Iron Age was really a utopia of equal rights for women as presented; though again, I don’t think there’s incontrovertible evidence that it wasn’t.

A well-crafted retelling of Boudica’s story with commendable attention to historical detail.

38 comments:

Susan Higginbotham said...

Sounds interesting! I'll have to look for this one. The Boudica novels I see in the bookstore here (Scott?) all have a minimally clothed hot-looking babe on them who seems to be pondering a modeling career rather than rebellion.

Carla said...

Since you're in the US, the author will supply by direct mail order if you like.

Those in the bookstores may well be Manda Scott's tetralogy, which made quite a splash over here. Sounds like the designers have read Terry Pratchett's take on the Warrior Princess in cover art :-) Have you come across that?

Bernita said...

I gather this is a historical novel in the strict sense, that is, one that in essence is a biography.
Have been mulling over the question of author's footnotes regarding less stringent genre works.
For example, is it really necessary, in a lower class work, to note that a song (translation variant mine) is derived from a poem by Bernard de Ventadour, a protege of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Such poem assumed to be written 50 years later though likely based on traditional and existing folk songs?

Carla said...

Well, I wouldn't call it a biography because it deals with the revolt from both sides, but it's in the 'classical' style of historical fiction in that it focuses on a historical figure rather than a fictional character.

I don't myself subscribe to the idea that there's a hierarchy in fiction with Great Art in the penthouse suite and 'lower class' or 'lesser' works in the basement (there's a hierarchy of things I like better than others, but that's a personal taste). I'd say the author's note should cover whatever the reader should/would like to know. I don't know the details of your example, but unless the song is the premise of the book I'd say its origin is something I'd be interested in but wouldn't call necessary. So if the book is an imaginative reconstruction of 'events' that could underlie the song (ie, the song is part of the evidence for the story), I'd say it would be fair to the reader to explain where the song came from and the reason for interpreting it to make the story (and 'Because I felt like it' or 'Because it made a good story' counts as a reason). But if the song is part of the background and not a major plot point, then I'd say it doesn't need to be discussed in an author's note. The author could always mention it on a website - unlike printed notes, websites aren't subject to space constraints.

That's my 2d, for what it's worth. Maybe other people will chip in with their views? I should imagine we all differ :-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.
One gets anxious sometimes.
Just local colour and a bit of pathos.

Gabriele C. said...

Amazon.de doesn't carry it right now and shipping from the UK via Amazon.uk costs more than I'm willing to pay, to be honest. The books sounds interesting enough for me to buy a paperback edition but not to spend some 35E on it. One of the reasons is that I'm not a fan of feminist attitudes towards history. While I accept there's no proof against women's equality, there's no proof to support it, either. But the book looks more along my lines than Scott's novels that add esoteric stuff to the feminism.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms Nayland

I am most grateful to you for your thorough and generous review of my book, Boudica, Queen of The Iceni, on your lovely website. Quite by chance, I stumbled on it late last night and was simply delighted to read a review by someone whose knowledge of the relevant history apparently exceeds my own. I doubt any of my American, and perhaps even few of my British readers would recognize the archetype of the glass shop at Camulodunum, but I was tickled to see that you certainly did. I found your critique trenchant, well-balanced and eminently fair. Try as I might, I could not summon even a pale hue of umbrage at your quibbles, especially as they were couched in such gracious language. A less generous reviewer would, I'm sure, have been more severe with me. I believe yours is the first online review Boudica, Queen of The Iceni has received: I will be very happy indeed if future reviews are as perceptive and congenial as yours. Thank you!

Rick said...

Here I come to comment and see that the latest one posted is from the author!

I'm also not convinced that a farm wagon could be sawn in half to yield two chariots - chariots were very lightweight vehicles, at least the Bronze Age kind were (an Egyptian one has survived) and I imagine the Britons' were as well.

