Peter Jones

Britons Never Shall Be Slaves

An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC – AD 409

By

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 580pp £30 order from our bookshop

There are two stories about Roman Britain. One is that ancient Brits were gentle, egalitarian souls, ideologically committed to the concept of community, passionate about the arts and culture, and with a nuanced sensitivity to dance rhythms. The arrival of horrid Romans with their rough armies came as a terrible shock to this warmly liberal pre-Guardian culture. The other is that the Brits were brutal, ignorant, naked, woad-spattered, murderous, ululating slobs to whom the arrival of civilised Romans, with their superb language, mighty economy and strong sense of legal process, all accompanied by the smack of firm government, was the best thing that could ever have happened.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,