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Tacitus on Germany   By: (56-120)

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Cornelius Tacitus' "Tacitus on Germany" is a captivating and insightful account of the ancient Germanic tribes, offering readers a glimpse into this mysterious and relatively unknown region of the Roman Empire. Through his meticulous research and attention to detail, Tacitus crafts a thorough portrait of these enigmatic people and their way of life.

One of the book's strongest aspects is Tacitus' vivid and descriptive writing style. The author paints a remarkable picture of the Germanic landscape, culture, and customs, immersing readers in a world vastly different from the Roman civilization they may be familiar with. Tacitus' ability to transport readers to this unfamiliar time and place is commendable and contributes to the book's lasting impact.

What sets "Tacitus on Germany" apart from other ancient historical texts is the author's impartiality and unbiased approach. Tacitus does not shy away from criticizing Rome's shortcomings or acknowledging the virtues of the Germans. Such objectivity allows readers to form their own opinions and judgments, making this work both intellectually stimulating and highly credible.

Additionally, Tacitus provides valuable insights into the Germanic way of life, their social structure, and their military organization. He highlights their fierce independence, their deep sense of honor, and their unwavering loyalty to their leaders. By doing so, he dispels stereotypical assumptions and offers a more nuanced understanding of these tribes.

Furthermore, Tacitus' portrayal of women in Germanic society is particularly noteworthy. He challenges the traditional Roman perspective on women's roles by highlighting the Germanic women's strength, influence, and involvement in decision-making. This progressive portrayal is refreshing and contributes to a more complete understanding of the region as a whole.

However, one area where "Tacitus on Germany" falls short is its lack of firsthand experience. Tacitus was never a direct witness to the events he describes, which occasionally raises questions about the accuracy of his accounts. Despite this limitation, his meticulous research and reliance on credible sources provide readers with a trustworthy narrative.

In conclusion, "Tacitus on Germany" by Cornelius Tacitus offers a uniquely detailed and comprehensive exploration of the ancient Germanic tribes. Tacitus' eloquent writing, impartiality, and attention to detail make this book an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of this fascinating region and its people. Whether read for historical research or simply for pleasure, "Tacitus on Germany" is a captivating work that leaves a lasting impression on its readers.

First Page:


Translated by Thomas Gordon


This text was prepared from a 1910 edition, published by P. F. Collier & Son Company, New York.


The dates of the birth and death of Tacitus are uncertain, but it 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, already mentioned, are a "Dialogue on Orators" and the account of Germany, its situation, its inhabitants, their character and customs, which is here printed... Continue reading book >>

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