The Interaction of Biography and Ethnography in Tacitus' Agricola

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The Interaction of Biography and Ethnography in Tacitus' Agricola
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2007 Hardai Soraya Patricia Jadoo 2


Kevni viro carissimo tolerabilissimoque et familiae meae 3


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Victoria Pagn, for her insightful comments, encouragement, and patience throug hout the thesis writing process. I would also like to thank Drs. Rea and Sussman, my committ ee members, for all the support they have given me in the classroom and helping me to develop a love fo r the Latin language. Ovid, Livy, and Cicero are authors for whom I have a deeper a ppreciation due to their efforts. I also thank my fianc Kevin for all th e support he has shown me throughout these two unforgettable years in graduate school. I ow e so much to him—words cannot express my gratitude or love. I would also like to thank my brothers an d friends for keeping things in perspective and just being there fo r me. And last, but certainly not least, I give my most heartfelt thanks to my parents who sacrificed so much to co me to this country so that their children would have better opportunities in life. I hope I have made them proud. 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. ...8 2 GRECO-ROMAN BIOGRAPHY..........................................................................................13 Modern Biography ..................................................................................................................13 Ancient Biography: Its Origins and Conception ....................................................................15 Historiography and Biography ...............................................................................................16 Characteristics of Ancient Biography .....................................................................................19 Biography at Rome .................................................................................................................23 3 AGRICOLA AS BIOGRAPHY...............................................................................................25 4 ANCIENT ETHNOGRAPHY................................................................................................34 The Genre Debate ...................................................................................................................39 Tacitus’ Sources ......................................................................................................................41 The Ethnographical Tradition in the Agricola ........................................................................42 Conclusion ..............................................................................................................................48 5 THE INTERACTION OF ETH NOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY......................................50 6 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................... ....66 LIST OF REFERENCES ...............................................................................................................69 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................73 5


Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts THE INTERACTION OF BIOGRAPHY AND ETHNOGRAPHY IN TACITUS’ AGRICOLA By Hardai Soraya Patricia Jadoo May 2007 Chair: Victoria E. Pagn Major: Latin In this thesis, I explore th e combination of the generic elements of ancient biography and ethnography in Tacitus’ Agricola . Though most modern scholars classify the Agricola as biography, the inclusion of the extended ethnogra phic description of ancient Britain found in chapters 10-12 of the work, have led some scholars to question the overall literary merit of the work. Although most often described as a “d igression,” the chapters that introduce the ethnography of Britain contain themes that are integral to the overall portrait of Tacitus’ father— in-law as a virtuous man, worthy of emulation. These two genres, although seemingly disparate, actually complement each other by providing necessary context to appreciate the most important political role in Agricola’s life, the governorship of Britain. By tracing the tradition of Greco-Roman biogr aphy, I will show how this flexible genre readily admits elements from other genres within it. The tradition of an cient ethnography is also explored to show how Tacitus uses the conventions of this literar y genre to introduce themes that have direct bearing on Agricola’s characterization. The ethnography serves as a mirror in which the character and deeds of Agricola are reflected . Moreover, the allusion s he creates by recalling the ethnographic traditions of his literary predecessors such as Sallust, Caesar, and Livy, create an intertextual situation which lends weight to Tacitus’ account and through associations with 6


venerable figures of the Roman past, such as Ca esar himself. Thus, th e apparent ethnographic “digression” instead of detracting from the purpose of the work, aids in the characterization of Agricola and is an integral pa rt of his biography. This inte raction gives the reader a more thorough and unique portrayal of Agricola that bi ography alone could not provide. 7


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In their commentary on the Agricola , Richard Ogilvie and Ian Ri chmond plainly assert that Tacitus’ memoria to his father-in-law is first and foremost a biography and make the following statement: “Tacitus makes it plain that he has set out to write a life of his father-in-law in the accustomed manner [of ancient biography].” 1 If we are to accept this assertion that Tacitus’ earliest work follows the literary genre of biogr aphy, what then are we to make of what is arguably the most famous part of his opus , namely the discursion on the ethnographical details and geography of first century Britain? Scholars have pondered this question with various opinions about the matter. Ogilvie and Richmo nd call the geographical information on Britain contained in the Agricola “largely incidental.” 2 Woodhead calls the nature of the whole work a laudatio of a dead relative. 3 Anderson discusses the debate that casts the Agricola as political pamphlet against Domitian’s reign. 4 Conte notes the composite char acter of the Agricola stating that it is situated at the intersection of several literary genres and shows the heavy influence of a historical style. 5 One noteworthy scholar, F.R.D. Goodyear in his contribution to The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, finds the success of the wo rk “questionable” because of the amalgamation of the various generic elements: [Tacitus] gives roughly two thirds of the work to Agricola’s governor ship of Britain, and treats the climax of Agricola’s campaigns at length, providing direct speeches for the two 1 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 11. 2 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 31; 35. 3 Woodhead 1948. 4 Furneaux and Anderson 1922: xxviii. 5 Conte 1994: 533. 8


leaders, almost as if he were experimen ting with full-scale history. Such extensive development of a partunbalances the whole. 6 It is clear that the composite nature of the Agricola with its seemingly disparate generic elements has led some to call into question Tacitus’ purpo se and the overall literary merit of the work. Throughout the narrative, however, one theme dominates: the life and deeds of its main character, Agricola. What view should the mode rn reader adopt in order to resolve the problem of how to characterize the Agricola ? Paramount to this type of i nquiry is the question of genre. What does the blend of these generic traditions mean to our interpretation of the Agricola ? The approaches that genre theory provides fo r looking at what genre might mean to an ancient Greek or Roman can prove particularly he lpful, for then we can consider what was the appropriate style or conv ention of a work like the Agricola . According to genr e theory, there is no rigid or exact methodology for the classification and taxonomy of texts into genres. In lieu of a standard approach, many scholars look to purpose in order to infer whether or not a particular work is considered biography; however, modern theorists suggest that not only purpose but form and content should be studied to place such works in their literary context. 7 Form and content are important because subject matter alone fails to take into account how the subject is treated and treatment is often a primary difference between certain genres. 8 Francis Cairns, however, in his work on generi c composition explains that content is the most reliable method of defining ge nre. He identifies two sets of elements, primary ones such as persons, situation, or functions, which are necessary for the genre, and secondary elements or topoi , which are the “smallest divisions of the mate rial which may appear in several different 6 Goodyear 1982: 643. 7 Cf. Cox 1983; Burridge 1992; this debate is main ly centered around the New Testament studies and the classification of the gospels as ‘biography.’ 8 Stam 2000: 14. 9


genres.” 9 These two elements together constitute a “common background” that the author and the reader share and the author exploits. This “generic expectation,” he explains, was something all learned men of the time shared through their education and was a part of their cultural and social heritage. It is only thr ough studying these elements that the modern reader is assisted in understanding a work which he or she is far removed from because of the lack of the assumed shared background necessary for the correct interpretation of texts. Also, as Burridge points out in his work on the nature of bi ography within the Gospels, this generic expectation helps readers appreciate the skill of the arti st since they can observe how he chooses to operate within his chosen genre. 10 Interpreting a genre correctly is important fo r the proper understanding of a text; however adding different generic elements to a work does not, as Goodyear puts it, “unbalance the whole.” On the contrary, the interactions between the two compleme nt each other in a relationship that can serve to br ing out more meaning from the text. If we follow Burridge’s approach, one should conceive of l iterature not as a static entity but as a network of relationships with flexible boundaries. 11 Such is the case in genres of poetry where the line between such works like elegy and epigram are often blurred. 12 The confluence of more than one genre occurred regularly throughout works in classi cal antiquity and does not hinder the reader’s ability to grasp their meaning. As Conte asserts us ing the example of the te nth eclogue of Vergil, “bucolic does not renounce its own literary individuality by becomi ng contaminated in some way with elegy” but rather “upon the limited terrain of a shared space, elegy and bucolic take on life 9 Cairns 1972: 6-7. 10 Burridge 1992: 60. 11 Burridge 1992: 59. 12 Cf. Cairns 1972. 10


and confront each other.” 13 Marincola in his study of Greco-R oman historiography uses this example and compares it to different ge neric elements interacting within the Agricola . He states that the eclogue is thus “the e xploration of the limits of one poetic genre (the bucolic) at the moment in which its specific and distinctive features are defined, by a dialectical comparison, as bordering upon those of another genre.” 14 However, both Marincola a nd Conte speak in terms of these elements ‘competing’ within a shared space. It is my contention that the different generic elements within the Agricola are not in conflict but rather co mplement each other in a dynamic relationship that aids Tacitus’ la udatory portrayal of Agricola. In this thesis, I explore tw o generic elements in the Agricola , biography and ethnography, their relationship to each other, and how they c ontribute to the characteri zation of Agricola. In chapter 2, I begin with the trad ition of biographic writing in the Greco-Roman world, its close relationship to historiography, and its flexibility as a genre. Since biography constitutes the major literary focus of this work, I deal with the specific details of biography in the Agricola in chapter 3, discuss how he uses its literary conventions, and how these conventions function to characterize his father-in-law. In chapter 4, I explore the genre of an cient ethnography and how its formulaic nature fits into historical works of Greco-Roman authors. I then draw parallels to how Tacitus uses the ethnographic excursus on the Britons contained in c .10-12 of his work. In chapter 5, I discuss the interaction be tween these two genres within the Agricola . We shall see that the ethnographical descriptions of Britain se rve as a mirror in which the character and deeds of Agricola are reflected and introduce themes th at are important to his characterization. Thus, the ethnographic excursus contained in c. 10-12, instead of detracting from the purpose of the 13 Conte 1994a: 121. 14 Marincola 1999: 320-1. 11


work, aids in the characterization of Agricola and is an integral part of his biography. This interaction gives the reader a more thorough a nd unique portrayal of Agricola that biography alone could not provide, one which has kept his memory alive in the minds of the Western world for hundreds of years. 12


CHAPTER 2 GRECO-ROMAN BIOGRAPHY The first lines of Tacitus’ Agricola seem programmatic for the rest of his monograph: Clarorum virorum facta moresque posteris tradere, 1.1. 1 Here in the beginning of his work he purports to narrate for posterity the deeds and character of a dis tinguished man, his father-in-law Agricola. Yet unlike modern biography, the focus on the character of Agricola is not always readily apparent. Indeed, the ac tual mention of Agricola’s name does not appear until the third chapter of the work. In or der to figure out how the Agricola functions as biography, it is necessary to explore the genre of ancient biography in its Gree k and Roman contexts. As we shall see, the conventio n of ancient biography differed from that of modern biography in many aspects, most importantly in its st yle and content. In this chapter, I take a detailed look into the ancient genre of biography and how Tacitus’ laudatio memoriae fits into the context of this most flexible of ancient genres. Modern Biography The modern definition of biography states that this genre of literature encompasses a multivariate view of the individua l by analyzing his personality which includes a detailed look at his life experiences. 2 A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts about a famous or notable individual. Besides a nd beyond significant dates and ach ievements like birth, marriage, and death, it also gives the reader a qualita tive look at a person beyond the quantitative, annalistic records. It favors describing pers onal experiences from early childhood into adulthood and their emotional impact—psycho logical details missing in most ancient biographies—to gain a more complete portrait of an individual. Modern biography also favors sociological 1 My quotations from the Latin text of the Agricola , unless otherwise noted, are based on Ogilvie and Richmond 1967. All Latin translations are mine, unless otherwise noted. 2 Stone 1982. 13


explanations for the actions of the individual, showing how their upbringing and environment formed a large part of their character. 3 For example, one of the most famous biographies of our time has been Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X . Written by Haley from collected interviews with Malcolm while he was still alive, the work details the life story of a man who became one of the greatest African-American civil-ri ghts activists. Haley recounts a si gnificant event that foreshadowed Malcolm’s eventual murder by the hands of assassins: When my mother was pregnant with me, sh e told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Om aha, Nebraska, one night. Surrounding the house, brandishing their shotguns and rifles, they shouted for my father to come out. He believed that freedom, independence and self-respect could neve r be achieved by the Negro in America, and that therefore the Ne gro should leave America to the white man and return to his African land of origin. Among the reasons my fa ther had decided to risk and dedicate his life to help disseminate this ph ilosophy among his people was that he had seen four of his six brothers die by father was finally himself to die by the white man’s hands. It has always been my belief that I, too, will die by violence. I have done all that I can to be prepared. 4 Though the story focuses Malcolm’s personal history, it would be hard to divorce his story from the political and socio-economic r ealities of his day, which defi ne a man together with his personal experiences. It also delves into the emotions of experiencing such events. Haley stresses the socio-historical real ities of Malcolm’s day as the mo st important factor contributing to the man he became. Malcolm’s recollection of events of his troubled childhood illustrates to the reader his choice to become an activist for African-American rights and the path that he chose to accomplish his goals. Just as modern biography often puts its subjec ts into a social and historical context, Tacitus’ characterization of Agricola as a g overnor says much not only about 3 Cf. Stone 1982. 4 Haley and Malcolm X 1987: 1-2. 14


