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- Provincial Soldiers and Imperial Instability in the Histories of Tacitus
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Master draws on scholarship in political theory, Latin historiography, Roman history, and ethnic identity to demonstrate how Tacitus presented to his contemporary audience in Trajanic Rome the dangerous consequences of the city’s failure to reward and incorporate its provincial subjects. Master argues that Tacitus’ presentation of the Vitellian and Flavian armies, and especially the Batavian auxiliary soldiers, reflects a central lesson of the Histories: the Empire’s exploitation of provincial manpower (increasingly the majority of all soldiers under Roman banners) while offering little in return, set the stage for civil wars and ultimately the separatist Batavian revolt.
“Beyond the specific arguments about the Batavian revolt, this will reinvigorate scholarship on Tacitus and offer the possibility of a Tacitus who is not just a grim pessimist, but one who is genuinely engaged in a didactic discourse proper to history, where readers can find the incentive to construct optimistic as well as ironizing interpretations.”
—Edward Bispham, Brasenose College, Oxford University
Jacket illustration: Grave stone of Imerix. Courtesy of the Archaeological Museum, Zadar, Croatia.