Tacitus the Epic Successor
Allusions to the epic poets Virgil and Lucan in the writing of the Roman historian Tacitus (c. 55 – c. 120 C.E.) have long been noted. This monograph argues that Tacitus fashions himself as a rivaling literary successor to these poets; and that the emulative allusions to Virgil’s Aeneid and Lucan’s Bellum Civile in Books 1–3 of his inaugural historiographical work, the Histories, complement and build upon each other, and contribute significantly to the picture of repetitive, escalating civil war in the work. The argument is founded on the close reading of a series of related passages in the Histories, and it also broadens to consider certain narrative techniques and strategies that Tacitus shares with writers of epic.