his character but it also is a reflection on the politics of the time and, by extension, a reflection on the conditions of Domitian’s reign. 5 We cannot understand Malcolm the man without understanding where he came from, the environment he grew up in, and the trials he had to endure. This was mostly likely the same motivati on for Tacitus’ inclusion of the many details of the most important political role in Agricola’s life, the governor ship of Britain. This major constituent of his biography is important as we take a look at the role Britain plays in the description of Agricola. As we shall see, however, these apparent digressions have led some to question the categorization of this work as biography Ancient Biography: Its Origins and Conception If we are to believe Fowler’s assertion that ev ery work of literature belongs to at least one genre and contains a significant generic elemen t, how did the ancients view the writing of biography and did they classify it into a genre at all? 6 Ancient biography grew out of a desire to preserve the accomplishments of famous and notab le men after their death for posterity. From this desire grew the compulsion of men to celebr ate heroic deeds in such media as epic, dirges and funeral eulogies. The main impetus for deve lopment of the biograph ical genre originated with the Greeks. 7 The works of authors such as Stesimbrotus of Thasos ( fl.late 5 th cent. BCE), who wrote biographies of Themistocles, Pericles, and others, represent one of the earliest forms of the genre. These works took on various forms and styles such as the encomium ( ej gkw vmion ), an exposition praising a person fo r their virtue. Isocrates’ Evagoras and Xenophon’s Agesilaus are exemplary models of this type of ‘biography.’ The Agesilaus was especially important since it foreshadowed the structure of subsequent biography in its bipartite division into praxeis , or 5 See Haynes 2006 for a discussion on the Agricola and the memory of Domitian’s reign. 6 Cf. Fowler 2003. 7 Momigliano 1993. 15


chronological account of a person’s life, and ethos , the systematic treatment of character. 8 Though bioi were written in one form or another since the 5 th century BCE, the genre only received its appellation, bios, during the Hellenistic period. 9 Some were character sketches, minor parts of larger historical works. For example, in the Histories, Herodotus includes several biographical narratives such as the one of Croesus and his son Atys (1.28-36). We know from Quintilian’s remarks in the Institutio Oratoria that the ancients differentiated among genres based on subject matter: Id quoque vitandum, in quo magna pars errat, ne in oratione poetas nobis et historicos, in illis operi bus oratores aut declamatores imitandos putemus. Sua cuique proposito lex, suus decor est, Inst .10.2.21. Before him, Plato described in the Republic Socrates’ classification of poetry into three groups, divided by the style of narration ( Resp . 392d). The genre of ancient biography, ho wever, presents the reader with a particular problem. Though the Greeks defined the writing of lives as bioi , the conventions of the genre were not strictly defined. Therefore we find a myriad of texts which could be placed in the biographical tr adition, such as encomia, the works of early logographers, and panegyric. This poses a problem for those trying to classify the Agricola as biography, since the work as a whole displays a variety of literary ge nres, including ethnography and history. Historiography and Biography Since its inception, biography has been closely as sociated with the wri ting of history. Both seek to record events of the past for posterity. Histories, of course, must contain some element of the biographical since it nece ssary to include some details concerning the character of a person whose actions are important in relation to the historical event described. Likewise, 8 Cox 1983: 8. 9 Momigliano 1993: 29-31. 16


biography must contain some elemen t of history since it is through events of the past that many biographers seek to describe th eir character. As Deline states : “All history must contain,some element of biography. When studying the affairs of men, the men themselves inevitably become the subject of scrutiny.” 10 Though similar, biography is di stinguished from history by its systematic written account of a man’s life from birth to death. 11 Many ancient authors have pointed to the di fference between writing histories and writing biographies. Polybius in his Histories makes note of this difference. Take for example his account of the life and character of Philopoemen, th e general and brilliant military tactician of the Achaean league who helped destroy Sparta and regain control of most of the Peloponnesus in the early 2 nd century BCE. Polybius states that hi s separate account of Philopoemen’s deeds, apparently a previously written encomium , was more suited to panegyr ic since he recounted his deeds summarily and with exaggeration (Hist . 10.21.8): w{sper ga ; r e jkei :noV o J to vpoV u J pavrcwn e jgkwmiastiko vV, a jph v tei to ;n kefalaiw vdh kai ; met= au jxh vsewV tw :n pra vxewn a jpologismo vn ou {twV o J th:V i Jstori vaV, koino ;V w ’n e jpai vnou kai ; yo vgou, zhtei : to ;n a jlhqh : kai ; to ;n met= a j podei vxewV kai ; tw :n e Jka vstoiV parepomevnwn sullogismw :n. For just as the former work, being in the form of an encomium, demanded a summary and somewhat exaggerated account of his achie vements, so the present history, which distributes praise and blame impartially, demands a strictly true account and one which states the ground on which either praise or blame is based. 12 History requires the setting forth of the truth without praise or blame ( ejpai vnou kai ; yo vgou ). Plutarch also gives his opinion on the differen ce between writing histor y and writing biography ( Alex. 1): 10 Deline 2001: . 11 Momigliano 1993: 11. 12 Translation from Paton 1968: 155. 17


ou [te ga ;r i Jstori vaV gra vfomen a jlla ; bi vouV, ou] te tai :V e jpifanesta vtaiV pra vxesi pa vntwV e[vnesti dh vlwsiV a jreth : V h ] kaki vaV, ajlla ; pra :gma bracu ; polla vkiV kai ; r Jh:ma kai ; paidia v tiV e [mfasin h [qouV e jpoi vhse ma:llon h ] ma vcai murio vnekroi kai; parata vxeiV ai J mevgistai kai ; poliorkivai po vlewn. w {sper ou \n oi J zwgra vfoi ta ;V o Jmoio v thtaV a j po; tou : prosw vpou kai ; tw :n peri; th;n o [yin ei jdw :n oi |V e jmfai vnetai to ; h \qoV a jnalamba vnousin, ejla vcista tw :n loipw :n merw:n frontivzonteV, ou { twV h Jmi :n dote von ei jV ta ; th:V yuch: V shmei :a ma:llon e jndu vesqai, kai ; dia ; tou vtwn ei jdopoiei :n to ;n e Jka vstou bi von, e javsantaV eJte vroiV ta ; mege vqh kai ; tou ;V a j gw :naV. For it is not Histories that I am writing, but Live s; and in the most illustrious deeds there is not always a manifestation of virt ue or vice, nay, a slight thin g like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of ch aracter than battles where th ousands fall, or the greatest armaments, or sieges of cities. Accordingly, just as painters get the likenesses in their portraits from the face and the expression of the eyes, wherein the character shows itself, but make very little account of the other pa rts of the body, so I must be permitted to devote myself rather to the signs of the soul in me n, and by means of these to portray the life of each, leaving to others the descri ption of their great contests. 13 Polybius is more concerned with the form and styl e with which an author treats the details of a man’s life as the delineating factor between the genres. Plutarch, on the other hand, reasons that content distinguishes biography from history, since some small deta ils, such as expressions or gestures, can give the reader a better understanding of the character of man than famous battles and military exploits. Similarly, Cox explains, as early as the 5 th century BCE, Greek writers distinguished history as focusing on political and military events, excluding systematic treatments of religious and social phenomena. 14 Momigliano likened work of Greek biographers as akin to antiquarians who “took individual achievement into account, whereas historians concentrated on the activities of the collective body of the state.” 15 Biography and historiography were intimately related mainly because biography was and remains today such a flexible literary genre. Th e two are not mutually exclusive. For example, Sallust’s monographs Bellum Catilinae and Bellum Jurgurthinum, though centered on the 13 Translation from Perrin 1971: 225. 14 Cox 1983: 5. 15 Momigliano 1971: 39-40. 18


exploits of a single character, are considered history because the primary concern was the political context. Though Sallust give s us character sketches of both men ( Cat . 5; Iug . 6-7), the narrative is about the conspiracy itse lf and Jurgurtha’s war with Rome. 16 As biography’s literary cousin, history played a strong role in ancient biography and c ontinues to do so today. To no less an extent, the Agricola contains many influences from works such as Sallust and Livy, particularly in the more historic al sections of the narrative pertai ning to Agricola’s governorship of Britain and his military exploits. Scholars ha ve pointed out the striking similarity of the speeches of Calgacus and Agricola before the bat tle of Mons Graupius to those of Hannibal and Scipio before the battle at Ticinus (Livy 21.41-44). 17 Tacitus also employs Livy’s vocabulary when describing military tactics, and from Sallust, we see the use of historic infinitive, just one among many stylistic features he borrowed from this predecessor. 18 Historiography plays an important role in the Agricola because of its close relationship to biography. Characteristics of Ancient Biography Biography is such a flexible genre because it encompasses many overlapping traditions and includes works of varying form, style, length, and truthfulness. There are numerous approaches to the form and content of ancien t biography. For example, Suetonius (ca. 120 CE) and Plutarch (ca. 100 CE) wrote their bioi in their own particular fo rm and fashion, the former favoring ‘gossipy’ details about his characters’ lives and the la tter favoring a more historical approach to his subjects. Ind eed as Pelling states, “This biog raphical genre is an extremely 16 Cf. Leo 1901: 232 “Sallust hat biographische Elemente in die Historie, Tacitus historische Elemente in die Biographie hineingerbeitet.” 17 Cf. Bews 1987: 205. 18 Cf. Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 241 n. 25.3. 19


flexible one, and admits works of very different patterns.” 19 This flexibility prevented Momigliano from a more comprehensive definition of the biographical genre, since there is no established precept of how exactly biography is to be written. 20 It is important to note the different approaches the ancients had to writing bioi influenced Tacitus’ blending of styles and form to narrate the life history of Agricola. Biography did, however, develop some conventions of its own. Modern scholars have noted three distinct styl es of biographical work s that were practiced by Tacitus’ time. The first style, favored by Nepos and Plutarch, stems from Aristotle’s successors in the Peripatetic school who were inte rested in ethics which they thought would lead to a deeper exploration of human personality. The so-called Peripate tic type of biography favored revealing a man’s character through his actions and was more prone to embellish the truth behind the details of the ch aracter’s life. The second type of biography was developed in Alexandria by grammarians inte rested in the writing of bioi of literary men, where more attention was paid to chronology th an character. The author tried to ascertain the truth about the character of the man by judicious weighing of available evidence. A third type was based on the encomium; it could stand on its own as a separate work or could be incorporated into a larger work such as a history in the form of a charact er sketch, much like the account Polybius gave about Philopoemen. Leo’s definitive work on ancient biography desc ribes the two most important styles of the three traditions, one represented by Pl utarch and the other by Suetonius. 21 Plutarch’s 19 Pelling 1980: 139. 20 Momigliano 1993: 11. 21 Cf. Leo 1901: 91 “Diese Doppeltheilung ( pra vxeiV chronologisch, ajreth v nach Kategorien) mit der ajnakefalai vwsiV ist das eigne Merkmal des xenophontischen ejgkw vmion. ” 20


arrangement of his bioi gives a straightforward chronological account of events and was suited to recounting the lives of military and political figur es. The Suetonian style gives a systematically ordered characterization of th e individual and his achievement s not strictly bound by chronology. These are better suited to the lives of writers. 22 These two traditions influence the writing of biography into later antiquity and Christian hagiography. Ancient biography is marked by the di vision of the subj ect matter into pra vxeiV and hjqo vV . As previously mentioned, this was an influence from the encomium of Xenophon. The ancient biographers preserved this division, and the inte raction between the chr onological account of the life and the treatment of the ch aracter continued to become th e major focus of their work. 23 The two-part format was not always strictly observed. As we have already seen, the Plutarchian and Suetonian styles of biographical writing treated this division in their own fashion according to what they deemed appropria te for the subject matter. Biography was also not bound by many of the conve ntions of historiography and therefore included information deemed ‘inappropriate’ for histories. Chief among them was the use of anecdote to portray character. Plutarch’s oft-quoted introduc tion to his life of Alexander illustrates the difference between writing histor y and biography and how these ‘lesser moments’ ( pra :gma bracu ;) were not particularly suitable for history but are an integral pa rt of biography. Moreover, compared to histor iography, biography was not strictly confined by chronology. 24 The biographer could group events of a man’s life in a manner he thought best to describe his character, as again his guiding pr incipal was not historical accuracy but character portrait. For example, Suetonius states in hi s life of Augustus that he woul d rather use subject headings 22 Momigliano 1993: 18. 23 Cox 1983: 13. 24 Deline 2001: . 21


