Publius Cornelius Tacitus,
The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 (Gordon’s Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)) 
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About this Title:
The historical works of Tacitus are a history of the period from A.D. 14 to 96 in thirty volumes. Although many of the works were lost (only books 1-5 of the Histories and 1-6 and 11-16 of the Annals survive), enough remains to provide a good sense of Tacitus’s political and moral philosophy. He recognized the necessity for strong rulers but argued that more should be done to manage the succession of power and allow for the ascension of talent. Tacitus asserted that it was the dynastic ambitions of Rome’s many emperors that caused the decline of moral and political life and precluded the possibility of recruiting leaders of real ability. Moreover, the dynastic temptation caused political instability because military force was now required for political change. His works point to the necessity of systematic institutional restraints on power for the preservation of liberty. Gordon’s translation and his lengthy Discourses on Tacitus bring Tacitus’ ideas up to date and apply them to the British state of the early 18th century.
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Table of Contents:
TO The Right Honourable Sir Robert
THE CONTENTS OF THE DISCOURSES.
DISCOURSES UPON TACITUS.
DISCOURSE I.: Upon the former English Translations of
Sect. I.: Of the Translation by
Greenway and Sir H. Savill.
Sect. II.: Of the English Translation by several
Sect. III.: Of the last Translation of the first
Sect. IV.: Of the last Translation of the second
Sect. V.: Of the last Translation of the third
Sect. VI.: Of the last Translation of the
fourth, fifth, and sixth Annal.
Sect. VII.: Of the last Translation of the
Sect. VIII.: Of the last Translation of the
twelfth and thirteenth Annals.
Sect. IX.: Of the last Translation of the
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth Annals.
DISCOURSE II.: Upon Tacitus and his
Sect. I.: The Character of
Sect. II.: How much he excells in Description
Sect. III.: Further instances of the justness of
his Genius, and of his great Thoughts.
Sect. IV.: The Morality of
Tacitus, and his spirit virtuous and
Sect. V.: The Stile of Tacitus, how pertinent and happy: his
Obscurity, a charge of the moderns only.
Sect. VI.: A general Character of his
Sect. VII.: Tacitus vindicated from the imputation of deriving events from counsels too
subtle and malevolent.
Sect. VIII.: More Proofs of the Candour and
Veracity of Tacitus.
Sect. IX.: Mr. Bayle’s unjust censure of Tacitus; and how well the latter knew and
observed the Laws of History.
Sect. X.: An Apology for the wrong account
by Tacitus given of the Jews and
Christians, and for his disregard of the Religion then received.
Sect. XI.: The foolish censure of
Boccalini and others upon
Sect. XII.: Of the several Commentators and
Translators of Tacitus.
Sect. XIII.: A Conjecture concerning the modern
Languages, more largely concerning the English.
Sect. XIV.: A Conjecture concerning the present
state of the English Tongue, with an account of the present Work.
DISCOURSE III.: Upon Cæsar the
Sect. I.: Of Cæsar’s Usurpation, and why his Name is less
odious than that of Catiline.
Sect. II.: Of the publick Corruption by
Cæsar promoted or introduced; with his bold
and wicked Conduct.
Sect. III.: Cæsar might
have purified and reformed the State; but far different were his intentions.
His Art, good Sense, and continued ill Designs.
Sect. IV.: The probability of his waxing more
cruel, had he reigned much longer.
Sect. V.: Cæsar no
lawful Magistrate, but a public Enemy.
Sect. VI.: Of the share which Casualties
had, in raising the Name and Memory of Cæsar.
The Judgment of Cicero concerning him.
Sect. VII.: How vain it is to extol any Designs
of his for the Glory of the Roman people.
Sect. VIII.: Of his Death; and the rashness of
ascribing to divine Vengeance the fate of such as slew him.
DISCOURSE IV.: Upon Octavius Cæsar,
afterwards called Augustus.
Sect. I.: Of the base and impious Arts by which
he acquired the Empire.
Sect. II.: Of the vindictive spirit of
Octavius, and his horrid
Sect. III.: Of the treachery, ingratitude,
and further cruelties of Octavius. That the same were wanton and voluntary.
Sect. IV.: Of the popular Arts and Accidents
which raised the Character of Augustus.
Sect. V.: Though Augustus courted the people, and particular
Senators, he continued to depress public Liberty, and the Senate.
Sect. VI.: What Fame he derived from the Poets
and other flattering Writers of his time.
Sect. VII.: Of the false Glory sought and
acquired by Augustus, from the badness
of his Successors.
Sect. VIII.: The Character of
Sect. IX.: Of the Helps and Causes which
acquired and preserved the Empire to Augustus.
His great Power and Fortune no proof of extraordinary
DISCOURSE V.: Of Governments free and arbitrary, more
especially that of the Cæsars.
Sect. I.: The Principle of God’s appointing and
protecting Tyrants, an Absurdity not believed by the Romans.
Sect. II.: The reasonableness of resisting
Tyrants asserted, from the Ends of Government, and the Nature of the Deity.
Opinions the most impious and extravagant, why taught, and how easily
Sect. III.: The danger of slavish Principles to
such as trust in them, and the notorious insecurity of lawless Might.
