Tacitus

Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (/ˈtæsɪtəs/; Classical Latin: [ˈtakɪtʊs]; c.  56c.  120 AD) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors (69 AD). These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus, in 14 AD, to the years of the First Jewish–Roman War, in 70 AD. There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long.

Tacitus' other writings discuss oratory (in dialogue format, see Dialogus de oratoribus), Germania (in De origine et situ Germanorum), and the life of his father-in-law, Agricola, the general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain, mainly focusing on his campaign in Britannia (De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae).

Tacitus is considered to be one of the greatest Roman historians.[1][2] He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature, and is known for the brevity and compactness of his Latin prose, as well as for his penetrating insights into the psychology of power politics.

Tacitus
Modern statue representing Tacitus outside the Austrian Parliament Building
Modern statue representing Tacitus
outside the Austrian Parliament Building
Bornc.  56 AD
Diedc.  120 AD (aged c.  64)
OccupationSenator, consul, governor, historian
GenreHistory, Silver Age of Latin
SubjectHistory, biography, oratory

Life

Details about his personal life are scarce. What little is known comes from scattered hints throughout his work, the letters of his friend and admirer Pliny the Younger, and an inscription found at Mylasa in Caria.[3]

Tacitus was born in 56 or 57 to an equestrian family;[4] but the exact place and date of his birth are not known, and his praenomen (first name) is also unknown; in the letters of Sidonius Apollinaris his name is Gaius, but in the major surviving manuscript of his work his name is given as Publius.[5] One scholar's suggestion of Sextus has gained no approval.[6]

Family and early life

REmpire-04 Gallia Narbonensis
Tacitus was probably born in Gallia Narbonensis.

Most of the older aristocratic families failed to survive the proscriptions which took place at the end of the Republic, and Tacitus makes it clear that he owed his rank to the Flavian emperors (Hist. 1.1). The claim that he was descended from a freedman is derived from a speech in his writings which asserts that many senators and knights were descended from freedmen (Ann. 13.27), but this is generally disputed.[7]

His father may have been the Cornelius Tacitus who served as procurator of Belgica and Germania; Pliny the Elder mentions that Cornelius had a son who aged rapidly (NH 7.76), which implies an early death. There is no mention of Tacitus suffering such a condition, but it is possible that this refers to a brother—if Cornelius was indeed his father.[8] The friendship between the younger Pliny and Tacitus leads some scholars to conclude that they were both the offspring of wealthy provincial families.[9]

The province of his birth remains unknown, though various conjectures suggest Gallia Belgica, Gallia Narbonensis or Northern Italy.[10] His marriage to the daughter of Narbonensian senator Gnaeus Julius Agricola implies that he came from Gallia Narbonensis. Tacitus' dedication to Lucius Fabius Justus in the Dialogus may indicate a connection with Spain, and his friendship with Pliny suggests origins in northern Italy.[11] No evidence exists, however, that Pliny's friends from northern Italy knew Tacitus, nor do Pliny's letters hint that the two men had a common background.[12] Pliny Book 9, Letter 23 reports that, when he was asked if he was Italian or provincial, he gave an unclear answer, and so was asked if he was Tacitus or Pliny. Since Pliny was from Italy, some infer that Tacitus was from the provinces, probably Gallia Narbonensis.[13]

His ancestry, his skill in oratory, and his sympathetic depiction of barbarians who resisted Roman rule (e.g., Ann. 2.9) have led some to suggest that he was a Celt. This belief stems from the fact that the Celts who had occupied Gaul prior to the Roman invasion were famous for their skill in oratory, and had been subjugated by Rome.[14]

Public life, marriage, and literary career

As a young man, Tacitus studied rhetoric in Rome to prepare for a career in law and politics; like Pliny, he may have studied under Quintilian[15] (c. 35 ADc. 100). In 77 or 78, he married Julia Agricola, daughter of the famous general Agricola.[16] Little is known of their domestic life, save that Tacitus loved hunting and the outdoors.[17] He started his career (probably the latus clavus, mark of the senator)[18] under Vespasian[19] (reigned 69–79), but entered political life as a quaestor in 81 or 82 under Titus.[20] He advanced steadily through the cursus honorum, becoming praetor in 88 and a quindecimvir, a member of the priestly college in charge of the Sibylline Books and the Secular games.[21] He gained acclaim as a lawyer and as an orator; his skill in public speaking ironically counterpoints his cognomen Tacitus ("silent").

He served in the provinces from c. 89 to c. 93, either in command of a legion or in a civilian post.[22] He and his property survived Domitian's reign of terror (81–96), but the experience left him jaded and perhaps ashamed at his own complicity, giving him the hatred of tyranny evident in his works.[23] The Agricola, chs. 4445, is illustrative:

Agricola was spared those later years during which Domitian, leaving now no interval or breathing space of time, but, as it were, with one continuous blow, drained the life-blood of the Commonwealth... It was not long before our hands dragged Helvidius to prison, before we gazed on the dying looks of Mauricus and Rusticus, before we were steeped in Senecio's innocent blood. Even Nero turned his eyes away, and did not gaze upon the atrocities which he ordered; with Domitian it was the chief part of our miseries to see and to be seen, to know that our sighs were being recorded...