Not related to the book, but how firm are the possible Welsh references to Caratacus? Unless those are pretty solid, it may be that the whole era was "lost" so far as Welsh oral tradition was concerned.

Gabriele C. said...

Ouch, now I feel about my rant that the book is too expensive. But 35€ is a weeks grocery money for me. I very seldom buy hardcovers for that reason.

I didn't want to take the starving writer cliché that far. :)

JOE ROESCH said...

Sorry my note of thanks to Carla came through as anonymous: I think I had my Javascript blocker on when I submitted it. I hope my identity will show now.

I must agree that my book is rather pricey in hardback; I hope a paperback will be available at some point. As to the matter of the book's feminist slant, it wasn't my intent to depict Boudica as a modern feminist heroine, although I suppose my own sensibilities on that point do show through somewhat. I was merely trying to present her as an egregiously wronged woman of extraordinary strength and courage whose culture allowed her more freedom and self determination than were permitted to Roman women of the same time period. We know from the comments of Greek and Roman writers that women among the continental Celtic (and also Germanic) tribes enjoyed a fair measure of equality with men. As evidence of that relative equality in early Britain, we can't ignore the indisputable fact that both the Brigantes and the Iceni were led by queens. I don't recall that Rome ever had a female emperor, strong female powers behind the throne notwithstanding. Relative equality also seems to be accorded to Celtic women by the later Brehon laws of Ireland, although we should probably not be too quick to assume that women among the Brythonic Celts of some six centuries earlier necessarily enjoyed the same freedoms.

JOE ROESCH said...

Sorry my note of thanks to Carla came through as anonymous: I think I had my Javascript blocker on when I submitted it. I hope my identity will show now.

I must agree that my book is rather pricey in hardback; I hope a paperback will be available at some point. As to the matter of the book's feminist slant, it wasn't my intent to depict Boudica as a modern feminist heroine, although I suppose my own sensibilities on that point do show through somewhat. I was merely trying to present her as an egregiously wronged woman of extraordinary strength and courage whose culture allowed her more freedom and self determination than were permitted to Roman women of the same time period. We know from the comments of Greek and Roman writers that women among the continental Celtic (and also Germanic) tribes enjoyed a fair measure of equality with men. As evidence of that relative equality in early Britain, we can't ignore the indisputable fact that both the Brigantes and the Iceni were led by queens. I don't recall that Rome ever had a female emperor, strong female powers behind the throne notwithstanding. Relative equality also seems to be accorded to Celtic women by the later Brehon laws of Ireland, although we should probably not be too quick to assume that women among the Brythonic Celts of some six centuries earlier necessarily enjoyed the same freedoms.

Carla said...

Rick - Have a look at the link in my post to the British Museum reconstruction of the Wetwang chariot, if you're interested in a British war chariot of about the right period. Re Caratacus, very little in post-Roman Britain is solid :-(. The Triads make reference to 'Caradawg Strong-Arm' as one of the Three Battle-Horsemen and 'Caradawg son of Bran' as one of the Three Chief Officers and also mentioned in Three Blissful Rulers as having been made prisoner by the Romans through the treachery of Aregwedd Foeddawg. Some scholars interpret this to be the story of Caratacus' betrayal by Cartimandua (I haven't seen an explanation as to why her name could have changed when Caradoc's hasn't). So not a firm reference at all, and therefore quite possible that it refers to something else and the whole era was lost. Also quite possible that the story was reinvented when the Triads were written down in Wales (10th-12th century or so? Late, anyway) and the person doing the inventing selectively picked on Caratacus and not Boudica for some reason (disapproval of women leaders by then? because Caradoc had connections with Gwynedd and was remembered there, whereas Boudica was from a tribe in the east and her story had been forgotten in the west? Insert theory of your choice).

Gabriele - you could see if it's available through the library. Robert Hale is a major library supplier in the UK and they may also supply the library market in Germany? It's worth asking.

