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Ancient History: Agricola and Germania by Tacitus


The Agricola and Germania is a book mainly written for two distinct historical purposes: the first one is to appraise Agricola, a talented commander and a real historic figure of the Roman Empire period, and the second one serves to praise the Germania inhabitants. In the book, we find Julius Agricola who was a legend in the history of Anglesey and was the most famous governor to ever rule Roman Britain (Tacitus 7). The book brings to the reader one of the most fascinating geographical descriptions, together with providing an in-depth insight into the culture of roman people.

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Through the many works by Tacitus’, we see that the Roman culture attached huge importance to military service, as all the ranks in Rome had some importance attached to them for their military service. The Roman had military ideals which constituted empathy, leadership, and, above all, good discipline (Tacitus71). Through the writing by Tacitus, we come across the German culture where the residents are simply not into work that entails hard work and much torture from thirst and hunger. The Germans are also brought out as living a simple life that has some pure sense of lifestyle as compared to the lifestyles of their Roman contemporaries.

There are many themes developed in the two novels, these themes include.


In Tacitus’s writings, we find the developing theme of warfare which constituted most of the Roman culture. We learn how the British used to lose war simply because of their poor strategy and inability to cooperate, which in the latter days to come; the British used the same concept of divide and rule to extend their territorial control (Tacitus 78). In Agricola, Tacitus portraits the events of the war as very important to the locals where inhabitants invested most of their funds in military power. Julius Agricola is painted as a fair military leader who would condone minor mistakes and dedicated most of his efforts to deal with major crimes (Tacitus 151). The Germans, on the other hand, come along as savage and stupid in most of their activities, including the key activity of warfare.

Family life

The Germania community believed in family life where life was of great importance and was considered to be sacred; and men were known to take only one wife, where husbands were to bring their wives dowry. The idea of clandestine love letters was practiced by both genders and served to increase love feelings between partners (Tacitus 84). Their dressing code was unique and clothes were deemed with high respect, they used thorns or brooches as embroidery. Practices of adultery were very rare and in most cases, adultery never existed and if one was caught, they were punished. In general, everyone who failed to follow the community’s believes as a result received severe punishment. Likewise in Agricola, family ties were respected, adultery was not practiced and if anyone was found guilty especially women, they were isolated, put in exile camps, and lost their respect never to regain it again.


Germania’s system of government and economic system were fairly noble. One’s efforts and good deeds were key aspects of determining one’s merit in life (Tacitus 93). Individuals could fend for themselves and there were no limiting rules to govern one degree of gaining wealth. Their ignorance of capital investment was a reality. The same with the Agricola, where the economic system was also quite noble and fair, but just like the Germans, the Agricola community lacked knowledge of capital investment.

Through the novel, we co the understanding of the author’s views and beliefs. He was able to relive a man’s vision and understanding while, at the same time, he was tending to hope that the concept of immortality can be achieved through writing. Today, many things have changed; the way of ruling is not the same anymore, technology is changing with each passing day, and the societal beliefs are rapidly changing as well. Today’s world is not very different from our ancestral age. What makes the differences is the new ideas which make the old ideas obsolete. However, a closer look at us talking about the same thing is achieved through creative writing like that of Tacitus that helps us recreate the old version of the lost world (Tacitus 84). The themes discussed above, and as seen through the eyes of Tacitus, provide the roman culture with a sense of nostalgia which we are all able to relate with the colonists of every era. The non-Romans description of events as seen in their ways of life provides us with a sense of direction where we tend to admire their strong personal attachments to family and it prompts us to take our families seriously, among many other things.

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As seen above, the Roman Empire is ruled by governors who had a lot of similarities in their historical context and way of life. The inhabitants of both Germania and Agricola had some aspects they believed in, for example, military superiority. Through the eyes of Tacitus, in both Agricola and Germania, many cultural themes are developed including the all-round theme of family ties. The non- roman culture descriptions provide us with some learning examples to enumerate and at the same time, we learn from the mistakes they made.

Works cited

Tacitus, Caius Cornelius. The Germany and the Agricola of Tacitus (Paperback). Penguin books. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 30). Ancient History: Agricola and Germania by Tacitus.

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