His last work, regarded by many as the greatest work of contemporary scholarship, Tacitus’ The Annals of Imperial Rome recount with depth and insight the history of the Roman Empire during the first century A.D. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with an introduction by Michael Grant.
Tacitus’ Annals of Imperial Rome recount the major historical events from the years shortly before the death of Augustus up to the death of Nero in AD 68. With clarity and vivid intensity he describes the reign of terror under the corrupt Tiberius, the great fire of Rome during the time of Nero, and the wars, poisonings, scandals, conspiracies and murders that were part of imperial life. Despite his claim that the Annals were written objectively, Tacitus’ account is sharply critical of the emperors’ excesses and fearful for the future of Imperial Rome, while also filled with a longing for its past glories.
Michael Grant’s translation vividly captures the emotional patriotism of Tacitus’ moral tone, offset by a lucid understanding that Rome is doomed, and conveys with cinematic vigour the lives of the great Emperors who laid the foundations of modern Europe.
Tacitus (56-117) 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, Agricola. His other works, all available in Penguin Classics, include the Germania and the The Histories.
If you enjoyed The Annals of Imperial Rome, you might like Herodotus’ The Histories, also available in Penguin Classics.