From his seat in the Senate, he became suffect consul in 97 during the reign of Nerva, being the first of his family to do so. During his tenure, he reached the height of his fame as an orator when he delivered the funeral oration for the famous veteran soldier Lucius Verginius Rufus.[24]

In the following year, he wrote and published the Agricola and Germania, foreshadowing the literary endeavors that would occupy him until his death.[25] Afterwards, he absented himself from public life, but returned during Trajan's reign (98–117). In 100, he and his friend Pliny the Younger prosecuted Marius Priscus (proconsul of Africa) for corruption. Priscus was found guilty and sent into exile; Pliny wrote a few days later that Tacitus had spoken "with all the majesty which characterizes his usual style of oratory".[26]

A lengthy absence from politics and law followed while he wrote the Histories and the Annals. In 112 to 113, he held the highest civilian governorship, that of the Roman province of Asia in Western Anatolia,[27] recorded in the inscription found at Mylasa mentioned above. A passage in the Annals fixes 116 as the terminus post quem of his death, which may have been as late as 125 or even 130. It seems that he survived both Pliny (died c. 113) and Trajan (died 117).[28] It remains unknown whether Tacitus had any children. The Augustan History reports that Emperor Marcus Claudius Tacitus (reigned 275–276) claimed him for an ancestor and provided for the preservation of his works, but this story may be fraudulent, like much of the Augustan History.[29]

Works

Lipsius manuscript
The title page of Justus Lipsius's 1598 edition of the complete works of Tacitus, bearing the stamps of the Bibliotheca Comunale in Empoli, Italy.

Five works ascribed to Tacitus have survived (albeit with lacunae), the most substantial of which are the Annals and the Histories. This canon (with approximate dates) consists of:

History of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus

The Annals and the Histories, published separately, were meant to form a single edition of thirty books.[30] Although Tacitus wrote the Histories before the Annals, the events in the Annals precede the Histories; together they form a continuous narrative from the death of Augustus (14) to the death of Domitian (96). Though most has been lost, what remains is an invaluable record of the era. The first half of the Annals survived in a single copy of a manuscript from Corvey Abbey, and the second half from a single copy of a manuscript from Monte Cassino, and so it is remarkable that they survived at all.

The Histories

In an early chapter of the Agricola, Tacitus asserts that he wishes to speak about the years of Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. In the Histories the scope has changed; Tacitus says that he will deal with the age of Nerva and Trajan at a later time. Instead, he will cover the period from the civil wars of the Year of Four Emperors and end with the despotism of the Flavians. Only the first four books and twenty-six chapters of the fifth book survive, covering the year 69 and the first part of 70. The work is believed to have continued up to the death of Domitian on September 18, 96. The fifth book contains—as a prelude to the account of Titus's suppression of the Great Jewish Revolt—a short ethnographic survey of the ancient Jews, and it is an invaluable record of Roman attitudes towards them.

The Annals

The Annals, Tacitus' final work, covers the period from the death of Augustus Caesar in 14 AD. He wrote at least sixteen books, but books 7–10 and parts of books 5, 6, 11 and 16 are missing. Book 6 ends with the death of Tiberius and books 7 to 12 presumably covered the reigns of Caligula and Claudius. The remaining books cover the reign of Nero, perhaps until his death in June 68 or until the end of that year to connect with the Histories. The second half of book 16 is missing, ending with the events of 66. We do not know whether Tacitus completed the work; he died before he could complete his planned histories of Nerva and Trajan and no record survives of the work on Augustus Caesar and the beginnings of the Roman Empire, with which he had planned to finish his work. The Annals is one of the earliest secular historical records to mention Christ, which Tacitus does in connection with Nero's persecution of the Christians.

MII
Annals 15.44, in the second Medicean manuscript

Monographs

Tacitus wrote three works with a more limited scope. Agricola, a biography of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola; the Germania, a monograph on the lands and tribes of barbarian Germania; and the Dialogus, a dialogue on the art of rhetoric.

Germania

The Germania (Latin title: De Origine et situ Germanorum) is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire. The Germania fits within a classical ethnographic tradition which includes authors such as Herodotus and Julius Caesar. The book begins (chapters 1–27) with a description of the lands, laws, and customs of the various tribes. Later chapters focus on descriptions of particular tribes, beginning with those who lived closest to the Roman empire, and ending with a description of those who lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea, such as the Fenni. Tacitus had written a similar, albeit shorter, piece in his Agricola (chapters 10––13).

Agricola (De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae)

The Agricola (written c. 98) recounts the life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, an eminent Roman general and Tacitus' father-in-law; it also covers, briefly, the geography and ethnography of ancient Britain. As in the Germania, Tacitus favorably contrasts the liberty of the native Britons with the tyranny and corruption of the Empire; the book also contains eloquent polemics against the greed of Rome, one of which, that Tacitus claims is from a speech by Calgacus, ends by asserting that Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. (To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace. —Oxford Revised Translation).

Dialogus

CiceroBust
The style of the Dialogus follows Cicero's models for Latin rhetoric.

There is uncertainty about when Tacitus wrote Dialogus de oratoribus. Many characteristics set it apart from the other works of Tacitus, so that its authenticity has at various times been questioned. It is likely to be early work, indebted to the author's rhetorical training, since its style imitates that of the foremost Roman orator Cicero. It lacks (for example) the incongruities that are typical of his mature historical works. The Dialogus is dedicated to Fabius Iustus, a consul in 102 AD.

Sources

Tacitus makes use of the official sources of the Roman state: the acta senatus (the minutes of the sessions of the Senate) and the acta diurna populi Romani (a collection of the acts of the government and news of the court and capital). He also read collections of emperors' speeches, such as those of Tiberius and Claudius. He is generally seen as a scrupulous historian who paid careful attention to his sources. The minor inaccuracies in the Annals may be due to Tacitus dying before he had finished (and therefore before he had proof-read) his work.

Tacitus cites some of his sources directly, among them Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Pliny the Elder, who had written Bella Germaniae and a historical work which was the continuation of that of Aufidius Bassus. Tacitus also uses collections of letters (epistolarium). He also took information from exitus illustrium virorum. These were a collection of books by those who were antithetical to the emperors. They tell of sacrifices by martyrs to freedom, especially the men who committed suicide. While he places no value on the Stoic theory of suicide and views suicides as ostentatious and politically useless, Tacitus often gives prominence to speeches made by those about to commit suicide, for example Cremutius Cordus' speech in Ann. IV, 34–35.

Literary style

Tacitus's writings are known for their dense prose that seldom glosses the facts, in contrast to the style of some of his contemporaries, such as Plutarch. When he writes about a near-defeat of the Roman army in Ann. I, 63 he does so with brevity of description rather than embellishment.

