Gnaeus Julius Agricola

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Gnaeus Julius Agricola (June 13, 40 – August 23, 93) was a Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. His biography, the De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, was the first published work of his son-in-law, the historian Tacitus, and is the source for most of what is known about him.[1]

Born to a noted political family, Agricola began his military career in Britain, serving under governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. His subsequent career saw him serve in a variety of positions; he was appointed quaestor in Asia province in 64, then Plebeian Tribune in 66, and praetor in 68. He supported Vespasian during the Year of the Four Emperors (69), and was given a military command in Britain when the latter became emperor. When his command ended in 73 he was made patrician in Rome and appointed governor of Gallia Aquitania. He was made consul and governor of Britannia in 77. While there, he conquered much of what is now Wales and northern England, and ventured into lowland Scotland, where he established Roman dominance for a time. There is some speculation that he may have launched an expedition into Ireland as well. He was recalled from Britain in 85 after an unusually lengthy service, and thereafter retired from military and public life.

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Early life

Agricola was born in the colonia of Forum Julii, Gallia Narbonensis (modern southern France). Agricola's parents were from families of senatorial rank. Both of his grandfathers served as Imperial Governors. His father Julius Graecinus was a praetor and had become a member of the Roman Senate in the year of his birth. Graecinus had become distinguished by his interest in philosophy. Between August 40-January 41, the Roman Emperor Caligula ordered his death because he refused to prosecute the Emperor's second cousin Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus.[2]

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