The Agricola & Germania

Tacitus, Publius Cornelius (c.56–c.120), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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Tacitus’ early work Agricola, written c. AD98, is a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, covering the noted general’s early life and his Governorship of Britain. Essentially a eulogy of a strikingly honest and capable Roman official, the work allows Tacitus to indulge in a quiet critique of Imperial Rome’s control of the Empire under Domitian, with digressions regarding the geography and ethnography of Northern Britain.

The Germania, written about the same time as the Agricola, is a description of the lands, manners and customs of the German people and the individual Germanic tribes, as they were understood by the Roman Empire. The work is a seemingly well-balanced view of a region which caused Rome much trouble and effort to bring under stable control. Like the Agricola, the Germania provides information, mostly derived at second-hand by Tacitus, concerning the largely obscure northern Empire.

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Kline, A. S.

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