SCHOOLBOYS KNOW THE LETTER WRITTEN BY CARACTACUS TO CLAUDIUS CAESAR. But not everyone knows the letter, written about a century earlier, from Cassilbellaunus to Julius Caesar. This is no doubt because it does not come to us from Latin sources. It is given in full by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the twelfth-century writer who, despite his detractors, possessed three advantages: he studied under his uncle, Uchtryd, Bishop of Llandaff, in South Wales; he was himself Bishop of St. Asaph, in North Wales; he also possessed an ancient manuscript from Brittany, which he quotes widely. From any of these sources he could have obtained a copy of the letter of Cassibeliaunus which we quote:
Cassibelaun, king of the Britons, to Calus Julius Caesar. We cannot but wonder, Caesar, at the avarice of the Roman people, since their insatiable thirst after money cannot let us alone whom the dangers of the ocean have placed in a manner out of the world; but they must have the presumption to covet our substance, which we have hitherto enjoyed in quiet. Neither is this indeed sufficient; we must also prefer subjection and slavery to them, before the enjoyment of our native liberty.