The abstract design on the obverse of a gold stater (5.41 g) of Commius. The inscription is on the reverse. In this case, CO is not present, but MMIOS is very clear, around the legs of a stylised horse.
It would appear that, at the end of 51BC or early in 50BC, Commius, king of the Belgic Atrebates tribe, was compelled to become an exile in Britain (see: Caesar's Expeditions). Shortly after this, the first coins to bear the name of a British ruler appear in the south-east. They are inscribed with the name COMMIOS. It is generally accepted that this is the self same Commius, and that he had succeeded in establishing himself as king of the British Atrebates (see: British Tribes). Indeed, it is possible that Commius forged the alliance of various Belgic groups, who had previously settled south of the middle Thames, indigenous British groups living in the vicinity and people who were now arriving as refugees from the Roman conquest of Gaul, and named the new confederation after his erstwhile Belgic kingdom.
Though, Belgic exile, Commius is widely equated with the Commius who issued coins in south-eastern Britain, there remains the possibility that they are two completely unrelated individuals who, coincidentally, happen to have the same name. There may even have been two kings who issued COMMIOS coins. Some issues are inscribed COM COMMIOS, which might indicate ‘Commius, son of Commius’. It seems then that Commius II may have succeeded his father, Commius I, who may have been the Belgic exile Commius.
Inscribed coins from other tribes soon followed. From the numismatic record, and fragments of literary evidence, a possible scenario for the events leading to the Roman invasion of AD43 can be pieced together. It is necessary to stress the word ‘possible’. The coins are, obviously, not dated like modern ones, nor do they bear the name of the tribe who issued them. Instead there is the evidence of coin typology and distribution, the occasional indication that a particular ruler is the son (or claims to be the son) of another, and the occasional indication of where a coin was struck. Inscriptions are usually, to a greater or lesser extent, abbreviated. A further complication is that, at some times, a tribal federation may have had joint rulers. For instance, Caesar mentions that, in 54BC, Cantium (the territory of the Cantiaci, i.e. Kent) was ruled by four kings – presumably, each ruled a separate group in its own designated territory, but Caesar doesn't say. The looseness of all this evidence means that many stories can fit into it – “pseudo historical reconstructions“ as they are called by John Creighton (‘Coins and Power in Late Iron Age Britain’, 2000). At any rate, North of the Thames, round about 35BC, Addedomaros appears to be leader of the Trinovantes. Roughly contemporary with Addedomaros, Tasciovanus, based around Verulamium (St.Albans), appears to be leader of the Catuvellauni.
The inscription on the reverse of the above silver unit (1.45 g) of Tasciovanus is TASCIA. It begins under the body of the horse and continues around anti-clockwise, with the final A being inverted above the horse. The obverse is inscribed VER, indicating that it was struck in Verulamium.
The reverse of the Tasciovanus gold stater (5.51 g) below depicts a mounted warrior. The obverse is inscribed TASCIO RICON. RICON is thought to be a Celtic equivalent of the Latin REX, meaning ‘King’.
In fact, the Catuvellauni do not appear in history until the Claudian invasion of AD43, though it seems reasonable to suppose that the – unnamed, but north of the Thames – tribe of Cassivellaunus, Caesar's chief opponent in 54BC and enemy of the Trinovantes, was, if not actually the Catuvellauni, the tribe that would metamorphose into the Catuvellauni. Their capital was Verulamium, hence the suggestion that Tasciovanus was their king. However, some of Tasciovanus' (apparently, early and rare) coins bear the inscription CAM, meaning they were minted in Camulodunum (Colchester) – capital of the Trinovantes. It seems to be a popular notion that this represents a brief conquest of the Trinovantes by the Catuvellauni. Tasciovanus' coinage also provides another conundrum for ‘pseudo-historians’. On some (apparently, late and small-scale) issues, other, unexplained, names – ANDO, DIAS, SEGO – are linked with his. Do these names represent subordinate rulers (probably the favourite theory); are they mint-marks (indicating, now unknown, sites where the coins were struck); perhaps they are simply epithets (such as ‘victorious’); or maybe they were rivals for the throne after Tasciovanus' death – using his name to legitimise their claim? There are also coins inscribed ANDO, ANDOCO and RVIIS (Rues) alone.
In 44BC Julius Caesar was assassinated. In his will Caesar adopted Octavian, the son of his niece, as his own son and heir. Dio Cassius reports that:
“In emulation of his father he [Octavian] had set out to lead an expedition into Britain also, and had already advanced into Gaul after the winter in which Antony (for the second time) and Lucius Libo became consuls [i.e. in 34BC], when some of the newly-conquered people and Dalmatians along with them rose in revolt.”
