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Agricola and Germania

by P. Cornelius Tacitus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,701157,116 (3.67)26
`Long may the barbarians continue, I pray, if not to love us, at least to hate one another.'Cornelius Tacitus, Rome's greatest historian and the last great writer of classical Latin prose, produced his first two books in AD 98. He was inspired to take up his pen when the assassination of Domitian ended `fifteen years of enforced silence'. The first products were brief: the biography ofhis late father-in-law Julius Agricola and an account of Rome's most dangerous enemies, the Germans. Since Agricola's claim to fame was that as governor for seven years he had completed the conquest of Britain, begun four decades earlier, much of the first work is devoted to Britain and its people.The second is the only surviving specimen from the ancient world of an ethnographic study. Each in its way has had immense influence on our perception of Rome and the northern `barbarians'. This edition reflects recent research in Roman-British and Roman-German history and includes newlydiscovered evidence on Tacitus' early career.… (more)



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» See also 26 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.

Tacitus as Graham Greene. Whether offering a biography or an anthropological survey, Tacitus remains both terse and eloquent, all the way with a taste that all is certainly going to shit. I liked both pieces equally, I was struck in the latter by what I fathomed to be the respect shown for the Nasser of the Danube. The first section, a portrait of his father-in-law can't help but appear regal in defeat. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Every one of Roman’s greatest historians began their writing career with some piece, for one such man it was a biography of his father-in-law and an ethnographic work about Germanic tribes. Agricola and Germany are the first written works by Cornelius Tacitus, which are both the shortest and the only complete pieces that he wrote.

Tacitus’ first work was a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who was the governor of Britain and the man who completed the conquest of the rest of the island before it was abandoned by the emperor Domitian after he recalled Agricola and most likely poisoned him. The biography not only covered the life of Agricola but also was a history of the Roman conquest of Britain climaxed by the life of the piece’s hero. While Agricola focused mostly one man’s career, Tacitus did give brief ethnographic descriptions of the tribes of Britain which was just a small precursor of his Germany. This short work focused on all the Germanic tribes from the east bank of the Rhine to the shores of the North and Baltic Seas in the north to the Danube to the south and as far as rumor took them to the east. Building upon the work of others and using some of the information he gathered while stationed near the border, Tacitus draws an image of various tribes comparing them to the Romans in unique turn of phrases that shows their barbarianism to Roman civilization but greater freedom compared to Tacitus’ imperial audience.

Though there are some issues with Tacitus’ writing, most of the issues I had with this book is with the decisions made in putting this Oxford World’s Classics edition together. Namely it was the decision to put the Notes section after both pieces of writing. Because of this, one had to have a figure or bookmark in either Agricola or Germany and another in the Notes section. It became tiresome to go back and forth, which made keeping things straight hard to do and the main reason why I rate this book as low as I did.

Before the Annals and the Histories were written, Tacitus began his writing with a biography of his father-in-law and Roman’s northern barbarian neighbors. These early works show the style that Tacitus would perfect for his history of the first century Caesars that dramatically changed the culture of Roman. ( )
  mattries37315 | May 23, 2018 |
Tacitus' AGRICOLA bio, and his GERMANIA, a moral ethnological essay are bracketed here. These are his first works, later he turned to larger histories. Professor Mattingly has done a workman-like job, and this Penguin paperback was a standard text for roman historians. I am very surprised about the lack of retrieval of this edition.
The Latin original was completed about 98 CE, according to the introduction. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 23, 2016 |
The Germania was very witty. This book was a fabulous means to learn about the early Germans and was very helpful while I was writing my Thesis on Beowulf and the Goddess Nerthus. ( )
  BridgettKathryn | Sep 6, 2015 |
Excellent! Birley's introduction and end notes were wonderful. I can't speak to the accuracy of the translation, but it was extremely readable (and he does discuss some translation issues in the notes).

Agricola was interesting, especially toward the end, and Germany was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the speeches (Calgacus got the best one (Agricola, 30)); "People and Customs" in Germany, with Tacitus's not-so-veiled jibes at Roman decadence; and Tacitus's epigrammatic observations at the end of many chapters. ( )
  meandmybooks | Aug 6, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (115 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tacitus, P. CorneliusAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Church, Alfred J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Handford, S. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, HaroldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is now twenty-two years since the translation of Tacitus's Agricola and Germania (under the title On Britain and Germany) by Harold Mattingly first appeared.

Preface (Penguin Classics, 1976 reprint)
The Agricola of Tacitus, the biography of the most famous of Roman Britain, is part of our national story, and as such has a direct claim on our interest.

Introduction (Penguin Classics, 1976 reprint)
Famous men of old often had their lives and characters set on record; and even our generation, with all its indifference to the world around it, has not quite abandoned the practice.

Agricola (Penguin Classics, 1976 reprint)
The various peoples of Germany are separated from the Gauls by the Rhine, from the Raetians and Pannonians by the Danube, and from the Sarmatians and Dacians by mountains - or, where there are no mountains, by mutual fear.

Germania (Penguin Classics, 1976 reprint)
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