instead of chronological order to make the narrative more understandable: Proposita vitae eius velut summa, partes singillatim neque per tempora sed per species exsequar, quo distinctius demonstrari cognoscique possint , Aug . 9. In addition, ancient biography differs from mode rn biography in two significant ways. First, ancient biography does not le an towards the inner workings of an individual to relate his accomplishments and deeds. Haley’s candor and emotional content would not occur in ancient Greek or Roman biography. One scholar of modern biography noted that the “constant direction in the evolution of biography has been from the outward to the inward.” 25 Pelling notes the lack of intimacy in Roman biography, saying that the exploration of spiritual life is deemed inappropriate for the genre. 26 Second, ancient biographers did not provide a description of a man in order to emphasize the individua l himself or to describe how he was different, but rather to show how that individual fit into a type and a characteristic of a group. 27 Ancient biography did not emphasize personality but qualities of an individual such as his virtue or mores . We see this emphasis manifested in the arrangement of many ancient biographies in series comparing and contrasting famous figures in groups, such as po liticians, generals, philo sophers, and writers (e.g. Plutarch’s vitae of Alexander and Caesar). 28 Though these serve as guiding principles, the biographical genre as a whole tended to display these characteristics in differing fash ions, if at all. We shall see in the Agricola that the favored division of biography into praxeis and ethos was not firmly followed and that Tacitus 25 Thayer 1920: 34. 26 Pelling 1980: 130. 27 Momigliano 1993: 13. 28 Geiger 1985: 19. 22


portrays Agricola as a sum of his virtue and deeds, as was the tradition in Roman biography, rather than expanding on details of his individual personality. Biography at Rome The Agricola was one of Tacitus’ earlie st works, published in 98 CE. 29 Written near the time he delivered his famous funeral oration for the ex-consul Verginius Rufus, the foray into this genre seems particularly apt. The genr e seemed to enjoy much popularity in Rome. Biography was especially suited to Roman taste since they already had a tradition of displaying their ancestors funeral masks ( imagines maiorum ) and of funeral orations ( laudatio funebris ), which were sometimes written down after delivery and kept in the family archives. Tacitus relates to us in the beginning of the Agricola that the recording of wo rthy deeds of great men was already an old tradition ( antiquitus usitatum , 1.1). And indeed in the words of Syme, the Romans were ‘addicted to tradition.’ 30 Worthy men were induced to publish their records of virtue not for self-serving purposes bu t for the consciousness of well-doing: ita celeberrimus quisque ingenio ad prodendam virtutis memoriam sine gratia aut ambitione bonae tantum conscientiae pretio ducebatur , 1.2. 31 These accounts serve a didactic purpose so Roman citizens may try to model their lives on these figures by emulating their outstanding virtus and mores . Who were Tacitus’ biographic predecessors at Rome who might have influenced him? Marcus Terentius Varro and Cornelius Nepos are the two most well known names in Roman biography before Tacitus’ time, although there are some allusions to minor authors whose works we unfortunately know nothing about. Though not extant, one of the earliest known examples of Latin biography was Varro’s Imagines written in 44 BCE. This work included 700 portraits of 29 See Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 10-11 on the dating of Tacitus’ minor works. 30 Syme 1958: 27. 31 See Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 128 n.1.2 on the phrase ‘ bonaeconscientiae .’ 23


illustrious men such as kings, poets, philosophers and writers, all of which were accompanied by an epigram which characterized the subject of the work. Though rooted in the tradition of Roman aristocratic imagines and tituli , Varro included in his work a side by side comparison of not only Roman but Greek figures in history. The Imagines is reminiscent of Greek encomium; Varro is thought to have imported this genre into Roman literature. 32 Cornelius Nepos of Catullan fame is next in the tr adition of Roman biography. His De viris illustribus written ca. 35 BCE also favors pairing lives of eminent men such as foreign and Roman kings, or Greek politicians and their Roman counterparts. The only section of that work that survives today is that on foreign generals. His st yle follows the Peripatetic sch ool, or Plutarchian style, of biography, with a chronology of life events fo llowed by ethical reflec tion diversified with anecdotes for entertainment. 33 These authors influenced Suetoniu s, Plutarch, and the tradition of Christian hagiography in late antiquity; however, Tacitus’ Agricola , in the Roman biographical tradition, is a unique work which broke with the trends established by his predecessors. In the next chapter, I explore exactly how Tacitus’ work fits into the Graeco-Roman biographical tradition. 32 Stuart 1928: 186. 33 Jenkinson 1967: 7. 24


CHAPTER 3 AGRICOLA AS BIOGRAPHY Tacitus’ style of biographical writing is uni que in many ways. He takes the genre and molds it into his own creation with a mixture of different literary traditions. Chief among these traditions is that of historiography, rhetoric, and the Roman laudatio funebris . This combination distinguishes Tacitus’ work among extant Roman biographies and it gives us a multifaceted view of Agricola by invoking these differe nt literary genres. The distin ct character of biography with its flexible nature allows Tacitus to achieve this feat. Specific biographical details of Agricola’s life are concentrated in the beginning and end of the narrative with the ethnographi c and historiographic material oc cupying over half the work (c. 10-38). But from the outset, the Agricola shows a historiographical influence. The beginning reads like a proemium of a historical work. No other Roma n biographer starts the narrative for a single character in this manner. Nepos gives a preface to his series on eminent generals but each life begins by describing the subject’s claim to fa me or origin. Any other intrusion by the author usually occurs in the middle of the work. 1 Tacitus describes his purpose ( at nunc narraturo mihi vitam defuncti hominis, 1.4) and also states that he will not regret the task of writing down these events ( non tamen pigebitcomposuisse , 3.3). This is similar to the prefaces of history which introduce the theme and scope of the work. Tacitus’ sentiments are akin to Livy’s in the beginning of the Ab Urbe Condita : utcumque erit, iuuabit tamen rerum gestarum memoriae principis terrarum populi pro uirili parte et ipsum consuluisse, 1.1. Also the opening phrase “ Clarorum virorum ” echoes the beginning of Cato the Elder’s Origines , the fragment of which is found in Cicero: clarorum virorum atque magnorum non minus otii quam negotii rationem 1 Cf. Suet. Aug . 9; Nep. Them. 9. 25


exstare oportere . 2 Ogilvie and Richmond make the astute observation that the allusion to the work is fitting since the theme of the Origines was that success in life should be won by personal achievement ( virtus) rather than by circumstances, birth, or position. 3 This theme is reflected in the story of Agricola, a man whom Tacitus de scribes as having earned his exalted position through singular distinction in his achievements: quippe et vera bona, quae in virtutibus sita sunt, impleverat, et consulari ac triumphalibus ornamentis praed ito quid aliud adstruere fortuna poterat? 44.3. It is clear that Tacitus shows his debt to previous La tin literature in the beginning of the Agricola in a similar manner as the Annales and Germania show marked resemblance to previous authors. 4 The Agricola not only reflects the tradition of histor iography, it also displays an ornate oratorical style. Although Tactius pleads wi th the reader to excuse his inexperience ( incondita ac rudi voce, 3.3), careful inspection of his style show s otherwise. Ogilvie and Richmond note that similarities of the opening and closing sections of the Agricola display affinities with the periods and diction of Cicero which display richness of e xpression and a fondness for the accumulation of virtual synonyms. 5 Such phrases as vicit ac supergressa est (1.1), tam saeva et infesta virtutibus tempora (1.4), fiduciam ac robur (3.1), formam ac figuram (46.3), and celebritate et frequentia (40.3) reveal Tacitus’ adherence to rhetorical form of composition, an ornate style which lends gravity to the undertaking. 6 Since this is one of Tacitus’ earliest works, 2 Cic. Planc. 66: “ etenim M. Catonis illud quod in principio scri psit originum suarum semper magnificum et praeclarum putavi ” 3 Oglivie and Richmond 1967: 126, n. 1.1. 4 Cf. Ann. 1.1: urbem Romam a principio reges habuere and Cat. 2.1: Igitur initio reges; Germ. 1.1: Germania omnis.separatur and B Gall. 1.1: Gallia est omnis divisa 5 Oglivie and Richmond 1967: 22. 6 Cf. Cic. De or. 3.206-8; Quint. Inst. 9.26-36; 37-8. 26


he may have felt the need to express his reasons for writing and to impre ss his audience with his literary skills. The rhetorical influence in this work also extends to the genre of the laudatio funebris . A Roman custom whose purpose was akin to an encomium, the laudatio was a funeral oration praising the deceased’s accomplishments and virtues. The principal difference between Tacitus’ biographical work and those of his Roman predece ssors is that the subject is a family member, his father-in-law, which links th e work to the conventions of a laudatio funebris . In his introduction he writes that he wish es to dedicate this work to th e glory of his father-in-law and states that a profession of pietas is the motivation of writing it: hic interim liber honori Agricolae soceri mei destinatus, professione piet atis aut laudatus erit aut excusatus , 3.3. Towards the end of the Agricola, Tacitus again picks up the theme of fa milial duty to the memory of Agricola: admiratione te potius et laudibus et, si natura suppeditet, simili tudine colamus: is verus honos, ea coniunctissimi cuiusque pietas , 46.2. Moreover, he addresses th e spirit of his fa ther-in-law to rest in peace and asks that he help his family recover from their mourning so that they remember his virtue instead (46.1): Si quis piorum manibus locu s, si, ut sapientibus place t, non cum corpore extinguuntur magnae animae, placide quiescas, nosque domum tuam ab infirmo desiderio et muliebribus lamentis ad contemplationem virtutum tuarum voces, quas neque lugeri neque plangi fas est. If there is some place for the ghostly shades of the blessed dead, if, as it is agreeable to wise men, great minds do not perish with the body, may you rest pe acefully, and may you call us, your household, from debilitating grie f and womanish lamentations towards the contemplation of your virtues, over which it is not lawful either to grieve or lament. 27


Such colorful language is reminiscent of the rhetoric of the laudatio. 7 Tacitus’ words regarding the purpose is similar to Polybius’ account of the Roman funerary rites and the laudatio itself ( Hist. 6.54.2): ejx w|n kainopoioume vnhV a jei ; tw :n a jgaqw :n a jndrw :n th :V e jp= a jreth ;/ fh vmhV a jqanati vzetai me;n h J tw :n kalo vn ti diapraxame vnwn eu [kleia gnw vrimoV de ; toi :V polloi :V kai ; parado vsimoV toi :V e jpiginomevnoiV h J tw :n eu jergethsa vntwn th ;n patrivda gi vnetai do vxa. By this means, by this constant renewal of the good report of brave men, the celebrity of those who performed noble deeds is rendered i mmortal, while at the same time the fame of those who did good service to th eir country becomes known to the people and a heritage for future generations. 8 This sentiment is echoed in the close of the work: Agricola posteritati narratus et traditus superstes erit , 46.4. Moreover, the closing chapte r is also reminiscent of the consolatio described by Cicero in his De Oratore again invoking the Agricola’s rhetorical influence ( De or. 3.118): 9 Quae vero referuntur ad agendum, aut in offici disceptatione versantu r, quo in genere quid rectum faciendumque sit quaeritur, cui loco omnis virtutum et vitiorum est silva subiecta, aut in animorum aliqua permotione aut gigne nda aut sedanda tollenda ve tractantur. Huic generi subiectae sunt cohorta tiones, obiurgationes, consola tiones, miserationes omnisque ad omnem animi motum et impulsio et, si ita res feret, mitigatio. Those referring to conduct either deal with the discussion of duty – the department that asks what action is right and proper, a topic comprising the whole subject of the virtues and vices – or are employed e ither in producing or in allayi ng or removing some emotion. This class comprises modes of exhortation, reproach, consolation, compassion and every method of exciting, and also, if so indicated by the situation, of alla ying all the emotions. 10 7 Cf. laudatio Turiae , the most substantial example of a laudatio funebris which survives. See Wistrand 1976 for text and discussion. 8 Translation from Paton 1979: 391. 9 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 22. 10 Translation from Rackham 1968: 93. 28