‘Romaika’ Book XLIX Chapter 38
“Moved by your prayer, he [Apollo] will drive away mournful warfare, he will drive away wretched famine and plague from our people and Caesar [i.e. Octavian], our leader, and direct them against the Persians and Britons.”
The conquest of Britain was, for the time being, put on hold. Since 49BC, Rome had been embroiled in a series of power struggles (which would result in the demise of the Republic and the birth of the Empire). In 34BC Octavian was, uneasily, sharing power with Mark Antony – Octavian in the West, Antony in the East. By the time Octavian turned his attention to Britain again, in 27BC, Antony was dead, and Octavian was master of the Roman world. He was now, in effect, the first Roman emperor, and he had just been bestowed the name/title Augustus. Once more, he:
“... set out to make an expedition into Britain,
“Because Jove thunders in heaven we have always believed that he is king there; Augustus will be deemed a god on earth when the Britons and the deadly Persians have been added to our empire.”
Horace ‘Odes’ Book III Number 5
but on coming to the provinces of Gaul lingered there. For the Britons seemed likely to make terms with him, and the affairs of the Gauls were still unsettled, as the civil wars had begun immediately after their subjugation. He took a census of the inhabitants and regulated their life and government. From Gaul he proceeded into Spain, and established order there also.”
‘Romaika’ Book LIII Chapter 22
And again, in 26BC:
“Augustus was planning an expedition into Britain, since the people there would not come to terms,
“[Goddess of Fortune] Protect Caesar as he sets out for Britain at the edge of the world ...”
Horace ‘Odes’ Book I Number 35
but he was detained by the revolt of the Salassi and by the hostility of the Cantabri and Astures. The former dwell at the foot of the Alps, as I have stated, whereas both the other tribes occupy the strongest part of the Pyrenees on the side of Spain, together with the plain which lies below.”
‘Romaika’ Book LIII Chapter 25
The reverse of this silver unit (1.3 g) is inscribed EPP, for Eppillus. The obverse is inscribed REX and CALL (Calleva).
By this time, North of the Thames, in the area of the Trinovantes, Addedomaros seems to have been succeeded by Dubnovellaunus. However, coins bearing the same name, but stylistically very different, are also found south of the Thames, in Kent. Whilst it is entirely possible that Dubnovellaunus ruled both the Trinovantes and the Cantiaci, it is equally possible that there were two individuals of the same name. Be that as it may, in Kent, Dubnovellaunus' successor appears to be Vosenos. Meanwhile, in about 20BC, Commius of the Atrebates was succeeded by, his son, Tincomarus. A few years later (say, 10BC), however, Tincomarus' brother, Eppillus, was ruling in the northern part – issuing coins on which he clearly proclaims himself as king at Calleva (Silchester). Eppillus also took control of Kent – his coins replacing those of Vosenos, who appears to have had a short reign of, perhaps, five years.
On the left is the reverse of a quarter stater (1.22 g) of Tincomarus. It is inscribed with the abbreviation TI C. Until recently, it was thought that the various abbreviations on this king's coins stood for the name Tincommius. In 1996, however, two iron age coin hoards – a total of 256 gold staters – were discovered, by metal detector, at Alton in Hampshire. One stater had a complete inscription of his true name: TINCOMARVS. On the obverse of the quarter stater pictured is the inscription COM F.
The coin on the right, depicting a bearded head within a wreath on its obverse, is a silver unit (1.28 g) of Eppillus. On the reverse is the inscription EPPI. COM F.
COM F is shorthand for, the Latin, ‘Commius Filius’ i.e. ‘son of Commius’. However, whether this should be taken to mean, literally, ‘son of’, or a rather more general claim of affinity, is open to question – after all, Augustus styles himself ‘son of the divine Caesar’, when it was not literally true, but was a status bequeathed to him, by Caesar, in his will.
Another imponderable is the significance of the use of the title REX, in Latin, or, what appears to be a Celtic equivalent, RICON, on coins. Does it perhaps indicate the formal recognition of a particular king's rule by Rome? If so, it seems that it mattered little to the rulers themselves. According to John Creighton (‘Coins and Power in Late Iron Age Britain’, 2000), RICON appears on 8% of Tasciovanus' types, and REX on only 4% of Eppillus'.
