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The Annals Of Imperial Rome

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  4,641 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Tacitus' Annals of Imperial Rome recount the major historical events from the years shortly before the death of Augustus up to the death of Nero in AD 68. With clarity and vivid intensity he describes the reign of terror under the corrupt Tiberius, the great fire of Rome during the time of Nero, and the wars, poisonings, scandals, conspiracies and murders that were part of ...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published by Penguin Publishing (first published 116)
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There is nothing quite like the terse and clean prose of Tacitus—the leanness of which is apparently found in the Latin source as well as the English rendering—and the way it provides the reader with such a comfortable passage through his Annals. The coverage of the reign of Tiberius is liberal and thoroughly vituperative; the reluctant Caesar—he of the moving anecdote of pursuing the ex-wife he truly loved across a Roman marketplace whilst sobbing bitterly at the cruel fate which forced him to ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: would be Romans
This is less accessible than Tacitus' Histories in which the narrative of the civil war and the German revolt, actually aided by the richness of detail, gives coherence to the whole work. By contrast The Annals covers a longer period fairly strictly year by year which breaks up the flows of particular events and works against analysis.

Tacitus may be working from sources that are less detailed in The Annals, he is certainly at a greater remove from the events and his own experience as a Senator
Lisa (Harmonybites)
May 26, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Mavens
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Christy Tucker
A friend of mine who teaches Latin for a living says it was this book (and Suetonius' The Twelves Caesars) that led to her fascination with things Roman and a change in her concentration. I wasn't hugely enamored at first. As our initial conversation went:

Me: Well, so far this isn't five star love it, but not first star hate.

Her: Keep going. It's good for you.

Me: Like broccoli?

Well, in the end it was more like a feast. This does have its dry patches--I considered dropping it a star because of th
There is a section from The Rite of Spring befitting each of the emperor's reigns here, and the first one, to my mind, is Tiberius with "Spring Rounds". Unfortunately, the section on Caligula is missing, and then we have Claudius with "Ritual of Abduction"! We end with Nero and the terrifying "Ritual of the Rival Tribes"! Tacitus is keenly aware, while documenting these reigns, of the influence of institutions on human behavior, and his assessment of everyone in the institutions of Rome is conse ...more
The great benefit of a republic is the slowness with which it moves. In America or Rome, the long, careful consideration of matters by fractious, embittered rivals tend to assure that the only measures which pass are those which are beneficial, or those which are useless. In a dictatorship, much more may be achieved. In little time, a great man may do a great many things, and a lesser man make many errors.

As Tacitus, Machiavelli, Jefferson, or any proponent of the republic will tell you, great m
It's pretty accessible for the same reasons that Livy is, a tight focus, with events juxtaposed so that they often seem to move organically into each other. I guess I never realized how Rome was so defined by the actions of just two or three extended families over the course of its early imperial history. At times it's kind of like an episode of 'days of our lives', but with orgies, and treason accusations, and suicide. Tacitus can be a surprisingly funny guy, and the humor actually translates r ...more
Jeff Mcneill
Grand politics has not changed since Rome. Don't believe me? Read this and then we can talk...
Tacitus covers the reign of Tiberius through most of Nero’s reign in The Annals of Imperial Rome. His writing is crisp and his narration rarely gets sidetracked away from the chronological recording. Unfortunately, significant sections have been lost to time and Caligula’s reign as well as the final years of Nero’s are absent.

The drama of the time was not so much in military conquests, but the political maneuverings of the Imperial court. Tacitus seems self-consciously aware of the mundane natur
Justin Evans
In the year of the consulship of x and y, military events occurred, as did these notable moments of jurisprudence. There was the following scandal. The emperor plotted the deaths/punishment/exile of the following people. And so forth.

Tacitus himself apologizes for the monotony of some of the stories in 16.16, which is obviously a bit mischievous, since the continuous deaths, sexual escapades and military idiocies are, in their own way, pretty entertaining. He's great at telling small scale tale
Covering the better part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty this starts off as a very interesting history but devolves into a catalog of executions and suicides and sexual improprieties and somehow makes them very boring. By 2/3 of the way through I could barely muster up a horrified, "But, that's your niece!" or "There have to be easier ways to kill yourself!"

