Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop Cyber Monday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Amazon Fire TV Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Kids Edition Shop Kindle Voyage Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars18
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:£10.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The perfect companion for all Roman history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

An easy to read translation. The 'Agricola' is a hagiography of Tacitus' father-in-law, Julius Agricola's early private and public life, army, and rise through the cursus honorum. Agricola is pictured as quite a paragon, all through Tacitus' biography. Of course, Tacitus was his son-in-law and he wrote it as a tribute. I felt, also, genuine filial affection throughout.

A short history of Britannia and the Britons followed. In the eighth year of Agricola's office as governor of Britannia, a large-scale battle was fought at Mons Graupius [85 AD] between Romans and Caledonians, with motivating speeches by both the British leader of the Caledonian Confederacy, Galgacus, and by Agricola beforehand. Marvellous description of the final battle. Agricola's life post-Britain, and his death. He escaped the most horrendous years of Domitian's rule. I detected a note of an envious "Lucky man!" in Tacitus if I read between the lines.

Tacitus' Germania is basically a short ethnographic treatise on Germania and her various tribes. Touched upon are: origin of the German peoples; their appearance, including the distinctively top knotted Suevians; customs and culture of each tribe, in general and individually. Tacitus is very impressed with their marriage customs and lack of adultery, as well as their adherence to generous hospitality. He does deplore what he sees as their sloth, laziness, and their love of war to take by force what they want instead of working for it.

He concludes with the hope that Rome remain fortunate with their enemies staying divided. In a sense Tacitus was prophetic. It has been argued (for example by Peter Heather) that the collapse of the West in the 5th century was in part due to the greater sophistication and unity of the German confederations, which was a result of long contact with Rome.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2003
This volume is made up of two important works from the Roman empire. The first is a biography of Agricola, who was the most succesful Roman governor of the Britons and the second piece is an account of the Germanic race, both written by Tacitus, who was the son-in-law of Agricola.
'The Agricola' shines a light on the Britons and tells their story to the wider world for the first time. It is in this slim volumne that we learn of the tribes who resisted Roman invasion and we meet Calgacus, the first Caledonian to be recorded a place in history. The speech which Tacitus attributes to this warrior is one of the most poignant I have ever heard. On the eve of battle against the Roman legions, Tacitus places some wonderful words of liberty in his mouth. Of the might of Rome Calgacus says, "To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of government; they create a desolation and call it peace".
Why would Tacitus invent a speech which is so critical of the empire he represents? Perhaps he felt guilty because the Caledonians were not beaten in the battle as we have been led to believe. Perhaps the battle never even took place. Of the empire and those it enslaved, Tacitus is very honest. He speaks about how certain Britons embraced Roman life and its arcades and banquets and tells us that "the unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as 'civilization', when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement".
'The Germania' is an account of the characteristics and customs of the tribes which stretch from Denmark in the north west to Lithuania in the north east and right down to modern day Romania, so it is not limited to the tribes which make up modern Germany.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2012
The Agricola and the Germania are the first works written by Cornelius Tacitus completed in 98 AD. Tacitus, a Roman senator and Governor of Asia 112-113 AD, is one of the best known historians of his era. The Agricola is a biography of the life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Governor of Britain from 78-84 AD. Agricola seems to have had an illustrious career and had been a successful governor, but as Agricola's son-in-law, Tacitus is a biased source. The Germania describes the characteristics of the various German tribes. Tacitus is unlikely to have visited the tribes himself so his information is most likely based on the research of others and hearsay. While his reliability is sometimes questionable, these are some of the earliest descriptions of Britons and Germans that we have and of historical value. You also get some insight into the administration of Roman Britain and the pacification of the Britons. The Agricola and the Germania are both sprinkled with Tacitus's commentary on Rome. Tacitus has a low opinion of the current state of Roman society. He frequently admires the unspoiled qualities of the barbarians as compared to his morally questionable countrymen. Tacitus's style and flair make these works easy to read, even amusing at times.

