A recent mention over on Caer Feddwyd of Boudica of the Iceni made me go and look up references to her in Dio and Tacitus. I’d forgotten that I actually rather like the speech Tacitus gives her before her final battle, so I thought I’d translate it. From Tacitus’ Annales, book XIV, chapter 35, Boudica’s final speech, as it actually sounded (hah):
Boudīcā, canti genetās are swe en carbantē, to·resset pāpan toutan, are yon toχset esāt-yo cowaris ambi·yo wassont Brittones dū monē banon. “Eχtos nu,” dī·wāte, “nest ambi are benan bonusedī, est ambi are toutiyan dī·yo wicū riyon coldāton, mon colanin wliscātan, magutaχtan brūsan mon genetānon. Awēdon Roumānyācon ro·tumīsset po yon ne tarbantor nec asron colaniyas, nec senotūs nou magutaχtā. Eχtri dēwoi lungont dīgalan cowarin: ro·marwasset legyū lamyontro-yo catun, alloi celontro dūnē, nou rādīnt ambi tepon. Ne wo·damont waidās etic truston iluwon canton canton cengeton, nec māyos asron routron asron bemmanā. Mā rādīte ambi nerton coryon, bonūs catous, pisyete esti-yo ancenā boudēs dū swūs, are yon ne marwāte. Ida est tonceton bnas: biyont wiroi biwoi, ac biyont ē caχtoi.
I translated it broadly from the following English rendering from 1942. It’s still too early in the year to attempt a translation direct from Tacitus’ rather dense prose:
Boudicea, with her daughters before her in a chariot, went up to tribe after tribe, protesting that it was indeed usual for Britons to fight under the leadership of women. “But now,” she said, “it is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity, are left unpolluted. But heaven is on the side of a righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows. If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a woman’s resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves.”