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The Agricola and The Germania

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,215 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
The portrait of Tacitus' father-in-law, Agricola, is a eulogistic description of the career of the famous governor of Roman Britain, and it contains the first detailed account of the British Isles. In the Germania Tacitus examines the life and customs of the war-like German tribes, often comparing them favourably with the decadence of Imperial Rome. Hailed as a ' golden bo ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 28th 1971 by Penguin Classics (first published 98)
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May 03, 2014 Jan-Maat added it
Recommends it for: Fans of imperial Rome and its enemies
...there are no more nations beyond us; nothing is there but waves and rocks, and the Romans, more deadly still than these - for in them is an arrogance which no submission or good behaviour can escape. Pillagers of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder, and now they ransack the sea. A rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power. East and West alike have failed to satisfy them. They are the only people on earth to whose covetousness both ...more
Evan Leach
Tacitus is most famous for his Histories and Annals, but three of his shorter works also survive. The Agricola and Germania are his first books, published in AD 98.

The Agricola is a short biography of Tacitus’ father-in-law. Gnaeus Julius Agricola served as governor of Britain from 77-85 and conquered much of Wales, northern England, and even Scotland. Most of the book is concerned with Agricola’s exploits in Britain, and as background it provides a connected history of Britain from 55
It’s not for nothing that Tacitus is considered both the greatest historian as well as one of the greatest prose stylists to write in Latin, and even reading him in translation (I read Mattingly's) it’s easy to understand why. I really liked his dry, terse style of writing. My main reason for picking up this book was that it included Germania, but Agricola proved to be a very positive surprise, and both of these works have their unique qualities. In Agricola, the juxtaposition of the speech by C ...more
Mar 27, 2013 rosshalde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Akıcı bir şekilde okunabilen bir tarih kitabı. Yalnız okurken şunu göz önünde bulundurmak lazım; kitap Romalı bir tarihçinin gözünden subjektif bir şekilde yazılmıştır.

İlk bölümde Tacitus'un gözünden Germen halklarının alışkanlıkları, gelenekleri yaşayış biçimleri anlatılmış. Kitapta anlatılan Germenlerin bir kaç geleneği dikkatimi çekti.

Kabileler halinde yaşayan Germenlerin savaşlar sayesinde ün yapmış bir kabile isminin diğer kabileler tarafından da düşmana korku vermek için kullanıldığından
Jan 08, 2011 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Agricola was a Roman general who stamped out a revolt by native Britons to stay free from Roman control in 84 C.E. Tacitus fully understood the revolutionary mindset and, with his rhetorical training, has the rebels deliver a rousing speech worthy of Fred Hampton. Naturally, Agricola's counter speech is about law, order, and the pettiness of those who oppose the objectivity of superior might. Then, the battle ensues! The Germania, on the other hand, is about the strange freedom-loving Germans du ...more
Adam Calhoun
Sep 19, 2012 Adam Calhoun rated it it was amazing
Tacitus is one of the great Roman historians, and reading the Agricola and the Germania one can understand why. Displaying a very readable style, Tacitus provides insight into contemporary life and civilizations of the Roman world. This is a collection of two books, the Agricola and the Germania. The Agricola is a biography of his father-in-law, interleaved with descriptions of Roman Britain. The Germania is a later book describing the Germans.

Of the two, the Germania is probably more interestin
Alessandro Eric
Apr 28, 2015 Alessandro Eric rated it it was amazing
Riuscirà Agricola a sottomettere la britannia? questa, ma non solo, è la domanda che ci si pone leggendo il libro. Agricola è figlio di una nobile famiglia romana, dopo averlo seguito per la sua grandiosa giovinezza lo troviamo a ricoprire la carica di legato consolare in britannia. Dovrà sconfiggere orde di barbari assetati di sangue, tra cui Calgaco, il suo acerrimo nemico. Lo stile impareggiabile, la brevitas intrigante, il libro è in sostanza un'appassionante scoperta del personaggio meno am ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Melora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Birley's introduction and end notes were wonderful. I can't speak to the accuracy of the translation, but it was extremely readable (and he does discuss some translation issues in the notes).

