History as fact, rhetoric, psychology and art.
In this, his last and greatest work, Tacitus (A. D. c. 55 - c. 117) covers the period from A. D. 14 (just before the death of Augustus) to the death of Nero in A. D. 68. Not all the passages have survived. But in those that have, the depth and diversity of genius are manifest. From a vicious, vituperative biography of Tiberius to the more straightforward accounts of Gaius (Caligula), Claudiu and Nero, which reveal an extraordinary gift for pictorial description, the Annals carry conviction both as a work of art and as a history.
Michael Grant's translation of The Annals of Imperial Rome is a fine one. It captures the emotional patriotism of Tacitus's moral tone, offset by a lucid understanding that Rome is doomed, and conveys with cinematic vigor the lives of the great emperors who laid the foundations of modern Europe.
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