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Accounts of Northern Barbarians in Tacitus' Annales : A Contextual Analysis

Damtoft Poulsen, Aske LU (2018)
Abstract
The Roman historian Tacitus is not only our most important source for the Early Roman Empire, but also a literary artist second to none. His fragmentarily preserved Annales deals with the imperial rule established by the first emperor Augustus, the Julio-Claudian dynasty (AD 14 – 68). Through his scathing analyses of the consequences of autocratic government, Tacitus has established himself as an eternal enemy of tyrants. However, while Tacitus’ gaze is at times firmly set on Rome, the senate, and the imperial palace, his explorations of the possibilities of freedom and glory, valour and remembrance, bring him from the Italian peninsula in the West to the desert tribes of the South, from the age-old monarchies of the East to the wild... (More)
The Roman historian Tacitus is not only our most important source for the Early Roman Empire, but also a literary artist second to none. His fragmentarily preserved Annales deals with the imperial rule established by the first emperor Augustus, the Julio-Claudian dynasty (AD 14 – 68). Through his scathing analyses of the consequences of autocratic government, Tacitus has established himself as an eternal enemy of tyrants. However, while Tacitus’ gaze is at times firmly set on Rome, the senate, and the imperial palace, his explorations of the possibilities of freedom and glory, valour and remembrance, bring him from the Italian peninsula in the West to the desert tribes of the South, from the age-old monarchies of the East to the wild nations of the frozen North. Indeed, extended passages of the work deal with events on and beyond the borders of the Empire.

This study examines key themes of the Annales through analysis of its accounts of northern barbarians, that is, how they are connected to the structure of the books in which they appear and of the Annales as a whole. It is argued throughout that accounts of northern barbarians form a key part of Tacitus’ narrative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty: they allow Tacitus to explore alternative historical paths, reflect on the efficacy of past models of behaviour in a changed world, discuss sensitive political topics without attracting the ire and censorship of an autocratic regime, and play with key moments of the Roman past within a fertile interpretive framework.
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • professor Keitel, Elizabeth, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Philology, Classics, Roman Literature, Classical Historiography , Tacitus, Intertextuality
pages
249 pages
publisher
MediaTryck Lund
defense location
Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund
defense date
2018-05-18 14:15
ISBN
978-91-7753-669-7
978-91-7753-670-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
930a80a9-11bf-443a-84c7-4c566f8497f6
date added to LUP
2018-04-19 11:24:02
date last changed
2018-11-21 21:39:26
@phdthesis{930a80a9-11bf-443a-84c7-4c566f8497f6,
  abstract     = {The Roman historian Tacitus is not only our most important source for the Early Roman Empire, but also a literary artist second to none. His fragmentarily preserved Annales deals with the imperial rule established by the first emperor Augustus, the Julio-Claudian dynasty (AD 14 – 68). Through his scathing analyses of the consequences of autocratic government, Tacitus has established himself as an eternal enemy of tyrants. However, while Tacitus’ gaze is at times firmly set on Rome, the senate, and the imperial palace, his explorations of the possibilities of freedom and glory, valour and remembrance, bring him from the Italian peninsula in the West to the desert tribes of the South, from the age-old monarchies of the East to the wild nations of the frozen North. Indeed, extended passages of the work deal with events on and beyond the borders of the Empire. <br/><br/>This study examines key themes of the Annales through analysis of its accounts of northern barbarians, that is, how they are connected to the structure of the books in which they appear and of the Annales as a whole. It is argued throughout that accounts of northern barbarians form a key part of Tacitus’ narrative of the Julio-Claudian dynasty: they allow Tacitus to explore alternative historical paths, reflect on the efficacy of past models of behaviour in a changed world, discuss sensitive political topics without attracting the ire and censorship of an autocratic regime, and play with key moments of the Roman past within a fertile interpretive framework. <br/>},
  author       = {Damtoft Poulsen, Aske},
  isbn         = {978-91-7753-669-7},
  keyword      = {Philology,Classics,Roman Literature,Classical Historiography ,Tacitus,Intertextuality},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  pages        = {249},
  publisher    = {MediaTryck Lund},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Accounts of Northern Barbarians in Tacitus' <i>Annales</i> : A Contextual Analysis},
  year         = {2018},
}