A much less entertaining read than Livy. Still worth the price of admission but I wasn't sorry to be finished.
Roman history, straight from the horse's mouth.

An account which is missing large gaps, but still portrays the Empire through some of its most tumultuous times. A state which tears itself apart.

One of the best accounts of that era that we have - but it is still to be analyzed and read carefully, with an eye for bias, as with any history.
It is ironic that Tacitus means "silent" because this book is the loud voice of soap opera society of early Rome.
Erik Graff
Sep 07, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roman history fans
Recommended to Erik by: Louise Fischer
Shelves: biography
Never being able to intentionally memorize much of anything, my exposures to German, Spanish and French at elementary schools were increasingly unnerving. They started us in second grade with German. When the German teacher left to marry, it being a small, rural school, we switched to Spanish. Those weren't so bad as the teaching was directed towards conversationaly facility. Unfortunately, however, the family moved while I had just started fifth grade, taking me from the Spanish- to a French-or ...more
There are so many things to say about dear Tacitus, but I'll be brief. So maybe Roman histories are a little boring at times and a little heavy on the "and then this group sent an envoy, and then that group sent an envoy" type of minutiae, but this is about 500% less boring than Homer. That's why they call him "Tacitus," see. He's tacit in his telling of these epic stories.

It is truly chilling to learn about the years leading up to the fall of Rome because it slowly starts to dawn on you that th
Stuart Aken
There have been many translations of this classic; the one I read was the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Michael Grant. I came across the book, which I’d heard of but not previously read, whilst perusing the shelves of a wonderful little bookshop on the island of Santorini. (You’ll find Atlantis Books in Oia, should you ever visit the island). Hardly typical holiday reading, I nevertheless read most of the book whilst lounging beside the pool on a comfortable sunbed under a hot sun.

One of the big take-aways from this book is that Tacitus does *not* like Tiberius. Grant explains the possible reasons behind Tacitus's framing of Tiberius as a tyrant, but it's still a shock to get past the introduction and find such a relentless assassination in the Annals...

It is a very interesting book, though. Fans of historical fiction will certainly find it dry reading, as Tacitus lists power struggles and battles and senatorial purges with the same dry manner as a herald calling the name
Caleb Wilson
Nice epigrammatic style--I hear this is one of the best English translations. The characters of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero come across very distinctly, though I'm sad, and I'm sure that posterity is too, that the section about Gaius Caesar, AKA Caligula, is missing from the text. The hopeful monarchs in The Game of Thrones could learn some good tricks from Tacitus, such as the booby-trapped death boat Nero used in an attempt to assassinate his stepmother, or the venom-soaked vomit feather that ...more
It took me ages to finish this book, but boy, did it give me a wealth of ideas for my own book. A year-by-year account of the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius and Nero (sadly, the part about Caligula got lost), this is Roman history at its near-best, presenting us with an unrivalled story of greed, envy, ambition, sycophancy, fear, blood thirst and outright madness, not to mention a fascinating insight into the mores and rituals of Rome's upper class and the strange laws that governed Roman society. ...more
'Aussie Rick'
An excellent historical account written by Tacitus who was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire (AD 56 – AD 117). This book covers the Roman Empire from the reign of Tiberius beginning in 14 A.D. to the reign of Nero ending in 66 A.D. Overall a well told story, lots of great accounts of sieges and battles by Roman Legions and lots of the politics in Rome although at times it gets a bit repetitive during Nero's reign of all the enforced suicides and murders but that's what happened I sup ...more
I had previously started reading another translation of this, but found it a difficult read and eventually abandoned it. I found this edition much more readable, although that may have been in part due to the typesetting in addition to the translation. The footnotes were also very extensive and helpful.

