Term Paper: Tacitus Bias Opinions

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Tacitus Bias Opinions

The Roman historian Tacitus, who wasd born about the year 56 a.D., ny the Time Nero was ruling in Rome, had an official career that began with the position of a senator and culminated with that of consul and governor. A great deal of his writings is dedicated to the lives of Roman emperors and those around them and their lack of morality that led to decay.

Tacitus reveals the first difference between Nero and his predecessors at the public funeral held for Claudius, Nero's stepfather, whose wife, Agrippina was priesthood of. Tacitus mentions that Nero speech on the given occasion was written by Seneca and writes that "Nero was the first ruler to need borrowed eloquence" (Tacitus, p. 275). Next, Tacitus presents Nero speaking to the Senate. His words are those of a just ruler and his actions are up to a point according to his words. He promises to bear in mind that the affairs of the State are not to be mingled with his personal affairs. He assures the Senate of his intentions of staying aside when it came to its traditional functions and minding his business in managing and controlling the armies under his power. His promises are being presented by Tacitus as maneuvers in winning the Senate's support especially because of the contrast with his father's deeds when it came to military matters. "However, there was also a contrary view, which regarded it as better than if the responsibilities of command had fallen to the lazy old Claudius, who would have been ordered about by his slaves" (Tacitus, p. 276).

The family quarrels Nero so proudly presented as being totally absent from his life are beginning to show as Agrippina is starting to loose control over her step sun and talk about Britannicus, his step brother as the true inheritor of his father's role. Tacitus further presents Nero as the one who ordered his younger brother's murder by poisoning. Tacitus writes about the Britannicus death with pathos: "Such was this hurried murder of the last of the Claudians, physically defiled, then poisoned right among the religious emblems on the table, before his enemy's eyes -- without time even to give his sister a farewell kiss. Nero justified the hasty funeral by an edict recalling the traditional custom of withdrawing untimely deaths from the public gaze and not dwelling on them with eulogies and processions. (Tacitus, p.281). The historian describes a hypocritical, scruples Nero who ordered his brother's killing and then pleaded those around him for their support as being the last of his family line who deserved it without doubt. He didn't hesitate to ensure this support by generously distributing gifts aimed to persuade even those who were aware of his hypocrisy. Tacitus further presents Nero as being just to his mother even when she was faced with accusations of inciting Rubellius Plautus to rebelling against the emperor. But that was his last just gesture in the Annals of Imperial Rome. The historian reveals a ruler who conducts himself on the way of destroying his own reign by his degenerate way of life: "Rome by night came to resemble a conquered city" (Tacitus, p. 285). Whoever heard of an emperor who went on the streets and attacked his own people and plundered their homes? Tacitus even mentions senator Julius Montanus who was forced by Nero to commit suicide because of having apologized after recognizing in him his attacker in the street. Nero is seen as the source of evil who let the gates of Hell open and let the bad forces loose in the city streets.

There are, however, slight signs of justice through Nero's debauchery. The rights of ex-slaves were considered by the Senate in light of those of them, who after being freed, rose against their former masters. Nero was in favor of acting according to every case and not of generally condemning former slaves to return to slavery because of the mistakes of some their fellows.

When it comes to his opinion about the Armenians caught between the Parthians and the Romans, Tacitus firmly believes that the former preferred the second as their masters due to their vicinity on the map and the intermarriages between them and never contemplated the possibility of not having a master at all: "Of freedom they knew nothing. (Tacitus, p. 289)

The episode the battle with the Parthians for Armenia is an occasion for Tacitus to show his admiration for Corbulo. The latter started the battle under the harsh conditions of having to change his troops who were more accustomed to peaceful activities than to war with some others who were more fit for the fight and to march during a very cold winter that cost his troops a lot of looses. Finally, after a brief siege of Armenia's capital city, Artaxata, Corbulo conquers it and brings it to the ground by setting it on fire. Nero enjoyed the honours for this victory and the Senate "decreed thanksgivings." (Tacitus, p. 294).

Nero goes on with his deprived way of life, heavily drinking, sharing women with his men, as in the case of the noble Roman women called Poppaea who after finally marring Marcus Salvius Otho, presented by Tacitus as being very close to Nero, ended in Nero bed and determined Nero to eliminate the later by appointing him governor of Lusitania.

Tacitus speaks about the Germans as of some worthy, but barbarian people. He mentions the constructions they erected or intended to erect with the help of their army troops in times when those were not busy to fight the Romans anymore: "To keep the troops busy, the imperial governor of Lower Germany 3 finished the dam for controlling the Rhine, begun sixty-three years previously by Nero Drusus. His colleague in Upper Germany 4 planned to build a Saone-Moselle canal. Goods arriving from the Mediterranean up the Rhone and Saone would thus pass via the Moselle into the Rhine, and so to the North Sea (Tacitus, p. 299). The Frisians are described as attempting to move inside territories destined for Roman troops to move around. They are were however easily scared by the "power of Rome" (Tacitus, ibid) whom they sought for appeal. Tacitus describes the two Frisian kings, Verritus and Malorix during their visit in Rome as servile and hypocritical when it came to declaring their support as Rome's allies. Even if the Frisians forgot their declarations as soon as the returned, Tacitus settles the story about their conflict with the Romans in a short sentence: "auxiliary cavalry arrived unexpectedly and enforced it, capturing or killing obstinate resisters. (Tacitus, p. 300).

Tacitus is writing his bias opinions about the Jews in his writings gathered under the title: The Histories. When describing the events happened at the completion of subjugating Judaea under the leadership of Titus Caesar, Tacitus uses the opportunity to present the Jewish people and some suppositions related to their origins. At some point of his descriptions he writes about them as "this race detested by the gods." (Tacitus, Book V, a.D. 70). The historians presents Moyses as the one who gave people hope when they fled Egypt ravaged by a horrible disease. They were wondering in the desert and Moyses indicated that they should chose their leader the one who will be the first to help them escape the desert. He is presented by Tacitus as the one who gave them a new form of expressing their worship of God in order for him to keep his new gained authority over the people. Tacitus further writes about the Jews are some peculiar people who determined both disgust and admiration in him: "This worship, however introduced, is upheld by its antiquity; all their other customs, which are at once perverse and disgusting,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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