The Germania and Agricola of Caius Cornelius Tacitus...


Book Details

Author  Caius Cornelius Tacitus
Publisher  New York and London: Wiley and Putnam
Publication Date   October 23, 2017
Pages  181


Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56 - AD 117) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. Germania (in De origine et situ Germanorum), The Germania (Latin title: De Origine et situ Germanorum) is an ethnographic work on the diverse set of people Tacitus believed to be Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire. Ethnography had a long and distinguished heritage in classical literature, and the Germania fits squarely within the tradition established by authors from Herodotus to Julius Caesar. Tacitus had written a similar, albeit shorter, piece in his Agricola (chapters 10-13). The book begins with a description of the lands, laws, and customs of the tribes (chapters 1-27); it then segues into descriptions of individual tribes, beginning with those dwelling closest to Roman lands and ending on the uttermost shores of the Baltic Sea, with a description of the primitive and savage Fenni and the unknown tribes beyond them. The Agricola (written ca. 98) are biographical notes about his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola, an eminent Roman general, primarily during his campaign in Britannia (see De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae). 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 corruption and tyranny of the Empire; the book also contains eloquent and vicious polemics against the rapacity and greed of Rome, in one of which Tacitus says is from a speech by Calgacus and ends with 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). Tacitus was an author writing in the latter part of the Silver Age of Latin literature. His work is distinguished by a boldness and sharpness of wit, and a compact and sometimes unconventional use of Latin.

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