¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The selective sampling of Latin authors that the study of set texts at A-level involves poses four principal challenges to the commentators. As we see it, our task is to: (i) facilitate the reading or translation of the assigned passage; (ii) explicate its style and subject matter; (iii) encourage appreciation of the extract on the syllabus as part of wider wholes – such as a work (in our case the Annals), an oeuvre (here that of Tacitus), historical settings (Neronian and Trajanic Rome), or a configuration of power (the principate); and (iv) stimulate comparative thinking about the world we encounter in the assigned piece of Latin literature and our own. The features of this textbook try to go some way towards meeting this multiple challenge.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 To speed up comprehension of the Latin, we have given a fairly extensive running vocabulary for each chapter of the text, printed on the facing page. We have not indicated whether or not any particular word is included in any ‘need to know’ list; and we are sure that most students will not require as much help as we give. Still, it seemed prudent to err on the side of caution. We have not provided ‘plug in’ formulas in the vocabulary list: but we have tried to explain all difficult grammar and syntax in the commentary. In addition, the questions on the grammar and the syntax that follow each chapter of the Latin text are designed, not least, to flag up unusual or difficult constructions for special attention. Apart from explicating grammar and syntax, the commentary also includes stylistic and thematic observations, with a special emphasis on how form reinforces, indeed generates, meaning. We would like to encourage students to read beyond the set text and have accordingly cited parallel passages from elsewhere in the Annals or from alternative sources, either in Latin and English or, when the source is in Greek, in English only. Unless otherwise indicated, we give the text and translation (more or less modified) according to the editions in the Loeb Classical Library. Our introduction places Tacitus and the set text within wider historical parameters, drawing on recent – and, frequently, revisionist – scholarship on imperial Rome: it is meant to provoke, as well as to inform. Finally, for each chapter of the Latin text we have included a ‘Stylistic Appreciation’ assignment and a ‘Discussion Point’: here we flag up issues and questions, often with a contemporary angle, that lend themselves to open-ended debate, in the classroom and beyond.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 We would like to thank the team at Open Book Publishers, and in particular Alessandra Tosi, for accepting this volume for publication, speeding it through production – and choosing the perfect reader for the original manuscript: connoisseurs of John Henderson’s peerless critical insight will again find much to enjoy in the following pages (acknowledged and unacknowledged), and we are tremendously grateful for his continuing patronage of, and input into, this series.