“To you [Augustus] the Nile, who conceals the sources of his stream, and the Danube, to you the fiercely flowing Tigris, to you the monster-teeming Ocean that roars at the distant Britons, to you the land of Gaul that fears not death, and that of stubborn Spain – all listen obediently ...”
Horace ‘Odes’ Book IV Number 14
The above words of Horace, written c.15BC, imply that there were, by then, stable treaties between British rulers and Rome. The threat of a Roman invasion receded. Strabo (c.63BC–c.AD24), the Greek historian and geographer, was probably in Rome when he wrote:
“... although they could have held even Britain, the Romans scorned to do so, because they saw that there was nothing at all to fear from the Britons (for they are not strong enough to cross over and attack us), and that no corresponding advantage was to be gained by taking and holding their country. For it seems that at present more revenue is derived from the duty on their commerce than the tribute could bring in, if we deduct the expense involved in the maintenance of an army for the purpose of guarding the island and collecting the tribute; and the unprofitableness of an occupation would be still greater in the case of the other islands about Britain.”
‘Geography’ Book II Chapter 5
The date of Strabo's “at present” is not certain – allusions in his ‘Geography’ suggest it was completed in, or just after, AD23, though the timescale of its production is the subject of debate. Anyway, Strabo further comments:
“At present, however, some of the chieftains there [in Britain], after procuring the friendship of Caesar Augustus [who died in AD14] by sending embassies and by paying court to him, have not only dedicated offerings in the Capitol, but have also managed to make the whole of the island virtually Roman property. Further, they submit so easily to heavy duties, both on the exports from there to Celtica [Gaul] ....
A few sentences previously, Strabo had noted:
“Most of the island [Britain] is flat and overgrown with forests, although many of its districts are hilly. It bears grain, cattle, gold, silver, and iron. These things, accordingly, are exported from the island, as also hides, and slaves, and dogs that are by nature suited to the purposes of the chase; the Celti [Gauls], however, use both these and the native dogs for the purposes of war too.”
Visitors from Britain to Rome must have been quite usual, since Strabo continues:
“The men of Britain are taller than the Celti, and not so yellow-haired, although their bodies are of looser build. The following is an indication of their size: I myself, in Rome, saw mere lads towering as much as half a foot above the tallest people in the city, although they were bandy-legged and presented no fair lines anywhere else in their figure.”
.... and on the imports from Celtica (these latter are ivory chains and necklaces, and amber-gems and glass vessels and other petty wares of that sort), that there is no need of garrisoning the island; for one legion, at the least, and some cavalry would be required in order to carry off tribute from them, and the expense of the army would offset the tribute-money; in fact, the duties must necessarily be lessened if tribute is imposed, and, at the same time, dangers be encountered, if force is applied.”
‘Geography’ Book IV Chapter 5
A gold stater of Cunobelin (5.40 g), inscribed CVNO (Cuno) on the reverse. The obverse is inscribed CAMV, for Camulodunum.
In the, so called, ‘Res Gestae’, Augustus, himself, lists foreign kings who “took refuge with me as suppliants”. Included are, the British kings, Dubnovellaunus and Tincomarus. It would seem that they had been driven from their kingdoms by rivals. Perhaps those rivals were Cunobelin (the basis of Shakespeare's Cymbeline) and Verica. In about AD10, Cunobelin, the son of Tasciovanus, succeeded to the Catuvellauni and annexed the territory of the Trinovantes – Camulodunum (Colchester) became his capital. He extended his power south of the Thames, taking Kent from Eppillus. At about the same time that Cunobelin became leader of the Catuvellauni, the Atrebates became united again, under Verica, the brother of Tincomarus and Eppillus. During the AD30s, Cunobelin's brother, Epaticcus took control of the northern part of the Atrebates' territory, and Cunobelin would appear to have installed one of his sons, Amminus, in Kent.
The obverse of this bronze unit (2.41 g) of Cunobelin depicts an imperial-style laureate head. If it was complete, the inscription would read CVNOBELINI. The inscription on the reverse, which begins under the body of a centaur blowing a horn, runs off the flan rather, but reads TASCIOVANI F (the NI F is behind the centaur's head), i.e. ‘Son of Tasciovanus’. Cunobelin's earliest coins bear a Camulodunum mintmark. If he was a son of Tasciovanus, king of the Catuvellauni, how come his earliest coins were issued from the capital of the Trinovantes? This is, indeed, tricky to resolve. Perhaps he was acting as his father's agent when he conquered the Trinovantes, and then succeeded his father as king of the Catuvellauni. Some ‘pseudo histories’, however, suggest that Cunobelin, was actually Trinovantian, and, after wresting control of his own people, conquered the Catuvellauni – simply claiming to be a son of Tasciovanus.
