LITTLE or nothing is known about the early life of Tacitus. The year of his birth can only be approximately given as 54 A. D., and the assertion sometimes made that Interamna in Umbria was his birthplace rests on extremely unsubstantial evidence. It is quite possible that he was born at Rome, and we know for certain that he studied rhetoric there. It has been suggested that possibly the Cornelius Tacitus mentioned by the elder Pliny as procurator of Belgic Gaul was the historian's father, but there is no proof of this, and the details of his family relations are unknown to us, except the fact that in 78 he married the daughter of Julius Agricola, the famous governor of Britain.
Tacitus' career was at first pursued along political lines. He held some minor office under Vespasian, was quaestor under Titus, and praetor under Domitian. After his praetorship ( 88 A. D.), he was absent from Rome for some years, possibly serving as propraetor of Belgic Gaul. He returned in 93, the year of Agricola's death, but does not seem to have taken any part in public life during the remainder of Domitian's reign. In 97, under Nerva, he was made consul. A few years later we hear of him as associated with his friend the younger Pliny in the indictment of Marius Priscus for extortion in the province of Africa. After this he retired, and devoted himself exclusively to his. literary and historical pursuits. His death probably took place about 116 A. D.
His first literary work was the Dialogus de Oratoribus, a