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noble bearing of Caractacus

Tacitus describes the appearance of Caractacus, the captive British king, in a Roman triumph of AD 51:

'There was a march past, with Caractacus' petty vassals and the decorations and neckchains and spoils of the foreign wars. Next were displayed his brothers, his wife, his daughter. Last came the king himself. The others, frightened, degraded themselves by entreaties. But there were no downcast looks or appeals from mercy from Caractacus. On reaching the dais, he spoke in these terms:

"Had my lineage and rank been accompanied by only moderate success, I should have come to this city as friend rather than prisoner, and you would not have disdained to ally yourself peacefully with one so nobly born, the ruler of so many nations. As it is, humiliation is my lot, glory yours. I had horses, men, arms, wealth. Are you surprised I am sorry to lose them? If you want to rule the world, does it follow that everyone else welcomes enslavement? If I had surrendered without a blow before being brought before you, neither my downfall nor your triumph would have become famous. If you execute me, they will be forgotten. Spare me, and I shall be an everlasting token of your mercy."

Claudius responded by pardoning him and his wife and brothers.'

Tacitus The Annals of Imperial Rome, translated Michael Grant, Penguin 1956, 1975, page 267

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