In AD68 Nero's suicide marked the end of the first dynasty of imperial Rome. The following year was one of drama and danger, though not of chaos.
In the surviving books of his Histories the barrister-historian Tacitus, writing some thirty years after the events he describes, gives us a detailed account based on excellent authorities. In the 'long but single year' of revolution four emperors emerge in succession: Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian - who established the Flavian dynasty.
Rhiannon Ash stays true to the spirit of Wellesley's prose whilst making the translation more accessible to modern readers.
Tacitus was born c.55 AD and probably survived the emperor Trajan who dies in 117. Known in Rome for his impressive oratory, he maintained a political career as a sentor under Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Rhiannon Ash is Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Merton College, Oxford. After taking an MA in Medieval Latin at the University of Toronto, she returned from Canada to Oxford, where she wrote a doctorate on Tacitus' Histories. Her publications include Ordering Anarchy; Leaders and Armies in Tacitus' Histories (1999) and a comentary, Tacitus Histories Book II (2007), in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series. She has also written articles on Naevius, Pliny the Younger, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius and Plutarch. Kenneth Wellesley was, until 1981, Reader of Humanity (Latin) at the University of Edinburgh. He contributed a number of papers to learned journals on various aspects of Roman history and literature. Most of the sites mentioned in the Histories were familiar to him from personal knowledge, and he was co-editor of the standard Teubner text of Tacitus (Leipzig). He died in 1995.