19 Facts About Tacitus


Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars.


Tacitus's Annals are of interest for providing an early account of the persecution of Christians and one of the earliest extra-Biblical references to the crucifixion of Jesus.


Tacitus was born in 56 or 57 to an equestrian family.


The friendship between the younger Pliny and Tacitus leads some scholars to conclude that they were both the offspring of wealthy provincial families.


Since Pliny was from Italy, some infer that Tacitus was from the provinces, probably Gallia Narbonensis.


Little is known of their domestic life, save that Tacitus loved hunting and the outdoors.


Tacitus gained acclaim as a lawyer and as an orator; his skill in public speaking ironically counterpoints his cognomen, Tacitus.


Priscus was found guilty and sent into exile; Pliny wrote a few days later that Tacitus had spoken "with all the majesty which characterizes his usual style of oratory".


Five works ascribed to Tacitus have survived, the most substantial of which are the Annals and the Histories.


Tacitus wrote three works with a more limited scope: Agricola, a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola; the Germania, a monograph on the lands and tribes of barbarian Germania; and the Dialogus, a dialogue on the art of rhetoric.


Tacitus had written a similar, albeit shorter, piece in his Agricola.


Tacitus's writings are known for their dense prose that seldom glosses the facts, in contrast to the style of some of his contemporaries, such as Plutarch.


Tacitus noted the increasing dependence of the emperor on the goodwill of his armies.


One of Tacitus's hallmarks is refraining from conclusively taking sides for or against persons he describes, which has led some to interpret his works as both supporting and rejecting the imperial system.


Tacitus owes most, both in language and in method, to Sallust, and Ammianus Marcellinus is the later historian whose work most closely approaches him in style.


Tacitus makes use of the official sources of the Roman state: the Acta Senatus and the Acta Diurna.


Tacitus read collections of emperors' speeches, such as those of Tiberius and Claudius.


Tacitus is generally seen as a scrupulous historian who paid careful attention to his sources.


Tacitus cites some of his sources directly, among them Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus and Pliny the Elder, who had written Bella Germaniae and a historical work which was the continuation of that of Aufidius Bassus.