Sect. IV.: Princes of little and bad Minds, most
greedy of Power. Princes of large and good Minds chuse to rule by Law and
Sect. V.: The Wisdom and Safety of ruling by
standing Laws, to Prince and People.
Sect. VI.: The Condition of free States, how
preferable to that of such as are not free.
Sect. VII.: The Misery and Insecurity of the
Cæsars from their overgrown Power.
Sect. VIII.: A representation of the Torments
and Horrors under which Tiberius lived.
Sect. IX.: The terrible Operation of lawless
Power upon the minds of Princes; and how it changes them.
Sect. X.: The wretched Fears accompanying
the Possession of arbitrary Power, exemplified in Caligula and other Roman Emperors.
Sect. XI.: What it is that constitutes the
Security and Glory of a Prince; and how a Prince and People become estranged
from each other.
Sect. XII.: How nearly it behoves a Prince to be
beloved and esteemed by his Subjects. The terrible Consequences of their mutual
Mistrust and Hatred.
Sect. XIII.: Public Happiness only then certain,
when the Laws are certain and inviolable.
DISCOURSE VI.: Of the old Law of Treason by the Emperors
perverted and extended.
Sect. I.: The antient Purpose of that Law;
the Politics of Augustus in stretching
Sect. II.: The Deification of the Emperors, what
an engine of Tyranny, and snare to the Roman People.
Sect. III.: The Images of the Emperors, how
sacred they became, and how pernicious.
Sect. IV.: What a destructive Calamity the Law
of Majesty grew, and how fast Treasons multiplied under its Name.
DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the
Sect. IV.: The pestilent Employment of these
Men, their Treachery and Encouragement.
Sect. II.: The traiterous Methods taken to
circumvent and convict Innocence. The spirit of accusing how common, the dread
of it how universal; and the misery of the Times.
Sect. III.: Plots feigned or true, an ample field
for Accusations and Cruelty; and upon what miserable Evidence Executions were
Sect. IV.: What ridiculous Causes produced
capital Guilt. The spirit of the Emperor Constantius;
with somewhat of his Father Constantine.
Sect. V.: The black and general carnage
made under Constantius, by his bloody
Minister Paulus Catena, for certain
Acts of Superstition and Curiosity.
Sect. VI.: The Ravages of the Accusers
continued; their Credit with the Emperors; yet generally meet their Fate. The
Falsehood of these Princes. The melancholy State of those Times.
Sect. VII.: The increase of Tyranny. Innocence
and Guilt not measured by the Law, but by the Emperor’s Pleasure and
Sect. VIII.: What Tacitus means by Instrumenta regni.
Sect. IX.: How much these Emperors hated, and
how fast they destroyed all great and worthy Men. Their dread of every Man for
Sect. X.: Reflections upon the Spirit of a
Tyrant. With what Wantonness the Roman Emperors shed the blood of the Roman
People. The blindness of such as assisted the Usurpation of Cæsar and Augustus.
Sect. XI.: Why under such Tyrants, the Senate
continued to subsist.
Sect. XII.: How the unrelenting Cruelty of
the Emperors hastened the Dissolution of the Empire. The bad Reigns of
Constantine and Constantius. The good Reign of
Julian. The indiscreet behaviour of the
Christians. Continued Tyranny; and end of the Empire.
Sect. XIII.: The Excellency of a limited Monarchy,
especially of our own.
DISCOURSE VIII.: Of the general Debasement of Spirit and Adulation
which accompany Power unlimited.
Sect. I.: The motives of Flattery considered.
Its vileness, and whence it begins.
Sect. II.: Men of elevated Minds irreconcileable
to Arbitrary Power, and thence suspected by it. The Court paid to it always
insincere, sometimes expedient, but seldom observes any bounds.
Sect. III.: The excessive Power of the Imperial
freed Slaves; with the scandalous Submission and Honours paid them by the
Sect. IV.: The excessive Flattery of the Senate,
how ill judged.
Sect. V.: The free Judgment of Posterity a
powerful warning to Princes, to reign with moderation and to detest Flatterers.
The Name and Memory of the Roman Tyrants how treated.
Sect. VI.: How lamentably Princes are debauched
and misled by Flatterers.
Sect. VII.: The pestilent tendency of flattering
Counsels, and the Glory of such as are sincere.
DISCOURSE IX.: Upon Courts.
Sect. I.: Of Freedom of Speech; and how
reasonable it is.
Sect. II.: The Spirit of Courtiers what; some
Sect. III.: The Arts of Courtiers; their
Cautiousness, and its Causes.
Sect. IV.: Of Slanderers and Tale-bearers in
Courts. The Folly of Craft.
Sect. V.: How much worthless People abound in
Courts, and why.
Sect. VI.: The remarkable Fickleness and
Insincerity of Courtiers.
DISCOURSE X.: Of Armies and Conquest.
Sect. I.: The Burden and Danger of maintaining
Sect. II.: Great Armies the best disciplined,
whether thence the less formidable to a Country. Their Temper and Views.
Sect. III.: Princes ruling by military Power,
ever at the Mercy of military Men.
Sect. IV.: Instances of the Boldness and Fury of
the Roman Soldiery.
Sect. V.: The Humour of conquering, how
injudicious, vain, and destructive.
Sect. VI.: The Folly of conquering further urged
THE ANNALS OF TACITUS.