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A large picture of this subject by another Scottish artist, Gavin Hamilton, is also in the Tate's collections; it was shown at the Royal Academy in 1772, the probable year of this etching. Runciman himself produced an oil painting on the theme for the R.A. in 1780. The subject was therefore a standard one for the neo-classical period, and Runciman's treatment of it here sums up the Grecian inspiration of the time.
Germanicus Julius Caesar, soldier and poet, had gained his name in campaigns fought against the Germans; he was assassinated at Antioch, Asia Minor, in 19 AD. His widow Agrippina brought his ashes home to Italy, landing in the South at Brundisium (Brindisi).

August 2004