In most of his writings he keeps to a chronological narrative order, only seldom outlining the bigger picture, leaving the readers to construct that picture for themselves. Nonetheless, where he does use broad strokes, for example, in the opening paragraphs of the Annals, he uses a few condensed phrases which take the reader to the heart of the story.

Approach to history

Tacitus's historical style owes some debt to Sallust. His historiography offers penetrating—often pessimistic—insights into the psychology of power politics, blending straightforward descriptions of events, moral lessons, and tightly focused dramatic accounts. Tacitus's own declaration regarding his approach to history (Annals I,1) is well known:

"inde consilium mihi ... tradere ... sine ira et studio, quorum causas procul habeo."   my purpose is to relate ... without either anger or zeal, motives from which I am far removed.

There has been much scholarly discussion about Tacitus' "neutrality". Throughout his writing, he is preoccupied with the balance of power between the Senate and the Emperors, and the increasing corruption of the governing classes of Rome as they adjusted to the ever-growing wealth and power of the empire. In Tacitus's view, Senators squandered their cultural inheritance—that of free speech—to placate their (rarely benign) emperor.

Tacitus noted the increasing dependence of the emperor on the goodwill of his armies. The Julio-Claudians eventually gave way to generals, who followed Julius Caesar (and Sulla and Pompey) in recognizing that military might could secure them the political power in Rome.(Hist.1.4)

Welcome as the death of Nero had been in the first burst of joy, yet it had not only roused various emotions in Rome, among the Senators, the people, or the soldiery of the capital, it had also excited all the legions and their generals; for now had been divulged that secret of the empire, that emperors could be made elsewhere than at Rome.

Tacitus's political career was largely lived out under the emperor Domitian. His experience of the tyranny, corruption, and decadence of that era (81–96) may explain the bitterness and irony of his political analysis. He draws our attention to the dangers of power without accountability, love of power untempered by principle, and the apathy and corruption engendered by the concentration of wealth generated through trade and conquest by the empire.

Nonetheless, the image he builds of Tiberius throughout the first six books of the Annals is neither exclusively bleak nor approving: most scholars view the image of Tiberius as predominantly positive in the first books, and predominantly negative after the intrigues of Sejanus. The entrance of Tiberius in the first chapters of the first book is dominated by the hypocrisy of the new emperor and his courtiers. In the later books, some respect is evident for the cleverness of the old emperor in securing his position.

In general, Tacitus does not fear to praise and to criticize the same person, often noting what he takes to be their more-admirable and less-admirable properties. One of Tacitus's hallmarks is refraining from conclusively taking sides for or against persons he describes, which has led some to interpret his works as both supporting and rejecting the imperial system (see Tacitean studies, Black vs. Red Tacitists).

Prose

His Latin style is highly praised.[31] His style, although it has a grandeur and eloquence (thanks to Tacitus's education in rhetoric), is extremely concise, even epigrammatic—the sentences are rarely flowing or beautiful, but their point is always clear. The style has been both derided as "harsh, unpleasant, and thorny" and praised as "grave, concise, and pithily eloquent".

A passage of Annals 1.1, where Tacitus laments the state of the historiography regarding the four last emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, illustrates his style: "The histories of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero, while they were in power, were falsified through terror and after their death were written under the irritation of a recent hatred",[32] or in a word-by-word translation:

Tiberii Gaique et Claudii ac Neronis res
florentibus ipsis—ob metum—falsae,
postquam occiderant—recentibus odiis—compositae
sunt.
  Tiberius', Gaius' and Claudius' as well as Nero's acts
while flourishing themselves—out of fear—counterfeited,
after they came to fall—resulting from new-found hate— related
are.
(interpunction and linebreaks added for clarity)

Compared to the Ciceronian period, where sentences were usually the length of a paragraph and artfully constructed with nested pairs of carefully matched sonorous phrases, this is short and to the point. But it is also very individual. Note the three different ways of saying and in the first line (-que, et, ac), and especially the matched second and third lines. They are parallel in sense but not in sound; the pairs of words ending "…-entibus …-is" are crossed over in a way that deliberately breaks the Ciceronian conventions—which one would however need to be acquainted with to see the novelty of Tacitus' style. Some readers, then and now, find this teasing of their expectations merely irritating. Others find the deliberate discord, playing against the evident parallelism of the two lines, stimulating and intriguing.[33]

His historical works focus on the motives of the characters, often with penetrating insight—though it is questionable how much of his insight is correct, and how much is convincing only because of his rhetorical skill.[34] He is at his best when exposing hypocrisy and dissimulation; for example, he follows a narrative recounting Tiberius's refusal of the title pater patriae by recalling the institution of a law forbidding any "treasonous" speech or writings—and the frivolous prosecutions which resulted (Annals, 1.72). Elsewhere (Annals 4.64–66) he compares Tiberius's public distribution of fire relief to his failure to stop the perversions and abuses of justice which he had begun. Although this kind of insight has earned him praise, he has also been criticised for ignoring the larger context.

Tacitus owes most, both in language and in method, to Sallust, and Ammianus Marcellinus is the later historian whose work most closely approaches him in style.

Studies and reception history

From Pliny the Younger's 7th Letter (to Tacitus), § 33:

Auguror nec me fallit augurium, historias tuas immortales futuras.   I predict, and my predictions do not fail me, that your histories will be immortal.

The historian was not much read in late antiquity, and even less in the Middle Ages. Only a third of his known work has survived; we depend on a single manuscript for books I–VI of the Annales and on another one for the other surviving half (books XI–XVI) and for the five books extant of the Historiae.[35] His antipathy towards the Jews and Christians of his time—he records with unemotional contempt the sufferings of the Christians at Rome during Nero's persecution—made him unpopular in the Middle Ages. He was rediscovered, however, by the Renaissance, whose writers were impressed with his dramatic presentation of the Imperial age.

