Little information regarding Tacitus is certain. It is believed he was born in either 56 or 57 in northern Italy, southern France, or Spain to a wealthy, provincial, equestrian family. Even his name is somewhat debatable. However, what is known is that Tacitus was highly educated, and he married Julia Agricola, the only daughter of General Agricola, the soldier who helped conquer Britain. Though not of the aristocracy, Tacitus gained allowance by Emperor Vespasian to enter politics where he became an acclaimed lawyer and orator. Also impressive in Tacitus's career was his membership into an important priestly college that dictated Rome's official religion.
Tacitus not only spoke eloquently, he penned historical works. His two most famous pieces are actually volumes, the 12-volume Histories
and the 18-volume Annals
. Many of the original books are missing today, yet those that remain have enabled Tacitus to be considered a great historian. With language powerful and straightforward, Tacitus doesn't mince words yet makes his points clearly and vividly to give the readers an honest, relatively unbiased account of history. Once Tacitus started his writing career, his legal work fell to the wayside, but Rome continued to be his home until his death, approximately in the year 125.
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