A diary of a legionary serving with xx valeria

My name is Spurius Tiberius. This diary is an account of my experience of being in the XX Valeria legion. This diary is being written for my Mater and Pater to have when I pass away. Sending letters is difficult from such an unknown, unmapped land and writing the messages is difficult at times when my country needs me. We have not even departed on the invasion to the unexplained land, and there are already problems being posed. Firstly, a few members have mentioned to me how marching is far too strenuous, as there is so much equipment to carry and very far distances to cover. The army were understandably uneasy about Britain and the ocean – foreign to us Romans.

Even though I was full of excitement when marching, as I felt prepared to face the challenge of a barbaric land, when reaching the coast, anxiety overcame me. Due to this, I joined in the mutiny of objecting to campaign outside the limits of the known world. Claudius sent for Narcissus to sort the situation out; I do not think this was the smartest of things to do, however. My initial reaction was of anger, as a slave was addressing us! Suddenly, there were outcries of ” Io Saturnalia”, which, as you well know, is the festival where slaves wear their master’s clothes.

After this, I suppose my self and the army worked off our bad humour and decided it was time to return to business as usual, so we returned our obedience to Plautius. This mutiny caused the departure to be late in the season, however I feel it is better we departed late rather than not departing at all. Also, I did take part in the mutiny, so it would be unfair to blame anyone other than the army, for being in a way, cowards. In the beginning of the journey, we were almost driven back due to the dangerous, mysterious ways of the untamed sea.

But we were given hope, as a flash of light shot across the sky from east to west – the direction we were travelling in. This must’ve been a message from the gods. As true Romans, we had faith in the gods, and will brave the rest of our journey. The landing was a good, safe one, however also well planned, due to Aulus Plautius’ great strategy – he is a truly great leader. Despite the well-planned landing, including diversionary landings, we found no one to oppose us. I questioned a centurion on the happenings, and why there was no opposition.

Unlike our professional army, the uncivilized Britons have an army made up of common folk who needed to attend their farms in the farming season. They underestimated us great Romans! They had heard of the mutiny and remembered Caligula’s invasion attempt, and judged us on this – what fools! This is a great advantage to us, as we are ready to fight, and they are not. I am completely worn out – I have just been part of making a temporary camp. As the ground was uneven, it had to be levelled.

The camp was marked out in the form of a square next. As we were making this, I saw how well planned this was done. We then built the interior, then the exterior, which has towers spaced out at regular intervals. This makes me proud in the advancement of our force, but also makes me feel protected, as the towers are for keeping an eye on the enemy, so our army will be alerted as soon as the enemy is sighted. I feel further protected as artillery is positioned between the towers and the entire camp is defended with ditches.

After making the camp I felt very satisfied, as I contributed to the making of it, and as I looked at the greatness of it for such a short period of time in making, I felt very proud. Being in this camp makes me feel alert, as I know the enemy are nearby, so I must keep ready for a surprise attack. I was starting to doubt my importance in this invasion. I am only one man of a force of 390 000. I am only a legionary, a higher rank in the chain of command only to cooks and wagoners. But then I thought of the promotion possibilities available.

I have dreams of becoming a signifier, as I have always admired them, even since I was young, when I heard stories of how they led the army into battle, and they are the focus of the legion’s pride and glory. The signa is such an important object, that gives a sense of pride in the past, such as victories, and it inspires the army for future victories. I then realised I am not just one man. The emblems and standards reminded me that I am one of a great legion, and that I am united with all others.

If all of the army thought in the same way as me, there would be no army! So I have decided to be truly Roman and be loyal to my legion. Due to being far too busy in successfully defeating Togodumnus, and leaving behind a garrison, I have not had much time to make any diary entries. Recently, my legion has been involved in continuing the advance of the force. When we were ready in full armour, I felt completely ready, as our training was planned to be more difficult in the sense of weapon weights, so that we would use weapons to full efficiency and with ease in battle.

Every legionary was well equipped with the same high standard weaponry, which does not make me feel below anyone – I feel equal and united, as well as proud again, as the Britons weaponry was nowhere near as advanced as ours. The barbarians underestimated our force again; they thought that just by destroying a bridge at the river Medway that we could not get across the river. Our auxiliaries, who impress me as they bring advantageous, different fighting methods into the battle, swam across the river.

I admire them for their bravery – they are normally first into battle, however, they are foreign, so I do not see them as valuable members of the army as myself. I must go now, I am needed in battle. To the mother and father of Spurius, I am sad to inform you that in the most recent battle Spurius was killed. He was a great warrior, and he was also a great Roman. In the odds of all battles, and in all he could have complained about – the marching, the pay deductions – he stayed loyal and knew he as doing things for the good of his country.