Joe - thanks for coming to comment. Your identity showed up the second time (and Blogger seems to have posted your comment twice). I'd certainly agree that 'Celtic' and Germanic women had more rights than Roman women (who seem to have had few rights at all, at least in the official sense. As Rick said in an earlier discussion here, you never know how far official rules actually applied in practice). A similar situation applied at around the time of the Norman Conquest, as English (Anglo-Saxon) women had far greater rights than Norman women and so the conquest produced a sudden and unpleasant change in their status. Ditto in medieval Wales after Edward I's conquest, and perhaps also in Ireland (though I know very little Irish history so that's a guess). Something very similar may well have happened to women in Boudica's society in the Roman Conquest. What's not clear (as far as I know) is exactly what their status was in 'Celtic' society - equal in all things, equal but different (i.e. different traditional roles), more equal than Roman women (not hard) but still subordinate to men, superior to men, different degrees of equality depending on tribe and/or class and/or occupation? All these are up for grabs depending on the author's interpretation of the evidence - and as I argued in an earlier post 'evidence is sacred but interpretation is free'. If you wander through the blog archives you'll see we've discussed 'feminism' in historical fiction several times before.

Carla said...

I managed to miss a line off that last comment (not surprising, given its length!). I meant to add: if I thought Boudica, Queen of the Iceni was a Feministly Reimagined Novel I'd have said so in the review. I didn't, because I don't.

Anonymous said...

"And now for something completely different": did anyone catch the History Channel production of "Warrior Queen Boudica" on March 10? I don't know if or when it aired outside the States. I thought that the film's adherence to the historical record was excellent, especially when compared with the 2002 TV Boudica production starring Alex Kingston, with screenplay by Andrew Davies. Yes? No?

Gabriele C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriele C. said...

Deleted the previous one because a sentence was missing:

I was merely trying to present her as an egregiously wronged woman of extraordinary strength and courage whose culture allowed her more freedom and self determination than were permitted to Roman women of the same time period.

Hi Joe,

in that case I really want to read the book. Tell the publisher to get it out in paperback or at least make it avaliable via Amazon.de: *grin* (I know they seldom listen to their authors.)

I agree that Celtic women had a status different from Roman ones though I suppose the Roman sources exaggerated a bit to portray those 'barbarian people' in a negative or at least 'alien' light. Fact is Boudica and Cartimandua led their people, and that would have been impossible for a Roman woman. It's difficult to determine how common or unusual this was in Celtic society, but it was possible.

What I'm careful about is ideas that "all Celtic women were equal" because there is no proof for that. Or that the Picts had a matrilinear society because the King's list doesn't show a father-son connection. It's one of those arguments in absentio, and they never work. :)

What one can say is that the status of Celtic women (or Germanic ones) was different from Roman women and closer to what we today perceive as gender equality. I don't think they regarded it that way themselves; the ways of thinking were too different back then. Few Roman women would even have wanted to lead a tribe, I bet. *grin*

Recent archaeological findings show that while Roman women could not make a political or military career (the important ones in Roman society) they could under certain circumstances gain some independence. There most probably have been at least two female physicians at the Rhine border, and that was not the safest place in the empire. Or take Hypatia of Alexandria, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who was killed as witch by a Christian mob in Byzantium. There have been niches for women outside traditional gender models. The advance of the Christian religion closed most of those niches.

A novel about a female Roman physician is on top of my list of future projects. :)

I'm sorry if I came across as harsh in my first post. Feminism has done more harm than good in German academia the last 15 years (esp. in the humaniora) and in a way I'm a victim of that. Yes, even women can be victims of feminist propaganda. It's also the reason I never replied to Tony Keen's interesting post about feminist archaeology on his blog, the subject tends to get me in rant mode. ;-)

Rick said...

I looked at the Wetwang reconstruction - the dual purpose aspect is interesting! Isn't there some uncertainty about how chariots at this time were used in warfare. It sounds as if this one could be used in battle, or re-configured to serve as a civil prestige vehicle.

