Thursday, December 18, 2014

"The Annals" - Tacitus

Yes, I'm still alive.

I had an extremely hard time getting through this book which is the sole reason for my extended absence. There were a few reasons I found this book hard to get through, but the main reason is that I found it really dry. Where Herodotus told history in an entertaining and story-like manner, Tacitus merely reported events matter-of-fact. It might make for a more accurate record of past events, but it's far less enjoyable to read. My eyes glazed over many, many times while reading.

Another reason that may have contributed to my dislike for the book is my persistent dislike of Rome. Maybe it's because of early exposure to the New Testament and Asterix comics, but I have a hard time seeing Rome as anything but a villain. While the Greeks weren't angels, there is enough for me to love that I have developed  a huge soft spot for them, but I have never developed such a soft spot for the Romans. Indeed, most of the "characters" in the Annals were either despicable people or their victims. The injustice was sometimes hard to read.

Still there were bright spots in the sea of monotony that was the Annals. For example the Annals is the first non-Christian source to mention Jesus, albeit in a decidedly unsympathetic light - at least regarding his followers, there is also an account of Britain's warrior queen Boudica (I was cheering on the "barbarians" in the wars mentioned), there were some interesting legal or political dilemmas, there was an endearing moment when Tacitus apologized to his readers for having to go into boring details.

So, overall, the Annals was not a favourite of mine, but I am excited to finally start moving ahead again.