Tragedy, Rhetoric, and the Historiography of Tacitus' by Francesca Santoro L'hoir

By Francesca Santoro L'hoir

Poison, politics, lunacy, lechery - this can be the I Claudius model of Roman background! An preliminary perusal of Tacitus' Annales, in translation, confirms glossy readers' prejudices approximately treacherous Emperors and their regicidal other halves, for Tacitus built his brooding narrative with the topics, vocabulary, and imagery of Attic and Roman tragedy. Their incorporation into his background may have extremely joyful his modern, rhetorically-trained readers.

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The choice of either would depend, as always, on the specific situation. Clausewitz did provide some guidance in choosing military objectives. Perhaps most important was the concept of focusing one's military efforts on the enemy's "center of gravity" (Schwerpunkt). He often used this term in tactical discussions merely to denote the main line of attack. When applied to strategy, however, it assumes a more narrow definition. The center of gravity was the most important source of the enemy's strength.

Third, there was a personal element in Jomini's critique of Clausewitz. Clearly, on some level he did greatly admire Clausewitz's work. " He was thus deeply wounded by the criticisms in On War. He expressed his bitterness in a number of hyperbolic sneers ("The works of Clausewitz have been incontestably useful, although it is often less by the ideas of the author, than by the contrary ideas to which he gives birth") and in accusations of plagiarism ("There is not one of my reflections [on the campaign of 1799] which he has not repeated").

He was, however, no advocate of a policy of conquest. Although he is often portrayed as the "high priest" of Napoleon, this view ignores the fact that he was both a passionate Prussian patriot and a die-hard opponent of the French emperor. Clausewitz was detached enough to admire Bonaparte as a professional soldier, but his experience of the Napoleonic wars convinced him of the power of both nationalism and of the balance-of-power mechanism. In his view, those forces would generally lead to the destruction of any would-be Alexander or Napoleon, at least in the European context.

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