Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Between its abundant murders, executions, and suicides, the Roman historian Tacitus' account of the Julio-Claudian principate, titled the Annales, is filled with death. The reader cannot help but wonder why. This project attempts to provide an answer to this question through a systematic analysis of death scenes within the Annales, arguing that they serve as structural elements around which Tacitus organizes the other elements of his history. The thesis develops this main point through two smaller ones. The first is that death scenes mark points of transition within the Annales, highlighting changes in Rome's balance of power, the introduction of important characters, and shifts in the relationship between the emperor and the senate. The second is that deaths trace the progression of the emperors into greater and greater tyranny, as they murder their victims with increasing openness and Rome's elite becomes less able to resist their schemes.
Rudman, Nicholas, "Founded Upon Death: A Structural Analysis of Tacitus' Annales" (2018). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1169.
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