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Tacitus Analysis

Decent Essays
Publius Cornelius Tacitus authored the Annals to chronicle the demise of Roman leader Augustus and the ensuing crisis of seeking a new leader. In his alledgedly factual, unbiased, and scholar-oriented piece, Tacitus attempts to write a definitive history for the time period but draws the attention of skeptics to his cruel portrayal of Tiberius. (Topic) Although some readers may argue that Tacitus exaggerated the scope of Tiberius’s early failures in leadership, (Argument) Rome faced a serious (and well-depicted) problem with Tiberius’s rule (Reason) due to his early overconfidence and fear in taking the position.
(Topic) Some scholars have suggested that Tacitus’s portrayal of Tiberius is exaggerated in a negative light, such as G. A. Harrer
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(Point) After Augustus was killed and Tiberius was declared master of the empire, he abused his new power by taking a series of unjustified actions, proving his early incompetence as a ruler. (Evidence) Immediately following his account of Augustus’s death, Tacitus describes Tiberius’s behavior, “Yet when Augustus was dead, he had given the word to the praetorian cohorts, as Imperator; sentinels were stationed about the palace; had soldiers under arms, and all the other appendages of a court… Nor did he ever hesitate, but when he spoke to the senate” (Tacitus 578). (Explanation 1) Tacitus relates that Tiberius immediately assumed a façade of leadership and authority, decorating his pace with guards, issuing orders, and doing so without a sign of hesitation save when he addressed the senate. (ex2) By describing Tiberius’s behavior upon assuming his adoptive father’s responsibility, which was much like a child playing at being an adult, Tacitus relates a factual piece of information that allows the reader to see the type of leader that Tiberius showed signs of becoming. (ex3) Although Tacitus did portray Tiberius as an immature and unwise ruler, these conclusions are up to the reader to arrive at and all Tacitus did was present the facts. (Transition) While still…show more content…
(Point) By relating the fact that Tiberius wanted to reject his responsibility at the helm of the empire, Tacitus supports the fact that Tiberius was not a good leader. (Evidence) After Augustus had been buried and focus turned to deciding on the new leadership for Rome, “…Asinius Gallus says, ‘I beg to know, Caesar, what part of the government you desire to be committed to you?’ He was confounded at the unlooked-for question… But recovering himself, answered, that ‘…he desired rather to be excused from the whole’” (Tacitus 583-584). (Explanation 1) Gallus demands to know what part of the government Tiberius wishes to govern, but Tiberius unexpectedly replies that he would rather opt out of the responsibility entirely. (ex2) Especially after having assumed such authority, confidence, and control earlier in the piece, Tiberius’s attempt to flee from his duty strikes one as particularly cowardly. (ex3) Thus, one can conclude from the facts alone that Tiberius was an unreliable leader from when he first took the position. (Transition) Due to the factual support that Tacitus provides through the piece, one can infer that Tiberius was a poor leader without the need for an author’s
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