Tacitus Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111205890-Tacitus.jpg Tacitus Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The life of Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (TAS-uht-uhs) is known only from autobiographical allusions in the extant parts of his works and from eleven letters written to him by Pliny the Younger. This remarkable republican lived through the reign of ten emperors, from Nero to Hadrian. As a brilliant lawyer, senator, and consul, he was a close observer of public affairs, and his dismay at the degeneration of his age and his fear of tyranny are expressed in pithy language.{$S[A]Publius Cornelius Tacitus;Tacitus}{$S[A]Gaius Cornelius Tacitus;Tacitus}

Tacitus was born into a prosperous provincial family. He studied rhetoric as an adolescent and came to public notice as a skilled orator. His career took a notable advance when he married the daughter of the future Roman governor of Britain, Julius Agricola. He was appointed to high offices by the cruel Emperor Domitian, then reached the pinnacle of his civil career when he was named to the important governorship of Asia by Emperor Trajan in 112.

His A Dialogue Concerning Oratory laments the decay of education and eloquence; The Life of Agricola is a fine biography of his father-in-law, with a sketch of Britain under the Romans; The Description of Germanie (also called Concerning the Geography, the Customs and Manners, and the Tribes of Germany), a valuable classic despite its errors, contrasts the free barbarians with the servile Romans; and the...

(The entire section is 443 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Further Reading:

Ash, Rhiannon. Ordering Anarchy: Armies and Leaders in Tacitus’ Histories. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Chilver, G. E. F. A Historical Commentary on Tacitus’s Histories I and II. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Containing a wealth of information, this work will prove very helpful to students of the period, because the author takes great care to trace each source and reference used by Tacitus.

Kraus, Christina Shuttleworth. Latin Historians. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Luce, T. J., and A. J....

(The entire section is 416 words.)