Tacitus, Annals, 15.20­-23, 33­-45. Latin Text, Study Aids with Vocabulary, and Commentary

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Mathew Owen, Caterham School
Ingo Gildenhard, Cambridge University

Pub Date: 2013

ISBN 13: 978-1-7837400-2-4

Publisher: Open Book Publishers

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Table of Contents

1. Preface and acknowledgements

2. Introduction
   2.1 Tacitus: life and career
   2.2 Tacitus’ times: the political system of the principate
   2.3 Tacitus’ oeuvre: opera minora and maiora
   2.4 Tacitus’ style (as an instrument of thought)
   2.5 Tacitus’ Nero-narrative: Rocky-Horror-Picture Show and Broadway on the Tiber
   2.6 Thrasea Paetus and the so-called ‘Stoic opposition’

3. Latin text with study questions and vocabulary aid

4. Commentary
   Section 1: Annals 15.20–23
     (i) 20.1–22.1: The Meeting of the Senate
     (ii) 22.2: Review of striking prodigies that occurred in AD 62
     (iii) 23.1–4: Start of Tacitus’ account of AD 63: the birth and death of Nero’s daughter by Sabina Poppaea, Claudia Augusta
   Section 2: Annals 15.33–45 (AD 64)
     (i) 33.1–34.1: Nero’s coming-out party as stage performer
     (ii) 34.2–35.3: A look at the kind of creatures that populate Nero’s court – and the killing of an alleged rival
     (iii) 36: Nero considers, but then reconsiders, going on tour to Egypt
     (iv) 37: To show his love for Rome, Nero celebrates a huge public orgy that segues into a mock-wedding with his freedman Pythagoras
     (v) 38–41: The fire of Rome
     (vi) 42–43: Reconstructing the Capital: Nero’s New Palace
     (vii) 44: Appeasing the Gods, and Christians as Scapegoats
     (viii) 45: Raising of Funds for Buildings

5. Bibliography

6. Visual aids
   6.1 Map of Italy
   6.2 Map of Rome
   6.3 Family Tree of Nero and Junius Silanus
   6.4 Inside the Domus Aurea

About the Book

The emperor Nero is etched into the Western imagination as one of ancient Rome’s most infamous villains, and Tacitus’ Annals have played a central role in shaping the mainstream historiographical understanding of this flamboyant autocrat.

This section of the text plunges us straight into the moral cesspool that Rome had apparently become in the later years of Nero’s reign, chronicling the emperor’s fledgling stage career including his plans for a grand tour of Greece; his participation in a city-wide orgy climaxing in his publicly consummated ‘marriage’ to his toy boy Pythagoras; the great fire of AD 64, during which large parts of central Rome went up in flames; and the rising of Nero’s ‘grotesque’ new palace, the so-called ‘Golden House’, from the ashes of the city.

This building project stoked the rumours that the emperor himself was behind the conflagration, and Tacitus goes on to present us with Nero’s gruesome efforts to quell these mutterings by scapegoating and executing members of an unpopular new cult then starting to spread through the Roman empire: Christianity.

All this contrasts starkly with four chapters focusing on one of Nero’s most principled opponents, the Stoic senator Thrasea Paetus, an audacious figure of moral fibre, who courageously refuses to bend to the forces of imperial corruption and hypocrisy.

This course book offers a portion of the original Latin text, study aids with vocabulary, and a commentary. Designed to stretch and stimulate readers, Owen’s and Gildenhard’s incisive commentary will be of particular interest to students of Latin at both A2 and undergraduate level. It extends beyond detailed linguistic analysis and historical background to encourage critical engagement with Tacitus’ prose and discussion of the most recent scholarly thought.

About the Contributors

Author(s)

Mathew Owen is a teacher in Classics at Caterham School, Surrey. In 2009, he gained a first class degree in Classics at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is also author of Ovid Unseens: Practice Passages for Latin Unseen Translation and Comprehension (London, 2014).

Ingo Gildenhard is Reader in Classics and the Classical Tradition at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of King’s College Cambridge. His previous publications include the monographs Paideia Romana: Cicero's Tusculan Disputations (Cambridge, 2007) and Creative Eloquence: The Construction of Reality in Cicero's Speeches (Oxford, 2011). He has also published three textbooks with Open Book Publishers: Cicero, Against Verres, 2.1.53-86. Latin Text with Introduction, Study Questions, Commentary and English Translation, Virgil, Aeneid, 4.1-299: Latin Text, Study Questions, Commentary and Interpretative Essays, and more recently Cicero, On Pompey’s Command (De Imperio), 27–49. Latin Text, Study Aids with Vocabulary, Commentary, and Translation.