Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book has its origins in one of those halcyon summers of graduate school at Loyola University Chicago when I read Tacitus’ Annales with James Keenan. Although long summer days alongside Chicago’s Lake Michigan and Tacitus’ jagged prose are incongruous images for the mind to juxtapose, nevertheless, as the summer grew on, Tacitus’ perceptive political analysis awoke in me a way forward for my academic future...

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Introduction: History after Libertas

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pp. 1-6

The Roman Principate has recently been described as “a fact, beyond deliberation” and “a conceptual prison” constructed around the Roman mind.1 To be sure, for many Romans, Augustus had reconstructed the Roman state so neatly and subtly that some never even saw the former seams.2 Certainly, the Principate established by Augustus became a historical fact, an autocracy without end. Yet the suggestion that no one was capable of imagining life...

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Chapter 1. Libertas and the Political Thought of Tacitus

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pp. 7-38

Theodor Mommsen might have been the first modern scholar to label Tacitus a monarchist, when he wrote, “Tacitus is a monarchist, but from necessity, one could say from despair.”1 Tacitus, however, entered the twentieth century a monarchist largely because of the writings of Gaston Boissier, whose influence on the interpretation of Tacitus has been unduly overshadowed by Ronald Syme.2 In a chapter devoted to the historian’s political opinions...

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Chapter 2. The Principate and the Corruption and Restoration of Military Libertas

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pp. 39-78

Domitius Corbulo, after a decisive victory over the Chauci and Frisians, received the unexpected command from his princeps Claudius to return to the west bank of the Rhine. In frustration Corbulo exclaimed, “Blessed once were Roman commanders!” (Ann. 11.20.1, beatos quondam duces Romanos). Corbulo’s words connect him to the military commanders of the Republic.1 But unlike the conquerors of the Republic, Corbulo was called back...

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Chapter 3. The Corruption and Restoration of Libertas Senatoria

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pp. 79-132

In the last chapter, I discussed Tacitus’ depiction of how the dominatio of the principes corrupted the traditional libertas of the Roman military commander by restricting and manipulating military honors, curtailing military campaigns, and removing successful commanders from active participation in political life whether through forced retirement or accusations of treason. Similar pressures were felt at Rome in the senate. At first glance, this may seem inaccurate...

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Chapter 4. The Corruption and Restoration of Libertas as Freedom of Speech and Expression

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pp. 133-166

Although the Romans did not have a specific word for the freedom of speech like the Greeks, who used parrhēsia, they nonetheless practiced freedom of speech and valued their tradition of free expression.1 The word the Romans most commonly used to convey the concept of freedom of speech was libertas.2 Under the Republic, the only case of censorship of any historical legitimacy in nearly 500 years involved the poet Naevius, who had offended...

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Chapter 5. A Historian after Libertas

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pp. 167-182

As highlighted in the introduction, Tacitus is a historian writing after the fall of libertas, even if he writes in an enlightened age. There is a paradox here, though. For to assert publicly that libertas has disappeared with the autocracy of the Principate constitutes an act of freedom. Though Tacitus writes after the fall of libertas, he is nonetheless writing in the pursuit of freedom...

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Epilogue: Our Tacitus

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pp. 183-186

Ronald Syme wrote in The Roman Revolution, “As a Roman historian, Tacitus had to be a Republican: in his life and in his politics he was a monarchist.”1 I would like to change around Syme’s formulation and suggest that as a Roman living under the Principate, Tacitus endured monarchy, but in his historical writings, which are the chief concern of posterity, he was a republican. Although Tacitus had no direct experience of the Republic...

Bibliography

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pp. 187-202

Index Locorum

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pp. 203-214

General Index

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pp. 215-222