Felicitate

1024px-Wien-_Parlament-Tacitus

Simul Veritas pluribus modis infracta, primum inscitia rei publicae ut alienae, mox libidine adsentandi aut rursus odio adversus dominantis. Ita neutris cura posteritatis inter infensos vel obnoxios. sed ambitionem scriptoris facile averseris, obtrectatio et livor pronis auribus accipiuntur; quippe adulationi foedum crimen servitutis, malignitati falsa species libertatis inest. mihi Galba, Otho, Vitellius nec beneficio nec iniuria cogniti. dignitatem nostram a Vespasiano inchoatam, a Tito auctam, a Domitiano longius provectam non abnuerim, sed incorruptam fidem professis neque amore quisquam et sine odio dicendus est. quod si vita suppeditet, principatum divi Nervae et imperium Traiani, uberiorem securioremque materiam, senectuti seposui, rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet.
(Tacitus, Hist. 1.1)

Truth, too, suffered in various ways, thanks first to an ignorance of politics, which now lay outside public control; later came a passion for flattery, or else a hatred of autocrats. Thus, among those who were hostile or subservient, neither extreme cared about posterity. However, although the reader can easily discount a historian’s flattery, there is a ready audience for detraction and spite. Adulation bears the ugly taint of subservience, but malice gives the false impression of being independent. As for myself, Galba, Otho and Vitellius were known to me neither as benefactors nor as enemies. My official career owed its beginning to Vespasian, its progress to Titus and its further advancement to Domitian. I have no wish to deny this; but writers who claim to be honest and reliable must not speak about anybody with either partiality or hatred. If I live, I propose to deal with the reign of the deified Nerva and the imperial career of Trajan. This is a more fruitful and less thorny field, and I have reserved it for my old age. Modern times are indeed happy as few others have been, for we can think as we please, and speak as we think. (tr. Kenneth Wellesley, revised by Rhiannon Ash)

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