Examining classical works by authors not well known; missing data etc on their life. Can the details be considered reliable or not?

Essay by jiggs316University, Bachelor's November 2002

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Ancient passages provide the world today with a description and a sense of feeling of what the world looked like at the time. From descriptions of the land, events taking place such as wars, to the epic tales of some of the heroes of the day, these ancient passages give us valuable information from that time period. It can be said that our world today is simply a newer world from that of the ancient times as many activities that were present in the past, are still seen today. From athletics to education, our daily lives are much the same as the lives of people living in ancient times although much more modern now. Although these ancient texts give us accounts of daily life, events, history, there is evidence that can be used, and also evidence that may not be reliable and cannot be used in full. By looking at selected books from Tacitus' "Histories" and "The Life of Hadrian" by an unknown author, it can be seen that there is many details expressed in these passages that can be said to be reliable and also some which can be said to be unreliable.

One thing to consider when evaluating the reliability of certain material is to know who the author is, when he or she lived, what type of person they were and any other information which may affect the reliability of the material presented.

Firstly we shall look at "Histories" by Tacitus. Tacitus is an example of an author whom which we know most of the key pieces of information on his life but are missing several parts as well. There is no know place of birth of Tacitus or even the exact date or year that he was born. By calculation "the probable age at which he...