Agricola was interesting, especially toward the end, and Germany was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the speeches (Calgacus got the best one (Agricola, 30)); "People and Customs" in Germany, with Tacitus's not-so-veiled jibes at Roman decadence; and Tacitus's epigrammatic observations at the end
John Carter McKnight
Mar 01, 2015 John Carter McKnight rated it really liked it
Four rather than five stars: while The Agricola is brilliant and searing, The Germania really isn't terribly interesting. The translator's introductory material is excellent and interesting, which is not always the case with Penguin Classics, which tend to the excruciatingly arid.

The Agricola might be the best political biography - as opposed to biography of a politician - ever. Tacitus writes like his hair's on fire, from the set-piece speeches of the opposing generals at the Battle of Mons Gr
Rob Bliss
Feb 25, 2014 Rob Bliss rated it really liked it
Fascinating historical text.

Here's a list of quotes I liked, written circa. 2000 years ago:

from 'Agricola' (about colonization of Britain):

"Who the first inhabitants of Britain were, whether natives or immigrants, is open to question: one must remember we are dealing with barbarians."

"The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement."

"That is the crowning injustice of war: all claim credit for success, while defeat is
Dec 04, 2014 Nate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
packing of two works - the agricola, a biography/eulogy of the most prominent roman governor of britain, and germania, a detailed account of the various german tribes, their customs and culture. really fascinating stuff and very readable prose, i'm going to have to make my way through more roman/greek history books as they've been sitting on my shelf neglected for years
Barnaby Thieme
Nov 25, 2015 Barnaby Thieme rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, rome, germany, england
An masterpiece of early history, indispensable for the student of Roman-era Britain or Germany. It is a vital, clear, and stimulating presentation of the history and culture of two regions viewed by the Romans as frontiers. The consensus today holds that Tacitus was as interested in criticizing Roman decadence as bringing other ways of life to light. But for all that, one shudders to think of the dark gloom of ignorance that would settle over these peoples and hide them from the light of histori ...more
Gijs Grob
Het leven van Agricola
Tacitus beschrijft in zijn eerste literaire werk het leven en daden van zijn schoonvader, die als generaal in Brittannië de opstandige Britten bedwong, maar door keizer Dominitianus daarvoor verre van erkend werd. Tacitus hanteert hierin verschillende schrijfstijlen, van haast hagiografische bewondering van Agricola, tot elementaire beschrijvingen van diens veldtochten, tot meeslepende zelfverzonnen redevoeringen in de stijl van Sallustius (zie The Jugurthine War and The Co
Nov 25, 2014 Salvatore rated it liked it
A colorful biography (Agricola) and anthropological study (Germania) that deals with the Britons and the Saxons during the Roman period. Also cool to note: Tacitus really showcases how the Germanic men respected women and saw them as equals in the home and in the battlefield. Note: Queen Bouddica. Badass.
Jul 15, 2010 Josh rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, classics
Facinating and well done insights into the fringes of the early Roman Empire. It's a quick read and very well written, as is always the case with Tacitus (the latter anyway).

The Agricola is an account of the career of Tacitus' father-in-law as governor of Britain, and works well as an insight into the career of a typical Roman of his class, and also contains some interesting insights into early Roman Britain, although not as much as one would hope.

