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Nerva and Trajan, as he intended, he probably did n ot
s urvive the completion of the Annals. The JTixtnripx of
Tacitus, completed early in the reign of Trajan, would hav e
covered the period from the death of Nero to the ac ces sion of
Nerva, ^ — about IJ, books in all. of_vyhk;h i-iv and part_of_v
are ext ant. The Annal s ^vexQ finished about 115^D. The
title of the work in the Medicean MS. is Cornelii Taciti ab
excessu diui Augusti. Tacitus calls it annales, because it is
arranged according to years. It consisted originally of 16 o r
mo re book s, vil^ are entirely lo st, also parts of v, vi,
XE^ X^. Books i-vi would have covered the reign of
Tiberius. vii would have begun that of Gains (37 A.D.).
XI begins with the sixth year of Claudius (47 a.d.). xii
carries us to the end of Claudius (54 a.d.). xiii-end would
have given us the whole of Nero, xvr, as we have it, ceases
at 68 A.D. Evidently the ambition of Tacitus was to cover
the whole period from the beginning of Augustus to the end
of Trajan.
' All of them profess great affection for letters ; it is one
way of justifying and ennobling their fortune. Not only have
they studied eloquence in their youth ; to speak well is an
indispensable accomplishment for a Roman magistrate ; but
they take an interest in philosophy or even compose elegies
and epics. I do not believe that in any other period has
literature l)een so greatly loved. Seneca even considers that
it is loved too much, and that people carry their taste for it
to the point of mania : litterarum intemperantia laboramus
{Epist. cvi 2). It was, in short, a very agreeable society,
which no longer had the distinction and high bearing of the
early days of the Empire, but in which wei-e still to be found,
with a less spacious life and simpler manners, much charm
and wit.'

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