On Boudica, you mentioned something I nearly guessed at - that her rebellion might have been in the wrong part of Britain to be remembered by those Celts who did not become fully romanized, and might have preserved their own traditions.

Carla said...

Hello Anonymous and welcome - No, I haven't seen either of the TV programmes you mention. I don't have cable or satellite TV and I don't think they've come onto the terrestrial broadcasters in the UK (or else I missed them). We did have a completely awful programme on Boudica in a series called 'Battlefield Britain' - the others in the series weren't too bad, but the one on Boudica was dire.

Rick - I'm not up on chariot warfare but yes I believe there is some controversy. I think John Peddie has written a military history of the Roman invasion of Britain and if so he may have covered it.
I suppose a car is a multi-purpose vehicle nowadays - school run, shopping carrier, tow trailer-load of compost, move one adult to/from work, take family on holiday, plus the social status aspects around the specific model and its brand image. Maybe there's a parallel with the Wetwang chariot?

JOE ROESCH said...

All: I see Blogger has again rendered me anonymous (the post about the recent Boudica TV film). Good thing I'm not into portents and omens!

Gabriele: Thanks for the additional comments on feminism. I assure you I found nothing "harsh" in your earlier comments -- only an honest statement of your convictions. In fact, as a former academic myself, I share your sentiments about the extremes to which feminism as a critical apparatus (if it can be called that) has been taken by at least some of its more zealous advocates, both male and female. Earlier critical methodologies (e.g., historical, textual, scriptural-exegetical) were argued passionately, even heatedly, but not with a degree of ruthlessness that will tolerate no opposition. Some academics take themselves all too seriously -- it would be salutary for them to remember that literature as a distinct academic discipline has a very short history and that literary criticism was originally little more than something to do on rainy days when the cricket fields were too muddy for playing.

Carla said...

Joe - You could try signing your posts in text, then we all know who you are despite computer vagaries? I wondered if it was you, but there's really no polite way to say 'Hello Anonymous, are you really Joe Roesch?'

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

No Boudicas for years, then several come along at once! Thanks for your review, Carla. This one sounds promising, but I wonder if it has a Unique Selling Point that would make someone like me, who's feeling a bit jaded after inhaling the magic mushrooms of Manda Scott's version, want to read it?

Meanwhile, I'd like to see the story told from the Roman side for a change. George Shipway tried it 30-odd years ago with "Imperial Governor" but that was one of the most boring novels I've ever struggled to reach page 50 of.

Gabriele C. said...

Joe,

unfortunately, it's not only the criitcal apparatus, it's the 50% women in all positions law that is is the real problem. It doesn't mirror the statistical role women play in higher academics, and thus some women just aren't sufficiently qualified. And to get one of the 50% jobs you have to follow the left wing feminist ideology because only then the other women will vote you in.

I'm no feminist and definitely not left wing (SPD, Communists, Green Party).

Btw
To stay logged in, you could get a blog. They're fun anyway. But addictive. :)

Gabriele C. said...

Sarah,

but it would be really difficult to make Decianus a character compelling enough people want to read about him. Flogging and raping women can't be excused by Roman ideals nowadays, the readers, even non feminist ones, ;-) won't accept it.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Heavens, Gabriele, you didn't really think I meant Decianus, did you? I was thinking of Agricola or Suetonius Paullinus.

Gabriele C. said...

Well, it's a later period but I try to do the Roman side justice in Storm over Hadrian's Wall. *grin*

Have you read the Eagle series by Simon Scarrow? His books take place during the Roman invasion 43/44 AD. It's a military adventure series in the style of Sharpe and Hornblower, with some mystery elements thrown in. Fun read, and Scarrow presents the Roman military life pretty well (except a peeve of mine, the dialogue seems too 'modern' in some places).

Carla said...

