COLLOQUIUM: Kelly Shannon, Alabama, "Fate and Astrology in Tacitus’ Annals"

Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

The involvement of supernatural factors such as fate and fortune in historical events is a familiar preoccupation of ancient historians. In the case of Tacitus' Annals, however, the issue is complicated by the prominence of astrology within the text. Emperors and pretenders to the throne alike are seemingly obsessed with astrology's ability to predict who will rule, but Tacitus also questions the extent to which fate is really fixed by the stars. This ambiguity, I argue, allows Tacitus to explore questions of historical causation in a new way, and to examine how the fate of Rome as a whole is interlinked with, and affected by, the fates of the individuals who rule it.