The Works of Tacitus
tr. by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
[1864-1877]"Do you suppose that the Romans will be as brave in war as they are licentious in peace?
An eandem Romanis in bello virtutem quam in pace lasciviam adesse creditis?
This is the complete set of Church and Brodribb translations of Tacitus; this etext includes parallel English and Latin text. Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (56?-117 CE), writer, orator, lawyer, and senator, was one of the greatest historians of antiquity. His Annals and Histories are a panorama of first century Rome, from Tiberius to Domitian. His prose style is in the first tier of Latin writers. Tacitus presents a vivid picture of the high-water point of the Roman empire, and does not gloss over the toxic corruption and brutality of the time.
Little is known about the origins and biography of Tacitus. Although "Tacitus" means silent, ironically he was known for his oratory. He was probably born into an aristocratic family in what is now the south of France. He studied rhetoric in Rome as a young man, and married into the family of the general Agricola. Advancing in the social hierarchy, he entered the Senate at the close of the first century.
We have five surviving works by Tacitus, with some notable large gaps in the two major texts (Annals and Histories). In chronological order these are: De vita Iulii Agricolae (The Life of Julius Agricola) [98 CE]; De origine et situ Germanorum (The Germania) [98 CE]; Dialogus de oratoribus (Dialogue on Oratory) [102 CE]; Historiae (Histories) [105 CE]; and Ab excessu divi Augusti (Annals) [117 CE]. Histories, of which we have the first four books and part of the fifth book, covers the events of the years 69-70 CE.
The last fragmentary book of Histories (5:2) has a description of the Jews just prior to the Great Jewish Revolt and subsequent Diaspora. Annals, his final work, comprised 16 books originally, but a large portion of it was lost. It begins at the death of Augustus Caesar, and runs from the ascension of Tiberius up to Nero. The Annals include a notable passage which begins with Nero 'fiddling' while Rome burned (15:39), and then one of the earliest historical records of Christians (15:44), scapgoated by Nero for the catastrophic fire. Germany is one of the longest contemporary ethnographic accounts of the ancient Germans. Agricola is a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who governed Britain, with interesting bits of information on first century England, including the revolt of Boadicea. Oratory is a short discourse on rhetoric.
PRODUCTION NOTES: The Church and Brodribb translations of Tacitus were published by Macmillan in London in a series of editions between 1864 and 1877. There have been numerous subsequent reprints. These translations are in the public domain in the United States because they were published prior to January 1st, 1923. The electronic text of their translation of Annals and History, as well as the Latin etext of all of Tacitus, were already available. These are presented here with minor corrections and adjustment of paragraph numbering in a few cases so that the English and Latin match up. The English etexts of the three minor works (Germany, Agricola, and Oratory) were newly scanned, proofed and formatted at sacred-texts for this presentation. The parallel English/Latin text formatting was created using a custom C program at sacred-texts based on data files extracted from the various electronic texts.
The 1942 Modern Library edition of Church and Brodribb was used as the copytext for the minor works and to correct problems in the existing etexts of the major works. Although there is a copyright renewal on this edition, the copyright office records (original 16Mar42; A162480, renewed 25Jul69; R466487) limit the copyright to 'NM [New Material]: pref., introd., chronology & glossary of place names.' None of said identified new material was included in this electronic version.
--John Bruno Hare, 11/11/2005
Additional Note from L.C.Geerts
Publius Cornelius Tacitus
(c. 54-117 AD ?)
Tacitus was a Roman historian, the author of, among other works, two long histories covering the imperial history from AD 14 to 96.
These works are today known as the Histories the Annals and the Germanica.
While the authenticity of some of Tacitus' earlier works is in question, the Annals are generally regarded as both authentic and historically accurate. In spite of the fact that our knowledge of Annals 11-16 relies on one extant manuscript, the authenticity of Book 15 is not in question.
The dates of the birth and death of Tacitus are uncertain, but it question is probable that he was born about 54 A. D. and died after 117. He was a contemporary and friend of the younger Pliny, who addressed to him some of his most famous epistles. Tacitus was apparently of the equestrian class, was an advocate by training, and had a reputation as an orator, though none of his speeches has survived. He held a number of important public offices, and married the daughter of Agricola, the conqueror of Britain, whose life he wrote.
The two chief works of Tacitus, the "Annals" and the "Histories," covered the history of Rome from the death of Augustus to A. D. 96; but the greater part of the "Histories" is lost, and the fragment that remains deals only with the year 69 and part of 70. In the "Annals" there are several gaps, but what survives describes a large part of the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. His minor works, besides the life of Agricola, are a "Dialogue on Orators" and the account of Germany, its situation, its inhabitants, their character and customs, which is here printed.
The "Germany" treatise (Germanica) is a document of the greatest interest and importance, since it gives us by far the most detailed account of the state of culture among the tribes that are the ancestors of the modern Teutonic nations, at the time when they first came into contact with the civilization of the Mediterranean.
Tacitus stands in the front rank of the historians of antiquity for the accuracy of his learning, the fairness of his judgments, the richness, concentration, and precision of his style. His great successor, Gibbon, called him a "philosophical historian, whose writings will instruct the last generations of mankind"; and Montaigne knew no author "who, in a work of history, has taken so broad a view of human events or given a more just analysis of particular characters."
Tacitus drew on previous historical works, on public records, and on his own experience. His accounts show a nostalgia for the earlier days of the free republic and an aversion to autocracy.
book 7-10 and a part of book 11 are lost.