This version of the book was translated by Harold Mattingly with revisions by S. A. Handford. Mattingly's introduction is rather long, but informative. Mattingly provides background into Tacitus, a summary of the conquest of Britain, more details of Agricola 's campaigns. For Germania, Mattingly gives a condensed review of Rome's conflict with the German tribes. Mattingly points out some of Tacitus's errors, but on the whole considers his works credible. Some notes are provided at the end of the book, but they are not footnoted, which I found annoying. One map each of Britannia and Germania as they were at this period are provided. The map of Germania is extremely difficult to read and of little value.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2013
This is a great translation of a text that i had to read for a university seminar. It is clear and conicise. A great read also if you want to find out more about the Roman conquests in Britain as well as some of the people involved.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2001
Tacitus writes from the perspective of a Roman citizen, at a time when Rome ruled the known world. To a fan of Roman history, the book is a delight to read, with short, descriptive paragraphs.
The information given allows the reader to build a mental picture of Roman ruled Germany and Britian, with a strong Roman bias. History may have given us a more balanced picture of events, but this book is a true classic for all it represents.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 July 2015
This is a set book for a course I am doing. It arrived promptly and, as atranslation if an historical and biographical text, it is interesting to me. With copious accompanying notes. Just the job.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2008
The Germania is Tacitus's description of the tribes inhabiting Germania, the area to the north of the Roman empire including modern Germany but also several other areas. It is pretty unremarkable apart from his charming description of a battle between two of the tribes: "they even gratified us with the spectacle of a battle, in which above sixty thousand Germans were slain not by Roman arms, but, what was still grander, by mutual hostilities, as it were for our pleasure and entertainment". Lovely.

The Agricola is a far more civilised work, his biography of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola, governor of Britannia and conqueror of Scotland. From a literary point of view it is remarkable for the stirring speech that Tacitus writes for Calgacus, one of the leaders of the northern tribes: "When I reflect on the causes of the war and the circumstances of our situation, I feel a strong persuasion that our united efforts on the present day will prove the beginning of universal liberty in Britain" - an opening that is often alluded to even in modern times. What is surprising is the frequent comparisons of life under the Roman empire to slavery, compared to the liberty of those not yet under Roman authority. Rome wasn't exactly reknowned for literary freedom and it's remarkable that he could get away with writing such sedition. Calgacus's speech also contains the even more commonly misquoted passage "To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert they call it peace". Sound like any modern imperial adventures? Agricola's own speech to his troops on the eve of battle is equally stirring, and no doubt equally fictitious. The brief biography ends with another stirring passage, Tacitus's own goodbye to the man whose funeral he could not himself attend - "If there be any habitation for the shades of the virtuous; if, as philosophers suppose, exalted souls do not perish with the body; may you repose in peace and call us, your household from vain regret and [feminine] lamentations, to the contemplation of your virtues, which allow no place for mourning or complaining. Let us rather adorn your memory by our short-lived praises and, as far as our natures permit, by an imitation of your example. This is truly to honour the dead; this is the piety of every near relation". Splendid stuff. Recommended for cutting and pasting at modern funerals.

The Germania is, despite its reputation, nothing special. That reputation is deserved more as a work of historical interest than enything else. The Agricola, however, is fine stuff, an excellent example of un-critical biography verging on hagiography, with some good old-fashioned haranguing thrown in. And it's free, even in translation. I read the Project Gutenberg edition.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2013
For those intersted in what England and Germany were like in the times of the Romans this book is for you. I would have liked more Details but, what is available satisfied my curiosity to a Point. I found the introduction a bit Long, and the continual Need to follow the references and annotations in the back was a bit tedious. Worth a read though.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 16 November 2015
I had to purchase this book for my Module 2015/16 of the Roman Empire towards my BA (Hons) Degree - I'm finding it an excellent read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 July 2015
open university required reading but also an interesting little book
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The Annals of Imperial Rome (Classics)
The Annals of Imperial Rome (Classics) by Tacitus (Paperback - 26 Jun. 2003)

Rome: An Empire's Story
Rome: An Empire's Story by Greg Woolf (Paperback - 7 Nov. 2013)

The Letters of Pliny the Younger (Penguin Classics)
The Letters of Pliny the Younger (Penguin Classics) by The Younger Pliny (Paperback - 4 Dec. 2003)

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.