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Germania and Agricola   By: (56-120)

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Caius Cornelius Tacitus

With Notes for Colleges

By W. S. Tyler

Professor of the Greek and Latin Languages in Amherst College


This edition of the Germania and Agricola of Tacitus is designed to meet the following wants, which, it is believed, have been generally felt by teachers and pupils in American Colleges.

1. A Latin text, approved and established by the essential concurrence of all the more recent editors. The editions of Tacitus now in use in this country abound in readings purely conjectural, adopted without due regard to the peculiarities of the author, and in direct contravention of the critical canon, that, other things being equal, the more difficult reading is the more likely to be genuine. The recent German editions labor to exhibit and explain, so far as possible, the reading of the best MSS.

2. A more copious illustration of the grammatical constructions, also of the rhetorical and poetical usages peculiar to Tacitus, without translating, however, to such an extent as to supersede the proper exertions of the student. Few books require so much illustration of this kind, as the Germania and Agricola of Tacitus; few have received more in Germany, yet few so little here. In a writer so concise and abrupt as Tacitus, it has been deemed necessary to pay particular regard to the connexion of thought, and to the particles, as the hinges of that connexion.

3. A comparison of the writer and his cotemporaries with authors of the Augustan age, so as to mark concisely the changes which had been already wrought in the language and taste of the Roman people. It is chiefly with a view to aid such a comparison, that it has been thought advisable to prefix a Life of Tacitus, which is barren indeed of personal incidents, but which it is hoped may serve to exhibit the author in his relation to the history, and especially to the literature, of his age.

4. The department in which less remained to be done than any other, for the elucidation of Tacitus, was that of Geography, History, and Archaeology. The copious notes of Gordon and Murphy left little to be desired in this line; and these notes are not only accessible to American scholars in their original forms, but have been incorporated, more or less, into all the college editions. If any peculiar merit attaches to this edition, in this department, it will be found in the frequent references to such classic authors as furnish collateral information, and in the illustration of the private life of the Romans, by the help of such recent works as Becker's Gallus. The editor has also been able to avail himself of Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo Saxons, which sheds not a little light on the manners of the Germans.

5. Many of the ablest commentaries on the Germania and Agricola have appeared within a comparatively recent period, some of them remarkable examples of critical acumen and exegetical tact, and others, models of school and college editions. It has been the endeavor of the editor to bring down the literature pertaining to Tacitus to the present time, and to embody in small compass the most valuable results of the labors of such recent German editors as Grimm, G√ľnther, Gruber, Kiessling, Dronke, Roth, Ruperti, and Walther.

The text is, in the main, that of Walther, though the other editors just named have been consulted; and in such minor differences as exist between them, I have not hesitated to adopt the reading which seemed best to accord with the usage and genius of Tacitus, especially when sanctioned by a decided preponderance of critical suffrage. Other readings have been referred to in the Notes, so far as they are of any considerable importance, or supported by respectable authority. Partly for convenience, but chiefly as a matter of taste, I have ventured to follow the German editions in dispensing entirely with diacritical marks, and in some peculiarities of less importance, which if not viewed with favor, it is hoped, will not be judged with severity... Continue reading book >>

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