Some scholars believe that the Agricola represents the trad ition of Greek encomium rather than biography because of the similarities to the laudatio funebris . 11 Although this notion is disputed, the invocation of the genre rais es the achievements of Agricola to the lofty level of that tradition. 12 Tacitus portrays his father-in-law’s virtus as a model for emulation. The character portrait provided by Tacitus is in keeping with th e characteristic of ancient biography of the Plutarchian or Peripatetic style, which is more concerned with description of virtue and ideal traits than the in dividual itself. In his descripti on of Agricola, Tacitus attributes to him the highest conventional Roman virt ues—military skill, modesty, temperance, and statesmanship. These are emphasized to such an ex tent that Agricola the ‘individual’ is obscured by the categorization into these virtues. For example, Agricola is temperate: retinuitque, quod est difficillimum, ex sapientia modum , 4.3; Agricola, naturali prudentia, quamvis inter togatus, facile iusteque agebat , 9.2-3. He is also brave as in the case when he stood alongside his troops in the Battle of Mons Gra upius after his rousing speech (35.4), modest about his many achievements (8.3; 42.3), hardworkin g (5.1; 9.4) and an able and ju st governor of Britain (18.5; 19.1). We do not hear specific detail s about his personality, such as his likes or dislikes, nor do we even get a full physical de scription of the man. At Agr. 44, Tacitus gives us only a hint of the latter where he chooses to emphasize general quality and character rath er than specifics: quod si habitum quoque eius posteri noscere velint, decentior quam sublimior fuit: nih il impetus in vultu: gratia oris supererat. bonum virum facile crederes, magnum libenter , 44.2-3 . The adjectives bonum and magnum are used in the abstract sense and do not give much of a description of his 11 Cf. Leo 1920: 224; Stuart 1928: 253; Crawford 1941. 12 Cf. Leo 1920: 224-33 and Furneaux and Anderson 1922: xxii for a discussion of the si milarities between the genre of encomium and the Agricola . 29


physical appearance. This is much more in keep ing with the style of Nepos than of Suetonius who prefers to give us an intim ate and gossipy view of his subject s. For example, Suetonius has no qualms about telling us that Augustus is afraid of lightening and thunder ( Aug. 90) and that he had a propensity for silly sayings such as “quicker than boiled asparagus” (Aug. 87). Suetonius also gives full physical descriptions of his subjects, including the good and the bad. For example, although he describes Augustus as exceedingly handsome ( forma fuit eximia , Aug. 79), he also states his teeth were wide apart and worn down ( dentes raros et exiguos et scabros , Aug. 79) and that his eyebrows were joined together ( supercilia coniuncta , Aug . 79). The fact that he writes such unflatteri ng, trifle tidbits about the emperors of Rome shows the different purpose he has in writing his biographies. Unlike Suetonius, Tacitus is writing this biography for laudatory purposes. The closest that the work comes to describing a character fault occurs in c.22: apud quosdam acerbior in conviciis narrabatur; ut erat comis bonis, ita adversus malos iniucundus, 22.4. The event is reported in the passive and w ith the indefinite particle quosdam to emphasize the speculative nature of the remarks. It is, howev er, met with immediate qualification: ceterum ex iracundia nihil supererat secretum, ut silentium eius non timeres: honestius putabat offendere quam odisse , 22.4. Woodhead observes that although Tacitus is not prone to exaggera tion of virtues, we should not expect to find any mention of bad trai ts in his portrayal of Agricola understandably because his main purpose was tribute to his father-in-law. 13 Tacitus characterizes Agricola in a stylized manner fitti ng the tradition of a laudatio and a subject worthy of emulation because of his virtus. 13 Woodhead 1948: 48. 30


Tacitus’ salient criticism of the injustices of Domitian and his reign provide a stark contrast to the virtuous and benevolent Agricola. This has le d some scholars believe that the work can also be viewed as a politi cal statement against Domitian’s reign. 14 Tacitus is not silent about his disdain for Domitian. He openly critici zed the fact that he had to ask permission to write his biography since the age seemed hostile to writing about great virtue: venia opus fuit, quam non petissem incusaturus: tam saeva et infesta virtutibus tempora , 1.4. Also he alludes to the cases of Q. Arulenus Iunius Rusticus a nd Herennius Senecio (2.1). Rusticus wrote a biography of P. Clodius Paetus, a Stoic who took his own life after being accused of maiestas . Rusticus was subsequently put to death by Do mitian’s orders in 93 CE. Herennius Senecio similarly wrote an account of C. Helvidius Priscus’ life, who openly criticized the emperor Vespasian. He also met the same fate as Rustic us for his biographical wo rk. Hutton writes that all four men were related by thei r adherence to a “Stoic opposition” —not of the principate but of the servile position of the Senate. 15 Tacitus also states that prai se of these men became a capital offense ( capitale fuisse , 2.1) and that their books were orde red to be burned and with it, the liberty of the Senate and the monuments of the deeds of “ clarissimorum ingeniorum ” perished. Throughout the Agricola , Tacitus describes Domitian in disparaging terms. Domitian poured forth the life-blood of the state: Domitianus non iam per intervalla ac spiramenta temporum sed continuo et velut uno ictu rem publicam exhausit, 44.5. Tacitus’ characterizes him as a violent and envious person towards Agricola because of his victories in Britain. Agricola only escaped his wrath because he was pacifi ed by his moderation and discretion (42.3). Domitian was also a man hostile to good qualities ( infensus virtutibus princeps, 41.1). Tacitus 14 Conte 1994: 533; Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 13; for details regarding Roman political biography, see Geiger 1985. 15 Hutton 1914: 29. 31


even implicates Domitian in the sudden death of Agricola (43.2). The characterization of Domitian and his principate stands in star k contrast to Agricola, who brought peace and civilization to Britain, ruled with equity a nd temperance, and displayed irreproachable mores . Tacitus exhorts his readers to learn by Agrico la’s example that even good men can live under bad rulers: posse etiam sub malis principibus magnos viros esse , 42.4. Tacitus’ criticism of Domitian and his principate may well represent political propaganda in the form of biography. This tradition stretches b ack to the Peripatetic school of biography, where the members of this group wrote bioi of philosophers mainly to evaluate and criticize the various philosophic schools. Mo migliano states that attacks on doctrine must have been freely mixed with personal at tacks on the individual. 16 Whatever the case, the political message brought forth by Tacitus through the example of Agri cola illustrates anothe r component of this biography and how the excesses of Domitian serve as a stark c ontrast to his virtues. To challenge the Agricola ’s place as a representative of ancient biography is to invite criticism. Since Tacitus has ma de a clear statement of purpose in the first lines, most modern editors do not challenge Tacitus’ own view of his work, although they seek to qualify it by careful analysis of its structure and style. 17 The fact that roughly half of the work deals with subject matter other than the bi ographical details of Agricola ’s life continues to hamper categorization of this work in simple terms. We have seen how Tacitus has mixed the traditions of encomium , the Roman laudatio funebris , historiography, rhetoric, and political biography. But as we have seen in this chapter, the genre of ancient biography was an especially flexible one and could readily admit these other traditions in to its pages. Though history, its closest literary 16 Momigliano 1993: 71. 17 Cf. Furneaux and Anderson 1922: xxi-xxxii; Leo 1920: 224-33; Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 11-31; Goodyear 1982: 643; Conte 1994: 533; Syme 1958: 121-31; Stuart 1928: 253. 32


cousin, encroached upon its na rrative more often than any ot her genre, the inclusion of ethnography is an admixture that had never been seen before in ancient biography. It is to the discussion of the literary conventions of this genr e we will now turn before discussing the special relationship between biography a nd ethnography that makes the Agricola so unique among ancient biographies. 33


CHAPTER 4 ANCIENT ETHNOGRAPHY Chapters 10-12 of the Agricola mark a significant departure from Tacitus’ account of the achievements and character of his father-inlaw. The description of the geography and inhabitants of the island of Brita in follows Tacitus’ recounting of Agricola’s career up to the time he was made governor of Britain. Thes e three chapters, one of the most famous descriptions of Britain in ancient times, are notable for two reasons: (1) Tacitus relates new information about the country because of the reco nnaissance of Agricola’s administration and (2) the ethnographic descriptions help characterize Agricola by in troducing themes that compare his character to the land scape and people around him and through intertextual allusions. The description that Tacitus gives us is not just a literary landscap e, but has great bearing on the interpretation of Agricola’s character. The genre of ancient ethnography brings certain conventions that Tacitus weaves in to his account with compelling resu lts. In this chapter, I will explore the genre of ethnography in the ancient world, its com ponents, and how Tacitus uses them in the Agricola . According to Richard Thomas, whose book Lands and Peoples in Roman Poetry gives a brief description of the ethnogra phic tradition in the Greco-Roman world and how it relates to the tradition of Roman poetry, et hnographical writings had a long li terary tradition in antiquity. He argues that poets such as Horace, Lucan, and Vergil used the formulaic elements of ethnography in a manner that reca lls their literary tradition an d invokes a new application of these elements. By studying how poets used the details demanded by the tradition one can evaluate the poet’s intentions. Th e application of this approach is also useful in prose. Though Horsfall and Evans note the importance of Thomas’ contribution to this ar ea of study, the brevity 34


of his account leaves the reader wanting a more thorough treatment of specif ic characteristics of ethnography. Regrettably this is beyond the scope of his work. 1 Thomas observes the emergence of ethnographical writings in the 6 th century BCE with the advent of exploration and coloniza tion of foreign locales by the Greeks. He states that with this, a desire to combine scientific methodology with descriptions of peopl e and places emerged. 2 One of the first ethnographical writers for whom we have evidence is Hecataeus of Miletus ( fl . 494 BCE), but it is difficult to ascertain how much of the genre had been formulated at the time because of the fragmentary nature of his work. 3 During the fifth century, Greek writers became aware of the artistic potential of the genr e. At this time, Herodotus wrote the Histories with its memorable descriptions of the Scythians and Egyptians (2.2-182; 4.5-82). These accounts were not only made to be descriptive but also entertaining. Herodotu s found an eager Greek audience who were fascinated at looking at the ‘other’ through his lens. Moreover, during this time, writers of ethnography were heavily influenced by the theories put forth in Hippocrates’ Peri ; ajevrwn u Jda vtwn to vpwn ( Concerning Airs, Waters, and Places ). 4 In the Hippocratic treatise, variations in the physical appear ance and customs of peoples of the earth are explained by their geographic location and climate, in wh at has been termed ‘anthropogeography.’ 5 For example, the treatise states that those peoples who i nhabit places where they are exposed to winds “between the summer and the wint er risings of the sun” and thos e opposite to them have a better disposition ( Aer. 5): 1 Cf. Horsfall 1984: 133; Evans 1985: 265. 2 Thomas 1982: 1. 3 Thomas 1982: 1. 4 The authorship of many writings attributed to Hippocrates has been disputed. See Lloyd 1975 for discussion. 5 Bloch 2000: 39. 35


ta ; te ei [dea tw:n a jnqrw vpwn eu jcroav te kai; a jnqhra v e jsti ma :llon h ] a [llh / h ]n mhv tiV nou :soV kwlu vh/. lampro vfwnoi te oiJ a [vnqrwpoi ojrgh vn te kai; su vnesin belti vouV ei jsi ; tw :n prosboreivwn h /{per kai ; ta ; a [lla ta ; e jmfuo v mena a j mei vvnw e jsti vn. The persons of the inhabitants are of better complexion and more blooming than elsewhere, unless some disease prevents this. They are clear-voiced and with better temper and intelligence than those who are exposed to the north, just as all things growing there are better. 6 Following such theories, writers such as Herodotus explained that, because of their particular climate, women in Egypt engaged in business and trade and men stayed at home to weave, contrary to what is customary among other cultures (Hdt. 2.35). Moreover, certain stereotypes such as Africans being better suited to endur e heat and labor permeated Greek and Roman literature. 7 We find evidence of this even in Livy’s assessment of Hannibal: Nullo labore aut corpus fatigari aut animus uinci pote rat. Caloris ac frigoris patientia par , 21.4. Sallust mirrors this description of the Carthaginian Hannibal as hardy and ca pable of enduring labor in his description of Africans in the Jugurtha: genus hominum salubri corpore, velox, patiens laborum , 17.5. According to Thomas, as a result of Hippoc rates’ treatise, descri ption of geographical features became an important part of ethnograp hy since the distincti ons between people of different lands was seen as “an outgrowth of, and directly attributab le to, differences in environment.” 8 The other great name in the development of ancient ethnography is Posidonius (135-51 BCE). This prolific ancient Greek writer composed hundred of works on different subjects including philosophy, mathematics, meteorology, and geography. His various works contained ethnographic accounts of the peoples he encountered dur ing his travels. He tried to explain their 6 Translation from Jones 1984: 81. 7 Cf. Tacitus’ Germania where Germans are not able to tole rate heat but can endure the cold: minimeque sitim aestumque tolerare, frigora atque inediam caelo solove adsueverunt, 4.3 . 8 Thomas 1982: 2. 36


differences using his extensive geographic and meteorological know ledge. The influence of his work extended to numerous ancient authors who cite him, most notably Strabo, Diodorus, and Caesar. Their accounts of the Celts are influenced by his own earlier work. 9 According to Thomas, he holds a central position as a geograp her and ethnographer since he provides the main connection to Rome of the Greek ethnographical tradition. 10 In the Roman tradition, Caesar, Sallust, a nd Livy provide the main examples of ethnography before the time of Tacitus. Some poets such as Vergil, Horace, and Lucan show ethnographical content in their work s as revealed by their diction and style in certain passages, but these are poetic contrivances specifically used to call to mind th e ethnographic tradition. 11 Thomas states that works of Caesar and Sallu st plainly show the influence of the Greek ethnographical tradition which passed dow n into mainstream Roman literature. 12 Many of its conventions were preserved in its Roman context. Caesar provides ethnographical descriptions of the Gauls and Britons in his Bellum Gallicum . 13 Sallust writes about North Africa and its inhabitants in the Jugurtha ( Iug. 17-9) and also has descriptions of Pontus, Sardinia and Corsica, and Crete in his fragmentary Histories . 14 Moreover, Livy contains some ethnographical discursions; for our purposes, th e ethnographical description of Britain contained in book 105 and presented only in summary form is the most re levant. As we shall see, Tacitus shows great debt to these authors in both the Agricola and Germania. 9 Nash 1976: 112. 10 See Nash 1976. 11 See Thomas 1982. On Vergil, see 35-107; Horace, 8-34 ; Lucan 108-123. 12 Thomas 1982: 2. 13 On Britain specifically, see B Gall . 5.12-14. 14 Hist. 3 fr.61-80M; 2 fr. 1-11M; 3 fr. 10-15. 37


