Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Roman History at Balcaskie

In conjunction with Kellie Castle the gardens at Balcaskie were open last Sunday under Scotland's Gardens Scheme. A mini-bus  or tractor-trailer took visitors from Kellie Castle to Balcaskie. The gardens, to the south of the house, are said to have been initially laid out by William Bruce around 1665 and there are three terraces aligned on the Bass Rock. 

There are many classical statues in the garden and I noticed at the back wall of the middle terrace a series of 12 busts. The inscriptions on some of these were almost illegible but Otho and Domitian were clearly readable and I could just make out Octavian and Claudius.  Realised that all 12 were probably of Roman Caesars or Emperors. Prompted me to look up and identify the rest, who they were and when they were in power. From left to right along the wall found out that they are in order of reign - a timeline of Roman history in the 1st Century AD.
Although I couldn't read the inscription because of all the foliage this one has to be Julius Caesar (45 - 44BC). Strictly speaking not an Emperor. His title was Dictator in Perpetuity.
Octavian later called Augustus (31BC - 14AD) great-nephew of Julius Caesar and recognised as the first Emperor of Rome.
Tiberius (14 - 37AD)
Caligula (37 -41AD)
Claudius (41 -54AD)
Nero (54 -68AD). The last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Chaos ensued in Rome and in the following year there were four emperors. 

Galba (68 - 69AD). Galba was the first in 69AD in what was to become known as 'The Year of the Four Emperors'

Otho (69AD)
Vitellius (69AD)

Vespasian (69 - 79AD)
Titus (79 - 89AD)
Domitian (81 - 96AD)

The 12 above are generally grouped together because in 121 AD the roman historian Suetonius wrote a biography of Julius Caesar and the first eleven emperors entitled "The twelve Caesars" which is a primary source on Roman history of that period.

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