Cornelius Tacitus brilliantly chronicles the moral decline and rampant civil unrest in the Roman Empire in a period when the earliest foundations of modern Europe were being laid. The Annals commence in a.d. 14, at the death of Augustus, recounting the reigns of Tiberius, Gaius (Caligula), Claudius, and Nero, and conclude in a.d. 68, the year of Nero’s suicide. The Histories document the tumultuous year a.d. 69, when Emperors Galba, Otho, and Vitellius all perished in quick succession, ushering in Vespasian’s ten-year reign. According to historian Will Durant, “[We must] rank Tacitus among the greatest. . . . The portraits he draws stand out more clearly, stride the stage more livingly than any others in historical literature.” This Modern Library Paperback Classic includes newly commissioned endnotes.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Annals & The Histories|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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The Annals & The Histories
a.d. 14 — 15
Rome at the beginning was ruled by kings. Freedom and the consulship were established by Lucius Brutus. Dictatorships were held for a temporary crisis. The power of the decemvirs did not last beyond two years, nor was the consular jurisdiction of the military tribunes of long duration. The despotisms of Cinna and Sulla were brief; the rule of Pompeius and of Crassus soon yielded before Cæsar; the arms of Lepidus and Antonius before Augustus; who, when the world was wearied by civil strife, subjected it to empire under the title of “Prince.” But the successes and reverses of the old Roman people have been recorded by famous historians; and fine intellects were not wanting to describe the times of Augustus, till growing sycophancy scared them away. The histories of Tiberius, Caius, 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. Hence my purpose is to relate a few facts about Augustus—more particularly his last acts, then the reign of Tiberius, and all which follows, without either bitterness or partiality, from any motives to which I am far removed.
When after the destruction of Brutus and Cassius there was no longer any army of the Commonwealth, when Pompeius was crushed in Sicily, and when, with Lepidus pushed aside and Antonius slain, even the Julian faction had only Cæsar left to lead it, then, dropping the title of triumvir, and giving out that he was a consul, and was satisfied with a tribune’s authority for the protection of the people, Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with c