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Agricola and Germany (Oxford World's Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Tacitus , Anthony Birley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Cornelius Tacitus, Rome's greatest historian, was inspired to take up his pen when the assassination of Domitian ended `fifteen years of enforced silence'. Agricola is the biography of his late father-in-law and an account of Roman Britain. Germania gives insight into Rome's most dangerous enemies, the Germans, and is the only surviving specimen from the ancient world of an ethnographic study. Each in its way has had immense influence on our perception of Rome
and the northern `barbarians' and the edition reflects recent research in Roman-British and Roman-German history. - ;`Long may the barbarians continue, I pray, if not to love us, at least to hate one another.'

Cornelius Tacitus, Rome's greatest historian and the last great writer of classical Latin prose, produced his first two books in AD 98. He was inspired to take up his pen when the assassination of Domitian ended `fifteen years of enforced silence'. The first products were brief: the biography of his late father-in-law Julius Agricola and an account of Rome's most dangerous enemies, the Germans. Since Agricola's claim to fame was that as governor for seven years he had completed the conquest
of Britain, begun four decades earlier, much of the first work is devoted to Britain and its people. The second is the only surviving specimen from the ancient world of an ethnographic study. Each in its way has had immense influence on our perception of Rome and the northern `barbarians'. This
edition reflects recent research in Roman-British and Roman-German history and includes newly discovered evidence on Tacitus' early career. -

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Anthony Birley was Professor of Ancient History at Manchester University 1974-1990. His most recent book is "Hadrian, the Restless Emperor" (1997).

Product Details

  • File Size: 1607 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK (March 4, 1999)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,295 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Finally after 91 years of "scholarly" and mediocre translations of The Agricola by self appointed "learned academics" A. R. Birley has produced a work that demonstrates why Tacitus has been regarded as among the best historians and rhetoricians of antiquity. The beauty and the elegance of the original is apparent in this translation, that has been lacking since the translation of W. H. Fyfe in 1908. The love and the sense of loss that Tacitus had for his father in law is still apparent to us, who live two thousand years after them.
To illustrate the superiority of this translation a few examples follow:
The first example is the translation of the term "divus" as in "divus Augustus" or "divus Claudius". Fyfe translated this term as sainted, and Birley as deified. Both of these seem to be adequate renditions of the term. However the Leob Classical Library's translation, by M. Hutton, translates the term as "of happy memory." This is curious because in their edition they compare the original Latin on the left with the English on the right. One would think that one of Leob's editors would have just looked at the Latin to see if it at least resembled the English. But this is even preferable to the Penguin translation, by H. Mattingly revised by S. A. Handford, wherein they just dropped the term altogether. Apparently Messrs. Mattingly, Handford, and Hutton felt that we the reading public wouldn't understand roman titles of respect and sought to protect us from this pagan ritualism.
A second example occurs near the end of the third chapter when Tacitus laments the passage of fifteen years due to the tyranny of Domitian.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agricola and Germania October 7, 2000
This book contains a pair of early works by the great Roman historian Tacitus. Agricola is an homage to the historian's father-in-law, a Roman governor in Britain during the 1st century A.D. Germania describes the German people and their culture during the same period.
The author's admiration for his late father-in-law is manifest in Agricola. Sometimes his admiration comes across as tender, sometimes as fawning. Tacitus writes near the crest of Roman world-domination (Americans take note). He frequently adopts the tone of a tourist in a third-world country -- sometimes looking down his nose at local customs, sometimes in fascination at a primitive culture that compares favorably to a Roman empire suffering decay and corruption. He is a loyal Roman and an educated man. As such, he can glorify Rome and, in the same breath, criticize Rome's tyranny and empathize with the empire's victims. Tacitus lends an eloquent voice to Rome's enemies and those facing enslavement. The speech (probably apocryphal) of Caledonian warlord Calgacus before the climactic battle of the Graupian mountain may be the best section of either book. Backed up to the northern tip of modern Scotland, Calgacus tries to rally his men before battle. "Now there is no people beyond us," he says, "nothing but tides and rocks and, more deadly than these, the Romans ... They have pillaged the world ... They plunder, they butcher, they ravage, and call it by the lying name of empire. They make a desert and call it peace."
Tacitus has no personal connection to any person in the second book, Germania. His writing is more sterile here, but he provides a captivating description that seems part based on observation and part on rumor.
Tacitus is a pithy writer, given to understatement and the wry aside.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Tacitus' opens up a lost world before the Christians in what was, for many of us, our mother countries - Britian and Germany. The book is divided in two; the first piece `Agricola' (farmer)is named after the father-in-law of Tacitus. Tacitus gives us part biography and part eulogy in order to confer immortality on Agricola's memory at the edge of Empire among the barbarians. Agricola was loved and honoured by Tacitus, and Tacitus gives an account of his military and political triumphs before being called to Rome. For anyone interested in early British history, warfare or pagan themes observed first hand, this is a must have.
The second part is an amazing series of geograpgical, religious, and general cultural observations among the Germans. In this age of political correctness, Tacitus' observations are a delicious treat of unfettered notation of racial difference and character that still ring guiltily true about the Germans (good and bad), especially in the first half of the last century. "Their holy places are the woods and groves, and they call by the name of god that hidden presence which is seen only by the eye of reverence." ... "They count, not like us, by days, but by nights." ... "No form of approval can carry more honour than praise expressed by arms."
Great stuff. Short, entertaining and informative of another time and place.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone interested in Rome needs to read Tacitus June 9, 2000
This is a good edition of two of Tacitus' works, the Agricola, which is a short biography of his father-in-law, and the Germania, a look at the Roman view of the Germans (timely at the moment in view of the opening scenes of Ridley Scott's film "Gladiator"). I am especially fond of the Agricola, in particular the last few pages, where Tacitus is finished with the biography and can speak about Agricola like a son. His love and admiration for his father-in-law still reaches us, almost 2000 years later. Anyone interested in Rome owes it to themselves to read the source documents, and this is a good start.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great History
I love learning all about Germania and my ancestors from any source, this is a great source book, and is a book normally used for colleges.
Published 9 months ago by Odin
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting history.
I bought this for my 22 year old grandson. He said he wished there were more pictures but he was getting into the reading of it. He is a history buff. He liked it.
Published 9 months ago by Sandra Buck
3.0 out of 5 stars First exposure to Tacitus
These were two short and much cited pieces, but probably his Histories would be more worthwhile (if incomplete). I might tackle Livy or Sallust next, though.
Published 13 months ago by Economist43
4.0 out of 5 stars Tacitus's Early Works
The Agricola and the Germania are the first works written by Cornelius Tacitus completed in 98 AD. Tacitus, a Roman senator and Governor of Asia 112-113 AD, is one of the best... Read more
Published 19 months ago by JH
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Version of a Staple Source
This is an excellent translation of a great work. Birley's notes add much needed insight for new readers as well as those more familiar with the work.
Published on October 21, 2011 by Vuk
5.0 out of 5 stars early info
this particular book is the one to buy. the free one is not as good. tacitus's writing is turning out to be varified by realitively recent archaeological finds. enjoy
Published on October 21, 2010 by ATH
5.0 out of 5 stars Tone and style are Tacitus' unique strengths
When Tacitus speaks you feel his presence. This First Century Roman historian has a distinctive tone and a proud, superior point of view, as though disdainful of lesser mortals. Read more
Published on October 8, 2008 by Martin H. Dickinson
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