As with biography, ancient ethnographical wr itings differed greatly from modern ethnography. Modern ethnography systematica lly observes a culture through first hand observation. The modern ethnographer is supposed to be accurate, complete, and objective; he should not pass moral judgments on a people and is obliged to live for a ce rtain time within the community which he is investigating. 15 Many writers of ethnogra phy in the ancient world did not observe their subject first ha nd but relied on the writings and te stimony of others, as Tacitus did. Moreover, the ancients were not objectiv e about their subjects but passed judgments on their character and behavior, often explai ning them by means of anthropogeography and displaying their cultural biases. The genre of ancient Greek and Roman ethnography, Thomas states, consists of both geographical and ethnologi cal details and contains the following elements: Physical geography of the area ( situs) Climate Agricultural produce, mineral resources, etc. Origins and features of the inhabitants ( gentes ) Political, social and military organization 16 For each of these categories a distinct, fixed di ction and form emerged which could be readily recognized and associated with the ethnographical genre. It is useful to tu rn to the seminal work of Norden, who found that by analyzing the proper title of the Germania ( de origine et situ Germanorum ), the combination of the phrase de situ plus the genitive is the standard title for Latin ethnographical works, a phrase wh ich Thomas calls an ethnographical sphragis (signpost). 17 Also there is stock vocabul ary concerning the descripti on of the inhabitants (e.g. 15 Mauss 1967: 7-9. 16 Thomas 1982: 1. 17 Norden 1920: 451-4 as cited in Thomas 1982: 3. 38


origines, gens, populus , colo , teneo ), disposition of their bodies (e.g. patientia , duritia ) and meteorological concerns (e.g. caeli temperies ). 18 In addition, technical terms for foreign concepts and other specialized vocabulary no t common in Latin pros e are present (e.g. soldurii , essedum, uergobretus ). In terms of form, Ogilvie and Rich mond note that the order of the topics might vary, but situs usually preceeds gentes and all categories are treated, even if superficially. 19 Another interesting feature of the et hnographical genre is the description of thaumasia , or wonders. These serve as entertaining tidbits to readers that contrast exotic locales to their own familiar culture and environment. These marvels range from Herodotus’ description of Egyptian crocodiles (Hdt. 2.68) to Tacitus’ desc ription of the drinking and gambling habits of the Germans ( Germ. 22.2; 24.3). The Genre Debate Although ethnographical writings had a fixed form and particular diction, there is dissension among scholars whether to identify et hnography as its own separate genre or if it should be considered a s ub-genre of historiography. 20 From the inception of this form of writing, ethnographical descriptions have been included in work s of history, geography, or commentaries and have only constituted a small part of such works. The first extant ethnographical monograph is Tacitus’ Germania, written in 98 CE. According to Bloch, while discussing the ethnographical discursions in Tacitus’ Historiae , ethnography cannot be construed as a specific genre but perm eates all ancient literature. 21 On the other hand, Thomas states that it 18 Thomas 1982: 127 notes that the phrase caeli temperies is the exact phraseology that Hippocrates uses in his treatise to describe ideal climate ( ajevroV eu jkrasi va ). 19 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 164 n.10. 20 See Marincola 1999 for a specific outline of the issues surrounding categoriz ing historical genres. 21 Bloch 2000: 38. 39


is a “formulaic literary genre.” By this mean s the ancient Greeks and Romans were “able to depict the diversity of mankind, and thereby ... reach a fuller unders tanding of their own cultures and of their place in the world.” 22 Marincola in his article “Greco-Roman Historiography” grapples with Jacoby’s (1909) assessment that ethnography constitutes an independent entity, even though it is contained in wo rks of other genres, since its elements were ‘fixed’ since the 5 th century BCE. Marincola states that there is no evidence that ethnography ever stood alone in its own self-contained unit and that ethnographical writings within th e ‘historical’ part of an author’s work are not detachable but integral pa rts of it. Even though there is no evidence that there were any self-contained ethnographi cal monographs existed before Tacitus’ Germania, it is problematic to conceive of ethnogr aphical writings as not part of a specific genre because of their ‘secondary status’ in othe r literary works. Ethnography certainly had its own conventions of diction, style and form. From the modern view of genre theory, the form and content of ethnography is distinct from that of historiography a nd therefore should constitute a separate, but closely related, category. In addition, an important factor di stinguishing ethnography from other works of historiography is that the primary focalization, the point of view from which the history is told, is on a locale foreign to a writer, whose specific aim was to describe certain key characteristics of the people and geography. It is J acoby’s assertion that the point of view of a work is extremely important for understanding the na ture of a particular history. 23 Did this focalization determine a consequent methodology and purpose? That is, did an author writi ng history approach his subject matter at different angle than someone writi ng ethnography? It is my contention that 22 Thomas 1982: 1. 23 Jacoby 1909 as summarized in Marincola 1999: 296. 40


ethnography does occupy a separate genre. Alth ough it is impossible to prove that the ancients regarded it as a separate genre, the formulai c nature of ethnography gives the impression of being a distinct literary form. The relevance of treating ethnography as a genre in its own right or a sub-genre of historiography has a direct bearing on the description of ethnographical accounts in ancient writings by m odern scholars as ‘digressions’ or excurses, which will be discussed in Chapter 5. Tacitus’ Sources By looking at Tacitus’ sources for his inform ation on Britain, we can see how he closely follows the tradition of those who came before him in respect to Britain’s ethnographical description. Tacitus did not intend to provide syst ematic account of Britain. He states that this subject had already been well c overed by his predecessors (10.1). He is most likely referring to Julius Caesar in his Bellum Gallicum (5.12-14), Strabo in his Geographia (2.5.8; 4.5) written probably during the re ign of Tiberius, and Pomponius Mela (Pomon. 3.6) who wrote a geography ( De chorographia ) around the time of Claudius’ invasion of Britain (43-4 CE). 24 These authors modeled their accounts on earlier Greek authors such as Pytheas (c. 325 BCE), Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE), and Posidonius wh o gave accounts of various lengths, mainly regarding the geography of the area. 25 Knowledge of Britain, however, was significantly augmented with the increased Roman presence on the island starting with C aesar and then finally the invasion of Claudius in 43 CE. Tacitus also mentions the works of Livy and Fabius Rusticus as sources. Ogilvie and Richmond speculate that the reference to Livy must regard an account of Caesar’s expedition to Britain contained in his lost 105 th book and that to Rusticus was a lost 24 See Ogilvie and Ri chmond 1967: 165. 25 See Ogilvie and Ri chmond 1967: 165. 41


history probably of the period of Claudius’ expedition to the island. 26 Tacitus states that Livy and Rusticus give a description of the form of Britain as an oblonga scapula or bipennis (10.3). Given the coincidence of Caesa r’s ethnographic terminology in Livy’ s extant work, it is likely that Livy’s lost ethnographic excu rsuses showed similar influence and helped entrench Caesarian vocabulary in the ethnographic traditi on which then passed on to Tacitus. 27 The Ethnographical Tradition in the Agricola Tacitus’ account of Britain was shaped by the accounts of his predecessors, new knowledge obtained during Agricola’s administration of Britain, and th e conventions of the ethnographical genre. 28 Tacitus’ own admission of why he in cluded the description is revealing. He states that those before him have recorded these ethnographic detail s in greater detail and more eloquently. He does so now because Ag ricola has thoroughly conquered the island. Now those things which were described by his predecessors are told with fide instead of eloquentia (ita quae priores nondum comperta eloque ntia percoluere, rerum fide tradentur, 10.1). What follows, then, are details he felt important to include. The ethnographical accounts greatly contribute to the purpose of his work – the praise of Agricola by relating his famous accomplishments. Tacitus starts his ethnographic excursus by describing the physical geography of the area ( situs ). Here we see the fixed ethnographical form for indicating the positi on of the territory — situs plus the genitive: Britanniae situm populosque , 10.1. Because it formally marks off the preceding chapters of the work detailing Agricola ’s life up until his governorship of Britain, the 26 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 167-8, n.10.3. 27 Bell 1995: 766. 28 In discussing of the ethnographic details of his account, the scope of the analysis will be limited to the literary representation of Britain instead of actual accuracy of detail. 42


treatment of geography in the beginning, though us ual in ethnographical writings, holds a place of special importance. Not only is the location emphasized to give context for the description of the inhabitants according to anthrogeographical th eory, but its description as a remote outpost compared to the world known by the Romans will be a theme that reoccurs throughout the Agricola and provides a unique backdrop to his a ccomplishments. In regards to geography, Tacitus closely follows his models Caesar, St rabo, and Pomponius Mela. Its insularity is emphasized ( Britannia insularum quas Romana notitia complectitur maxima, 10.2), and especially its position in a vast and open sea ( vasto atque aperto , 10.3). This phrase is common in Latin literature and was probably copied from Caesar ( B Gall . 3.9, 7). 29 The image of the sea especially serves to portray Britain as locat ed at the extremity of the world, not easily approached by sea ( sed mare pigrum et grave remigantibus , 10.5) and is also a dominant geographical feature (10.6): nusquam latius dominari mare, multum fluminum huc atque illuc ferre , nec litore tenus adcrescere aut resorberi, sed influere penitu s atque ambire, et iugis etiam ac montibus inseri velut in suo. Nowhere does the sea more widely dominate: ma ny rivers flow here and there, nor do they swell or ebb up to the shore but they flow deep within and encircle the land and even flow into the hills and mountains just as into thei r own territory. Such a description of an inhospitable sea in an ethnographic account is also found in Sallust’s Jugurtha ( mare saevum importuosum, Iug .17). The influence of the ethnographical tradition on the geographic description of Brita in also appears in Tacitus’ account. We can trace from his predecessors the same flawed idea of Britain being directly west of Spain, 30 a notion made all the more curious, since when Tacitus was wr iting this account, Britain had already been 29 See Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 167 n.10.2. 30 Cf. Caes. B Gall 5.13, Strabo 4.5, Plin. NH 4.102. Tacitus erroneously believed that Spain was west of Britain. Hutton 1914: 42 writes that “The error of conceiving Spai n as West of Britain, in spite of the testimony of the explorer Pytheas (c. 325 BC) accepted by Eratosthenes (c. 250 BC), lasted until the seco nd century after Christ.” 43


circumnavigated during Agricola’s administratio n (10.4). Tacitus however adds new knowledge obtained during Agricola’s time there to his acco unts. Included is the shape of Scotland, the description of the Forth Clyde isthmus, and the sighting of Thule, once thought legendary by previous writers, but co nfirmed by Agricola (10.4). 31 As will be discussed in the next chapter, these new accomplishments further serve to augmen t Agricola’s prestige. The invocation of this image of Britain as the furthest extreme can onl y serve to augment Agricola’s accomplishments as the one who secured the complete conquest ( perdomitia ) of the island, a f eat unmatched by his predecessors. Ogilvie and Richmond give great insight into Tacitus’ account of the geography of Britain. Verified through modern ar chaeological researc h, Tacitus’ account is surprisingly accurate. But Ogilvie and Richmond believe that the account of the geography and peoples inhabiting the island is disappointing for its lack of detail. Tacitus only employs geographical terms when the narrative demands them and is sparing in his li sts of names of physical features and tribes. 32 Moreover, the place names we find in the work do not extend beyond the territory covered by Agricola’s campaigns. 33 Ogilvie and Richmond’s observation supports the idea th at Tacitus only included details he felt were important to the overall purpose of the work. He was not looking for ethnographical detail but for characteristics of Britain and its people that will help him highlight Agricola and his accomplishments. In chapter 11, the ethnographic form continues in the account of the inhabitants of Britain. He questions whether or not they are indigenous or immigrants. This is a common concern in 31 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 35. 32 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 35. 33 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 45. 44


ethnographical literature and occurs in the Germania ( Germ . 2.1) and Sallust ( Iug . 17.7). 34 Tacitus believes that the Britons are an immigrant race because of the similarity of their physical features to those of the Germans, Gauls, a nd Spaniards. Tacitus follows the model of anthropogeography when trying to explain their orig ins. He states that the physiques of the peoples show a great variety according to their location and can be explained in the following way: the inhabitants of Caledonia display a German origin because of th eir red hair and large limbs; their curly hair and what he thought was the proximity of Spain to Britain 35 led him to believe that the Silures were de scendants of people from the Iber ian peninsula; those people who live near the part of the is land that is closest to Gaul were also like the Gauls ( proximi Gallis et similes sunt , 11.2). This, he explains, is either because of heredity ( originis vi ) or because of climatic conditions ( caeli corporibus habitum dedit , 11.3). Caesar relates a slightly different tale in which those living in the interior are though t to have been born on the island itself ( quos natos in insula ipsi memoria proditum , B Gall. 5.12). The inhabitants are compared to the Gauls with whom they have much in common, such as their ceremonies, religious beliefs, and the similarity of language, but the Britains are described as fier cer in spirit (plus tamen ferociae Britanni praeferunt , 11.4). Their quarrelsome nature and lack of purpose ( quod in commune non consulunt , 12. 2) make them easy prey for conquest ( ita singuli pugnant, universi vincuntur , 12.2). Tacitus makes important observations in describing what he sees are key characteristics of the Britons which will come into play in the subsequent chapters. By giving these ethnographical details before he relates the histor y of Agricola’s governorship, we are better able to understand the context of the nature of the people that Agricola faced. 34 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 174 n. 11.1. 35 See above n. 22 45


