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TACITUS.

again urged the fathers to yield to their wishes ; and although again met with the same reply, still persisted in their original solicitation. This ex­traordinary contest continued for upwards of six months, " an amazing period," says Gibbon, " of tranquil anarchy, during which the Roman world remained without a sovereign, without an usurper, and without sedition."

Such a state of things could not however long endure. The barbarians on the frontiers, who had been quelled and daunted by the skill and daring valour of Aurelian, were not slow to take advantage of the opportunity presented by this strange position of public affairs. The Germans had already crossed the Rhine: Persia, Syria, Africa, Illyria and Egypt were in commotion, when the senate, at length convinced that the soldiers were sincere, joyfully prepared to dis­charge a duty so unexpectedly devolved upon them. At a meeting convoked on the 25th of September, a. d. 275, by the consul Velius Corni-ficius Gordianus, all with one voice declared that no one could be found so worthy of the throne as M. Claudius Tacitus, an aged consular, a native of Interamna (Vopisc. Florian. 2), who claimed de­scent from the great historian whose name he bore, who was celebrated for his devotion to literature, for his vast wealth, for his pure and upright character, and who stood first on the roll. The real or feigned earnestness with which he declined the proffered honour, on account of his advanced age and infirmities, was encountered by the re­iterated acclamations of his brethren, who over­whelmed him with arguments and precedents, until at length, yielding to their importunate zeal, he consented to proceed to the Campus Martius, and there received the greetings of the people, and the praetorians assembled to do homage to their new ruler. Quitting the city, he repaired to the great army still quartered in Thrace, by whom, on their being promised the arrears of pay and the customary donative, he was favourably received. One of his first acts was to seek out and put to death all who had been concerned in the murder of his predecessor, whose character he held in high honour, commanding statues of gold and silver to be erected to his memory in the most frequented thoroughfares of the metropolis. He likewise di­rected his attention to the improvement of public morals by the enactment of various sumptuary laws regulating the amusements, luxurious indul­gences, and dress of the citizens, he himself setting an example to all around, by the abstemiousness, simplicity, and frugality of his own habits. His great object was to revive the authority of the senate, which now for a brief period asserted and maintained a semblance of its ancient dignity, and the private letters preserved by Vopiscus (Florian. 6) exhibit an amusing picture of the sacrifices and banquets by which the senators manifested their exultation at the prospect opening up before them of a complete restoration of their ancient privileges.

The only military achievement of this reign was the defeat and expulsion from Asia Minor of a party of Goths, natives of the shores of the sea of Asof, who having been invited by Aurelian to co­operate in his meditated invasion of the East, and having been disappointed of their promised reward by the death of that prince, had turned their arms against the peaceful provinces on the southern coasts of the Euxine, and had carried their de-

TACITUS.

vastations across the peninsula to the confines of Cilicia.

But the advanced years and failing strength of Tacitus were unable any longer to support the cares and toils so suddenly imposed upon him, and his anxieties were still farther increased by the mutinous spirit of the army, which soon ceased to respect a leader whose bodily and mental energies were fast hurrying to decay. After a short struggle, he sunk under the attack of a fever, either at Tarsus or at Tyana, about the 9th of April, a. d. 276 ; according to Victor, exactly two hundred days after his accession. By one account, he fell a victim to the anger of the soldiers ; but the weight of evidence tends to prove that they were not the direct instruments, at least, of his de­struction.

Our best authority is the biography of Vopiscus, who, if not actually an eyewitness of what he re­ counts, had an opportunity of consulting the rich collection of state papers stored up in the Ulpian Library ; and from these he gives several remark­ able extracts. He refers also to a more complete life of Tacitus by a certain Suetonius Optatianus, but of this no fragment remains. See likewise Eutrop. ix. 10 ; Aurel. Vict. de Caes. xxxvi. Epit. xxxvi. ; Zonar. xii. 28, who says that he was seventy-five years old, and in Campania, when proclaimed emperor. [W. R.]

COIN OF M. CLAUDIUS TACITUS.

TACITUS, C. CORNE'LIUS, the historian. The time and place of the birth of Tacitus are un­known. He was nearly of the same age as the younger Plinius (Plin. Ep. vii. 20) who was bom about a.d. 61 [C. plinius caecilius secundus], but a little older. His gentile name is not sufficient evidence that he belonged to the Cornelia Gens ; nor is there proof of his having been bom at Interamna (Terni), as it is sometimes affirmed. Some facts relative to his biography may be col­lected from his .own writings and from the letters of his friend, the younger Plinius.

Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman eques, is mentioned by Plinius (//. N. vii. 16, note, ed. Hardouin) as a procurator in Gallia Belgica. Plinius died a. d. 79, and the procurator cannot have been the historian ; but he may have been his father. In an inscription of doubtful authority he is named Cornelius Verus Tacitus. Tacitus was first pro­moted by the emperor Vespasian (Hist. i. 1), and he received other favours from his sons Titus and Domitian. C. Julius Agricola, who was consul A. d. 77, betrothed his daughter to Tacitus in that year, but the marriage did not take place until the following year. In the reign of Domitian, and in a. d. 88, Tacitus was praetor, and he assisted as one of the quindecemviri at the solemnity of the Ludi Seculares which were celebrated in that year,

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