The Eagle (The Eagle of the Ninth in some markets) is the 2011 film adaptation, directed by Kevin Macdonald, of Rosemary Sutcliff's 1956 novel The Eagle of the Ninth. It concerns a disabled Roman soldier discharged for his injuries, Marcus Aquila, and his quest to retrieve the lost Eagle of the Ninth Legion, with the not-entirely-willing help of his British slave, Esca MacCunoval.

The Eagle is a loose adaptation which cuts most of the secondary characters and dramatically changes the plot and relationship between the two main characters, Marcus and Esca, from the novel.



This timeline is based on a combination of the movie itself and the shooting script, without reference to historical accuracy. A few major historical events which may be relevant for context are included.

  • 114: Marcus Flavius Aquila is born
  • 120, Autumn: Marcus's father and the Ninth Legion receive the order to march North
    • Ninth Legion massacred in Scotland by an alliance of northern tribes, including the Brigantes and the "Seal People"
    • Guern (Lucius Caius Metellus) deserts, marries a woman of the Selgovae, and has two children
    • Marcus's father is killed defending the Eagle
  • 122-128: Construction on the Aelian Wall (Hadrian's Wall) largely finished by this point [historical note]
    • Esca is probably born in the early to mid-120s
  • c. 131-132: Cottia is born [her scenes were cut from the movie]
  • 134: Esca's clan of the Brigantes rises against Rome
    • Esca's father, mother, and two brothers are killed
    • Esca is captured and enslaved
  • 138: Hadrian dies; Antoninus Pius becomes Emperor [historical note]
  • 140, autumn (?): Marcus assumes his first command as pilus prior of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, Second Legion, at Isca Dumnoniorum
    • Marcus meets local tribesman Cradoc [his scenes were cut from the movie]
    • The fort is attacked during a local uprising
    • Centurion Cassius is killed
    • Marcus kills Cradoc
    • Marcus is injured severely
    • Marcus is transported "200 leagues" to his uncle's villa in Calleva, where he is unconscious for a week
    • Lutorius brings Marcus his discharge papers and a military armilla, and informs him that the cohort received honors
  • 141, spring (March?): Marcus is recovering in Calleva
    • Marcus meets Cottia [scenes cut from movie]
    • Marcus and Uncle Aquila go to the games in Calleva
    • Esca attempts suicide by gladiator; Marcus saves him
    • Uncle Aquila buys Esca for Marcus
    • Marcus's wound is re-searched by a doctor
    • "Six months later": Marcus is well enough to go boar-hunting with Esca
      • The Legate of the Sixth Legion, Claudius Marcellus, visits with his tribune, Servius Placidus
    • Late summer: Marcus and Esca go north in search of the Eagle
    • Early autumn: Marcus and Esca reach Loch Lomond
      • Some time later they meet Guern, who shows them where the Ninth was massacred
      • Marcus and Esca are captured by the Seal People; Esca claims Marcus is his slave
      • They steal the Eagle, killing the chieftain in the process, and flee south towards the Wall; Marcus's wound makes him ill and he tells Esca to abandon him
      • Marcus manumits Esca; Esca goes for help
      • The Seal Prince kills his own son; there is a climactic battle, in which the remaining legionaries of the Ninth reemerge to save the Eagle
      • The Seal Prince kills Guern
      • Marcus kills the Seal Prince
    • Late autumn: Marcus and Esca deliver the Eagle to Claudius Marcellus at the legion's headquarters in Eburacum


  • Marcus Flavius Aquila
  • Esca MacCunoval
  • Lutorius Drusillus Salinator
  • Uncle Aquila
  • Stephanos
  • Guern | Lucius Caius Metellus
  • Seal Prince
  • Seal Boy


  • Isca Dumnoniorum
  • Calleva Atrebatum
  • Caledonia
  • Seal People village
  • Eburacum

Historical and literary sourcesEdit

Publication historyEdit