Tacitus has been described as "the greatest historian that the Roman world produced."[36] Encyclopædia Britannica opines that he "ranks beyond dispute in the highest place among men of letters of all ages." His work has been read for its moral instruction, for its dramatic narrative, and for its prose style.[37] Outside the field of history, Tacitus' influence is most prominent in the area of political theory.[37] The political lessons taken from his work fall roughly into two camps, as identified by Giuseppe Toffanin: the "red Tacitists" use him to support republican ideals, and the "black Tacitists" read him as a lesson in Machiavellian realpolitik.[38]

Although his work is our most reliable source for the history of his era, its factual accuracy is occasionally questioned. The Annals are based in part on secondary sources, and there are some obvious mistakes, for instance the confusion of the two daughters of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor, who are both called Antonia.[39] The Histories, however, are written from primary documents and intimate knowledge of the Flavian period, and are therefore thought to be more accurate.

Editions

  • Damon, Cynthia (2003) Tacitus: Histories Book I. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge University Press.
  • Ash, Rhiannon (2007) Tacitus: Histories Book II. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics.Cambridge University Press.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 39–42. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5.
  2. ^ Ferguson, Everett (2003). Backgrounds of Early Christianity. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-8028-2221-5.
  3. ^ OGIS 487, first brought to light in Bulletin de correspondance hellénique, 1890, pp. 621–623
  4. ^ Since he was appointed to the quaestorship during Titus's short rule (see note below) and twenty-five was the minimum age for the position, the date of his birth can be fixed with some accuracy
  5. ^ See Oliver, 1951, for an analysis of the manuscript from which the name Publius is taken; see also Oliver, 1977, which examines the evidence for each suggested praenomen (the well-known Gaius and Publius, the lesser-known suggestions of Sextus and Quintus) before settling on Publius as the most likely.
  6. ^ Oliver, 1977, cites an article by Harold Mattingly in Rivista storica dell'Antichità, 2 (1972) 169–185
  7. ^ Syme, 1958, pp. 612–613; Gordon, 1936, pp. 145–146
  8. ^ Syme, 1958, p. 60, 613; Gordon, 1936, p. 149; Martin, 1981, p. 26
  9. ^ Syme, 1958, p. 63
  10. ^ Michael Grant in Introduction to Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, p. xvii; Herbert W. Benario in Introduction to Tacitus, Germany, p. 1.
  11. ^ Syme, 1958, pp. 614–616
  12. ^ Syme, 1958, pp. 616–619
  13. ^ Syme, 1958, p. 619; Gordon, 1936, p. 145
  14. ^ Gordon, 1936, pp. 150–151; Syme, 1958, pp. 621–624
  15. ^ The fact that he studied rhetoric and law is known from the Dialogus, ch. 2; see also Martin, 1981, p. 26; Syme, 1958, pp. 114–115
  16. ^ Agricola, 9
  17. ^ Pliny, Letters 1.6, 9.10; Benario, 1975, pp. 15, 17; Syme, 1958, pp. 541–542
  18. ^ Syme, 1958, p. 63; Martin, 1981, pp. 26–27
  19. ^ (1.1)
  20. ^ He states his debt to Titus in his Histories (1.1); since Titus ruled only briefly, these are the only years possible.
  21. ^ In the Annals (11.11), he mentions that, as praetor, he assisted in the Secular Games held by Domitian, which can be precisely dated to 88. See Syme, 1958, p. 65; Martin, 1981, p. 27; Benario in his Introduction to Tacitus, Germany, p. 1.
  22. ^ The Agricola (45.5) indicates that Tacitus and his wife were absent at the time of Julius Agricola's death in 93. For his occupation during this time see Syme, 1958, p. 68; Benario, 1975, p. 13; Dudley, 1968, pp. 15–16; Martin, 1981, p. 28; Mellor, 1993, p. 8
  23. ^ For the effects on Tacitus of this experience see Dudley, 1968, p. 14; Mellor, 1993, pp. 8–9
  24. ^ Pliny, Letters, 2.1 (English); Benario in his Introduction to Tacitus, Germany, pp. 1–2.
  25. ^ In the Agricola (3), he announces what was probably his first major project: the Histories. See Dudley, 1968, p. 16
  26. ^ Pliny, Letters 2.11
  27. ^ Hazel, J. (2002). Who's who in the Roman World. Routledge who's who series. Routledge. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-415-29162-0. Retrieved 28 August 2018. Seniority brought him the governorship of the province of Asia as proconsul in 112-13.
  28. ^ Grant in his Introduction to Tacitus, Annals, p. xvii; Benario in his Introduction to Tacitus, Germania, p. 2. Annals, 2.61, says that the Roman Empire "now extends to the Red Sea". If by mare rubrum he means the Persian Gulf, the passage must have been written after Trajan's eastern conquests in 116, but before Hadrian abandoned the new territories in 117. But this may only indicate the date of publication for the first books of the Annals; Tacitus could have lived well into Hadrian's reign, and there is no reason to suppose that he did not. See Dudley, 1968, p. 17; Mellor, 1993, p. 9; Mendell, 1957, p. 7; Syme, 1958, p. 473; against this traditional interpretation, e.g., Goodyear, 1981, pp. 387–393.
  29. ^ Augustan History, Tacitus X. Scholarly opinion on this story is that it is either "a confused and worthless rumor" (Mendell, 1957, p. 4) or "pure fiction" (Syme, 1958, p. 796). Sidonius Apollinaris reports (Letters, 4.14; cited in Syme, 1958, p. 796) that Polemius, a 5th-century Gallo-Roman aristocrat, is descended from Tacitus—but this claim, says Syme (ibid.), is of little value.
  30. ^ Jerome's commentary on the Book of Zechariah (14.1, 2; quoted in Mendell, 1957, p. 228) says that Tacitus's history was extant triginta voluminibus, "in thirty volumes".
  31. ^ Donald R. Dudley. Introduction to: The Annals of Tacitus. NY: Mentor Book, 1966. p. xiv: "No other writer of Latin prose—not even Cicero—deploys so effectively the full resources of the language."
  32. ^ The Annals (Tacitus)/Book 1#1 Translation based on Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb (1876). Wikisource, 15 April 2012.
  33. ^ Ostler 2007, pp. 98–9 where the quoted example is used; Further quotes from the book: "…some writers—notably the perverse genius Tacitus—delighted in disappointing the expectations raised by periodic theory." – "this monkeying with hard-won stylistic norms…only makes sense if readers knew the rules that Tacitus was breaking."
  34. ^ John Taylor. Tacitus and the Boudican Revolt. Dublin: Camvlos, 1998. p. 1 ff
  35. ^ Grant, Michael, Latin Literature: an anthology, Penguin Classics, London, 1978 p.378f
  36. ^ Mellor 2010, p. 3
  37. ^ a b Mellor, 1995, p. xvii
  38. ^ Burke, 1969, pp. 162–163
  39. ^ Suetonius makes an occasional slip as well.

