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1. TACITUS was the inventor of an entirely new style of historic composition; or rather he did not himself designedly form it, but, while he applied himself to writing history with a different design and spirit from other authors, a new style of expression was the natural and necessary result. For formerly it had been a prevalent custom among writers of history, not only to defer writing till they had arrived at a mature age, but also to compose with calm and tranquil feelings; differing in this respect from orators, who were wont to believe that the effect of their speaking would correspond with the degree of energy and emotion with which they spoke. Hence the calm, smooth and flowing style of the ancient historians, even of those who desired to be distinguished from the others by a sort of peculiar dignity.

Now Tacitus was the first to depart from the rules of these writers. For it was the natural bent of his genius, not so much to narrate the mere facts and events of history, which are often fortuitous, but he labored especially to exhibit the character and spirit of the actors in his scenes. Hence his chief merit, his great power, is seen in the delineation of character: whether he labors by description to place before us the image of some distinguished man; or so relates his deeds, that the reader, by his own discernment, forms an opinion of his secret motives and principles of action.

But since constant reflection upon virtue or vice has a very great influence over the passions, he came to write in an excited rather than a tranquil state of mind, so that he seems to possess more of the ardor of youth than of the maturity of age. Now of such a state of mind, a rapid and energetic style is the natural expression and the necessary result. In a word, his style is impetuous, always hastening on to the issue, impatient of delay. And this arose not merely

* Abridged from the Prolegomena of L. Döderlein to his edition of Tacitus, tom. ii., Halle, 1847, and translated from the Latin by Mr. Marshall Henshaw, A. M., Tutor in Amherst College.

from his own natural disposition, but he adapted the style of his narrative to the taste of his age. For, as is usually the case in a time of great moral declension, not only lassitude and listlessness, but also, at the same time, a sort of morbid desire for haste, had taken possession of the spirits of men; while those qualities which are a proper mean between them—calmness of spirit and a healthy activity —are the characteristic of but few. Hence what was formerly considered simplicity and dignified repose, then began to appear dull, spiritless and insipid. Tacitus was therefore impelled at the same time by his own genius, and by the taste of his age, to a hurried style of expression.

But rapidity is opposed to dignity,—a grace which cannot be separated from equability and moderation. And since dignity, in ancient times, was the peculiar characteristic and requisite of a good history, so skill was necessary in the later historians to temper rapidity with dignity. To accomplish this purpose, Tacitus employed the utmost diligence in producing an ornamented diction.

Now since I must briefly treat of the style of Tacitus, I will first show by what arts, nay, even by what artifices, he attained to that brevity which we admire as appropriate and peculiar to this writer; secondly, by what means he made his style at the same time dignified and beautiful.*

2. The conciseness of Tacitus is proverbial. But an incorrect notion has prevailed among some, viz. that this consists mostly in the brevity of single expressions, such as resemble the responses of oracles. And this style of writing does indeed prevail in the treatise on Germany, inasmuch as it is best adapted to description; and while John Mueller and others, who seek a reputation for the same, imitate it, they think they are rivalling Tacitus. But, on the contrary, the acute judgment and the consummate skill of this writer are seen in this very thing, that he adopted this style, so rare, only in treating those subjects, the nature of which demanded it, while in other connections he is scarcely less fond of full and rounded periods, not being inferior, in this respect, to Cicero and Livy. At the commencement of the Annals, he hastens, in a series of very brief propositions, to premise whatever was important, from which he passes to a very full and brilliant period, and thus introduces the history itself, as if he would show the difference between the preface and the real history, by a sudden change of diction. The orations, inserted in the narrative, consist, according to the character of the speaker, sometimes of con

* I have been assisted much in this Essay by the Prolegomena of G. Boetticher to the Lexicon on Tacitus, Berlin, 1830; and by the Excursus ad Tac. Agricolam of C. L. Roth, Norimb. 1833.

cise sentences, sometimes of rounded periods. And in the narration of heroic deeds, battles and debates, he varies his style, according as he himself hastens on to more important matters, or desires to urge and hurry forward the minds of his readers, or to delay them and persuade them to a calmer examination of the subject. Therefore he never wearies us by a series of concise sentences, continued beyond proper limits, which is a fault of Seneca.

Tacitus has omitted nothing which would contribute to brevity of style. In this he chose to imitate, not so much the oracles, as the ancient Roman writers. For as the language of the Greeks was naturally adapted to express grace (xápira), so that of the Romans contained in it the elements of dignity, and, as it were, imperial brevity. In its own nature it was fitted to illustrate that common saying: quot verba, tot pondera. I might mention the want of the article—a thing to be regretted in other respects-as among the chief reasons and sources of this merit, although this is not the place for examining this subject more fully. Now Cicero, and the writers of his time, disregarded, in a manner, this natural character of the Latin tongue, while they attempted to soften the rough power and strength of the Roman language by the polish and refinement of the Greek. But those writers who adorned the age of the Cæsars after the time of Tiberius-Seneca and Tacitus-again departed from this elegance of style. For they carefully and intelligently cherished that style of expression, which the ancient Romans, almost without cultivation and under the impulse of their nature, had employed. Besides other advantages, they labored to preserve the power of the ancient style, in such a way as both to avoid the antique rudeness of an uncultivated age, and drop the effeminate verbosity of a subsequent period.

