Tacitus, Dialogus

LCL 35: 218-219

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A Dialogue on Oratory

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A Dialogue on Oratory

INTRODUCTION TO THE DIALOGUS DE ORATORIBUS

A reader who comes to the Dialogus from the two minor works of Tacitus that accompany it in this volume, or from Tacitus’ major historical writings, will be struck by the change. There, the manner is abrupt, terse, pointed: here, the leisurely urbanities and relaxed periods hark back to the Tusculan villa of Cicero himself. The sixteenth-century Dutch scholar Justus Lipsius was so impressed by the contrast that he denied the Dialogus to Tacitus altogether. Scepticism can usually find a handle, and it might be difficult to prove the authorship of many classical productions in the face of disbelief as blank as some have accorded here. But researches this century have markedly whittled away the sceptical position.1 It is now generally accepted that numerous links with Tacitean language and idiom cut across the stylistic gulf that marks off the Dialogus: and, more basically, that the manner is determined by the genre. The Dialogus constantly recalls the dialogues of Cicero. This is true of characterisation (Marcus Aper’s concealment of his own erudition [2.2] is that practised by the Marcus Antonius of the De Oratore [2.4]) and of handling of incident (compare 2.1 with

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.tacitus-dialogus.1914