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12/02/2014

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Enzo Rossi

I just thought Tacitus was using Galcacus to slip in the standard, Stoic-tinted aristocratic dislike of the gluttonous Empire as corruption of the noble Republic (read: reduction of the senatorial class' power). The Stoic thing to do for Agricola might've been precisely to commit suicide; so in serving the tyrant Agricola gains glory but renounces his Stoic freedom, and the senatorial propaganda narrative is nicely wrapped up.

Eric Schliesser

Enzo, I think Tacitus is being more subtle and complicated (or cowardly) than your suggestion. For, as he makes clear in the text (at the start and end), he also does not act on the Stoic thing to do. He lived through the (very bad) periods he is describing, after all. But I don't see clear evidence he thought suicide was the right way to go. Rather, he seems to be saying, 'keep your head down and hope for better times' and serve where you can (or something to that effect).

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