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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Military History - Page 39

the first century, Juvenal fifty years later, Ausonius in the fourth century— seem to use the name as a literary variation for Britain without special reference to the actual place. Thus, when Lucan talks of ‘the wandering wave of Ocean and the storms of the Rutupine shores,’ he means the shores of South Britain, or perhaps of the two sides of the Channel. So, too, Juvenal. When he alludes to ‘oysters from the Rutupine depths,’ imported by Roman luxury to Rome, he probably uses a literary phrase. We need not seek ancient oyster beds at Richborough with some antiquaries, or deny them with others.57  The produce of Whitstable or even of Colchester will serve equally well. Ausonius, too, when he commemorates a relative, Julius Contentus, who left Gaul to seek fortune overseas and died and was buried in the tellus Rutupina, or when he alludes to another relative as governor of the Rutupinus ager, or when he calls Magnus Maximus the ‘ Rutupine robber,’ obviously does not wish to connect these persons with Richborough hill.59  In each case Rutupinus is simply a literary alternative for ‘ British.’ If we pass on to our second group of references, we shall find it easy to understand how the name came to be thus employed. This second group describes Richborough as the ordinary point where men landed and embarked when crossing the Channel. The Itinerary of Antonine and the Maritime Itinerary usually attached to it mention the passage from Gessoriăcum (Boulogne) to Rutupiae, and they mention no other. Orosius and an ancient commentator on Lucan, both probably quoting an older source, equally name Rutupiae as the port of Britain, and Ammian adds two examples of Romans landing there in 360 and 368.59  Rutupiae is indeed the one place in Britain which is definitely called in ancient literature a port for traffic across the Channel. This is why in the poets Rutupinus sometimes meant ‘British.’  Like Dover cliffs in modern days, it marked the British end of the passage, and in Roman literature, which from Vergil onwards loved variation in proper names, it could be used to denote Britain.
   Two other references to Rutupiae in ancient documents have to be added here. The first is the entry in the ‘Notitia,’ stating that Rutupiae was one of the forts of the Saxon Shore and garrisoned by the Legio II Augusta. The legions of the fourth century were smaller than those of earlier years, and we need not assign to Rutupiae more than perhaps a thousand men. The legion had previously been stationed at Isca (Caerleon on Usk) in Monmouthshire. Whether a part or the whole of it was moved to Kent, we cannot determine. Secondly, Ptolemy, writing in the second century, names Rutupiae, London and Daruernum (Canterbury) as the ‘towns ‘ of the Cantii.60
    57  Arch. Cantiana, viii, 7.
    58 Lucan, vi, 67, vaga cum Tethys Rutupinaque litora fervent; Juvenal, iv, 141, Rutupino edita fundo ostrea; Ausonius, Parentelia vii, contemtum, tellus quem Rutupina tegit; ibid. xviii (of Flavius Sanctus) praeside laetatus quo Rutupinus ager, an Orad Nobis Urbium ix (Aquileia), punisti Ausonio (Italian) Rutupinum Marie latronem (addressed to the city of Aquileia, where Maximus fell whilst invading Italy).
Itin. Ant. 463, 4; Itin. Marit. 496, 4; Orosius, i, 2, 76, Britannia . . . a meridie Gallias habet. cuius (i.e. Brit.) proximum litus transmeantibus civitas aperit quae dicitur Rutupi portus; Commenta Lucani, p. 193, ed. Usener; Ammian, xx, 1, 3 and xxvii, 8, 6, calling it in the latter passage statio tranquilla, if the MSS. are correct. The old commentator on Lucan says that others thought Rutupiae to be a wood (Ut alii, silva), for which no reason is apparent unless it be a misplaced note on Caledonios in line 68. In Orosius and the Commenta Lucani Rutupiae is called civitas, and elsewhere orbs (Mai Class. auct. vii, 578). But this does not practically mean more than that it was an inhabited site. The Ravenna geographer (432, 7) calls all the forts of the Roman Wall civitates.
60 Rutupiae has sometimes been connected with Portus Trutulensis (perhaps better spelt Trucculensis) of Tacitus, Agric. 38, and with the Brittones Triputienses of certain German inscriptions (Corpus Inscr. Lat. xiii, part z, pp. 238, 264, etc.). But neither idea has the least probability. ‘Whether the mint-marks on coins of  (continued bottom of next page )

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