While somewhat depressing in its nearly unbroken catalog of unjust deaths at the hands of despotic emperors, it's also a wonderful look at the history of the early Roman Empire.
Amber Harris
For a book written during the Roman Empire, this particular translation of Tacitus isn't that bad. The flow is relatively easy to work with, and it is constantly informative. Tacitus often reminds his readers that much of what he writes is what that people say, and he warns to be wary of rumours. Still, it gives some idea of culture. I read this book for a course on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and I would it to be the most enlightening book assigned.
Tony Gualtieri
Tacitus needs no recommendation. The five stars are for the translation by Cynthia Damon which was published in 2009. She captures what Kenneth Rexroth described as "the most mordant style in the history of prose." The bite and terseness of the writing, which seems amenable to English translation, can make Tacitus difficult reading. The year-by-year structure of the Annals and the lacuna of several books, add to the difficulty.

A few years ago, I tried reading the classic Victorian translation of
Much more dry and hands off than I expected. You can see Tacitus set a scholarly and rational, and, if we try and get beneath the surface of the text, (of what kind of censorship he might have been up against?)an honestly harsh standard for all the coming wave of observational history since with his critical stance combined with rigorous detail to bureaucratic minutia.
Was its prose as beautiful and tragic as the work on Napoleon I read a few months ago by Emil Ludwig? Of course not.
But is it a
One of the most gifted ancient historians but cursed with gloomy and monotonous subject matter, as he himself admits at several points in this, the first half of his published histories of Imperial Rome. My favorite Roman historians are Livy and Suetonius, the former for his grandeur, style, and pacing, and the latter for his humor and objectivity in writing of the emperors. Tacitus I hold in esteem because of his voice, perhaps the most modern of ancient historians, and because of his biting pe ...more
Darran Mclaughlin
A masterpiece. For some reason I found this much more engrossing and easier to read than The Histories. I'm not sure if it's because I have just grown more used to his style, or that I recognized more people in the Annals, or because I watched I, Claudius recently and have found that it was very heavily based upon this book.

Tacitus has a very distinctive writing style. It is utterly clear, direct and densely compressed. There are few digressions and whenever he has cause to he apologizes to the
A history of Imperial Rome from the death of Augustus to that of Nero - but fragmentary. Major sections have not survived, including the entire reign of Gaius (Caligula) and most of that of Claudius. In written in the form of a year by year chronicle, so large sections of it have the feel of C-Spann - that is, if a matter comes before the Senate, no matter how insignificant, Tacitus records it. His tone here is that of a senator bemoaning the Senate's impotence and corruption, that of old man co ...more
This is a book to savor for each chapter, indeed each paragraph is a concise clear portrayal of events and personages, written to have the reader believe he or she was actually on the scene at that time. This shows the skill of an author who lives with the history whether or not he was ever on the scene of battle or had discussed issues of moment with the principal actors who influenced the action. As an instance, the chapter on the death of Germanicus is a clear, lively, detailed, portrayal lea ...more
Robert Sheppard


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is an apt admonition to
M. Milner
An account of the tumultuous years of the early Roman Empire, Tactius' Annals are compelling, fascinating and important reading for anyone interested in this era of history. Written several years after the decades described, Tacitus' histories take you inside the troubled senate, the chaotic world of the Emperors and the riotous city of Rome.

While it's primarily a history of Rome, The Annals covers what was happening in the empire from disastrous battles with natives in Gaul or Germany to the f
Tacitus ain't got nuthin' on Seutonius as far as entertainment value, but Book 1, chapters 1-15 are awesome if you want to know about the reforms of Augustus and Tiberius and the institution of hereditary almost-monarchy.

The basis for the mini-series "I, Claudius," Tacitus' "Annals of Imperial Rome" is by no means boring - but it is, perhaps, better suited to theatrics than a read-through. This work is an invaluable source for popular impressions and opinions of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (sadl
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  • The Early History of Rome: (The History of Rome, #1-5)
  • The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline
  • Makers of Rome: Nine Lives
  • The Civil Wars
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire
  • The Civil War
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
  • The Jewish War
  • The Twelve Caesars
  • The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus
  • The Letters of the Younger Pliny
  • The Persian Expedition
  • The Campaigns of Alexander
  • The History of Alexander
  • Selected Political Speeches
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 Agricola and the Germania The Histories Germania Complete Works of Tacitus The Annals/The Histories

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