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woman commanders in war

Tacitus includes in his Annals a rousing speech with which, he suggests, the British queen Boudicca rallies her troops before the decisive battle against the Roman army:

'We British are used to woman commanders in war. I am descended from mighty men! But now I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters. Nowadays Roman rapacity does not even spare our bodies. Old people are killed, virgins raped. But the gods will grant us the vengeance we deserve. The Roman division which dared to fight is annihilated. The others cower in their camps, or watch for a chance to escape. They will never face even the din and roar of all our thousands, much less the shock of our onslaught. Consider how many of you are fighting - and why. Then you will win this battle, or perish. That is what I, a woman, plan to do. Let the men live in slavery if they will.'

Tacitus The Annals of Imperial Rome, translated Michael Grant, Penguin 1956, 1975, page 330

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