The Germany of Tacitus

Tacitus, Cornelius. The Germany and the Agricola. The Oxford Translation Revised, with Notes; With an Introduction by Edward Brooks, Jr. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1897. Kindle file.

The writing The Germany is a biography of a historian named Caius Cornelius Tacitus. The treatise illustrates his life story from the time of birth, his marriage and family life. He started his career as a pleader at the Roman office at an early age of twenty-five years. Due to his advantageous alliance, he was able to attain promotion under Vespasian to the office of quaestor. Tacitus resumed the Senate office between 93 and 97. He was elected to succeed Virginius Rufus in 97 in the consulship. The author was a reputable person all along his life as a prominent leader. Decedent leaders emulated him and some, such as Marcus Claudius, claimed to decent from Tacitus decedent. The document does not stipulate his exact date of death. The treatise also gives a detailed description of the Germans composition of the population and their cultural practices. This paper provides a thorough analysis of the document outlining its salient features, the author’s perspective and bias, characteristic of periods and strengths and weaknesses of the writing as a historical evidence.

Document Characteristics

While analyzing this document, I realized that the writing bear the characteristic of a biography. As a biography, the work does not give full information of the person described in a sequential manner. The author should be able to provide the life history of the character from the time of birth, his growing up, schooling, marriage, rein age and death in a chronological order. At the beginning, the writing does not catch the interest of the reader since it lacks some important information: for instance, the author does not give the exact date of birth of Tacitus. Also, the bibliography failed to explain Tacitus personality in-depth. We only know that he was a reputable leader, and the author did not write the characteristics that made him draw such a conclusion.

The document is a secondary source, and therefore, some important information may be missing. The credibility of this information raises a lot of concerns since the source there are no in-text citations and referring to additional resources in this part of the text. Thus, the reader does not know if the information is genuine. The treatise’s content may be distorted and lack accuracy. Some important information, such as the birth date of Tacitus, is derived  through estimation from other sources.

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The section about Germany inhabitants and their practices is a description of the community at large (3), unlike the previous two pages where the author focuses on own biography. The litterateur describes the German territory location and its neighborhood. Afterward, one is able to  find out about  the people of the region, their race, culture, and the founders. The author gives an explicit description of the aforementioned implications of the German population by separating these themes into different paragraphs. The document gives a smooth flow of events that makes the reader interested to read further (3-18).

Author’s Perspective and Bias

Drawing upon the writing under discussion, I considered the author’s perspective and bias. The treatise was not a first-hand document, but the author acquired information from other sources. The motive of the writer was to highlight to the reader the life story of Tacitus. By the same token, the content has been biased to a certain degree since the author did not have full information from the primary source, and he was giving his opinion and conclusion regarding various perspectives. For example, there is a bias where the writer assumes that Tacitus came from a well-positioned in the society family. The reason for the above-indicated statement was based on that he occupied a prominent office position at the early age. Nevertheless, there are many other factors that could have led to his promotion rather than coming from a rich family. The birth date of Tacitus is also biased as the author did not have full information on the exact date, but he estimated it using the data from other sources. However, the writer has done his best in writing the document because no source can be written without a slight influence by its creator. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that the writing was overwhelmed with bias. The author of the document was not a neutral party, but he was fully engaged, and he had his opinions that could have guided or influenced the content.

While writing about Germany inhabitants and their practices, the writer is very precise and direct to the point. In this part of writing, the author is less biased, and the information given is more accurate than the writing about the life of Tacitus. The work is well referenced, and thus, the information is credible (3-18).

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Characteristics of Periods

In the first part of the reading, the author does not provide the exact date of events but gives estimations instead. For instance, he has calculated the approximate time when Tacitus was born. Also, the periods highlighted are not sequential in that he talks of Tacitus resuming his office in 78 AD and later narrates of his marriage, whereby he got married in 77 AD (1). It could have been more appropriate if he depicted Tacitus’ life in 77 AD before telling the readers about his life in 78 AD.

From the period of 88, the author describes events in a sequential manner, until the section where he stresses about Tacitus death in the year 117. However, while writing about Germany inhabitants, the narrator did not indicate any timeframe during which the event occurred. Giving dates in such type of writing is very important because it is historical evidence, and the reader needs to know why things happened the way they did during a certain period (3-18).

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