Born around 54 CE, Tacitus studied law, served as a lawyer, held high positions in administration and wrote historical works. Tacitus began his literary career with his writing The Life of Agricola, his governor father-in-law.
A historical biography, The Life of Agricola gives an account of the Roman wars in Britain, the condition of the Britons under the Roman rule and the administration of Agricola. More than of historical interest, this book represents an admiration of an uncorrupted citizen of Rome, as Agricola was. This work was followed by several others-Dialogue on Orators, Germania, Annals and Historiae.
In accordance with the prevailing trend of the times, the Dialogue on Orators gives importance to speeches. The Germania deals with the customs, manners and beliefs of the ancient Germans. The Annals is a historical sketch of the Julian dynasty from Tiberius to Nero, that is, from 14 CE to 68 CE. Historian carries the story from the death of Nero in 68 CE to the death of Domitian in 96 CE So as to cover the Flavian dynasty of the Roman Empire.
Tacitus is noted for his analytical skill, character study and forcible expression. After a careful analysis of human nature, he has made certain observations, which have universal application. He tells: The more corrupt the State the more numerous are Laws; in war every commander claims the credit of victory but none admits to the defeat. His works throw light upon the conditions of Europe under the Roman rule. Though be was giant contributor to historical writing, he suffered from certain handicap. He frequently depended upon oral tradition, rumours and even gossip. He used the pages more indicting the imperial than for telling the entire truth about the Roman. His writings convey the impression that he was more an artist than a thinker.598