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The French translator, Louandre, ascribes to Tacitus a letter which is generally included among the Epistles of Pliny (ix. 10). We are not aware that this supposition rests upon any authority, but the letter in question certainly reads as if it might be a reply on the part of Tacitus to a playful epistle in which Pliny recommends his friend to combine the amusements of hunting and literature (1. 6). It is even difficult to understand how the two letters could have been written by the same person.

487.3

THE HISTORY OF TACITUS.

BOOK I.

BOOK I.

And so

1. I BEGIN my work with the time when Servius Galba was consul for the second time with Titus Vinius for his colleague. The AuOf the former period, the 820 years dating from the founding of thor's plan the city, many authors have treated; and while they had to re

and purpose. cord the transactions of the Roman people, they wrote with equal eloquence and freedom. After the conflict. at Actium, and when it became essential to peace, that all power should be centered in one man, these great intellects passed away. Then too the truthfulness of history was impaired in many ways; at first, through men's ignorance of public affairs, which were now wholly strange to them, then, through their passion for flattery, or, on the other hand, their hatred of their masters. between the enmity of the one and the servility of the other, neither had any regard for posterity. But while we instinctively shrink from a writer's adulation, we lend a ready ear to detraction and spite, because flattery involves the shameful imputation of servility, whereas malignity wears the false appearance of honesty. I myself knew nothing of Galba, of Otho, or of Vitellius, either from benefits or from injuries. I would not deny that my elevation was begun by Vespasian, augmented by Titus, and still further advanced by Domitian; but those who profess inviolable truthfulness must speak of all without partiality and without hatred. I have reserved as an employment for my old age, should my life be long enough, a subject at once more fruitful and less anxious in the reign of the Divine Nerva and the empire of Trajan, enjoying the rare happiness of times, when we may think what we please, and express what we think.

I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, The characfrightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of ter of the horrors. Four emperors perished by the sword. There were three civil wars; there were more with foreign enemies; there were often wars that had both characters at once. There was

2.

TAC. HIST.

I

BOOh i.

success in the East, and disaster in the West. There were disturbances in Illyricum; Gaul wavered in its allegiance; Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned; the tribes of the Suevi and the Sarmatæ rose in concert against us; the Dacians had the glory of inflicting as well as suffering defeat ; the armies of Parthia were all but set in motion by the cheat of a counterfeit Nero. Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages; cities in Campania's richest plains were swallowed up and overwhelmed; Rome was wasted by conflagrations, its oldest temples consumed, and the Capitol itself fired by the hands of citizens. Sacred rites were profaned; there was profli. gacy in the highest ranks; the sea was crowded with exiles, and its rocks polluted with bloody deeds. In the capital there were yet worse horrors. Nobility, wealth, the refusal or the acceptance of office, were grounds for accusation, and virtue ensured destruction. The rewards of the informers were no less odious than their crimes; for while some seized on consulships and priestly.offices, as their share of the spoil, others on procuratorships, and posts of more confidential authority, they robbed and ruined in every direction amid universal hatred and terror. Slaves were bribed to turn against their masters, and freedmen to betray their patrons; and those who had not an enemy were destroyed by friends.

3. Yet the age was not so barren in noble qualities, as not also to exhibit examples of virtue. Mothers accompanied the flight of their sons; wives followed their husbands into exile; there were brave kinsmen and faithful sons in law; there were slaves whose fidelity defied even torture; there were illustrious men driven to the last necessity, and enduring it with fortitude; there were closing scenes that equalled the famous deaths of antiquity. Besides the manifold vicissitudes of human affairs, there were prodigies in heaven and earth, the warning voices of the thunder, and other intimations of the future, auspicious or gloomy, doubtful or not to be mistaken. Never surely did more terrible calamities of the Roman People, or evidence more conclusive, prove that the Gods take no thought for our

happiness, but only for our punishment. The state of

4. I think it proper, however, before I commence my purthe Empire. posed work, to pass under review the condition of the capital,

the temper of the armies, the attitude of the provinces, and the elements of weakness and strength which existed throughout the whole empire, that so we may become acquainted, not only with the vicissitudes and the issues of events, which are often

matters of chance, but also with their relations and their causes. State of

Welcome as the death of Nero had been in the first burst of feeling in joy, yet it had not only roused various emotions in Rome,

among the Senators, the people, or the soldiery of the capital,

Rome.

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