This paper explores Tacitus' representation of Thrasea Paetus. Preliminary to analyzing this portrayal, I discuss two passages often cited when exploring Tacitus' political thought, Agricola 42.4 and Annales 4.20. I reject the former's validity with regard to Thrasea and accept the latter as a starting point for comparing Tacitus' depictions of Marcus Lepidus and Thrasea. Tacitus' characterizations of Thrasea and Lepidus share the greatest resemblance in the trials of Antistius Sosianus and Clutorius Priscus, both of whom wrote verses offensive to the regime. Thrasea and Lepidus both came to the defense of their respective poet in an attempt to spare the poet's life. In light of these trials, I conclude that Tacitus sought to reclaim the legacy of Thrasea and to cast him anew as a principled moderate rather than a reckless dissident.
Strunk, Thomas E., "Saving the Life of a Foolish Poet: Tacitus on Marcus Lepidus, Thrasea Paetus, and Political Action under the Principate" (2010). Faculty Scholarship. Paper 15.
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