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Tacitus (Historian) 

Tacitus was one of Rome‘s historians and senators; he is located on the Bible Timeline Chart with History starting around 275 AD. Tacitus was known for his significant works called the Histories and the Annals. These works by Tacitus were written to provide information about the reigns of some of Rome’s emperors including Nero, Claudius, Tiberius, as well as other rulers who led the empire in 69 AD. His works presented the Roman Empire’s rich history beginning with Augustus‘ death in 14 AD up to 70 AD where the Jewish-Roman war was held. Tacitus also wrote about other subjects including the life of Agricola, who was his father-in-law, Roman general and was a primary figure in conquering Britain. Indeed, Tacitus was noted as one of the greatest historians in the world. His Latin was noted for its compactness, accuracy and brevity. He also had impressive concepts of the psychology behind politics.

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 Background

Tacitus _Historian_Italy
The exact place of his origins is not set, but it is speculated he is from Italy.

There were some assumptions that his father was Cornelius Tacitus, a man who was a procurator of Germania and Belgica. Moreover, there were some uncertainties as to his birthplace, although some scholars claim that he might have been born in northern Italy, Gallia Belgica or Gallia Narbonensis. An assumption that he was from Gallia Narbonensis was due to the fact that he was married to Gnaeus Julius Agricola’s daughter, who was a Narbonensian. As for the theory that Tacitus came from northern Italy, another story leads to that claim by some historians. According to studies, Tacitus showed dedication to a man named Fabius Lustus, which may show possible connections with Spain. Tacitus was said to have been friends with Pliny, who lived in northern Italy. However, there was no valid evidence supporting claims that Pliny and Tacitus came from a similar background. Other scholars suggest that Tacitus may be a Celt. This was brought about by his oratories that showed a sense of sympathy to the barbarians who, at that time, resisted the rule of Romans. In historical accounts, the Celts that were occupying Gaul before the Romans came were regarded for their oratory and skill.

Tacitus _Historian_law
‘Tacitus was well-trained in politics and law.’

Career

Tacitus was well-trained in politics and law, and he was assumed to have studied under the guidance of Quintilian. As for his family life, he was married to Julia Agricola, although there were minimal accounts about his domestic life.

He gained the latus clavus or title of senator while under Vespasian. However, it was not until the year 81 or 82 that Tacitus formally began his political life where he served as a quaestor (public official). Soon, he became a praetor (commander or elect magistrate) and a quindecimvir (one of the fifteen members in a college with ‘priestly duties’), where he was a member of a group that was in charge of secular games and Sibylline Books. Afterwards, he became an orator and lawyer famous for his public speaking skills, which was ironic considering his name means “silent”.

From 89 to 93 AD, Tacitus served in several provinces, and he was either in a civilian post or a commander of a legium. He had excellent military skills, and this enabled him to save him and his property during the reign of terror under the rule of Domitian in 81 to 96 AD.

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