Roman historians saw Britain as a disgusting and disappointing place due to it’s climate and inability to create a Roman writer, Senator, or Emperor; and the emperors saw it as an opportunistic land to be conquered and exploited.
Roman historian and Senator Tacitus spoke of the wretched climate and gloomy atmosphere of Britain. Greek and Roman historian Strabo warned against colonizing Britain saying that it would never pay its own weight in the empire. Britain captivated the Roman Public. They believed the world ended at the end of the continent and upon discovering the British Isles, their world became a little bigger but still they believed the Island was the only thing out there. Britain’s diversity of native tribes further captivated the Romans who believed they would easily defeat the tribes but sooner or later discovered it was not a done deal. The Roman people did not fully understand the tribes native to Britain and Boudicca’s control over her tribe confused the matriarchal society of Rome. Britain was seen as disgusting and the “backwards” people disappointing to Romans, but their emperors saw the opportunity that the open land and controllable people presented to them.
Roman Generals and Emperors saw conquering and military expansion as their key to success. General Julius Caesar looked towards Britain in 55 BC as other prominent Generals looked to expand the empire to the East. He stepped foot on the islands but was soon beat back towards the mainland. In 43 AD, almost 100 years after Caesar, Emperor Claudius successfully invaded Britain. He used the successful invasion prove his ability and quell internal political opposition. Economic reasons did show themselves in the early years of Britain’s control of Britain. It provided Rome a “wilderness” to exploit and use to their own gains and its detriment.
The leaders of Rome saw Britain’s potential for the empire but it’s public and scholars saw it as a miserable and disappointing expedition.
Melvyn Bragg, host, “Rome and European Civilization,” In Our Time (MP3 podcast), BBC, 20 December, 2001, 10 November, 2014 , http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/iot/all.