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Tacitus: The Death of Agrippina (Annals 13-14)

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course Professor Christopher Whitton (University of Cambridge) explores Books 13-14 of Tacitus’ Annals, focusing in particular on Nero’s murder of his mother, Agrippina. In the first lecture we introduce Tacitus and the Annals in general, and the books which cover Nero’s reign in particular. In the second and third lectures, we think about the figure of Nero as he appears in Book 13 and 14 of the Annals, respectively, before turning in the fourth lecture to think about the figure of Nero’s mother, Agrippina. In the fifth and sixth lectures, we think about the theme of acting in Book 14 of the Annals, looking first at theatricality, and then at insincerity, before turning in the seventh lecture to think about the parallels and symmetries that Tacitus explores and suggests between Agrippina’s death and other events – particularly the death of Octavia and the British revolt of 60/61 AD, led by Boudica. Finally, in the eighth lecture, we offer some suggestions for further reading.

About the Lecturer

Christopher Whitton is Professor of Latin Language at the University of Cambridge. He works on Latin literature of the early Roman Empire, especially Pliny the Younger and Tacitus, with particular interests in prose style, intertextuality and the intersection of literature and history. His main research projects at the moment are a 'green and yellow' commentary on Tacitus Annals 14 and a monograph provisionally entitled Tacitus Revoiced: Reading the Histories with Pliny the Younger.