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Ancient authors on the issue of the Varus Battle


Publius Cornelius Tacitus was born around 55 AD and raised in a distinguished family. In Rome, he served several Emperors in various posts during his military career. In 78 AD, he married the daughter of Iulius Agricola, the Conqueror of Britannia. Later, Tacitus wrote Iulius Agricola’s biography. In times of Emperor Trajan, he was governor of the province Asia. The exact year of his death is unknown, but is estimated around 116/120 AD.

In addition to »Germania«, a description of the country and the people living there, and other smaller works, his chief works were the book »Historiae« (meaning »histories«) and the book »Annales« (in English »annals«).

»Annales ab excessu divi Augusti« – »Annals, from the death of deified [Emperor] Augustus« was supposedly the complete title of one of his main works. In this book, Tacitus recounts – following his principle »sine ira et studio« (which means »without anger and eagerness« and therefore as objective as possible; Annals 1,1,3) – the events of the years 14 - 68 AD in a strictly chronological order. Unfortunately, some parts have been lost.

Due to his accurate style and his adherence to the moral code of senator aristocracy, Tacitus is one of the most important sources of Roman history, even if his judgement of certain persons, e.g. Emperor Tiberius, was neither objective nor correct.