Saturday 20 April 2013

Roman Britain

The Romans eyed Britannia,
Which they coveted with greed.
Caesar tried to grab it,
But he didn't quite succeed.

Then about two thousand years ago,
In 43AD,
Yet another bunch of Romans
Set sail across the sea.

To capture this fair island
Was their obvious intent.
(Where they landed isn't certain:
It was probably in Kent.)

Of subsequent resistance
There are many thrilling tales:
The defence by King Caractacus
Of what we know as Wales,

Statue of Queen Boudica, London
Or the valiant Iceni tribe,
Whose leader showed no fear.
They knew her as Queen Boudica
(Now misnamed Boadicea).

The Romans' skills in battle
Eventually prevailed,
Then they tried to conquer Scotland
Where initially they failed.

The Scottish Picts were deemed a threat:
Defence was thus a need.
"We must build a wall to stop them,"
Emperor Hadrian decreed.

Hadrian's Wall
The Romans then reached Inverness,
But soon came to their senses:
What they stood to gain would fall far short
Of garrison expenses.

The Brits were never viewed as tamed,
They'd not quite thrown the hat in,
They were not completely docile,
And they never mastered Latin.

('til post the Norman Conquest,
When French proved to our liking.
Thus Old English is a mixture:
Of Celtic - German- Viking).

Roman road
So the Romans had to stay here,
And offered much of merit,
What exactly was the legacy?
Just what did we inherit?

They brought the modern calendar,
Complete with Leap Year trick,
Amazing quick-fire catapults,
And concrete, glass and brick.

They brought turnips, grapes and carrots,
They brought pears and apricots.
They had strange new ways of cooking food,
By using separate pots.

They constructed mighty aqueducts,
In which clean water flowed
And, between each major settlement,
A long straight Roman road.

Of the towns that they established,
Many still exist today,
Places ending "c(h)ester"/"caster"
Thus date back a long long way.

On a small spot named Londinium
They made an early start.
It developed very quickly
To become the nation's heart.

They were very fond of bathing,
But it seems when they had gone,
That their rituals of cleanliness
Had never quite caught on.

They left us in 410AD,
And headed striaght back home.
The soldiers, perhaps, were needed
To defend their native Rome.

Or economic gloom here
May have caused them to withdraw.
Why they went is still a puzzle,
And historians aren't sure.

(And welcome to a viewer in The Philippines!)

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