References

  • Benario, Herbert W. An Introduction to Tacitus. (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1975) ISBN 0-8203-0361-5
  • Burke, P. "Tacitism" in Dorey, T.A., 1969, pp. 149–171
  • Damon, Cynthia. "Relatio vs. Oratio: Tacitus, Ann. 3.12 and the Senatus Consultum De Cn. Pisone Patre." The Classical Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 1, (1999), pp. 336–338
  • Damon, Cynthia. "The Trial of Cn. Piso in Tacitus' Annals and the ‘Senatus Consultum De Cn. Pisone Patre’: New Light on Narrative Technique." The American Journal of Philology, vol. 120, no. 1, (1999), pp. 143–162.
  • Damon, Cynthia. Writing with Posterity in Mind: Thucydides and Tacitus on Secession. In The Oxford Handbook of Thucydides. (Oxford University Press, 2017).
  • Dudley, Donald R. The World of Tacitus (London: Secker and Warburg, 1968) ISBN 0-436-13900-6
  • Goodyear, F.R.D. The Annals of Tacitus, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). Commentary on Annals 1.55–81 and Annals 2.
  • Gordon, Mary L. "The Patria of Tacitus". The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 26, Part 2 (1936), pp. 145–151.
  • Martin, Ronald. Tacitus (London: Batsford, 1981)
  • Mellor, Ronald. Tacitus (New York / London: Routledge, 1993) ISBN 0-415-90665-2 ISBN 0415910021 ISBN 9780415910026
  • Mellor, Ronald. Tacitus’ Annals (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2010) (Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature) ISBN 0198034679 ISBN 9780198034674
  • Mellor, Ronald (ed.). Tacitus: The Classical Heritage (New York: Garland Publishing, 1995) ISBN 0-8153-0933-3 ISBN 9780815309338
  • Mendell, Clarence. Tacitus: The Man and His Work. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957) ISBN 0-208-00818-7
  • Oliver, Revilo P. "The First Medicean MS of Tacitus and the Titulature of Ancient Books". Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 82 (1951), pp. 232–261.
  • Oliver, Revilo P. "The Praenomen of Tacitus". The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 98, No. 1 (Spring, 1977), pp. 64–70.
  • Ostler, Nicholas. Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin. HarperCollins in the UK, and Walker & Co. in the USA: London and New York, 2007. ISBN 978-0-00-734306-5; 2009 edition: ISBN 080271840X ISBN 9780802718402 – 2010 e-book: ISBN 0007364881 ISBN 9780007364886
  • Syme, Ronald. Tacitus, Volumes 1 and 2. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958) (reprinted in 1985 by the same publisher, with the ISBN 0-19-814327-3) is the definitive study of his life and works.
  • Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome. Translated by Michael Grant and first published in this form in 1956. (London: The Folio Society, 2006)
  • Tacitus, Germany. Translated by Herbert W. Benario. (Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-85668-716-2)
  • Taylor, John W. Tacitus and the Boudican Revolt. (Dublin, Ireland: Camuvlos, 1998)

External links

Works by Tacitus
Political offices
Preceded by
Quintus Glitius Atilius Agricola,
and Lucius Pomponius Maternus

as Suffect consuls
Suffect consul of the Roman Empire
97
with Marcus Ostorius Scapula
Succeeded by
Nerva IV,
and Trajan II

as Ordinary consuls
Angles

The Angles (Latin: Angli; German: Angeln) were one of the main Germanic peoples who settled in Great Britain in the post-Roman period. They founded several of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, and their name is the root of the name England. The name comes from Anglia, a peninsula located on the Baltic shore of what is now Schleswig-Holstein.

Annals (Tacitus)

The Annals (Latin: Annales) by Roman historian and senator Tacitus is a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, the years AD 14–68. The Annals are an important source for modern understanding of the history of the Roman Empire during the 1st century AD; it is Tacitus' final work, and modern historians generally consider it his greatest writing. Historian Ronald Mellor calls it "Tacitus's crowning achievement,” which represents the "pinnacle of Roman historical writing".Tacitus' Histories and Annals together amounted to 30 books; although some scholars disagree about which work to assign some books to, traditionally 14 are assigned to Histories and 16 to Annals. Of the 30 books referred to by Jerome about half have survived.Modern scholars believe that as a Roman senator, Tacitus had access to Acta Senatus—the Roman senate's records—which provided a solid basis for his work. Although Tacitus refers to part of his work as "my annals", the title of the work Annals used today was not assigned by Tacitus himself, but derives from its year-by-year structure. The name of the current manuscript seems to be "Books of History from the Death of the Divine Augustus" (Ab Excessu divi Augusti Historiarum Libri).

