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JULIUS CAESAR'S INVASION OF GREAT BRITAIN: 55 BC
THE EAGLE ATTACKS - AQUILIFER LEGIO X "EQUESTRIS" 55B.C. S.P.Q.R. A shaft of sunlight strikes down from the overcast sky as hordes of screaming, long haired, blue-bodied warriors and their fearsome chariots line the shore awaiting the Roman Tenth Legion's attempt to land. To these superstitious Legionaries, veterans of Gaius Julius Caesar's favorite Legion, Britannia is a mysterious and misty island, full of monsters and they hesitate to disembark. But their Aquilifer -chosen guard of their sacred standard - leaps into the waves and calls for brave men to follow lest disgrace befall their hallowed emblem - the Eagle. Armed with the Gladius, a thrusting sword, and the Pugio, a dagger, the Aquilifer (Eagle-Bearer) wears an animal skin as a mark of distinction. His oval shield, bronze helmet and double-shouldered ringmail shirt will give him some protection against the downward slashing attacks of the British warriors. Chosen for his character, strength and determination to guard the sacred Standard with his life he strides through the waves towards the waiting hordes.The Aquila (Eagle) he bears was personally sanctified and presented by Caesar himself when the Legion was raised c.59B.C. It carries sacred emblems, shields and badges. The Eagle's talons grip golden thunderbolts, as it stands poised for flight against all enemies of Rome. At the top, a gold bar inscribed SPQR (Senatus Populus Romanus) honors the Senate and the People. The lower bar, LEG X EQ, identifies Legion X and its honorary title "Equestris". Below a round bronze shield bears a bull's head, this Legion's emblem and zodiac sign for Venus. The lower shield is a horse's head (Equestris), above the shrine of Venus - legendary founder of the Julian family.It was during the Gallic Wars that Legio X gained their honorary title. Germanic contempt for Caesar's cavalry (chiefly Gallic and from the Knightly class) led Hun Chieftain Ariovistus to agree to see Caesar if he would bring only horsemen, not legionaries, with him. Caesar agreed but then ordered his cavalry to dismount, mounted Cohorts of Legio X in their places and went on to meet Ariovistus. Thus the Legion gained the honored title, "Equestris", normally the prerogative of the privileged classes. The Legionaries will not dishonor their eagle nor their heritage and rise up to follow. They gain the shore and subdue the foe but find that Caesar has little appetite to stay. He will return, briefly, once more. No Eagle will land on Britannia's shores again until 43 A.D. - Almost a century later - but then it will stay and watch over three centuries of Roman rule. Text by A. W. JohnsonCUSTOMER QUOTE:Mark Churms has captured the character of a Roman Aquilifer through the art of painting. The central figure, an Eagle Bearer, sloshes through shallow, salty water to advance against hostile British warriors. His cold, blue armor enhances the dread of the drawn stabbing sword. The round blue shield he grips moves in upon itself to protect his body, and the fading Roman republic. A moving green surf augments the actions of nearby soldiers and chariots. The eagle atop the Aquilifer's standard appeals to the power of the gods of war. Flying missiles and a grey sky imply a motionless negation or discord like the senseless loss of lives in combat. Churms reveals internal truth of a man which words cannot adequately express, and that only the great artist can divine. The legionnaire appears to be full of vitality, born of the demands of internalized Roman virtues - courage, discipline and steadfastness. He seems determined and stalwart-ready for anything the enemy might confront him with. This is a purposeful man who has subordinated himself to the state and the code of a noble soldier.Churm's painting passionately asserts the unity of man's body, mind and spirit. It can be admired from the point of view of the body - that well muscled Eagle Bearer in action. It can also be looked at from the standpoint of the mind - a great crystallization of artistic, intellectual energy. But the stirring standard, with its engraved symbols of Roman Gods seems to imply that Churms is chiefly concerned with man's spirit and its connection to heavenly purpose.Valentine J. Belfiglio. (Professor, Texas University) JULIUS CAESAR'S INVASION OF GREAT BRITAIN: 55B.C. Ancient Roman History Masterpiece Giclee Canvas Reproduction by Mark Churms and Fine Art Print on quality paper stock, published by MarkChurms.com available.