In the beginning of chapter 12, Tacitus treats the political, military, and social organization of the Britons. In this respect, he is heavily i ndebted to Caesar, who was the first to describe these institutions. He states that their strength lies in their infantry ( in pedite robur , 12.1) and alludes to the use of chariots in war ( curru proeliantur, 12.1). This is a custom of the Britons that Caesar marveled at. He described their zeal for chariot fighting in the Bellum Gallicum ( B Gall. 4.33). He even brought into the Latin vocabul ary the specialized term for chariot found in ancient Britain, essedum . This term passed into mainstream Latin after its introduction by Caesar, and we find it used in the widely in Latin literature from the time of Cicero on. 36 Curiously, Tacitus did not use this term in the Agricola . Tacitus did use Caesar’s terms to describe the political organizati on of the inhabitants of Britain. He refe rs to ‘chieftains’ ( principes) who now govern the different tribes of Britain and re fers to the quarreling among them that has led to division amongst their tribes (12.1). Princeps is also a term that Caesar used to denote tribal leading men, either elected or ones holding high rank. 37 The overall picture that Tacitus leaves us in regard to thei r social and political in stitutions is that of disarray and disorder. There is no one unifying force nor is their military strength sufficiently united to repel an attack from an organized military machine like the Roman army. Indeed his pronouncement that Rome’s most powerful weapon against the Britons is their disunity ( nec aliud adversus validissimas gentes pro nobis utilius , 12.2) foreshadows Agricola’s success in the subsequent chapters. The rest of chapter 12 rounds out the ethnograp hical excursus by describing the climate, agriculture, and mineral resource s of the island. The climate is described in unappealing terms 36 See Bell 1995: 757 n. 21. Bell states that Latin poets th ereafter associate barbarian Br itons with chariots; see p. 756. 37 Bell 1995: 759. See n. 30 for all occurrences of this word and its connotations in Caesar. 46


( caelum crebris imbribus ac nebulis foedum , 12.3). However, the cold is weather is bearable ( asperitas frigorum abest , 12.3). Tacitus also describes the same thaumasia that marveled previous writers on Britain, namely the shortness of the days. These are beyond the measurement of the (Roman) world ( dierum spatia ultra nostri orbis mensuram , 12.3). Caesar in the Bellum Gallicum also describes this wonder and states that some even go so far to say that during the winter solstice, it is night on some of the British Isles for 30 consecutive days ( nonnulli scripserunt dies continuos triginta sub bruma esse noctem , 5.13). This prompted Caesar to conduct his own experiments in which hi s staff concluded that the nights were shorter than on the continent (breviores esse quam in continenti noctes , 5.13). As for agriculture, the land is full of cattle a nd fertile, being able to produce crops except for those that thrive in warmer climates ( praeter oleam vitemque , 12.5). The minerals mentioned by Tacitus are noteworthy because the only ones he names specifically are silver and gold (fert Britannia aurum et argentum et alia metalla , 12.6). Because of their presence, he states that the island is worthwhile for conquest ( pretium victoriae , 12.6). There is a major and curious omission. We know from previous accounts on Britain that tin was an important export from the island, and there was an active tr ade route that the Greeks and Ca rthaginians employed as early as the 4 th century BCE. 38 Herodotus referred to Britain as the Kassiteri vdai , or tin-bearing islands (Hdt. 3.115). Tacitus mentions that s ea around Britain produces pearls which were only gathered when they washed ashore instead of bei ng actively collected (12.6). Caesar is said to have coveted the pearls found in Britain. Suet onius reports that ther e was a rumor that he invaded Britain for that very reason: Britanniam petisse spe margaritarum, quarum amplitudinem conferentem interdum sua manu exegisse pondus , Iul . 47. The epigram at the end 38 Welch 1963: 27-31. 47


of the chapter makes a comparison between the qu ality of the pearls a nd the avarice of the Romans. The theme of Roman greed is echoed in Calgacus’ speech to his troops before the battle of Mons Graupius, one which will be explored later (30.4). Tacitus probably mentions these items specifically to conjure up the image of luxus and its subsequent role on the mores of the peoples of Britain. Conclusion The landscape and character of the people that inhabit Britain are expounded in full ethnographic form preceding the account of Agricola ’s exploits on that is land. Beyond being an account for mere expository purposes, the ethnographical sections of the Agricola serve an important and distinct literary pu rpose. Not only are there themes that are introduced in these sections that will be echoed throughout the work , but they serve as an important comparison to the actions of the Romans on the island and, to a greater extent, Agri cola who is now the governor and commander-in-chief. The image of Britain, just as O’Gorman asserts about Germany in the Germania , is more a reflection of Rome. 39 In this way, the image of Britain serves as a mirror through which the reader may ponder and reflect on the deeds of Agricola. As Routledge states, “The result of su ch a presentation, in the end, is to reduce Britain to a backdrop against which Roman values are reaffirmed, and th e Britons themselves are constructed in such a way to constitute little more than an act of se lf-reflection about the role of men like Tacitus and Agricola under the principate.” 40 The portrait he paints of an island that will inevitably be subdued ( universi vincuntur , 12.2) is fertile ground for the explo its of an illustrious man such as Agricola. By using the conventions of ethnography Tacitus invites the reader to learn about the 39 O’Gorman 1993: 140. 40 Rutledge 2000: 84. 48


stage where his father-in-law earned his reputation. The alien and unfamiliar territory is made more accessible by the formulaic character of ethnogr aphy. In the next chapter, we will see how the genre of ethnography complements the biography of Agricola. 49


CHAPTER 5 THE INTERACTION OF ETH NOGRAPHY AND BIOGRAPHY As we have seen, the Agricola blends a variety of styles char acteristic of several genres in classical literature. How then do we classify T acitus’ work? Does it indeed defy classification or should the modern reader take Tacitus’ own wo rds at face value and simply describe it as a biography? Does categorizing it change our interpretation of it ? By looking at the generic elements within the Agricola and their literary tradition, we can gain insight on how to interpret the seemingly disparate elements within the Agricola and how they affect its purpose. If we can determine Tacitus’ purpose and how these elements contribute to it, we can see how successful he is in achieving his goal. As the previous chapters have shown, biography is a genre closely related to historiography and very often ble nded elements of the two. Ethnography also is closely related to historiography, formed integral parts of histories, geographies, and military commentaries, and up until Tacitus’ Germania, these works were its primary form of dissemination in the ancient world. Therefore the appear ance of ethnography in the Agricola is not as unconventional as some might suggest. On the contrary, it serves an important literary function and is an integral part of the wor k. By using the generic elements of ethnography, Tacitus sets up a mirror in which the exploits of Agricola can be compared and which contributes directly to the virtuous and illustrious portr ait he draws of his father-in-law. Returning to Ogilvie and Richmond, let us evaluate their a ssertion that the Agricola is a biography. They do indeed have ample grounds for so classifying it. The main focus of the work is the character of Agricola . Therefore, though there are se veral literary traditions working in this one text, the label, if needed, is best applied to reflec t the dominant theme of the work. However, one should not take for granted its hete rogeneous nature. Conte’s discussion of genre in Latin literature helps contextualize this s ituation. Genre, Conte e xplains, “select(s) and 50


emphasize(s) certain features of the world in preference to others” a nd “suggests the general meaning of the individual texts and the audience to whom they are directed.” 1 Moreover, he notes the futility of defining genres in too rigid a fashion since they naturally shift and overlap. 2 However, he notes, any combination of literary forms and structures in ancient literature, no matter how complex and disparate they are, “alw ays respects a single discursive project A single genre predominates and thus subordinates to itself all the elements that come together to make up the text.” 3 He notes the intertextu al relationship among works of Latin literature saying that this process of “stealing bits of texts and individual styl istic features” was a phenomenon of which ancient commentators were well aware. Th is is not to discount generic studies. It is Cairns’ astute observation that by looking at genre, the modern reader can appreciate how the author chooses to work within it. 4 In addition, we can better understand the inherent ‘agreed contract,’ or generic expecta tion, between the author and his reader, since this context is naturally lost because of the la ck of shared background since we are so far removed from the time period. The ancient biographic form, as we have seen, did not have set rules of composition. Biography is a prime example of the difficulty of applying a strict definition upon its generic form. Modern scholars stress its flexibility as a genre. Moreover ethnographical writings, though formulaic in nature, could be incorporated into various types of works. Does the confluence of these two seemingly disparate genres hinder the reader’s awareness of what is going on? Certainly not. We see this phenomenon in the poe tic genres, one of its ma nifestations being that 1 Conte 1994: 4. 2 See Derrida 1980 and Barchiesi 2001 (specifica lly for classical literature) on generic ‘mixing.’ 3 Conte 1994: 5. 4 Cairns 1972: 6-7. 51


during the archaic and classical periods, the Greeks used th e elegiac meter primarily to commemorate the dead or to express political opi nion. By the Hellenistic period however it was used for a different variety of subjects and was already developed as a vehicle for love themes. 5 Having recognized the different traditions wo rking in the text, we can now get a better understanding and appreciate what these generic el ements, far from being disparate and at odds with each other, bring to the table as far as helping the author achieve his purpose. We know that Tacitus was working within th e tradition of laudato ry biography akin to those he cites of Rusticus Arulenus and Herennius Senecio (2.1). In addition, he closely follows the historical style of his predecessors of Livy and Sallust. Unfortunately, a great hindrance which keeps the modern reader and scholar a like from properly pondering the implications of deviations from certain generic elements is that so many of historiographical writings from the classical period are lost. 6 Tacitus mentions Livy’s regrettably lost 105 th book as a source for his ethnographic description of Britai n. It is clear however that Ta citus had a strong ethnographical interest as evidenced in his subsequent work the Germania, the only surviving solely ethnographic work in Greco-Roman literature up un til that time, and the discursion on the Jews in the fifth book of the Historiae ( Hist . 5.2-13). 7 Tacitus’ ‘digression’ on the ethnography of Britain mirrors that of Sallust in the Bellum Jurgurthinum ( Iug . 17-19) in form and function. In form, it adheres to the established formula of ethnographical writing. Functionally , the ethnographical description is used to elaborate on the character of the land, which provides a literary pa rallel to the Numidians and Jugurtha himself. It establishes these two entities as the Roman ‘other’ – both foreign ( externae) but at the same 5 Farrell 2003: 397. 6 See Pagn 2007 for a discussion of allusions within historiographical works. 7 For the discussion on the peculiar nature of Tacitus’ ethnographical excursion on the Jews see Bloch 2000. 52


time a source of comparison to the actions of the Romans. It also serves to divide the work into climactic sections. The excursus follows the a ccount of Jugurtha’s rise to power and precedes the climactic end of his consolida tion of power when he kills his brother for sole authority. As Kraus and Woodman state, the et hnographical description along with the discussion of the nature of political parties at Rome “brackets” the complex interaction between Jugurtha and Rome. 8 In this respect, Sallust is mode ling his ethnographic excursus on T hucydides’ Sicilian digression (Thuc. 6.1-5) which functions not only to elaborate on the landscapes that he describing, but as a transitional tool, and a mode to introduce themes which later become important to the narrative. 9 Ethnographical excursuses in Greek historiographical works were quite common. The manner in which they were used was, as Ogilvie and Rich mond state, to “heighten suspense and to focus attention on the drama wh ich is about to unfold.” 10 Tacitus fashions the excursus into British ethnography in a similar fashion w ith the same intent. The appare nt digression serves to mark off the peak of Agricola’s rise to power and his elevation to the governorship of Britain. It also introduces the account of his exploits in Britain. We can see from Tacitus’ functional model that the historian looked back on his historiographical predecessors and mimicked their style to achieve the same effect in his narrative. In the same way that ethnography served various purposes in the Bellum Jurgurthinum , so Tacitus modeled hi s inclusion of it as a literary tool into his work. Though Tacitus’ is a work of a differe nt genre, nevertheless it achieved the same effect. 8 Kraus and Woodman 1997: 23. 9 Scanlon 1980: 133. 10 Ogilvie and Richmond 1965: 701. Cf. Liv. 5.33.4-35 for a similar effect that Livy achieves with his treatment of the Gauls. 53


