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Agricola by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Chapter 9: In Aquitania[AD 74-77]
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As he was returning from the command of the legion, Vespasian admitted him into the patrician order, and then gave him the province of Aquitania, a preeminently splendid appointment both from the importance of its duties and the prospect of the consulate to which the Emperor destined him. Many think the genius of the soldier wants subtlety, because military law, which is summary and blunt, and apt to appeal to the sword, finds no exercise for the refinements of the forum. Yet Agricola, from his natural good sense, though called to act among civilians, did his work with ease and correctness. And, besides, the times of business and relaxation were kept distinct. When his public and judicial duties required it, he was dignified, thoughtful, austere, and yet often merciful; when business was done with, he wore no longer the official character. He was altogether without harshness, pride, or the greed of gain. With a most rare felicity, his good nature did not weaken his authority, nor his strictness the attachment of his friends. To speak of uprightness and purity in such a man would be an insult to his virtues. Fame itself, of which even good men are often weakly fond, he did not seek by an ostentation of virtue or by artifice. He avoided rivalry with his colleagues, contention with his procurator, thinking such victories no honour and defeat disgrace. For somewhat less than three years he was kept in his governorship, and was then recalled with an immediate prospect of the consulate. A general belief went with him that the province of Britain was to be his, not because he had himself hinted it, but because he seemed worthy of it. Public opinion is not always mistaken; sometimes even it chooses the right man. He was consul, and I [Note 1] but a youth, when he betrothed to me his daughter, a maiden even then of noble promise. After his consulate he gave her to me in marriage, and was then at once appointed to the government of Britain, with the addition of the sacred office of the pontificate.

Note 1: I = Tacitus

Revertentem ab legatione legionis divus Vespasianus inter patricios adscivit; ac deinde provinciae Aquitaniae praeposuit, splendidae inprimis dignitatis administratione ac spe consulatus, cui destinarat. Credunt plerique militaribus ingeniis subtilitatem deesse, quia castrensis iurisdictio secura et obtusior ac plura manu agens calliditatem fori non exerceat: Agricola naturali prudentia, quamvis inter togatos, facile iusteque agebat. Iam vero tempora curarum remissionumque divisa: ubi conventus ac iudicia poscerent, gravis intentus, severus et saepius misericors: ubi officio satis factum, nulla ultra potestatis persona[; tristitiam et adrogantiam et avaritiam exuerat]. Nec illi, quod est rarissimum, aut facilitas auctoritatem aut severitas amorem deminuit. Integritatem atque abstinentiam in tanto viro referre iniuria virtutum fuerit. Ne famam quidem, cui saepe etiam boni indulgent, ostentanda virtute aut per artem quaesivit; procul ab aemulatione adversus collegas, procul a contentione adversus procuratores, et vincere inglorium et atteri sordidum arbitrabatur. Minus triennium in ea legatione detentus ac statim ad spem consulatus revocatus est, comitante opinione Britanniam ei provinciam dari, nullis in hoc ipsius sermonibus, sed quia par videbatur. Haud semper errat fama; aliquando et eligit. Consul egregiae tum spei filiam iuveni mihi despondit ac post consulatum collocavit, et statim Britaniae praepositus est, adiecto pontificatus sacerdotio.