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The Agricola and The Germania

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,743 ratings  ·  89 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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Community Reviews

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Jan-Maat
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.

Agricola
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
...more
rosshalde
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
...more
John Carter McKnight
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
...more
Rob Bliss
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
...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
...more
Jesse
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
Salvatore
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.
Josh
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
...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
...more
Nate
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
Matthew W
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.
Richard
Feb 26, 2014 Richard rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Karen
Fascinating. Made me want to know more about early European history.
Melora
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
...more
Jane
I have finished Agricola. This translation has given no problems; it is easy to understand. This was a short biography of G. Julius Agricola's early private and public life, army, and his progression through the cursus honorum. All through this biography, Agricola is pictured as quite a paragon. Of course, Tacitus was his son-in-law and he wrote it as a tribute. I felt, also, Tacitus' genuine filial affection throughout. A short history of Britannia and Britons followed. In the eighth year of Ag ...more
Abraham
A lovely pair these two make. They work well together, first, because they are two of the three minor works still extant from the master Tacitus -- often overlooked in favour of the Histories and the Annals. And, though ostensibly about very different topics -- Agricola is a suspiciously positive biography of the author's father-in-law, while Germania is a quick survey of the German land and its native people -- both offer interesting, though aggravatingly brief, glimpses at the Roman provinces ...more
Þróndr
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
Jeffrey  Sylvester
Tacitus was a Roman senator and historian who wrote a series of classics including “Agricola and Germania”. The two works are published as one mainly because they are brief, they were both written in 97AD, they both describe the relationships between the Roman empire and the peoples of northern Europe as well as the limits of Roman imperialism.
Julius Agricola was the father-in-law of Tacitus and the Roman governor of Britain, considered the furthest flung arm of the empire. At this time, biogra
...more
Perry Whitford
Aug 25, 2011 Perry Whitford rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Roman times
Fascinating accounts of both Britain and Germany during the 1st century AD from the Roman senator and historian Tacitus. The Agricola is a biography of his father-in-law, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who most famously subdued Yorkshire and the Caledonians under the reign of Domitian; whilst The Germania gives an account of the geography, tribes and customs of the Germanic barbarians who gave the empire so many problems throughout its supremacy and led to its eventual downfall.

This is not exactly a fi
...more
Justin Evans
A bit of a let down, but that's because I was really excited to read these works, and, well, meh. I suspect that that isn't Tacitus' fault. These books, by and large, should be easy to understand, given a few historical notes. The editor, unfortunately, pitches this somewhere between Cambridge green & gold depth notes and everyday reader notes. There are notes to tell you what Tacitus doesn't say, rather as if we need to be told that (having just read the section in which he doesn't say x, y ...more
Andrew
Tacitus histories are regarded as some of the better classical histories that survive to the present day. The Agricola and the Germania, provide a nice intro to either his work, or to reading classical works in general. Classical authors tend to be a bit dry in their writing style, often going with a "I'm just going to tell you what happened" sort of narrative. Tacitus is guilty of that a little bit, but spices things up a big for the Agricola, it being a tribute to his beloved father-in-law. Th ...more
Jeremy John
The Agricola told me quite a bit about the Roman mind. The Germania was interesting, and extremely well written. Tacitus is an amazing writer. Descriptions sound much like those found in Tolkien, likely from whence they sprang.

The anthropological work also says much about the Roman imperial mind rather than Germania, what Tacitus values, etc.

The Germania is essentially a paean to the idealized German people, as reflected through Imperial Rome's ideal primitivized version of itself. This was one
...more
Kelsi
I was assigned this book for a history class on Ancient Rome. As a primary source document, I would not recommend this to anyone other than history majors and those deeply interested in Ancient Rome.

The first book, Agricola follows the life of Tacitus' father in law. Dry, but it does give a relatively deep look into First and Second Century Roman military tactics and the surrounding lifestyle. At this point, Rome is conquering Britain, so we learn a lot about tribes and barbarians. Fun fact for
...more
Skyler Reidy
Two solid works. Germania is a detailed anthropological survey of the German tribes that emphasizes the way there simple lifestyle influences their culture. He praises their valor and liberty, but worries that they can be lazy and crude. Its a very impressive window Into the world of Beowulf. It's easy to see why Teddy Roosevelt and his contemporaries loved this work, and it's interesting to note that they shared many of Tacitus's anxieties about urban cultural day and the enervating effects of ...more
Adam Calhoun
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
...more
Jonathan
"or, to accustom to rest and repose through the charms of luxury a population scattered and barbarous and therefore inclined to war, Agricola gave private encouragement and public aid to the building of temples, courts of justice and dwelling-houses, praising the energetic, and reproving the indolent. Thus an honourable rivalry took the place of compulsion. He likewise provided a liberal education for the sons of the chiefs, and showed such a preference for the natural powers of the Britons over ...more
Rebecca
Agricola: 4 stars
Germania: 3 stars
Agricola is fantastic, a wonderfully detailed and impartial account of early Britain, emperor Domitian and Agricola himself (although I suspect the depiction of Agricola is, understandably, biased)
Germania is just as detailed, but lacks the contextual description used by Tacitus in Agricola- meaning it seems more like a list than a historical account.
Ricardo Portella
Tacitus 4, this edition 3

Tacitus writes with almost no punctuation and sometimes you got lost in the text because of this. Also, he does divides the book into chapters, so it not an easy book to read, but it is a classic, so you lover of the ancient world cannot miss it.
I read the free edition available in Amazon, and for a free book it is not that bad. It includes the footnotes of the original Oxford edition, but they are all at the end of the book, and it does not have a TOC.
Tim Williams
Another reread for my course. Students loved the book for its commentary on "others" and their fragile position within Empire. Following Oregon voters' decision not to allow non-citizens driver ID cars, our discussion got very relevant!
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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
More about Tacitus...
The Annals of Imperial Rome The Histories Germania Complete Works of Tacitus The Annals/The Histories

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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.” 44 likes
“Rarely will two or three tribes confer to repulse a common danger. Accordingly they fight individually and are collectively conquered.” 7 likes
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