Changes Over Night: An Analysis of the Aftermath of Mons Graupius in Tacitus' Agricola
AuthorMoat, Collin James
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractDespite its impressionistic quality and engaging imagery, Tacitus’ description of the aftermath of the battle of Mons Graupius has largely been ignored in scholarship. When treated, it is regarded as a problematic passage that either regards the biographee with ambivalence or comments negatively upon Roman imperial conquest and by extension Agricola himself. In order to interpret this passage, this thesis engages with Agricola as a work of literature and analyzes the passage in light of Tacitus’ rhetorical goals of bestowing praise on his deceased father-in-law and showing contempt for the deposed emperor Domitian. The first chapter considers how Tacitus puns on Agricola’s cognomen to portray Agricola as a farmer who has travelled to the edges of the world to drive off wild beasts and clear the landscape for cultivation in service to Rome. The second explores the thematic and symbolic unity created by Tacitus’ focus on Britain’s unique nights and its influence on the structure and content of the description of the aftermath. This thesis concludes that Tacitus’ description of the aftermath is not ambivalent about Agricola’s character, but a testament both to his accomplishment and Domitian’s desire to thwart good men from achieving glory for themselves and Rome.
Degree ProgramGraduate College