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1. Tacitus the Historian
About this Lecture
In this module, Ed looks at Tacitus the historian; who he was, what he wrote, and how much we can trust him. In particular, he discusses the hexadic structure of the Annals - i.e. its construction out of blocks of six books - noting Book 15's position as the turning point of the third, Neronian hexad. Finally, he asks what makes Tacitus' history tick, arguing that that Tacitus is overwhelmingly concerned with the relationship between the Emperor and the Senate.
In this course, Dr Ed Bispham (University of Oxford) explores Book 15 of Tacitus' Annals. We begin by considering Tacitus as a historian. How does he construct his history, and how much can we trust him? We then give a general overview of Nero's life and times, from his accession to the throne in the mid-50s AD to his death in 68 AD. Finally, we look at the three main episodes of Book 15 of the Annals: the conflict with the Parthians in Armenia, the Great Fire of Rome, and the Pisonian Conspiracy.
Ed is interested in all areas of antiquity, the classical world and its interlocutors. At Oxford, he teaches most ancient history papers. For the past decade and a bit more he has been thinking about how historians should and can use archaeological data, and vice versa. He has been very lucky to be able to go to the mountains in central Italy and think about this while other people shovel large amounts of soil around. Currently he is chairman of the Sub-Faculty of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology: his present project involves trying to find out what this means in practice.
His research interests fall broadly into three categories at the moment: the history, archaeology and epigraphy of Italy, especially the impact of the Roman conquest; the political and cultural history of the Roman Republic; early Roman historiography. He is Co-Director of the Sangro Valley Project (Phase II), with Prof. Susan Kane, of Oberlin College, Ohio.
Cite this Lecture
Bispham, E. (2018, August 15). Tacitus: The Great Fire of Rome and the Pisonian Conspiracy (Annals 15) - Tacitus the Historian [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/tacitus-annals-book-15/tacitus-the-historian
Bispham, E. "Tacitus: The Great Fire of Rome and the Pisonian Conspiracy (Annals 15) – Tacitus the Historian." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/tacitus-annals-book-15/tacitus-the-historian