Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts


by Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Written by ancient roman senator and historian Tacitus, Annals covers some of he Roman Empire’s history from a firsthand account

This text goes over the life and events of ancient Rome from the times of Emperor Tiberius all the way to Nero. It is separated into sixteen books, although some have been lost to time. Tacitus’ views as a Roman senator and countryman himself gives this text a great amount of insight as to what the people of the era thought and dealt with in their own nation.

There are three really solid options for this text. Penguin Classics, who often have a solid approach to ancient literature have on of their own. It has a solid translation which is good for readers of any level. On top of that there is an introduction and a few essays to help understand where this takes place historically. It isn’t a bad choice, but doesn’t have as many extra content as the other two options. Oxford World Classics has an edition as well, it has a no nonsense translation which is good for the historical aspects. It also has a series of notes and indexes to better help the reader understand it’s place and significance. Compared to the Hackett’s Classics text, it falls a little short though. Hackett has a translation that took a serious amount of time to focus on translating some of the figurative language used in the original text, something vital for any literary work. Also, there is a wealth of additional knowledge, including maps, military summaries, family trees, and a glossary.