- The Eagle of the Ninth
"The Eagle of the Ninth" is a historical adventure novel for children written by
Rosemary Sutcliffand published in 1954. Set in Roman Britainin the 130safter the building of Hadrian's Wall, it is the story of a young Roman's search to discover the truth about the disappearance of his father's legion in the north of Britain.
Sutcliff explained in a foreword that she created the story from two elements: the disappearance of the Legio VIIII "Hispana" (Ninth Legion) from the historical record following an expedition north to deal with
Caledonian tribes in 117; and the discovery of a wingless Roman eagle in excavations at Silchester. Back then, this was a common theory. [Cf., Winston Churchill, " A History of the English-Speaking Peoples", vol.1 (1956).]
Fifty years on, scholarly opinion disputes this. There are extant records for the Ninth legion later than
117, and it was annihilated in the east of the Roman Empire. [The article [http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/ix_hispana.html Legio VIIII Hispana] mentions a stay in Nijmegenin 121and suggests that the Ninth was finally destroyed during the Bar Kochba Revolt in Palestineor in a conflict with the Parthian Empire in 161.] The museum housing the Silchester eagle states that it "is not a legionary eagle but has been immortalized as such by Rosemary Sutcliff". [Reading Museum's [http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/collections/album/pdfs/sileagle-38.pdf Silchester Eagle PDF] .] She also assumed that the legion's title of "Hispana" meant that it was raised in modern Spain, but it was probably awarded this title for victories there.
It is one of Sutcliff's earlier books but may perhaps be her most well-known title. It is the first in a sequence of novels, followed by "The Silver Branch", "The Lantern Bearers", and "
Sword at Sunset".
A BBC television serial was made of the book in 1977, scripted by Bill Craig and two others. [ IMDB page for [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397778/ "The Eagle of the Ninth"] (1977 TV-series).] The BBC also produced a Radio 4 dramatisation. A movie is announced for 2009. [IMDB page for [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034389/ "The Eagle of the Ninth"] (2009 movie).]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.