Epaticcus, whose coins are concentrated in the north of the Atrebates' territory, also claims to be a son of Tasciovanus. On the other hand, Amminus, who issued coins in Kent, was probably a son of Cunobelin, but he makes no such claim on his coins.
This silver unit (1.3 g) of Verica is inscribed VERICA REX on the obverse. On the reverse, arranged either side of a scene featuring a toga clad figure holding a branch, is the inscription COMMI F. Verica claims to be the son of Commius. If this was the Commius who had arrived in Britain c.50BC, then there would certainly seem to be a problem in accepting the claims of rulers to be the ‘son of’ a worthy predecessor – Commius would have had to have been in his 60s when he sired Verica (which, though not impossible, does seem improbable). If, however, as now seems likely, there were two kings named Commius – the second succeeding his father of the same name – then the objection disappears, and the claim can be accepted at face value.
Both Verica and Cunobelin issued coins bearing the inscription REX, however, according to John Creighton (‘Coins and Power in Late Iron Age Britain’, 2000), whilst Verica used it on 19% of his types, Cunobelin only used it on 1% of his.
In AD14, Augustus was succeeded by Tiberius. Tacitus comments that:
“... there was a long neglect of Britain. This Augustus spoke of as policy, Tiberius as an inherited maxim.”
‘Agricola’ Chapter 13
Elsewhere, Tacitus mentions that, in AD16, some Roman troops, whose ships, having entered the North Sea (“stormier than all other seas”) at the River Ems following a German campaign, were blown off course and shipwrecked on the British coast, “were sent back by the petty kings” (‘Annals’ Book II Chapter 24).
The “long neglect”, however, was soon to come to an end. When Tiberius died, in AD37, Gaius – who is better known by his nickname, Caligula, and who the surviving sources portray as a madman – came to power. It would appear that, in the latter part of AD39, Caligula suddenly decided to undertake an expedition to Germany.
Dio Cassius and Suetonius each give different reasons for Caligula's snap decision to go on campaign. Dio Cassius says his excuse was that “the hostile Germans were stirring up trouble”, but the real reason was that, having “now spent practically all the money in Rome and the rest of Italy”, he needed to replenish his funds.
“... he did not openly announce his expedition beforehand, but went first to one of the suburbs and then suddenly set out on the journey, taking with him many actors, many gladiators, horses, women, and all the other trappings of luxury.”
‘Romaika’ Book LIX Chapter 21
Suetonius, on the other hand, says that Caligula was advised, by oracles at Mevania (now Bevagna, Umbria), to recruit more Batavians for his bodyguard:
“... and was seized with the idea of an expedition to Germania. So without delay he assembled legions and auxiliaries from all quarters, holding levies everywhere with the utmost strictness, and collecting provisions of every kind on an unheard of scale. Then he began his march and made it now so hurriedly and rapidly, that the praetorian cohorts were forced, contrary to all precedent, to lay their standards on the pack-animals and thus to follow him; again he was so lazy and luxurious that he was carried in a litter by eight bearers, requiring the inhabitants of the towns through which he passed to sweep the roads for him and sprinkle them to lay the dust.”
‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ Caligula Chapter 43
According to Dio Cassius:
“When he reached his destination, he did no harm to any of the enemy – in fact, as soon as he had proceeded a short distance beyond the Rhine, he returned, and then set out as if to conduct a campaign against Britain, but turned back from the ocean's edge ...”
“All that he accomplished was to receive the surrender of Adminius [Amminus], son of Cynobellinus [Cunobelin] king of the Britons, who had been banished by his father and had deserted to the Romans with a small force; yet as if the entire island had submitted to him, he sent a grandiloquent letter to Rome, commanding the couriers who carried it to ride in their post-chaise all the way to the Forum and the Senate, and not to deliver it to anyone except the consuls, in the temple of Mars the Avenger, before a full meeting of the senate.”
‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ Caligula Chapter 44
Both Dio Cassius and Suetonius tell how Caligula's British ‘campaign’ was a complete farce:
“... when he reached the ocean, as if he were going to conduct a campaign in Britain, and had drawn up all the soldiers on the beach, he embarked on a trireme, and then, after putting out a little from the land, sailed back again. Next he took his seat on a lofty platform and gave the soldiers the signal as if for battle, bidding the trumpeters urge them on; then of a sudden he ordered them to gather up the shells. Having secured these spoils (for he needed booty, of course, for his triumphal procession), he became greatly elated, as if he had enslaved the very ocean; and he gave his soldiers many presents. The shells he took back to Rome for the purpose of exhibiting the booty to the people there as well.”
