First of several blogs translating the Annals of Tacitus – follow the intrigues of these roman elite! From Spain and Germany, to Armenia and beyond…
Originally posted on μεταφραστής, -οῦ, ὁ: translator:
I haven’t received a full list of what we will cover in Roman Historians, but the first assignment was the first three chapters of the Annals of Tacitus.
I. At the beginning, kings held the Roman city; L. Brutus instituted liberty and the consulate. Dictarorships were taken up for the occassion; and neither did the power of the decemviri extend beyond two years, nor did the consular right of the military tribunes flourish for long. Neither the rule of Cinna, nor of Sulla were lengthy; the might of Pompey and Crassus yielded quickly to Caesar1, as did the arms of Lepidus and Antonius to Augustus, who received under his imperium the whole, wearied by civil wars, with the title of Prince2. But the prosperity of the ancient Roman people, and their adversities have been recounted by illustrious writers; befitting genius was not lacking for describing the days of Augustus, until it was hindered by swelling flattery. The matters of Tiberius and Gaius, and also Claudius and Nero while those men flourished were false on account of fear, and afterward were composed in fresh hatred. Hence my resolve to transmit little concerning Augustus and only towards the end of his affairs, and go directly to the principate of Tiberius and the rest, without anger or zeal, the causes of which I am far from holding.
II. Afterward, once Brutus and Cassius were cut down and there was no public army, Pompey3 was suppressed near Sicily and with Lepidus stripped bare, and Antonius killed, there was not even a leader left for the Julian factions except Caesar4. Having set aside the title of triumvirate, he made himself consul and he was contented with the tribunitial right for preservation of the plebs. When he had enticed the whole people with the sweetness of leisure—the soldier with gifts, the people with grain—he increased his power bit by bit; he drew to himself the functions of the senate, the magistracies, the law, with no-one opposing him, since the fiercest had fallen either at the battle-lines or to proscription. The rest of the nobility, by the degree each man was readier for slavery, were elevated by riches and honours, and thus increased by these new affairs they preferred the secure and at hand to the old and perilous. Nor did the provinces reject this state of affairs, since the imperium of the people and the senate was mistrusted, due to the struggles for power and the avarice of the magistrates, and since the protection of law was inadequate, which by force, by electoral corruption, and finally by wealth was in upheaval.