Boudica

Boudica or Boudicca (also Boadicea or Boudicea , and known in Welsh as Buddug Welsh pronunciation: [ˈbɨ̞ðɨ̞ɡ]) was a queen of the British Celtic Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire in AD 60 or 61. She died shortly after its failure and was said to have poisoned herself. She is considered a British folk hero.Boudica's husband, Prasutagus, ruled as a nominally independent ally of Rome, and left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and to the Roman emperor in his will. However, when he died, his will was ignored, and the kingdom was annexed and his property taken. According to Tacitus, Boudica was flogged and her daughters raped. Cassius Dio explains Boudica's response by saying that previous imperial donations to influential Britons were confiscated and the Roman financier and philosopher Seneca called in the loans he had forced on the reluctant Britons.In AD 60 or 61, when the Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus was campaigning on the island of Anglesey off the northwest coast of Wales, Boudica led the Iceni, the Trinovantes, and others in revolt. They destroyed Camulodunum (modern Colchester), earlier the capital of the Trinovantes but at that time a colonia, a settlement for discharged Roman soldiers and site of a temple to the former Emperor Claudius. Upon hearing of the revolt, Suetonius hurried to Londinium (modern London), the 20-year-old commercial settlement that was the rebels' next target. He lacked sufficient numbers to defend the settlement, and he evacuated and abandoned Londinium. Boudica led a very large army of Iceni, Trinovantes, and others against a detachment of Legio IX Hispana, defeating them, and burning Londinium and Verulamium.

An estimated 70,000–80,000 Romans and British were then killed in the three cities by those led by Boudica, many by torture. Suetonius, meanwhile, regrouped his forces, possibly in the West Midlands; despite being heavily outnumbered, he decisively defeated the Britons. The crisis caused Nero to consider withdrawing all Roman forces from Britain, but Suetonius' victory over Boudica confirmed Roman control of the province. Boudica then either killed herself to avoid capture (according to Tacitus), or died of illness (according to Cassius Dio).Interest in these events was revived in the English Renaissance and led to Boudica's fame in the Victorian era. Boudica has remained an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom.

Domitian

Domitian (; Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus; 24 October 51 – 18 September 96 AD) was Roman emperor from 81 to 96. He was the younger brother of Titus and the son of Vespasian, his two predecessors on the throne, and the last member of the Flavian dynasty. During his reign, the authoritarian nature of his rule put him at sharp odds with the senate, whose powers he drastically curtailed.

Domitian had a minor and largely ceremonial role during the reigns of his father and brother. After the death of his brother, Domitian was declared emperor by the Praetorian Guard. His 15-year reign was the longest since that of Tiberius. As emperor, Domitian strengthened the economy by revaluing the Roman coinage, expanded the border defenses of the empire, and initiated a massive building program to restore the damaged city of Rome. Significant wars were fought in Britain, where his general Agricola attempted to conquer Caledonia (Scotland), and in Dacia, where Domitian was unable to procure a decisive victory against king Decebalus. Domitian's government exhibited strong authoritarian characteristics; he saw himself as the new Augustus, an enlightened despot destined to guide the Roman Empire into a new era of brilliance. Religious, military, and cultural propaganda fostered a cult of personality, and by nominating himself perpetual censor, he sought to control public and private morals. As a consequence, Domitian was popular with the people and army, but considered a tyrant by members of the Roman Senate.

Domitian's reign came to an end in 96 when he was assassinated by court officials. He was succeeded the same day by his advisor Nerva. After his death, Domitian's memory was condemned to oblivion by the Roman Senate, while senatorial authors such as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Suetonius propagated the view of Domitian as a cruel and paranoid tyrant. Modern revisionists instead have characterized Domitian as a ruthless but efficient autocrat whose cultural, economic, and political programs provided the foundation of the peaceful second century.

Dulgubnii

The Dulgubnii are a Germanic tribe mentioned in Tacitus' Germania (Chapter 34) as living in what is today northwest Germany. Tacitus describes them being to the north of the Angrivarii and Chamavi, and as having moved from the north into the area once belonging to the Bructeri, between Ems, Lippe, and Weser. In this same area as the Dulgubnii, north of the Chamavi and Angrivarii, were the Chasuarii, and north of these, on the North Sea coast, where the Chauci. The Chasuarii's name is thought to derive from the River Hase which feeds into the middle of the Ems from the east, just northwest of the area associated with the Angrivarii, on the Weser. So from Tacitus it appears that the Dulgubnii probably lived near the Weser.

By the account of Tacitus, the Chauci in his time lived not only along the whole German coast, but would have also stretched down to the lands of the Cherusci and Chatti. So they were probably the neighbours of the Dulgubnii on the east.

The Dulgubnii in Tacitus are probably the same as Ptolemy's Doulgoumnioi of the same region (Book 2, Chapter 10). (Many Germanic names are corrupted in Ptolemy's Greek.) Ptolemy describes them near the Elbe, so to the east of the position described by Tacitus, in an area Tacitus associated with the Chauci. They are described as having the "Laccobardi" (Langobardi) to their north, and the "Suebi Angili" (Angles) to their south. To their east are the Angrivarii, still near the Weser, and then the "Chamae" (Chamavi), between Ems and Weser, north of the Bructeri who are now on the Rhine.

In Ptolemy, the Chamae, Angrivarii, and Laccobardi have the Chauci directly on their north, all the way to the coast, and stretched from Ems to Elbe. And the Dulgubnii are no longer between the Chauci and the Chamavi and Angrivarii. Compared to Tacitus, the Chasuarii had also moved away. Ptolemy mentions Casuari far to the south, east of the Abnoba mountains that run east of the Rhine (with the Tencteri apparently between Rhine and Abnoba at that point).

Florianus

Florianus (Latin: Marcus Annius Florianus Augustus; died 276), also known as Florian, was Roman Emperor in 276, from July to September. He was the maternal half-brother of Tacitus, who was proclaimed emperor in late 275, after the unexpected death of Emperor Aurelian. After Tacitus died in July 276, allegedly assassinated as a consequence of a military plot, Florianus proclaimed himself emperor, with the recognition of the Roman Senate and much of the empire. However, Florianus soon had to deal with the revolt of Probus, who rose up shortly after Florianus ascended the throne, with the backing of the provinces of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia. Probus took advantage of the terrain of the Cilician Gates, and the hot climate of the area, which Florianus' army was unaccustomed to, to chip away at their morale. Because of this, in September 276, Florianus' army rose up against him and killed him.