It's free of shamanic dreaming so that's something of a USP just at the moment :-) You also do get some of the Roman side - Suetonius and Agricola are both sympathetic characters and you see their point of view. (Decianus is a snake; it would need a very skewed interpretation of the sources to make him anything else! And it isn't just modern ideals - Tacitus seems to have disapproved of his behaviour too). So that's two reasons to read it. I guess the HNS Review will cover it soon so that will give you a second opinion.

It is curious how some stories are almost always told from one side, isn't it? Arthuriana is the same.

I've read the first five Simon Scarrows; I'll probably review some of them in due course.

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

I read the first 2 or 3 Scarrows, which featured a great deal of effing and blinding in the dialogue. The only thing I minded about this was that it was overdone, although some people's criticism ran, illogically, along the lines of "F*** is an English word and the Romans didn't speak English."

In one of these early Scarrows there was a young flame-haired Brit called Boudica, whom Macro (I think it was Macro) rather fancied. She will no doubt reappear in a later volume in the series set round about, oh, AD 60.

Gabriele C. said...

Hehe, I have some suspicions about that red haired lass as well. :)

I've read the first four and got book five on my TBR pile. The f-word does bother me a bit, not because it's not Roman but because I connect it with modern US slang too strongly. I would have no trouble with damn, bloody and such.

JOE ROESCH said...

All: Just a note to let you know that the History Channel film on Boudica ("Warrior Queen Boudica") is scheduled to run again on Sunday, March 26 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time. I reviewed it on IMDb if you're interested: http://imdb.com/title/
tt0437108/usercomments-2
(Had to break the link to fit)

Carla said...

Oddly, the 'f'-word doesn't especially bother me. I just tune it out and ignore it. I do tend to find the dialogue a bit flat, though this may be because ignoring the expletives mean I miss half of it :-)
It was Macro who fancied Boudica (and she fancied him back). There was some clunky (to my mind) foreshadowing about a flogging so I think you can safely assume a sequel is in the works for AD 60 - which will presumably be from the Roman side, unless Cato/Macro are undercover behind enemy lines or something.

Tony Keen said...

I wonder if the reason that Caratacus seems to be in the Welsh tradition and Boudicca isn't is related to the fact that, essentially, Boudicca's revolt was a very localized affair, confined to East Anglia and the East Midlands. It may not have touched Wales beyond being a rumour of something happening far off that caused the sudden withdrawl of Suetonius' legions. Whereas Caratacus actually fought in Wales for a time.

On the issue of Celtic women, I want to underline Gabriele's comments about the nature of the sources, something I don't think gets paid enough attention. Both Tacitus and (especially) Cassius Dio are exaggerating in order to create a picture of otherness, and in Dio's case, to contrast the woman posssessing the qualities of a man with Nero, the womanly male. Most other sources about Celtic women are no doubt doing something similar.

And I completely agree about that episode of Battlefield Britain (and the Battle of Britain episode is pretty traditional and myth-repeating at times).

Carla said...

Tony, thanks for coming by with your expertise. Boudica's revolt is often assumed to have been 'national' because of the large numbers reported (caveat that numbers cannot always be trusted), and to tie in with modern ideas of a nation-state. I wonder if the Roman chroniclers may have used 'Briton' as a catch-all label in the same way as Victorian writers used 'African' or 'Arab', and the label had no meaning to the British tribes themselves (if they even knew of it). It's interesting how some of the crucial features of the legend (national pride, underage daughters, 'Celtic' female equality) have emerged over time to make the legend a better story - more legendary, if you will

Tony Keen said...

Of course, 'Britain' and the 'British' are Roman inventions, as are 'Celts','Germans', etc. The Romans saw no real distinction between the tribes, so Boudicca's revolt is a 'British' one, something which, as you say, later gets taken up by those interested in creating a partiotic 'British' mythology.

