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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Histories


published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus, 1931

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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(Vol. III) Tacitus

 p221  Fragments

1 1 The Jews, being closely besieged and given no opportunity to make peace or to surrender, were finally dying of starvation, and the streets began to be filled with corpses everywhere, for they were now unequal to the duty of burying their dead; moreover, made bold to resort to every kind of horrible food, they did not spare even human bodies — save those of which they had been robbed by the wasting that such food had caused.

2 1 It is said that Titus first called a council and deliberated whether he should destroy such a mighty temple. For some thought that a consecrated shrine, which was famous beyond all other works of men, ought not to be razed, arguing that its preservation would bear witness to the moderation of Rome, while its destruction would for ever brand her cruelty. Yet others, including Titus himself, opposed, holding the destruction of this temple to be a prime necessity in order to wipe out more completely the religion of the Jews and the Christians; for they urged that these religions, although hostile to each other, nevertheless sprang from the same sources; the Christians had grown out of the Jews: if the root were destroyed, the stock would easily perish.

3 1 That six hundred thousand Jews were killed in that war is stated by Cornelius and Suetonius.1

 p223  4 1 Next, to quote the words of Cornelius Tacitus, "the gate of Janus, that had been opened when Augustus was old, remained so while on the very boundaries of the world new peoples were being attacked, often to our profit and sometimes to our loss, even down to the reign of Vespasian." Thus far Cornelius.

5 1 Gordianus . . . opened the gates of Janus:​2 as to the question whether anyone closed them after Vespasian and Titus, I can recall no statement by any historian; yet Cornelius Tacitus reports that they were opened after a year by Vespasian himself.

6 1 For the mighty battles of Diurpaneus, king of the Dacians, with the Roman general Fuscus,​3 and the mighty losses of the Romans I should now set forth at length, if Cornelius Tacitus, who composed the history of these times with the greatest care, had not said that Sallustius Crispus and very many other historians had approved of passing over in silence the number of our losses, and that he for his own part had chosen the same course before all others.

7 1 Those vast Scythian peoples whom all our ancestors and even the famous Alexander the Great had feared and avoided according to the testimony of Pompeius​4 and Cornelius . . . I mean the Alans, the Huns, and the Goths, Theodosius attacked without hesitation and defeated in many great battles.

8 1 But these (Locrians) who live near Delphi are called the Ozolians . . .; however, those who moved to Libya have the name of Nasamones,º as Cornelius Tacitus reports, being sprung from the Narycii.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Tacitus actually says (V.13) that six hundred thousand was the number of the besieged. Suetonius, in his extant works, says nothing of the number of those killed.

2 A.D. 242.

3 Cornelius Fuscus (vid. index), who under Domitian suffered a serious defeat at the hands of the Dacians. Cf.  Suet. Dom. 6; Martial, Epig. VI.76; Dio Cass. LXVII.6.

4 Pompeius Trogus, whose history is preserved in the abridgment by Justin.

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Page updated: 21 Dec 08