30 pages 1 hour read



Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 98

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Literary Devices


Tacitus uses juxtaposition in several ways in “Agricola.” He juxtaposes the Roman republic with the Roman empire, noting, “Just as the Rome of old explored the limits of freedom, so have we plumed the depths of slavery” (55). Tacitus also juxtaposes Agricola’s integrity and discipline as Britannia’s governor with his predecessors’ lax disregard of abuses perpetrated among the Roman troops: “By checking these abuses in his very first year of office, Agricola gave men reason to love and honor peace, which, through the negligence or arrogance of former governors, had been as much feared as war” (66).

Further, Tacitus repeatedly employs juxtaposition at the sentence level to emphasize Agricola’s virtues. He writes that Agricola “praised the keen and scolded the slack” to draw attention to his good judgment, which enabled him to discern what was needed in any situation (66). Another example, in Chapter 9, emphasizes Agricola’s unique disinterest in acclaim: “Although the desire for fame is often a secret weakness even of the good, Agricola never courted it by advertisement or intrigue” (58)

Finally, Tacitus inverts the traditional function of juxtaposition, showing that similarities exist between two things that should be different. Early in the essay, he notes the vices that flourished under

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