Germania

Germania (; Latin: [ɡɛrˈmaː.ni.a]) was the Roman term for the geographical region in north-central Europe inhabited mainly by Germanic peoples.

It extended from the Danube and Main in the south to the Baltic Sea, and from the Rhine in the west to the Vistula. The Roman portions formed two provinces of the Empire, Germania Inferior to the north (present-day southern Netherlands, Belgium, and western Germany), and Germania Superior to the south (Switzerland, southwestern Germany, and eastern France).

Germania was inhabited mostly by Germanic tribes, but also Celts, Balts, Scythians and later on Early Slavs. The population mix changed over time by assimilation, and especially by migration. The ancient Greeks were the first to mention the tribes in the area. Later, Julius Caesar wrote about warlike Germanic tribesmen and their threat to Roman Gaul, and there were military clashes between the Romans and the indigenous tribes. Tacitus wrote the most complete account of Germania that still survives.

The origin of the term "Germania" is uncertain, but was known by Caesar's time, and may be Gaulish in origin.

Germania (book)

The Germania, written by the Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus around 98 AD and originally entitled On the Origin and Situation of the Germans (Latin: De Origine et situ Germanorum), was a historical and ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.

Gnaeus Julius Agricola

Gnaeus Julius Agricola (; 13 June 40 – 23 August 93) was a Gallo-Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain. Written by his son-in-law Tacitus, the De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae is the primary source for most of what is known about him, along with detailed archaeological evidence from northern Britain.Agricola began his military career in Britain, serving under governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. His subsequent career saw him serve in a variety of positions; he was appointed quaestor in Asia province in 64, then Plebeian Tribune in 66, and praetor in 68. He supported Vespasian during the Year of the Four Emperors (69), and was given a military command in Britain when the latter became emperor. When his command ended in 73, he was made patrician in Rome and appointed governor of Gallia Aquitania. He was made consul and governor of Britannia in 77. While there, he completed the conquest of what is now Wales and northern England, and led his army to the far north of Scotland, establishing forts across much of the Lowlands. He was recalled from Britain in 85 after an unusually lengthy service, and thereafter retired from military and public life.

Great Fire of Rome

The Great Fire of Rome was an urban fire that occurred in July of the year 64 AD. The fire began in the merchant shops around Rome's chariot stadium, Circus Maximus, on the night of July 19. After six days the fire was brought under control, and before the damage could be measured, the fire reignited and burned for another three days. In the aftermath of the fire, two thirds of Rome had been destroyed.According to Tacitus and later Christian tradition, Emperor Nero blamed the devastation on the Christian community in the city, initiating the empire's first persecution against the Christians. However, some modern historians, including the Princeton classicist Brent Shaw, have cast doubt on the traditional view that Nero blamed the Christians for the fire.

Harii

The Harii ( West Germanic "warriors") were, according to 1st century CE Roman historian Tacitus, a Germanic people. In his work Germania, Tacitus describes them as using black shields and painting their bodies ("nigra scuta, tincta corpora"), and attacking at night as a shadowy army, much to the terror of their opponents. Theories have been proposed connecting the Harii to the einherjar, ghostly warriors in service to the god Odin, attested much later among the North Germanic peoples by way of Norse mythology, and to the tradition of the Wild Hunt, a procession of the dead through the winter night sky sometimes led by Odin.

Histories (Tacitus)

Histories (Latin: Historiae) is a Roman historical chronicle by Tacitus. Written c. 100–110, it covers the Year of Four Emperors following the downfall of Nero, as well as the period between the rise of the Flavian Dynasty (69–96) under Vespasian and the death of Domitian.Together, the Histories and the Annals amounted to 30 books. Saint Jerome refers to these books explicitly, and about half of them have survived. Although scholars disagree on how to assign the books to each work, traditionally, fourteen are assigned to Histories and sixteen to the Annals. Tacitus' friend Pliny the Younger referred to "your histories" when writing to Tacitus about the earlier work.By the time Tacitus had completed the Histories, it covered Roman history from AD 69, following Nero's death, to AD 96, the end of Domitian's reign. The Annals deals with the five decades before Nero, from AD 14, the reign of Tiberius, to AD 68, when Nero died.

List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes

This list of Germanic tribes is a list of tribes, tribal groups, and other connections and alliances of ethnic groups and tribes that were considered Germanic in ancient times. These reports begin in the 2nd century BC and extend into late antiquity. Beginning with the states of the Early Middle Ages, the period in which tribes or tribal kingship had a historical impact ends, with the exception of northern Europe, where the Vendel Period from 550 AD to 800 AD and the subsequent Viking Age until 1050 AD are still seen in the Germanic context.

The associations and localisations of the numerous peoples and groups in ancient sources are subject to uncertainty and speculation, and classifications of ethnicity with a common culture or a temporary alliance of heterogeneous groups are disputed. For some, it is not even certain that these groups are Germanic in the broader linguistic sense, or in other words, that they consisted of speakers of a Germanic language.

In this respect, the names listed here are not terms for ethnic groups in any modern sense, but the names of groups that were perceived in ancient and late antiquity as Germanic, that is, as peoples, groups, alliances and associations of the Barbaricum east of the Rhine and to the north of the Danube, also known as Germania, especially those that arrived during the Migration Period.

Mannus

Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus is the only source of these myths.Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones. In discussing the German tribes Tacitus wrote:

In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Istvaeones. Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free rein to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations—Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii—and that those names are genuine and ancient. (Germania, chapter 2)

Several authors consider the name Mannus in Tacitus' work to stem from an Indo-European root; see Proto-Indo-European religion, Brothers.

The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, "man" and Tiwaz, "Tyr, the god".Mannus again became popular in literature in the 16th century, after works published by Annius de Viterbo and Johannes Aventinus purported to list him as a primeval king over Germany and Sarmatia.In the 19th century, F. Nork wrote that the names of the three sons of Mannus can be extrapolated as Ingui, Irmin, and Istaev or Iscio. A few scholars like Ralph T. H. Griffith have expressed a connection between Mannus and the names of other ancient founder-kings, such as Minos of Greek mythology, and Manu of Hindu tradition.Guido von List incorporated the myth of Mannus and his sons into his occult beliefs which were later adopted into Nazi occult beliefs.

