“The story I now commence is rich in vicissitudes, grim with warfare, torn by civil strife, a tale of horror even during times of peace”. So reads page one of The Histories by the Roman historian Tacitus and it doesn’t disappoint.You can listen again on the web, or you do what I do and download the podcast. In fact, why not subscribe while you are at it?
Tacitus’ Rome is a hotbed of sex and violence, of excessive wealth and senatorial corruption. His work is a pungent study in tyranny and decline that has influenced depictions of Rome, from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall to Robert Graves’ I, Claudius.
But is it a true picture of the age or does Tacitus’ work present the tyranny and decadence of Rome at the expense of its virtues? And to what extent, when we look at the Roman Empire today, do we still see it through his eyes?
Catharine Edwards, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London
Ellen O’Gorman, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Bristol
Maria Wyke, Professor of Latin at University College London
Monday, July 14, 2008
Tacitus on In Our Time
Last week's In Our Time on Radio 4 dealt with Tacitus: