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Tacitus: Histories Book I: Bk. 1 (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics) Paperback – 12 Jan 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (12 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521578221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521578226
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 1.9 x 18.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 475,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'I welcome and appreciate Cynthia Damon's new commentary on Book I as a lifeline to a difficult piece of Tacitean text and can only wish it had come much earlier. … the principles of Tacitean style and use of sources are easily transferable: this aspect of the commentary will greatly facilitate both the teaching of this difficult author, whose style is as much a part of his historical vision as it the material he chooses, and new scholarship, which can turn its attention in different directions. To those who know enough Latin to attempt Tacitus, D. has given an excellent example of what the genre of commentary can achieve in difficult literary circumstances.' Holly Haynes, Dartmouth College

Book Description

Book I of the Histories covers the beginning of the infamous 'Year of the Four Emperors' (69 CE), which brought imperial Rome to the brink of destruction after the demise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This edition provides a full commentary and introduction suitable for students at intermediate level and above.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Be vary this is not an English translation of the book although the commentaries are in English.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great commentary, poor copy editing. 20 Dec. 2005
By Jon Torodash - Published on
Format: Paperback
Tacitus was a brilliant writer who would have felt at ease in a round table with Toynbee, Mommsen, Hegel, or any of the other historiography giants. If I could score him separately he would undoubtedly receive 5 stars. Jump anywhere into either the Historiae or the Annales and you can immediately recognize his unparalleled command of Latin prose. His relentless attention to word choice and construction bespeaks a continuous and boundless energy which leaves the reader with no desire to pause. The speeches approach Thucydides' rhetorical richness. Well-calculated ambiguities of language, sly moral insinuation, and an engaging multi-linear narrative all coalesce into a largely reliable masterpiece of history. Lastly, Thomas Jefferson admired him as being "the first modern author" and that's gotta count for something.

Damon effectively fleshes out omitted material where Tacitus' style becomes terse and has done wonderful cross-referencing with Suetonius, Cassius Dio, Plutarch, and a few others. She does not often seem as interested in exploring the subtleties of the language as much as the content. Nevertheless, her perceptions shine when pointing out Tacitus' verbal irony between seemingly disparate excerpts in the Historiae.

The only major drawback to this edition of Hist. Liber I is the copy editing. Every single page of the text contained at least one typo, be it a missed space, added space, or letters mistakenly added/dropped. Usually this did not affect comprehension (but I vividly remember when an "e" should have been an "et"!) and having Damon's commentary more than makes up for the egregious publication flaws. The typographical errors are more frequent and glaring than in any professionally published classical work I have yet encountered, and I suspect that Damon has given a few people at Cambridge an well-deserved earful.

Do buy this book if you would like to try reading Tacitus in the original. Overall, Damon is very helpful in understanding Tacitus' place in the serious study of Roman history.
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