The Attack of the Romans on the Celts at Ynes Mon

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From Tacitus, Annals XIV:

Suetonius Paulinus prepared accordingly
To attack the island of Mona
Which had a considerable population of its own,
While serving as a haven for refugees.

In view of the shallow and variable channel,
He constructed a flotilla of boats with flat bottoms.
By this method the infantry crossed;
The cavalry, who followed,
Did so by fording or, in deeper water,
By swimming at the side of their horses.

On the beach stood an adverse array,
A serried mass of arms and men,
With women flitting between the ranks.
In the style of Furies,
In robes of deathly black and with disheveled hair,
They brandished their torches; while a circle of Druids,
Lifting their hands to heaven and showering imprecations,
Struck the troops with such awe at the extraordinary spectacle
That, as though their limbs were paralyzed,
They exposed their bodies to wounds
Without an attempt at movement.

Then, reassured by their general,
And inciting each other never to flinch
Before a band of females and fanatics,
They charged behind the standards,
Cut down all who met them,
And enveloped the enemy in his own flames.

Copyright by Nicholas Gordon. Free for personal or non-commercial use.

Audio and Video Music: Elegy.
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