The Germania practically steals the show. It is
Ryan Mccormick
Jan 23, 2013 Ryan Mccormick rated it it was amazing
I am currently writing a paper on this (one that I may post in this review). I have the 1978 edition of this with the original Mattingly introduction. The text of this edition is obviously high quality as Tacitus is read now for analysis and scholarly reasons, not entertainment. This edition is quite interesting though, as the Mattingly intro is laced with his own influences and he brings up some very interesting points relating to Nazi archeologists and how their use of Tacitus as justification ...more
Nov 13, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
There is nothing like reading about adulterous (or supposedly adulterous) women getting their heads shaved and being dragged through the streets by their cuckolded (or supposedly cuckolded) husbands to make me realize we really *have* come a long way, baby. Those wacky Germans, however, insist on honor at all costs and Tacitus contrasts them sharply with decadent, decrepit Romans with his usual verbal acuity. A fun read for armchair anthropologists and contemporary adulterous women alike. The Ag ...more
İlşad Özkan
Bu küçük kitapçık bir biyografi olmaktan çok, Roma devrindeki Britanya eyaletinin kırılma noktalarından birini anlatması bakımından önemli. Tacitus, ölmüş olan kaynatasının ismini ve hatırasını yüceltirken, Britanya'da yaşananlardan evrensel mesajlar çıkarmamıza olanak veriyor. Örneğin bugünkü küresellik ve modernite karşıtları bile aşağıdaki satırlara varana kadar tonla okuma yapıyorlar, oysa o bunları bir çırpıda, değersiz ve basit bir şeymiş gibi söyleyivererek farklı bir bakış açısını bize k ...more
Pete daPixie
Maybe I should rank this four stars. Classical books can read like what it says on the tin....dated.
These two from Tacitus seem quite fresh and insightful. I've read so many quotes from these writings that I had to read these. The Agricola and The Germania, even with their wonky geography and their frustratingly sparse detail of persons and place names, these are worth reading.
Not sure about the map of Roman Britain, which shows Dorchester somewhere in Oxfordshire? Unless Tacitus produced the ma
É F.K. Ó Conghaile
Exactly the kind of books I want to read. Detailing some of the observations and strategies of the time, we understand the ceaseless conflict between the Roman Empire and its many enemies. It gives observations of some of the cultures, political issues, and intra- and inter-imperial issues. I enjoyed the anthropological perspective, which if I remember correctly, didn't have nearly as much propaganda as I thought there might be. I will seek out similar works.
Nov 28, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
While this should probably be classified as "historical" I think much of the enjoyment I got from it was due to its literary value. Reading things from ancient times, particularly those written in Latin (and well translated) is very beautiful. The editor names a number of things that Tacitus was either careless about or simply wrong (like the World being flat for example), nevertheless the overall story and descriptions were fascinating.
Two books in one from the ancient Roman historian Tacitus. I understand these are considered amongst his minor works, and the introduction to the edition I have comments that the "Germania" contains "little of value from a historical standpoint." Not so! The comment was perhaps made because the book is not a narrative history, but rather a description of the Germanic peoples as they were around the time of the first century. Of course we have few means of checking its accuracy; for the most part ...more
Christopher Roth
Nov 28, 2015 Christopher Roth rated it it was amazing
There's not much I can add to a discussion of Tacitus after nearly two millennia of commentary, but I will say that for me the most interesting passages here were: (a) the report that the Germans were noted for their belief in hippomancy (not Tacitus's word), the reading of horses' behavior, including whinneys, snuffles, and foot movements, for divination purposes--good God, if only he had written more on this!--and (b) the brief discussions of gender equality among the Suiones (Swedes) and full ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
This book I love to read over and over again. Despite the overall anti-Imperial tone set by Tacitus, it is a touching recount of his father-in-law, who was by all accounts a fairly average Governor. It's not remarkable because of the accomplishments of the man, but rather because it is a snap-shot of the management of a Roman Province.
Matthew W
Sep 29, 2009 Matthew W rated it really liked it
I only read "The Germania." It is good to know that the ancient Germans didn't back down on a good fight (especially after some Alcohol). If only the modern day German would experience atavism and regain what they have lost!

Tactius also thought the Germans to be of "pure blood." Nice.
Oct 27, 2010 Takipsilim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only among the earliest accounts of British and German history, but also one of the most fixating and important narratives to survive from antiquity. Tacitus' start as a historian began with these two classics.
May 14, 2015 Glen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of Britain and Germany ... Easily accessible/readable ... Geographically naive, which adds to the charm ... Not overly long ... Excellent snapshot ...
Dec 09, 2008 Bridgett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis
The Germania was very witty. This book was a fabulous means to learn about the early Germans and was very helpful while I was writing my Thesis on Beowulf and the Goddess Nerthus.
Stuart Macalpine
Jul 17, 2013 Stuart Macalpine rated it it was amazing
An intense read, which gives one of the first written accounts of what Northern Europe was like before and during the Roman occupation. Some utterly memorable passages.
Feb 26, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in early history or the work of classical historians
Recommended to Richard by: a crossword puzzle that included GERMANIA
Reading about Tacitus's father-in-law Agricola helped in filling in some of Livy's comments on the early days of Rome as dissension and mistrust played a significant role in A's rise and apparent murder (?) at tyne instigation of Domitian, his jealous emperor. GERMANIA, much aided by a map, was an interesting characterization of the various tribes Tacitus recorded over the large expanse so called. The sense of a single "nation" arising out of any of these territories seems unlikely until one thi ...more
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Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (ca. AD 56 – ca. AD 117) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors. These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in AD 14 t ...more
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“They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.” 54 likes
“Rarely will two or three tribes confer to repulse a common danger. Accordingly they fight individually and are collectively conquered.” 9 likes
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