How Boudicca herself thought is almost impossible to say, but I doubt she had any sense of being 'British'. She might have had some awareness of cultural links with neighbouring tribes, but I suspect she thought of herself as Iceni first, and anything else a long way afterwards. I don't think it would have bothered her that Verulamium was principally populated by Britons rather than Romans (something that clearly does bother her later eulogists, which is why it gets brushed under the carpet) - the denizens of Verulamium were not her people.

On the underage daughters, part of this is just translations locking certain perceptions in place. The Penguin translation, for instance, describes her daughters as 'young girls', but the Latin translated is actually virginitas, which doen't imply anything about their ages bar them probably being relatively young, as they were presumably unmarried. I also suspect that their age gets reduced because romanticizers want a relatively youthful Boudicca, in her thirties or forties, which limits how old her children can be (especially if you don't want to admmit the very strong possibility that she had at least one of these daughters when we would now consider she was underage). As far as I know there's no evidence for Boudicca's age, beyond her being old enough to bear children. I wouldn't want to say, of course, that her daughter's weren't what we would perceive as underage, merely to point out that there's no evidence one way or the other, and if you build a case against the Romans on the assumption that they were, then you're not being fair.

I'm reading Rosemary Sutcliff's Song for a Dark Queen at the moment, and will, of course, post about it when I've finished.

Carla said...

Do we know the marriageable age for 'Celtic' women of the time? I'd have thought it would be mid-teens or thereabouts. Soranus comments in his third-century (?) medical text that the optimum age for deflowering a girl is shortly after menarche. So I guess Boudica could easily have had two marriageable daughters by her early to mid-thirties, though of course she could have been older. I tended to read 'young girls' in the translations to mean girls who had just reached sexual maturity but weren't yet married, on the grounds that as far as I know there was no word equivalent to 'teenager'. Perhaps now that we are used to coinages like 'teenager' and 'tween', there's more of a tendency to interpret 'young girl' as a child?
I'll be interested in your review; either I haven't read Song for a Dark Queen or it was so long ago that I can't remember it.

JOE ROESCH said...

I note with interest (and some trepidation, as I am mildly Xenaphobic)that the Discovery Channel is running a five-part series called "Warrior Woman" on May 3-7 hosted by Lucy Lawless. One hopes the series will be somewhat more respectful of historical fact than were the Xena episodes,one of which did not scruple to put Boudica ("Boadicea") and Julius Caesar in the same time frame. Check it out at: http://www.sun2surf.com/
article.cfm?id=3095

(Joseph E. Roesch, Boudica, Queen of The Iceni, www.boudica-roesch.com

dee.h-h-howe said...

Hi...I stumbled across this interesting piece of work which reinforced many things I believe to be true...very good...However I am still at a loss to finding the answer to my question that brought me here.. I wonder...could anyone shed any light on what the names of the two daughters of QUEEN BOUDICA was....I can't seem to find an answer on the NET...OMG

What'll I Do??? HELP

dee.h-h-howe said...

Also...If I may Add... That following my input on this blog.....and after reading bits and bops of other peoples comments...I struggled to remember what the original blog was about...QUEEN BOUDICA...and lets NOT FORGET HER TWO DAUGHTERS THAT WERE RAPED BY THE ROMAN LEGION OF THAT TIME...PRESENT....I pause to calm myself....does anyone really care anyway?????????

I must comment that most of you remind me off a Political Lawyer.....you think politicians COULD be bad...check out the political lawyers....TALK ABOUT DIGRESS...lol
I mean not to cause offence but i must admit I am extremely tickled by this paticular BLOG THING.....

OOhhhOOOO POLITICAL LAWYER MODE CREEPING IN..lol

WHAT WERE THE NAMES OF QUEEN BOUDICA'S DAUGHTERS?

CAN anyone HELP??????????

Pleeeasssseeeeeeeee

Carla said...

Dee - The names of Boudica's daughters are not recorded.