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date: 16 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Thucydides and Tacitus are both uncomfortable authors whose unsparing commitment to revealing the truth results in grim depictions of the amoral deployment of political power—power for the sake of power—in idiosyncratic and difficult idioms. However, Tacitus never announces a program of Thucydides-imitation, whether pertaining to methodology or theme. Nor do ancient commentators link Tacitus to his Greek predecessor. Nevertheless, the two are much alike in important aspects of their historiographical achievements. The chapter explores a pair of passages in which the two historians treat one of history’s “repeating events”—defection from an imperial power. In examining the narratives of the Mytilenean and Batavian revolts (Thuc. 3.2–6, 8–18, 23–33, 35–50; Tac. H. 4.12–37, 54–79, 5.14–26), it gives due attention to “each new permutation of circumstances,” the important proviso that Thucydides attaches to his prediction about recurrence (3.82.2).

Keywords: Thucydides, Tacitus, Mytilenean revolt, Batavian revolt, historiography

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