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§ I. Our knowledge of the chief facts and dates in the life of
Tacitus rests mainly on allusions in his own writings and those
of his friend the younger Pliny, who addresses several letters to
him and often speaks of him in others.
His praenomen is not mentioned in this correspondence, and
is differently given by later authorities as Gaius or Publius. His
family connexions are unknown ; but he would appear to have
been the first of his name to attain senatorial rank, though of
sufficient position to have begun his ' cursus honorum ' at the
earliest, or almost the earliest, legal age ; as he can hardly have
been born earlier than 52-54 A. D., and must have been quaestor
not later than 79 A. D., by which time he had also received in
marriage the daughter of Agricola, who was already a consular,
and one of the first men in the State.
His boyhood falls thus under the time of Nero ; his assumption
of the ' toga virilis ' would coincide, or nearly so, with the terrible
year of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius ; his early manhood was spent
under Vespasian and Titus ; the prime of his life under Domitian ;
the memory of whose tyranny is seen in all his historical writings,
which were composed at various dates in the great time of Trajan.
Most of his life may be supposed to have been spent in Rome,
where he became one of the leaders of the Bar, and one of the
best known literary names of Rome ; so that a stranger sitting
next to him at the games, and finding him to be a man of letters,
asked whether he was speaking to Tacitus or to Pliny ^ He is
further known ^ as having been consul suffectus and in that
capacity colleague with Nerva in 97 A. D., and as associated with
Pliny in the prosecution of Marius Priscus, proconsul of Africa, in
^ Plin. Etp. ix 23, 2. ^ lb. ii 1,6.

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