''Britannia'' was the Roman and Greek term for the geographical region of Great Britain which was inhabited by the Britons and is the name given to the female personification of the island. It is a term still used to refer to the island today. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form ''Prettanike'' or ''Brettaniai'', which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including ''Albion'' or Great Britain; however, by the 1st century BC, ''Britannia'' came to be used for Great Britain specifically. In AD 43 the Roman Empire began its conquest of the island, establishing a province they called ''Britannia'', which came to encompass the parts of the island south of Caledonia (roughly Scotland). The native Celtic inhabitants of the province are known as the Britons. In the 2nd century, Roman Britannia came to be personified as a goddess, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet.
The Latin name ''Britannia'' long survived the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and yielded the name for the island in most European and various other languages, including the English Britain and the modern Welsh ''Prydain''. After centuries of declining use, the Latin form was revived during the English Renaissance as a rhetorical evocation of a British national identity. Especially following the Acts of Union in 1707, which joined the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the personification of the martial Britannia was used as an emblem of British imperial power and unity. She was featured on all modern British coinage series until the redesign in 2008, and still appears annually on the gold and silver "Britannia" bullion coin series. In 2015 a new definitive £2 coin was issued, with a new image of Britannia.
The first writer to use a form of the name was the Greek explorer and geographer Pytheas in the 4th century BC. Pytheas referred to ''Prettanike'' or ''Brettaniai'', a group of islands off the coast of North-Western Europe. In the 1st century BC, Diodorus Siculus referred to ''Pretannia'',〔Snyder, p. 12.〕 a rendering of the indigenous name for the ''Pretani'' people whom the Greeks believed to inhabit the British Isles.〔Allen, p. 174.〕〔Davies, p. 47.〕 Following the Greek usage, the Romans referred to the ''Insulae Britannicae'' in the plural, consisting of ''Albion'' (Great Britain), ''Hibernia'' (Ireland), ''Thule'' (possibly Iceland or Orkney) and many smaller islands. Over time, Albion specifically came to be known as ''Britannia'', and the name for the group was subsequently dropped.〔 That island was first invaded by Julius Caesar in 55 BC, and the Roman conquest of the island began in AD 43, leading to the establishment of the Roman province known as ''Britannia''. The Romans never successfully conquered the whole island, building Hadrian's Wall as a boundary with ''Caledonia'', which covered roughly the territory of modern Scotland, although in fact the whole of the boundary marked by Hadrian's Wall lies within modern-day Northern England. A southern part of what is now Scotland was occupied by the Romans for about 20 years in the mid-2nd century AD, keeping in place the Picts to the north of the Antonine Wall. People living in the Roman province of Britannia were called ''Britanni'', or Britons. Ireland, inhabited by the Scoti, was never invaded and was called Hibernia. Thule, an island "six days' sail north of Britain, and () near the frozen sea", possibly Iceland, was also never invaded by the Romans.
The Emperor Claudius paid a visit while Britain was being conquered and was honoured with the agnomen ''Britannicus'' as if he were the conqueror; a frieze discovered at Aphrodisias in 1980 shows a bare breasted and helmeted female warrior labelled BRITANNIA, writhing in agony under the heel of the emperor.〔''Roman Britain'' By Timothy W. Potter and Catherine Johns, University of California Press, 1992 p.40〕 She appeared on coins issued under Hadrian, as a more regal-looking female figure.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Britannia on British Coins )〕 Britannia was soon personified as a goddess, looking fairly similar to the goddess Minerva. Early portraits of the goddess depict Britannia as a beautiful young woman, wearing the helmet of a centurion, and wrapped in a white garment with her right breast exposed. She is usually shown seated on a rock, holding a spear, and with a spiked shield propped beside her. Sometimes she holds a standard and leans on the shield. On another range of coinage, she is seated on a globe above waves: Britain at the edge of the (known) world. Similar coin types were also issued under Antoninus Pius.
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