The Reign of Tiberius

The Reign of Tiberius

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The Reign of Tiberius by Tacitus

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242

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The Reign of Tiberius

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Book Excerpt

ords of Tacitus, it is only fair to place the commendations of Paterculus, and even Tacitus remarks, that after the fall of Sejanus, Tiberius became worse; like Henry VIII., after the fall of Wolsey. Livia and Sejanus are said by Tacitus, to have restrained the worst passions of the Emperor. The two best authorities contradict one another; they differ, as much as our political organs differ, about the characters of living statesmen: and who are we, to decide absolutely, from a distance of two thousand years, at our mere caprice, and generally without sufficient evidence, that one ancient writer is correct; and another, dishonest or mistaken? This is only less absurd, than to prefer the groping style and thoughts of a modern pedant, usually a German as well, to the clear words of an old writer, who may be the sole remaining authority for the statements we presume to question; or for those very facts, upon which our reasonings depend. And how easy it is to misunderstand what we read in ancient histories, to be

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