TACITUS, (Publius or Giaus) Cornelius

Born: Circa A.D. 56, in Comum, Italy

Died: Circa A.D. 120, in Romem, Italy

Little is known about Tacitus' early life, his family, or his ancestry. What little information is known was gathered from the remains of letters written to him by Pliny the younger. He grew up in comfortable circumstances and received a typical education, for the time, and entered a public career.

In A.D. 77, he married the daughter of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a prominent politician of the time, and Tacitus' career benefited from his association with Agricola. He eventually rose to the consulship under emperor Nerva and delivered an inspiring oration at the funeral of Verginius Rufus, a famous soldier. The honor of being able to do so, illustrates the respect with which he was held in the empire.

His first written work was a biography of Agricola, De vita Julii Agricolae (The Life of Agricola) completed in A.D. 98. It not only described his friend's life, but provides a snapshot of life in Britain under Roman rule. Annales, completed in circa A.D. 119 was Tacitus' philosophy of history.

The pinnacle of Tacitus' political career came in A.D. 112 when he attained the position of proconsulate of Asia, a top governmental position. Throughout this time, he continued to write and his work provides a broad view of the Roman empire in the first century.

Much of Tacitus' writings are descriptions of history and while they are sometimes flawed and prejudiced, they are still fascinating. Another work, outside the realm of history, was Dialogus de Oratoribus which is written in the Ciceronian style and mourns the deterioration of education and eloquence.