This series of short incisive books introduces major figures of the ancient world to the modern general reader, including the essentials of each subject's life, works, and significance for later western civilisation.
Tacitus is arguably the most significant writer of the Roman imperial period.
His biting creativity is best known to us through his historical narratives.
The Histories ruthlessly depicts the disastrous civil wars which exploded in AD 68-9, while the Annals chillingly documents the murky principates of the Julio-Claudian emperors from Tiberius to Nero.
Tacitus is driven throughout by a desire to reveal escalating corruption and selfish ambitions and to demonstrate how and why such a debased world evolved after the death of Augustus.
This book sets Tacitus clearly in context, surveying all his works and clarifying the traditions of ancient writing that informed and shaped his narratives.
It also traces how his works have been used and abused in subsequent eras.