What Are Tacitus ' Motivations For Writing The Annals
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What are Tacitus ' reasons (both explicit and implicit) for writing The Annals?
Tacitus’ motivations for writing The Annals are multifaceted. First, he was promoting the stance that the empire, despite its shortcomings, was necessary for the stability of Rome at the time. Secondly, he wanted to give an honest and fair account of Rome during the reigns of four emperors of the principate: Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero.
A republic, like Rome, moves at a maddeningly slow pace. Legislation is put through a system of checks and balances where rivals debate ad nauseum over proposed policies. In a perfect world, this ensures that only which is most beneficial for the state and her peoples becomes a reality. A Tyrant, however, can accomplish a great deal in only a short amount of time. A good leader, like Augustus, can propel his people forward unhindered by the chains of a republic. The Roman people, according to Tacitus: “prefered the security of the current regime to the dangers of old” (Yardley 2008, 3). Even if it lacked freedom, many were willing to submit to an empire if it meant stability and security.
Tacitus begins The Annals with a brief description of Augustus ascension and reign. While not a central figure to The Annals, Augustus is important because he is the originator of the principate that it revolves around. Before Augustus, Rome was a republic embroiled in civil war, turmoil, and on the path of destruction. August brought that unrest to heel and tamed Rome