Dio Cassius ‘Romaika’ Book LIX Chapter 25
“... he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the Ocean, arranging his ballistas and other artillery; and when no one knew or could imagine what he was going to do, he suddenly bade them gather shells and fill their helmets and the folds of their gowns, calling them “spoils from the Ocean, due to the Capitol and Palatine.” As a monument of his victory he erected a lofty tower, from which lights were to shine at night to guide the course of ships, as from the Pharos [the lighthouse at Alexandria]. Then, promising the soldiers a gratuity of a hundred denarii each, as if he had shown unprecedented liberality, he said, “Go your way happy; go your way rich.””
Suetonius ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ Caligula Chapter 46
The ‘seashell incident’ is presented as yet another manifestation of Caligula's insanity, which perhaps it was, but historians have tried to rationalise his actions – perhaps there was never any intention of invading Britain, and the shells were gathered to be used as artillery ammunition in training exercises; perhaps the troops refused to undertake a voyage into the unknown, so Caligula had them gather seashells as a humiliating punishment; and so on.
On 24th January AD41, Caligula was murdered by the Praetorian Guard (the emperor's household troops). They declared his uncle, Claudius, emperor.
On the face of it, Claudius seems like an unlikely choice:
“... throughout almost the whole course of his childhood and youth he suffered so severely from various obstinate disorders that the vigor of both his mind and his body was dulled ...
His mother Antonia often called him “a monster of a man, not finished but merely begun by Dame Nature”; and if she accused anyone of dullness, she used to say that he was “a bigger fool than her son Claudius.” His grandmother Augusta always treated him with the utmost contempt, very rarely speaking to him; and when she admonished him, she did so in short, harsh letters, or through messengers. When his sister Livina heard that he would one day be emperor, she openly and loudly prayed that the Roman people might be spared so cruel and undeserved a fortune.”
Suetonius ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ The Deified Claudius Chapters 2 & 3
It seems, however, that Claudius had exaggerated his disabilities as a method of self preservation:
“... [Caligula] would have killed Claudius, had he not felt contempt for him, inasmuch as the latter, partly by his nature and partly by deliberate intent, gave the impression of great stupidity...
... [Claudius] obtained the imperial power without having been previously tested at all in any position of authority, except for the fact that he had been consul. He was in his fiftieth year. In mental ability he was by no means inferior, as his faculties had been in constant training (in fact, he had actually written some historical treatises); but he was sickly in body, so that his head and hands shook slightly. Because of this his voice was also faltering, and he did not himself read all the measures that he introduced before the senate, but would give them to the quaestor to read, though at first, at least, he was generally present. Whatever he did read himself, he usually delivered sitting down... From a child he had been reared a constant prey to illness and great terror, and for that reason had feigned a stupidity greater than was really the case (a fact that he himself admitted in the senate) ...”
Dio Cassius ‘Romaika’ Book LIX Chapter 23 & Book LX Chapter 2
The design on the above silver unit (1.15 g) of Caratacus – Hercules (wearing a lion's skin headdress) facing the inscription on the obverse; an eagle holding a snake on the reverse – is virtually identical to a silver unit issued by Epaticcus.
Back in Britain, sometime between AD40 and 43, Cunobelin died. His sons, Caratacus and Togodumnus replaced him. Coins inscribed CARA, presumably issues of the same Caratacus, seem to supersede those of, Caratacus' uncle, Epaticcus in the northern part of the Atrebates' territory (there are no coins attributable to Togodumnus). Perhaps it was the territorial ambitions of Cunobelin's sons which finally precipitated the Roman invasion of Britain. Dio Cassius mentions that, in AD43, when the invasion took place, the Catuvellauni were ruling over, at least, a part of the Dobunni (to the west of the Catuvellaunian homeland), and it may well have been the brothers' expansion further into Atrebatic country that caused Verica to flee to Rome in search of assistance. A significant military success was just the thing Claudius needed to consolidate his position, so Verica found an attentive audience:
“... desiring the glory of a legitimate triumph, he [Claudius] chose Britain as the best place for gaining it, a land that had been attempted by no one since the Deified Julius and was just at that time in a state of rebellion because of the [Roman] refusal to return certain deserters.”
