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The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Classics) Revised Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140440607
ISBN-10: 0140440607
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin (translation)

About the Author

Tacitus studied rhetoric in Rome and rose to eminence as a pleader at the Roman Bar. In 77 he married the daughter of Agricola, conqueror of Britain, of whom he later wrote a biography. His other works includethe Germania and the Historiae.

Michael Grant's academic titles include Chancellor's Medallist and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and President of the Classical Association.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (June 30, 1956)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440607
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. J. Bennett on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a monumentally bad translation and Penguin should be ashamed of themselves for having kept publishing it for forty odd years. While Grant's style is quite good, his awful, clashing, illogical translations of familiar Roman terms renders it unreadable. Everyone who has any interest in Roman History (and let's face it, who else would be reading this book?) knows what a legion is. But how many people know what a division is, or a brigade? The same goes for company commanders instead of centurions. This is not only confusing and anachronistic, its simply innaccurate. As far as i'm aware a modern company numbers about 120 men (please let me know if i'm wrong!) whereas a century had only 80. Also to call a Roman legion either a division or a brigade is also innaccurate. A division is made up of several brigades but a full legion is not made up of two or three smaller legions. Grant is just being difficult. Also the index infuriatingly insists on listing people by their correct family names instead of the names by which they are commonly called. Hence, you look up references to Corbulo and find "See Domitius" so you look up Domitius, go to one of the pages mentioned and there you find "Corbulo", repeatedly called Corbulo on every page by Tacitus. Finally, the maps. Penguin Classics maps are generaly bad and these are no different. A one page map of all of Northern Europe with all the various placenames and features squeezed awkwardly in through lack of space, and with no outstanding line to dilineate the roman frontier, then on another page a whole page map of africa with a grand total of SEVEN places mentioned on it. This may all seem picky, but it spoils the whole reading experience. I'm afraid it's symptomatic of Penguin Classics who have been resting on their laurels for far too long.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
The Annals is without a doubt the most important book ever written on Imperial Rome, and the most important one dealing with the Julio-Claudian emperors. Focusing on the reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE) and ending suddenly during the reign of Nero (54-68 CE), Tacitus pulls no punches in this history. Extremely critical of the emperors, Tacitus is at his best describing the terror of the trials that began under Tiberius and which eventually paralyzed the Roman state. Tacitus also relates in detail the various military campaigns undertaken during the period. A word of advice---know your Roman history when you start this book. All the names and places can be extremely confusing to the novice. Unfortunately the section on Caligula is lost, although it is not hard to guess what Tacitus would have said about him. Read this book!
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By A Customer on January 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading Tacitus' Annals, I frequently remembered Thucydides' account of the Peleponnesian wars. An important theme of the latter work was the corrupting effects of prolonged war on the morals and intellect of the Athenian people, who were ultimately degraded so much that they voted the destruction of the people of a small island just because they had chosen to remain neutral. Tacitus, on the other hand, seems to have dedicated himself in this work to examining the corrupting effects of absolutism on the Roman people after the fall of the Republic. He shows how absolute power brought out the worst traits in the character of rulers like Tiberius and Nero, who grew more tyrannical with every year on the throne, and how members of the illustruous Roman senate and other sections of the Roman political society turned into a horde of spineless sycophants, informers and debauches. There were still a few honourable individuals, but as Tacitus shows in an endless series of judicial and non-judicial murders, most of these paid the price of sticking to the ancient traditions of liberty and honour with their lives. Tacitus also deals at length with the relations of the Romans with the subject peoples. I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that in such passages Tacitus draws a parallel between the fate of these enslaved peoples and that of the enslaved Roman people -the first a slave to the Romans, the second a slave to the tyrant and his bureaucracy, made up of ex-slaves. Many subject peoples rebelled and some like the Cherusci under Arminius (towards whom he does not seem averse at all) could succesfully preserve their liberty against the intrusion of the Romans.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tacitus (AD c.55-117), a Roman senator of the 2nd Century AD and famed historian, has written a brilliant year-by-year account of the Roman Empire from 14 AD to 66 AD. The book begins with the last year of Augustus and the assumption of power by the new emperor Tiberius and concludes with the final years of Nero. While certainly not the fault of either Tacitus or the contemporary editor, it is unfortunate that the book is missing vital chapters that have been lost over the centuries. This is particularly galling because the gaps come in vital transitional years. Thus, the loss of the chapters covering 30 and 31 AD leaves us without a description of the fall of Sejanus, commander of the Praetorian Guard under Tiberius. It gets worse, with the nine years of 38-47 AD also missing. This excludes the entire reign of Caligula and the first six years of Claudius' reign. Finally, the last chapter is missing the years 67-69 AD which cover the fall of Nero and the beginning of civil war. These missing years make the book painful to read because just as a particular section is reaching a climax, the main even is deleted. Thus what remains of the history is mostly the middle years of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero.
There is no doubt that Tacitus is a biased historian, despite his claims to impartiality. According to him, Tiberius, Claudius and Nero were all pretty poor emperors, marred by gross personal and moral flaws. This is far too simplistic, particularly given that nowhere does Tacitus espouse pro-Republican or anti-oligarchical opinions. Claudius in particular comes off worse than most readers would expect, after a generally favorable modern image due to Robert Graves' I Claudius.
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