While therefore Tacitus strove to speak so that every word might have its weight, he made use of many, or rather of all kinds of ingenious contrivances, not neglecting even the most minute. Nor, while I am pursuing this subject, do I entertain any fear of seeming to depreciate the ability of Tacitus, as if it were the mark of a weak and narrow mind, in so earnest a narration of the most important events, to choose his words with a sort of scholarlike care and anxiety. The foundation and source of so rich a diction was the sublime genius of Tacitus, the greatness of his mind, and the strength and fervor of his emotions. At the same time, it is well known with what almost religious scrupulosity the ancients elaborated, each one for himself, their style and language; and, in so doing, attributed less to a sort of divine power and inspiration, (as if words would flow from a subject spontaneously,) than to industry and care. Remarkable sto

ries are told even about Thucydides, of such a careful choice respect. ing substantives and infinitives; but Tacitus lived at an age which was much richer in the rules of grammar and rhetoric, and, as was natural for a Roman, he strove more earnestly than the Greeks to render his style as effective as possible. Wherefore to that hurried breviloquence, to which he was led by the impulses of his nature, he superadded all the ornaments of learning, art and taste, not fearing the appearance or the reproach of a labored brevity, but freely rejecting the merit of a plain, pure and natural style. Now this brevity is seen in choosing the shortest words which will express the thoughts, in omitting as many words as possible, and finally in condensing the sentences themselves within the smallest possible compass.

3. To commence with the smallest matters, he generally prefers the shorter forms of words to the longer, sometimes contrary to common ge. Few, I think, use simple ut for velut, as if, as he does in Ann. II., 34; III., 9; or for prout, Ann. I., 61; Hist. II., 46: qua for quatenus, since, even at the hazard of obscurity, Ann. VI., 10; XI., 8; XV., 72; Hist. II., 31: super for insuper, Hist. II., 34. For the same reason he often used ne, where the common rule required ut non, e. g., Ann. II., 29. Ita moderans ne lenire neve asperare crimina videretur, Add. XI., 15, 29; XII., 47; XVI., 4; Hist. III., 11. If we can put confidence in the MSS. he also often used que for quoque. See in Ann. IV., 74; VI., 33; XII., 35.

Tacitus often manifests a sort of dislike for substantives ending in tio; for besides their length they are somewhat barren of meaning. He therefore prefers aemulatus, dispositus, advectus, and such like words, to aemulatio, and those of a similar form. Hence I have defended diversus in Ann. XIII., 9; and pulsus in Hist. IV., 18, as the true reading. Elsewhere he is wont also to employ the primitive noun in place of the derivative, as in Ann. VI., 5, Dial. 3, fabulae for confabulationes; G. 26, fenus for feneratio; Hist. II., 2, audentioribus spatiis for spatiationibus. And since the use of deponent verbs had long prevailed, by which means the language was virtually robbed of an equal number of passive verbs and thereby impoverished, Tacitus did not hesitate to return to the ancient signification of such words, and to use passives that were obsolete in his age, gaining the advantage of brevity, and, at the same time, the appearance of antiquity. Hence adipisci is used passively in Ann. XV., 12; opperiri, Ann. XI., 26; ulcisci, Ann. I., 9; and palari, Hist. III., 80; perhaps also fateri, Dial. 25.

4. The use of simple words instead of compound is very extensive, in which Tacitus vies with poets. The principle of this license is no other than to substitute the genus for the species; for instance,



quaerere instead of acquirere, Ann. I., 35; instead of conquirere, Ann. VI., 1; instead of exquirere, Ann. II., 53; instead of requirere desiderare, Hist. IV., 6. Hence this exchange is usually made with a loss of definiteness, but with advantage in regard to brevity. I will mention a few examples, unique indeed, but yet allowed by all. Hist. I., 84, congestu lapidum stare = constare.-Ann. XIV., 21, struere = destruere.-Ann. XV., 14, cernerent: decernerent.-G., 2, tristem cultu ad incolendum.—Ann. XIV., 4, pectori haerens = inhaerens.-Hist. III., 57, miscebant = immiscebant.-Hist. III., 25, pulsos impulsos.-Hist. I., 35, sistens obsistens. Ann. XV., 50, cepisse suscepisse. In many other places I have restored this usage from the MSS., where other editors have not ventured to do so: e. g., Agr. 4, Sublime et rectum ingenium, i. e., erectum.—Hist. IV., 20, Omnibus portis rumpunt, where the common editions have erumpunt.-Hist. IV., 81, Postremo aestimari a medicis jubet, where Ernesti has preferred existimari.-Hist. IV., 48, Si pauca supra petiero ab initio, Edd. repetiero. Perhaps also cursaturus should be preferred to incursaturus in A. 1.



5. The dignity of the Latin language is impaired by nothing more than by a frequent use of particles, pronouns, or auxiliary verbs; on the other hand it is increased when nouns follow nouns or verbs directly, so that the sentence seems to consist of mere solid and weighty matter. Thus originate those sentences which strike our ears, and those of the Greeks, as too cumbrous and heavy, since there is no pause allowed after the separate parts and words. But the same expressions had a very pleasing sound to the Romans, and especially to Tacitus, as the following: Agrippina aequi impatiens, dominandi avida, virilibus curis feminarum vitia exuerat, Ann. VI., 25. In this example, whatever is heavy was produced spontaneously without any design or study. But weight and stateliness may be promoted by an intentional effort of the writer. With this view Tacitus omits the more unimportant words oftener, and with more studious design, than any other writer. And first he refrains from the use of prepositions, satisfied with the power of the case alone. Hence ab or ex is omitted contrary to common usage. Hist. V., 23, Commeatus Gallia adventantes, cf. III., 15.-Agr. 18, Cujus possessione revocatum.— G. 14, Exigunt principis sui liberalitate illum bellatorem equum.Hist. I., 55, Non tamen quisquam in modum concionis aut suggestu locutus.-III., 29, Cum superjacta tela testudine laberentur.

Hence I have restored the shorter reading of the manuscripts in Agr. 19: Ut civitates proximis hibernis in remota et avia deferrent, and Hist. III., 74: Clamore proximis orto. In both places the editions have a proximis.

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