The Annals of Imperial Rome

By Cornelius Tacitus; Michael Grant | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

I. THE LIFE AND WORKS OF TACITUS

THE powerful personality of Cornelius Tacitus has survived in his writings, but we know extremely little of his life or his origin. Indeed, we are not even sure whether the first of his three names was Publius or Gaius. Perhaps his family came from the south of France, or Spain. If so, Tacitus -- like other leading Latin writers -- may not have been of wholly Italian ancestry. But we have no conclusive evidence. His father may have been an imperial agent at Trier or at Cologne, and paymaster-general for the armies on the Rhine; but again we are not certain.

At all events, Tacitus was born in about A.D. 55 (when Claudius was emperor).1 He lived and worked until the end or nearly the end of the emperor Trajan's reign ( A.D. 98-117); it is thought likely that Trajan died before Tacitus. Much of the official career of Tacitus as a senator took place in a time of unhappiness and even terror for high officials, the black years of Domitian ( A.D. 81-96). But Tacitus survived to enjoy the highest metropolitan post, the consulship, in A.D. 97, and the governorship of the great province of western Anatolia (' Asia') -- the climax of a senator's career -- some fifteen years later.

He had received a careful Roman education. In his day that meant, particularly, an elaborate series of exercises in different kinds of public speaking. This training made him into an impressive and famous orator. None of his speeches have come down to us, but his first surviving work -- if indeed it is his (not everyone agrees about this) -- is an illuminating Dialogue analysing the reasons why oratory had declined during the century and more that had elapsed since the death of Cicero.

Next Tacitus began to make it clear to the world that, even if oratory could never achieve its past glories again, the same was by no means true of history. The monographs with which he initiated his career as historian, the Agricola and Germania, were published within

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1
A list of Roman emperors will be found at the end of the book.

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The Annals of Imperial Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • The Annals Of Imperial Rome 27
  • Chapter 1 - From Augustus to Tiberius 29
  • Chapter 2 - Mutiny on the Frontiers 41
  • Chapter 3 - War with the Germans 59
  • Chapter 4 - The First Treason Trials 88
  • Chapter 5 - The Death of Germanicus 102
  • Chapter 6 - Tiberius and the Senate 126
  • Chapter 7 - 'Partner of My Labours' 153
  • Chapter 8 - The Reign of Terror 193
  • Part Two - Claudius and Nero 223
  • Chapter 9 - The Fall of Messalina 225
  • Chapter 10 - The Mother of Nero 244
  • Chapter II - The Fall of Agrippina 274
  • Chapter 12 - Nero and His Helpers 310
  • Chapter 13 - Eastern Settlement 334
  • Chapter 14 - The Burning of Rome 349
  • Chapter 15 - The Plot 356
  • Chapter 16 - Innocent Victims 370
  • Notes 385
  • List of Roman Emperors 399
  • Lists of Some Eastern Monarchs 400
  • Key to Technical Terms 402
  • Key to Place-Names 410
  • Genealogical Tables 433
  • Index of Personal Names 439
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