American Journal of Philology 133 (3):441-475 (2012)

This article examines Tacitus’ exploration of the motives of Near-Eastern dynasts in Histories 2 and Annals 2. In these books, Tacitus presents Near-Eastern “enslavement” to the Roman empire as an act of will. Near-Eastern dynasts desired to “seduce” Romans into becoming masters and assuming the same despotic and morally enslaved dispositions that they as dynasts exerted. Their slaving helped frame, forge, and actuate a Roman imperial system that subjected Romans to despotic figures amid the unceasing threat of civil discord. In this sense, Near-Eastern seduction and its products symbolized Rome’s enslavement to autocracy and its circumvention of Republican governance.
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DOI 10.1353/ajp.2012.0028
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