The Life and Works of Cornelius Tacitus Essay

The Life and Works of Cornelius Tacitus Essay

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Tacitus was a Roman senator and writer that lived from circa 56-117. He was born in Gaul, a town in what is now modern day France. He had a wealthy father, and his family raised horses. Growing up, Tacitus loved the outdoors and enjoyed hunting as a pastime. When he was in school, he studied rhetorics. Tacitus’ friend, Pliny the Younger, also studied rhetorics. This was helpful for Tacitus when pursuing a career in law and politics.
Tacitus became a Quaestor, which was a Roman official, and later became a senator. In 113, Tacitus became the governor of the Roman province called Asia. During this time, Tacitus married a woman with the last name Agricola. Her father was a general by the name Gnaeus Julius Agricola. One of the works Tacitus wrote was a biography on Agricola, his father-in-law.
Tacitus wrote five books over the course of his lifetime: The Life of Agricola, Germania, Dialogue on Oratory, Histories, and Annals. The two most popular writings of his are Histories and Annals. Five books make up Histories, but only half of the fifth book survived. Annals is made up of at least sixteen books, however many books and parts of the books are missing. Tacitus wrote Annals in the year 116 and died a year later in 117, making the Annals his last work. All of Tacitus’ writings usually had a more pessimistic view philosophically.
The Life of Agricola was Tacitus’ first writing. It was written in c. 98 and is a biography of General Gnaeus Julius Agricola, his father-in-law. This book highlights Agricola’s militaristic achievements. Germania was Tacitus’ second work, written in c. 98. This book focuses primarily on the Germanic tribes that surround the Roman Empire. Dialogue on Oratory was a book th...

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...t. The works of Tacitus continue to serve as “textbooks” for the history of the Roman Empire, and it is even greater because it is a primary source. What better way to learn about the Roman Empire than hear it from someone who actually lived in the Roman Empire? Despite missing some books that could have the answers to our most complex questions, as Tacitus said, “Forbidden things have a secret charm.”

Works Cited

"Cornelius Tacitus (AD 55 - 117)." Biography of the Ancient Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. .

"Tacitus." - Livius. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. .

"Tacitus." New Catholic encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Detroit: Thomson/Gale ;, 2003. 729-30. Print.

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