Review Of Tyler’s Tacitus -- By: Charles Short
BSac 6:23 (Aug 1849) p. 572
Review Of Tyler’s Tacitus
Born in the reign of Nero and living till the death of the emperor Trajan, amid the corruptions which attended and hastened the fall of Rome, corruptions as gross as they were universal, and infecting alike literature and morals, Tacitus stood preëminent and almost alone in courage, integrity, and virtue. By his writings he won for himself a name among the Annalists of the Eternal City, worthy to be compared with those of Virgil and Horace, Rome’s greatest poets of her proudest days. Educated partly at Massilia and partly at the capital, he adopted the profession of law and was elevated to civil dignity by Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. In the reign of Nerva he was made consul suffectus, and on the occasion of the death of his predecessor in that office pronounced an oration, in allusion to which Pliny Ep. 2:1 says of Virginius Rufus: laudatus est a consule Cornelio Tacito; nam hic supremus felicitati ejus cumulus accessit, laudator eloquentissimus. Under the emperor Nerva, we find him engaged in conducting the prosecution of Marius, proconsul of Africa, in which he made a manly and able reply to his sagacious opponent, Salvius Liberalis. He was the chosen friend of the Younger Pliny, his associate at the bar and in his study, and the cherished companion of his lighter hours. We have the highest testimonial of his private excellence in the fact that he was deemed worthy to be the son-in-law of the great and good Agricola. His early studies at the Hellenic Massilia must have rendered him very familiar with the literature of the Greeks, and his mind naturally comprehensive, profound, and acute, would have inclined him to an acquaintance with their philosophy, a predilection fostered and strengthened, beyond doubt, by the study of the admired Seneca.
In the sixth year of the reign of Vespasian, when Tacitus had hardly attained the age of manhood, the dialogue entitled De Oratoribus, sive De Causis corruptae Eloquentiae, was written. If this treatise be rightly ascribed to Tacitus, which the learned now concede, it was his earliest
BSac 6:23 (Aug 1849) p. 573
work, and this circumstance and the nature of the theme will account in a great measure for the peculiar style of this book, which is easy and diffuse when compared with that of his other writings. About the time of Trajan’s accession to the throne, his two treatises, De Situ, Moribus et Populis Germaniae and De Cn. Julii Agricolae Vita, were published.1 The Historiae, his next production, was composed at some time after the death of Nerva, which happened A. D. 98. This work comprised the...
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