Cornelius Tacitus (2753 words)

  • Dylan Sailor (University of California, Berkeley)

P. Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56 – c. 120? CE) is best known for writing, in Latin, narrative histories of first-century CE Rome. His work is our most important source for much of that era, and its dark tones and cynical outlook have defined our impression of elite life under the emperors.

Born perhaps in southern Gaul or northern Italy, he enjoyed a very successful career as a politician and orator under the Flavian dynasty (69-96 CE) and under the emperors Nerva (96-98 CE), Trajan (98-117 CE), and perhaps Hadrian (117-138 CE). By 75 CE, Tacitus was in Rome, and in c. 76 CE he married the daughter of the general Gnaeus Julius Agricola; around this time he will also have held his first political appointment, on the “Board of T…

Sailor, Dylan. "Cornelius Tacitus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 March 2008
[, accessed 04 December 2016.]

Articles on Tacitus' works

  1. Annals
  2. De origine et situ Germanorum [On the Origin and Geographical Situation of the Germani]
  3. De vita Iulii Agricolae
  4. Dialogus de oratoribus [The Dialogue on Orators]
  5. Histories