Drawing Imperial Lines: Sovereignty and Tacitus' Germanicus

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This essay focuses on Germanicus’ performance of sovereign power in Tacitus’ Annales 1-2. That power is seen in the differentiation of citizen from non-citizen and Roman territory from non-Roman territory. Roman violence in Germany contrasts with Germanicus in the East. There he recognised a shared history and community. Sovereign power required a recognition of the sovereign by the citizen and of the citizen by the sovereign. An individual’s membership and a territory’s place within the Roman Empire depended not on innate characteristics but political negotiation. Ancient political geographies gave primacy to the political rather than the territorial in determining citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-440
Number of pages29
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2021


  • Tacitus
  • Sovereignty
  • Germanicus

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