By establishing that he modele d his account with this effect in mind, let us explore how ethnography brings out the themes found in the biography of Agricola. Paramount to Tacitus’ characterization of Agricola are the people and landscape of Britain. Th ey are both set as the ‘other’ and therefore function as a comparison an d contrasting force in the story. Both are described in an abstract sense – no major characters emerge amongs t the Britons, unlike that of Jurgurtha in Sallust’s work. Though Boudicca an d Calgacus are described as strong leaders, their achievements and accomplishments are treat ed in rudimentary manner and only serve as background, giving context to Agricola’s governorsh ip of the island. The Britons’ character as a collective whole described in the ethnographic section of the work is repeatedly contrasted with that of the Romans. Also, the landscape of Britain plays a special role in characterizing the inhabitants of Britain. Their remoteness and insularity sets them apart from peoples like the Gauls and Germans and therefore is an integral part of their identity. These factors also serve to shield and protect them from the ‘corrupti ng’ influences of the Roman worl d. Moreover, their landscape in the Roman mind, occupied furthest reaches of th e known world. The barrier between Britain and Europe is a vast and rough sea – a formidable boundary which the Romans only penetrated with much difficulty and had to do so repeatedly to finally gain a tenabl e foothold on the island. Indeed after Rome’s first contact with Britain by Caesar, Romans were fascinated by this ‘final frontier’ and allude to it in their literat ure. Catullus emphasized the remoteness of the province: Quis hoc potest videreMamurram habere quod comata Gallia habebat ante et ultima Britannia? , 29.1-4; Caesaris visens monimenta magni / Ga llicum Rhenum, horribile aequor ulti /mosque Britannos, 11.10-2. Ovid refers to the conque st of Britain in the Metamorphoses in a sly ploy to contrast the achievements of Julius Caesar to Augustus: scilicet aequoreos plus est 54


domuisse Britannos quam tantum genuisse uirum ?, Met. 15.752. Horace also refers to Britain as occupying the furthest extremes of the earth ( serves iturum Caesarem in ultimos orbis Britannos, Carm . 1.35.29-30) and suggests that when Augustus, who for a time considered sending an expedition to Britain, conquers the province, he will be considered a god: Caelo tonantem credidimus Iovem / regnare: praesens divus habebitur / Augus tus adiectis Britannis / imperio.., Carm. 3.5.1-4. It was finally during Claudius’ reign that the Romans gained a permanent foothold on the island. We are told that during Claudius’ ex pedition, the troops under the general Aulus Plautius had to be dissuaded from mutiny because they feared crossing the ocean into such unfamiliar territo ry, the limits of the known world. 11 As Routledge and Clarke point out, the geographical detail s of Britain are of the utmo st importance in Agricola’s characterization. 12 The characterization of the people and land scape through ethnography carried with it certain connotati ons that Tacitus employed in hi s work, the components of which, Thomas states, Tacitus used in ‘subtle’ and ‘artistic’ ways. 13 Moreover, pertinent to the Agricola ’s biographical theme, ethnogr aphy acts as a mirror in which concepts of Roman identity, values , and virtue are reflected and analyzed. 14 Hartog, in his study of ethnographical writings in Herodotus, sees ethnographical excursuses in Herodotean narrative as providing a mirror to concepts of ‘Greekness.’ In this way, no less, the ethnography serves as a mirror to the themes in the Agricola of demonstration of virt ue and the avoidance of vice, themes pertinent to the ge nre of the laudatory biography. 11 Wacher 1998: 17. 12 Rutledge 2000: n.48; Clarke 2001. Both Rutledge and Clarke refute Ogilvie’s assertion that the geographic details contained in the Agricola are ‘largely incidental’ to the biographical and rh etorical subject matter. 13 Thomas 1982: 126. 14 See Hartog 1988. 55


The predominant theme throughout Tacitus’ work is the demonstration of Roman virtus . What are the deeds of someone who is wort hy of emulation? How can good men display courage and fortitude during the reign of a depraved despot? Tacitus’ version of virtus is closely modeled after that of Sallust – that is, according to Donald Earl, “the use of ingenium to achieve egregia facinora and thus to win gloria by the exercise of bonae artes – including energy ( industria ), hard work ( labor ), integrity ( fides ).” 15 This conception closely resembles the traditional Roman aristocratic notion, except that Sallust’s is ‘a self-made quality’ which does not depend on aristocratic st atus or chosen activity. 16 This theme appears prominently in the Agricola , especially with the allusion in the beginning of the work to Cato’s Origines . During Tacitus’ time, when the emperor reigned suprem e, however, the manner and sphere in which a Roman could demonstrate his virtus by service to the state was, according to Martin, “decisively circumscribed.” 17 Agricola is a man worthy of praise because he has displayed extraordinary virtue though living and operating under a bad rule r. Tacitus’ description of Agri cola in the beginning chapters shows that before he went to Britain he had already formed the virtuous character that would serve him well during his time abroad. 18 He displays all of the bonae artes throughout his life. Early in his career, he was known fo r his hard work and energy (5.1): nec Agricola licenter, more iuvenum qui militiam in lasciviam vertunt, neque segniter sed noscere provinciam, nosci exercitui, discer e a peritis, sequi optimos, nihil adpetere in iactationem, nihil ob formidinem recusare si mulque et anxius et intentus agere. 15 Earl 1961: 28. 16 Earl 1961: 31. 17 Martin 1981: 25. 18 Cf. Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 19 “The ancients, not leas t Tacitus, believed that character was fixed, that a man is at any one point in his life what he always was and always will be.” 56


Neither was Agricola extravagant, as is th e custom of youths who turn their military service into lascivious sport, nor was he half-hearted he rather sought to know the province, to be known by the army, to learn from the skilled, to follow the best of men, to seek nothing by boasting, to reject nothing out of fear and at the sa me time to be careful yet eager. At the same time he is described as ha ving retained proportion out of wisdom: retinuitque, quod est difficillimum, ex sapientia modum , 4.3. After the ethnographic description, the relationship he has with Britain plays an important ro le in showing how Agricola displays his virtus. He deals equitably with his new subjects but he is still an extremely effective commander. He took an interest in their plight and was dete rmined to eliminate the causes of war. Virtue is not the only characte ristic celebrated. Tacitus also describes the benevolence of Agricola towards his subjects: Ceterum animorum provinciae prudens, simulque doctus per aliena experimenta parum profici armis, si in iuriae sequerentur, causas bellorum statuit excidere , 19.1. Therefore even those he sought to conquer looked upon him as a brilliant and great man ( clarus ac magnus haberi Agricola , 18.5). His industria is displayed when, even though faced with many hindrances, he resolved to take firm action as a military leader, a contrast to the commanders who preceeded him such as Trebellius Maximus ( segnior , 16.3) or Petronius Turpilianus ( mitior, 16.3) (18.2): cum Agricola, quamquam transvecta aestas, sparsi per provinciam numeri, praesumpta apud militem illius anni quies, tarda et contrari a bellum incohaturo, et plerisque custodiri suspecta potius videbatur, ire obviam discrimini statuit; Whereas Agricola, although a summer had el apsed, although a number of his troops were strewn throughout the provin ce, although a year of rest had already been consumed amongst the soldiers – things that delay and hinder someone about to set out for war, and although it seemed to many that the mistrusted provinces should instead be guarded, he decided to head in upon the crisis. Tacitus stresses how Agricola ruled equitably, so that after years of tumult and turmoil, peace once again returned to Britain: Haec primo statim anno comprimendo egregiam famam paci circumdedit, quae vel incuri a vel intolerantia priorum haud minus quam bellum timebatur , 20.1. 57


He tried to combat the restiv eness and lack of purpose of th e Britons through public works and positive reinforcement (21.1): Sequens hiems saluberrimis consiliis absumpta. Namque ut homines dispersi ac rudes eoque in bella faciles quieti et otio per volupt ates adsuescerent, horta ri privatim, adiuvare publice, ut templa fora domos extruerent , laudando promptos, castigando segnes: ita honoris aemulatio pro necessitate erat. The following winter was passed in accordance w ith very sound strategies. For in order that men scattered and uncivilized, for that very reason quick to enter upon wars, might grow accustomed to peace and leisure through comfort, he encouraged individuals and assisted communities by praise of the eager, by chastisement of the slackers, so that they might build temples, forums and houses: thus th ere was rivalry for his regard instead of a feeling of obligation. He even introduces the Britons to the liberal arts (iam vero principum filios liberalibus artibus erudire, 21.2), recalling the importan ce of his own early education (4.3). Such deeds stand in stark contrast to Domitian whom Tacitus describes as secretly jealous of Agricola for his fame because the name of a commoner was exalted above that of a princeps : privati hominis nomen supra principis attolli , 39.2. The qualities of a good general, he thought, we re imperial qualities, out of the realm of someone from Agricola’s class: cetera utcumque facilius dissimulari, ducis boni imperatoriam virtutem esse, 29.2-3. Agricola however is so meone that Tacitus thinks has proved his virtus in the face of adversity, irresp ective of class, and through his ingenium . Agricola’s virtus stands in contrast to the avarice of other Romans. Roman morality is put to the test in the far reach es of Britain and Tacitus holds up the mirror to criticize such aspects of Roman civilization. The Britons, though clearly inferior to the Romans, nevertheless are free from such vices until the intrusion of Roman customs into their way of life. For instance, Tacitus states that when Agricola st arted his program of introducing Roman customs to the Britons, they started going astray into alluring vices: paulatimque discessum ad delenimenta vitiorum idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum par servitutis esset , 21.2. These were actually part of their servitude. Interesti ngly, the Britons in the e nd realized that the only 58


way to throw off the yoke of the Roman invaders wa s to emulate the virtue of their forefathers: recessuros, ut divus Iulius recessisset, m odo virtutem maiorum suorum aemularentur , 15.4. Virtue could set the Britons apart from the exces ses and vices of their oppressors. The Romans in Britain are cast as fighting only for greed and luxuria ( 15.4), as the speech of Calgacus so eloquently illustrates (30.5): si locuples hostis est, avari, si pauper, ambitiosi, quos non Oriens, non Occidens satiaverit: soli omnium opes atque inopiam pari adfectu c oncupiscunt. Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. If the enemy is wealthy, they are greedy, if the enemy is poor, they are ambitious—the East, the West did not satisfy them: alone out of all people they cove t wealth and scarcity with equal affection. To steal, slaughter, plunder, with these fals e names they call power and where they make desolation, they call it peace. Such a commentary on the character of the Romans from the mouth of a Briton reflects Tacitus’ criticism of such qualities and stands in contrast to those of Agricola. Tacitus uses the ‘other’ to make the criticism even more poignant. As O’ Gorman states in her article ‘Identity and Difference in the Germania of Tacitus,’ Tacitus uses this approach in the Germania as well: The shift of Roman morality into the German sphere is a product of the unsatisfactory political situation at Rome itself this repres entation of Rome as strange and divergent is a strong feature of subsequent Tacitean wr iting, and we see it here reflected in the representation of a foreign land, traditional repos itory of the strange and divergent, now a refuge of the familiar. 19 The land and people of Briton are used to contrast what Tacitus criticizes in the principate. Again, Agricola’s superior character shines thro ugh because of his exemplary demonstration of virtus. The interaction between ethnogr aphy and biography in the Agricola activates allusions from Latin literature that help enhance the ch aracterization of Agricola as a great leader. Inherent in ethnography is a salien t intertextuality. We have seen how authors have adhered to 19 O’Gorman 1993: 148. 59