Suetonius ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ The Deified Claudius Chapter 17
“Aulus Plautius, a senator of great renown, made a campaign against Britain; for a certain Bericus [thought to be Verica], who had been driven out of the island as a result of an uprising, had persuaded Claudius to send a force thither. Thus it came about that Plautius undertook this campaign; but he had difficulty in inducing his army to advance beyond Gaul. For the soldiers were indignant at the thought of carrying on a campaign outside the limits of the known world ...”
Horace ‘Odes’ by Niall Rudd
Tacitus ‘Annals’ by John Jackson
Strabo ‘Geography’ by H.L. Jones
Tacitus ‘Histories’ by Clifford H. Moore
Dio Cassius ‘Romaika’ by Earnest Cary
Suetonius ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ by J.C. Rolfe
Tacitus ‘Agricola’ by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
A coin's design was struck onto a, flattened, cast metal disc, known as a ‘flan’. The flan would be placed onto a concave die, engraved with the coin's obverse face (in negative, of course). A convex die, engraved with the reverse face was put on top, and struck, to impress the designs onto both faces of the coin at the same time. The critical factor was the weight of a coin – its shape appears to have been of secondary importance, and can be rather eccentric. Typically, the flans were smaller than the dies, so, even if a coin was struck centred (which is often not the case), it is usual that part of the design's periphery will be missing.
The coins on this page are not shown to scale (they will all be in the region 10–20 mm across), but the weight of each, in grammes, is given.
The Roman poet known as Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65BC–8BC) published the first three books of his ‘Odes’ in 23BC. The 88 poems had been produced over a number of years – the earliest positively dateable being Book I Number 37, which was plainly written in 30BC, soon after Cleopatra's suicide in the August of that year. (It was the suicides of Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 30BC – following the decisive naval engagement at Actium, on 2nd September 31BC, in which Octavian's fleet defeated theirs – that gave Octavian undisputed supremacy in Rome.) Horace published a fourth book of 15 ‘Odes’ in about 13BC.
Vosenos, Vosenios or maybe Vodenos. There are also, broadly, contemporary coins inscribed SA and SAM. Assuming the inscriptions do refer to a person, and are not something else, such as a mintmark, and then assuming they refer to the same person, how he fits into the picture is anyone's guess.
The ‘Res Gestae Divi Augusti’ (Deeds of the Divine Augustus) is a text summarising Augustus' achievements, composed by Augustus himself. He died on the 19th of August AD14. He left instructions for the text to be engraved on bronze tablets placed at the entrance to his mausoleum in Rome. The bronzes no longer exist. The text, however, was distributed to other parts of the empire. The ‘Monumentum Ancyranum’ is the name given to, by far, the most complete survivor – the text inscribed on walls, in both the original Latin and in Greek, of the ‘Temple of Augustus and Rome’ at Ancyra (now Ankara, Turkey), capital of the Roman province of Galatia.
In the inscription, spelled ‘Dumnobellaunus’.
The name is not complete in either the Latin or the Greek inscription. It begins ‘Tim’ or ‘Tin’. There seems to be general agreement that Tincomarus is the king in question.
“His surname Caligula [Little Boots] he derived from a joke of the troops, because he was brought up in their midst [his father, Germanicus, was a popular general] in the dress of a common soldier”
‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ Caligula Chapter 9
The impression given by the few extant sources of Caligula's brief reign (Tacitus' record is lost) is that, though he set out promisingly, he soon showed himself to be a monster – a profligate, perverted, lunatic. There is a tendency for modern historians to give him the benefit of the doubt – to suggest that he was not quite as bad, or as mad, as he was painted, that he was an arrogant youth (he was 24 years old when he became emperor), corrupted by power, who received a bad press.
“The Batavians formed part of the Chatti so long as they lived across the Rhine; then, being expelled by a civil war, they occupied the edge of the Gallic bank which was uninhabited, and likewise an island close by, which is washed by the ocean in front but by the Rhine on its rear and sides. Without having their wealth exhausted – a thing which is rare in alliance with a stronger
people – they furnished our empire only men and arms.”
Tacitus ‘Histories’ Book IV Chapter 12
Actually, Dio Cassius calls the tribe ‘Bodunni’, but it is generally accepted that Dobunni is meant. This reference appears in ‘Romaika’ Book LX Chapter 20. It is in the same chapter that Dio identifies Caratacus and Togodumnus as Cunobelin's sons.