Cornelius Tacitus

c.55-117. Secular Latin writer. Probably our most important single source for Roman history from Tiberius (a.d. 14-37) to Domitian (81-96), he provides independent confirmation for the NT at several points, and useful if biased background information about the more corrupt aspects of politics under the emperors. In recounting the persecutions of Nero* after the fire of a.d. 64 in Rome, Tacitus outlines the rise of Christianity (“a subversive cult,” “atrocious practices,” and more tellingly “its enmity against mankind”) and mentions Christ's execution under Pilate, but his main target is Nero's perverted and pointless cruelty. Felix, procurator of Palestine in Acts 24 and brother of an influential freedman of the emperor Claudius, is condemned for serious misrule. Tacitus's account of the Jewish War of a.d. 66-70 (Histories 5.1ff.) supplements the fuller narrative of Josephus.*