Marcus Claudius Tacitus

Tacitus (; Latin: Marcus Claudius Tacitus Augustus; c. 200 – June 276) was Roman Emperor from 275 to 276. During his short reign he campaigned against the Goths and the Heruli, for which he received the title Gothicus Maximus.

Nahanarvali

The Nahanarvali, also known as the Nahavali, Naha-Narvali, and Nahanavali, were a Germanic tribe mentioned by the Roman scholar Tacitus in his Germania.

According to Tacitus, the Nahanarvali were one of the five most powerful tribes of the Lugii, living between the Oder and the Vistula. Tacitus mentions the Naharvali as the keepers of the sanctuary of the Lugii, a grove dedicated to the twin gods Alcis.

The Nahanarvali are speculated by modern scholars to be the same as the Silingi. While Tacitus did not mention the Silingi, he claimed that the Naharvali were approximately the same area as Ptolemaeus had placed the Silingi.

Nero

Nero (; Latin: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius and became Claudius' heir and successor. Like Claudius, Nero became emperor with the consent of the Praetorian Guard. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, was likely implicated in Claudius' death and Nero's nomination as emperor. She dominated Nero's early life and decisions until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered.During the early years of his reign, Nero was content to be guided by his mother, his tutor Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his Praetorian prefect, Sextus Afranius Burrus. As time passed, he started to play a more active and independent role in government and foreign policy. During his reign, the redoubtable general Corbulo conducted a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire. His general Suetonius Paulinus crushed a major revolt in Britain, led by the Iceni Queen Boudica. The Bosporan Kingdom was briefly annexed to the empire, and the First Jewish–Roman War began. Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade and the cultural life of the empire, ordering theatres built and promoting athletic games. He made public appearances as an actor, poet, musician and charioteer. In the eyes of traditionalists, this undermined the dignity and authority of his person, status, and office. His extravagant, empire-wide program of public and private works was funded by a rise in taxes that was much resented by the middle and upper classes. Various plots against his life were revealed; the ringleaders, most of them Nero's own courtiers, were executed.

In 68 AD Vindex, governor of the Gaulish territory Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled. He was supported by Galba, the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis. Vindex's revolt failed in its immediate aim, but Nero fled Rome when Rome's discontented civil and military authorities chose Galba as emperor. He committed suicide on June 9, 68 AD, when he learned that he had been tried in absentia and condemned to death as a public enemy, making him the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide. His death ended the Julio-Claudian dynasty, sparking a brief period of civil wars known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Nero's rule is usually associated with tyranny and extravagance. Most Roman sources, such as Suetonius and Cassius Dio, offer overwhelmingly negative assessments of his personality and reign; Tacitus claims that the Roman people thought him compulsive and corrupt. Suetonius tells that many Romans believed that the Great Fire of Rome was instigated by Nero to clear the way for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea. According to Tacitus he was said to have seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive, seemingly motivated not by public justice but by personal cruelty. Some modern historians question the reliability of the ancient sources on Nero's tyrannical acts. A few sources paint Nero in a more favorable light. There is evidence of his popularity among the Roman commoners, especially in the eastern provinces of the Empire, where a popular legend arose that Nero had not died and would return. At least three leaders of short-lived, failed rebellions presented themselves as "Nero reborn" to enlist popular support.

Tacitus on Christ

The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate, and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.The context of the passage is the six-day Great Fire of Rome that burned much of the city in AD 64 during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero. The passage is one of the earliest non-Christian references to the origins of Christianity, the execution of Christ described in the canonical gospels, and the presence and persecution of Christians in 1st-century Rome.Scholars generally consider Tacitus' reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source. Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd state that it is now "firmly established" that Tacitus provides a non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus.Historian Ronald Mellor has stated that the Annals is "Tacitus's crowning achievement" which represents the "pinnacle of Roman historical writing". Scholars view it as establishing three separate facts about Rome around AD 60: (i) that there were a sizable number of Christians in Rome at the time, (ii) that it was possible to distinguish between Christians and Jews in Rome, and (iii) that at the time pagans made a connection between Christianity in Rome and its origin in Roman Judea.

Tiberius

Tiberius (; Latin: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March 37 AD) was the second Roman emperor reigning from from 14 AD to 37 AD, succeeding Augustus.

Born to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla in a Claudian family, he was given the personal name Tiberius Claudius Nero. His mother divorced Nero and married Octavian—later to ascend to Emperor as Augustus—who officially became his stepfather. Tiberius would later marry Augustus' daughter (from his marriage to Scribonia), Julia the Elder, and even later be adopted by Augustus. Through the adoption, he officially became a Julian, assuming the name Tiberius Julius Caesar. The emperors after Tiberius would continue this blended dynasty of both families for the following thirty years; historians have named it the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His relationship to the other emperors of this dynasty was as follows: Tiberius was the stepson of Augustus, grand-uncle of Caligula, paternal uncle of Claudius, and great-grand uncle of Nero. His 22-and-a-half-year reign would be the longest after Augustus's until Antoninus Pius, who surpassed his reign by a few months.

Tiberius was one of the greatest Roman generals; his conquest of Pannonia, Dalmatia, Raetia, and temporarily, parts of Germania, laid the foundations for the northern frontier. Even so, he came to be remembered as a dark, reclusive and sombre ruler who never really desired to be emperor; Pliny the Elder called him "the gloomiest of men." After the death of his son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23 AD, Tiberius became more reclusive and aloof. In 26 AD he removed himself from Rome and left administration largely in the hands of his unscrupulous Praetorian prefects Lucius Aelius Sejanus and Quintus Naevius Sutorius Macro. When Tiberius died, he was succeeded by his grand-nephew and adopted grandson, Caligula.

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