the ethnographic convention of wri ting and allude directly or i ndirectly to the information contained in previous ethnographies, not only by the repetition of knowledge but in diction and style. Tacitus in addition uses ethnography in a similar manner as his predecessor Sallust to mark off a key point in the narr ative and introduce thematic materi al. The formulaic nature of ethnography lends itself to this in tertexuality. And indeed it is for this reason that Thomas uses ethnography as a guide to interpret poetry since any deviation from the established and accepted pattern carries cer tain significance. 20 For Tacitus this intertexuali ty serves yet another purpose. The ethnographic allusions in his text bring out Ag ricola’s characterizatio n as a great leader by equating his accomplishments with those of distinguished Romans of the past. By conjuring up the vocabulary and subject matter of Agri cola’s famous predecessor Caesar, Tacitus implies a comparison of his accomplishments on the island with this illustrious figure. Indeed the similarities are striking. 21 The way Tacitus refers to Caesar in his narrative is noteworthy. He calls him ‘first of all Romans’ which, in this cont ext, can be taken to mean the first to enter Britain or, in manne r that recalls A ugustus’ title of princeps, the foremost Roman (13.2): Igitur primus omnium Romanorum divus Iulius cum exercitu Britanniam ingressus, quamquam prospera pugna terruerit incolas ac litore potitus sit, potest videri ostendisse posteris, non tradidisse. [emphasis my own] Therefore the first of all Roma ns, divine Caesar after ente ring Britain with his army, although he frightened the inhabi tants with a successful battle and acquired the shore of the island, he is able to be seen as showing Brita in to his descendants, rather than handing it over. Caesar is described as having overawed Britain ’s inhabitants with his swift and successful subjugation of the coast. Tacitus, though, seem s to imply that Caesar’s accomplishment was 20 Thomas 1982: 5. 21 See Couissin 1932 on the comparison between Agricola and Julius Caesar. 60


more to lay the foundation for his succe ssors, ones worthy of matching his feat: potest videri ostendisse posteris, non tradidisse, 13.2. These successors did not include the likes of Augustus and Tiberius whom he characterized as being re luctant to bring to fruition the conquest of Britain: ac longa oblivio Britanniae etia m in pace: consilium id divus Augustus vocabat, Tiberius praeceptum , 13.2. We know that Augustus debated on wh ether or not to invade Britain between the years 27 and 24 BCE. 22 Tacitus states that Augustus was ‘unstable’ (ingenio mobili ) in his resolution and he referred to his failures in Germ any. It was left up to Claudius to finally make lasting inroads into this territory with the help of Vespasian. In a sentence that mimics the swift succession of events and alluding to their supe rior military capabilities, Tacitus recounts Claudius’ conquest, which for Vespasian was his first step to fame (13.3): Divus Claudius auctor tanti operis, transvect is legionibus auxiliisque et adsumpto in partem rerum Vespasiano, quod initium venturae mox fortunae fuit: domitae gentes, capti reges et monstratus fatis Vespasianus. Divine Claudius instigated such a great undert aking: the legions and the auxiliary troops crossed (the Channel) and Vespasian assu med command of part of the mission—this was the beginning of the fortune soon to come to him—tribes were conquered, kings captured, and Vespasian was introduced to destiny. Although Claudius and Vespasian are portrayed as noteworthy leader s, Tacitus makes the reader aware that it was only under Agricola that Brita in was totally subdued—a feat unmatched by the previous Caesars. The military language used to describe Agricola’s campaigns also call to mind Caesar’s commentarii style of writing. For instance, we see more frequent use of ablative absolutes in this part of the narrative, although these are used less frequently in Sallust, Livy and Tacitus. 23 In 22 See Mommsen 1954 on Augustus and Britain. 23 Albrecht 1989: 60. 61


this passage cited earlier, Tacitus demonstrates th e decisive action Agricola takes in the face of many hindrances when he first cr ossed over into Britain (18.2): cum Agricola, quamquam transvecta aestas, sparsi per provinciam numeri, praesumpta apud militem illius anni quies, tarda et contrari a bellum incohaturo, et plerisque custodiri suspecta potius videbatur, ire obviam discrimini statuit; It is marked by a crescendo of the obstacles that Agricola faced before he decided to take determined action. This use of the ablative absolute to emphasize th e functional relationship among these actions and the whole sentence, and the finite verb to de note the resolution are characteristic of how Caesar portrays his actions in the Bellum Gallicum . 24 Elsewhere in the account of Agricola’s military exploits in Britai n, Tacitus refers to how Agricola marched with his soldiers to inspire cour age—another nod to Caesar during his campaigns in Gaul. 25 Ogilvie and Richmond state that such a comparison ( su vgkrisiV ) “was indispensable” and in the spirit of laudatory biography. 26 These veiled allusions to Caesar de monstrate Tacitus’ skill in artfully portraying his father-in-law as a great general and commander. Another aspect of this intertexuality occu rs in the speeches of Calgacus and Agricola before the battle of Mons Graupius (c.30-4). The ethnographic trope of Br itain as the farthest extreme of the world comes heavily into play in these speeches. Calgacus reminds his soliders that there is no other land behi nd them, and their very seas, wh ich before had protected them from foreign invasion, are bei ng threatened by the Romans: et nullae ultra terrae ac ne mare quidem securum inminente nobis classe Romana , 30.1. This tribe of Britain, the Caledonians who live in the innermost part of Britain, has overcome what Tacitus related earlier was the Britons’ most serious weakness—they have now banded together to repel a common threat. 24 Albrecht 1982: 61-2. 25 Cf. Suet. Iul . 62. 26 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 13. 62


Calgacus states that their very isolation has save d them from slavery and tyranny at the hands of the Romans: nos terrarum ac libertatis extremos rece ssus ipse ac sinus famae in hunc diem defendit , 30.3. Their landscape can now no longer protect them. The pair of speeches recalls the speeches that Hannibal and P. Cornelius Scipio, father of Scipio Africanus, gave to their troops before th e battle of Ticinus (Liv. 21.40-3). Before the battle, Hannibal gave a speech of exhortation to his troops who had just crossed the Alps into Italy. He speaks of having no other retreat—they must conquer or die since they are enclosed on both sides by the seas: Dextra laeuaque duo maria claudunt nullam ne ad effugium quidem nauem habentes , Liv. 21.43.4. The roles of Roman and foreigner are reversed between the two situations, since it is Agricola who reminds his troops about the gr eat distance they have traveled and that there is no real means of escape—it is more glorious to die here in Britain on the edges of the earth: nec inglorium fuerit in ipso terrarium ac naturae fine cecidisse , Agr. 33.6. Calgacus’s speech is also reminiscent of Scipio’s because it is the Romans who must now fight against an enemy that threatens their shores: hic est obstandum, milites, uelut si ante Romana moenia pugnemus , Liv. 21.40.15-6. In both works, the landscape plays an important role in characterizing the nature and defi ning the stakes of the battle. Moreover, Calgacus is cast as a worthy opponent, one who speaks with Roman refinement and calls to mind virtues that Ag ricola himself embodies. We see that before the battle of Ticinus, both Hannibal and Scipio admired each other for their skill (Liv. 21.39.9). Although there is no explicit mention of Agricola’s and Calgacus’ estimation of each other, Calgacus’ character during the speech demonstrates a man who, though not Roman, espouses Roman ideals. He expresses the critic isms of Roman imperialism that Ogilvie and Richmond state were 63


voiced in the schools. 27 Ogilvie and Richmond add that Calgacus’ knowledge of the cosmopolitan organization of the Roman army ( quem contractum ex diversissimis gentibus , 32.1) and the position of the slaves in the household (31.2) presuppos es knowledge of Roman society that he would never have had an opportunity to obtain. This illustrates how Tacitus uses the character of Calgacus, the ‘other ,’ as a mirror to examine the Roman state whose faults under the principate he repeatedly identi fies and criticizes throughout the Agricola . Agricola himself embodies what is best about Rome, and the exhort ations of the two commanders to their troops and their contrasting themes provide ample material to Tacitus’ Ro man readers for reflection. These characterizations go a long way in helpin g to preserve the memory of Agricola’s deeds in the minds of the Romans. Tacitus ha s reinforced Agricola’s prestige and Rome’s by telling the story of his conquests, since by doing so it can be seen as making ‘textual inroads into foreign territories’ which they have conquere d. This functions, according to Kraus and Woodman, to reinforce the extension and legitimizing of temporal power. 28 By recounting his conquests in Britain, the country no longer becomes such a foreign and mysterious landscape but a place that the Romans have plac ed under their control and now a part of their empire. Indeed, in his exhortation to his troops in c. 33, Agricola mimics this no tion when he states that having found Britain it was conquered: inventa Britannia et subacta , 33.1. Agricola had made many inroads into their territory by his expeditions, civil works, and benevol ence towards the Britons whereas his predecessors were only partially succ essful in their campaigns. His governance and leadership won him praise from both sides and lasting fame. Just as he displays virtus in the 27 Ogilvie and Richmond 1967: 253. 28 Kraus and Woodman 1997: 40. 64


manner of the illustrious figures he is equated to, so subsequent generations shall remember him as a figure worthy of emulation. The inclusion of ethnographic details is approp riate for a work which purports to tell the story of a man whose most significant accomp lishment was achieved in a foreign land amongst foreign people. Ethnography helps present this required background to the reader in a familiar format and serves a literary purpose by helping to introduce themes that are important to the work as a whole. The confluen ce of these two genres brings to the forefront a contrast which above all brings out Tacitus’ message in a manner which could not be achieved without the contribution of both. The conventions of these ge nres complement each other in their ability to record detail that is important for a better understanding of the subjec t by the inclusion of material that was deemed unsuitable for a ‘pr oper’ history. The incl usion of ethnography was a deliberate move by Tacitus and should not be considered merely a ‘digression’ from the main aim of the work, but as an integral part of Agricola’s characterization. 65


CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In this thesis, I have expl ored what the special relati onship between the genres of ethnography and biography brings to Tacitus’ Agricola and how these help his characterization of Agricola as a virtuous man, worthy of emulat ion in the spirit of la udatory biography. Though criticized for its composite nature, the Agricola is a work in which Tacitus weaves with skill and eloquence different traditions whos e unique natures serve distinct pu rposes within his narrative. The tradition of Greco-Roman biography is known for its flexibility. It can readily admit elements of another genre such as ethnography which is so closely allied w ith its literary cousin, history. The two genres complement each other and shed insight on not only Agricola’s character but on their literary conventions and what they meant to the ancients. Genre was not a rigid classification to which a work had to a dhere. Instead, the anci ent Greeks and Romans played upon the associations of genre in innovati ve and unique ways which added to the literary merit of their works. In addition, we have seen how Tacitus’ styl e shows a writer already heavily indebted to his historiographic predecessors such as Sallust and Livy. Tacitu s’ foray into historiography and ethnography within what purports to be a biography looks forward to his subsequent works the Germania, Annales and Historiae. Especially in the realm of ethnography, Tacitus’ account of the Britons is heavily influenced by Sallu st’s treatment of the Numidians in the Jurgurtha and the information contained in Livy’s lost 105 th book of the Ab Urbe Condita . Such treatment can be considered a starting point for hi s major contribution to the genre—the Germania, which is the only extant example of a work solely et hnographical nature in Greco-Roman antiquity up until that time. We can find no example in the Agricola of his profession of speaking with an 66


incondita ac rudi voce , not with the evidence we see of his skillful adaptation of their style into his work. As the Agricola shows us, the interplay of different genres in one work has significant meaning not only within the realm of poetry but in that of histor iography as well. Allusion and intertextuality between these ge neric traditions interact with each other to form special relationships, ones that call to mi nd the authoritative voices of the past. This lends weight not only to Tacitus’ account of the lif e of his father-in-law by emulating his predecessors but also to the characterization of Agricola himself through associations with vene rable figures of the Roman past. Tacitus’ exercise of filial piety towards his father-in-law gives us a unique portrait of a man who is worthy of emulation, very much in the spirit of the aims of a Roman laudatio funebris , one which depicts a man who demonstrated Roman virtus even under the rule of a despotic leader and who carried out his duties for the state in a manner reminiscent of illustrious figures of the past. Tacitus pays homage to hi s father-in-law not only by narrating his deeds for posterity but by the skillful way he portrays the man himself. Bringing the details of the lands and peoples of Britain into the narrative was a deliberate step which gave important context to his deeds. One cannot understand Agricola wit hout first being acquainted with the stage on which he achieved his lasting fame. This ch aracterization could neve r have been achieved without the interaction of the ethnographic genre. Goodyear’s assessment of the ‘questionable’ success of the amalgamation of these traditions into one work is inaccurate. Agricola’s lasting fame is evidence of its success. Lasting character and personal achieveme nt, Tacitus states, are best shown through your own character rather than art. But indeed Tacitu s’ skillful portrayal 67


renders the prediction at the end of the Agricola ( Agricola posteritati narratus et traditus superstes erit , 46.4) true for this very reason. 68


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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Hardai Soraya Patricia Jadoo was born D ecember 22, 1980, in New York, New York. The youngest of three children, she grew up in the Bronx and moved to Miami, Florida, when she was nine years old. There she graduated fr om Miami Killian Sr. High in 1998 and attended Florida International University in Miami before enrolling in the University of Florida. She earned her B.A. at the Univer sity of Florida graduating cum laude with a double major in anthropology and classical studies. Before enrolling in her master’s program, Ha rdai worked at the University of Florida’s International Center as assistant to the Executiv e Associate Director. There her duties included helping establish agreements with foreign universities and providing su pport to international students and faculty at UF. Upon completion of her master’s program, she plans to teach Latin at the secondary school level. She is engaged to Kevin Campbe ll and lives in Gainesville, Florida. 73