The purpose of this article is to show, by the example of Hugo Grotius's Annales et Historiae de rebus Belgicis (AH), that the nature and content of the concept of Tacitism (Tacitist, Tacitean) in the period around 1600 was markedly different from modern perceptions of the style and political purport of Tacitus's works. This gap between current and early-modern conceptions of Tacitus is important to bear in mind for intellectual historians dealing with early-modern intellectual currents such as Reason of State, Neo-Stoicism, Tacitism, and others. This article first describes how the Tacitean style is characterised in literary criticism around 1600; then it explores the qualities of Hugo Grotius's imitation of Tacitus from the 17th-century perspective and from that of some main aspects of the present-day view of Tacitus. It concludes that Grotius's imitation shows Tacitus's style in a characteristically 17th-century mirror, in that it puts emphasis on Tacitean syntax, brevity and choice of words (the stylistic micro-level), as well as on political iudicium and Reason of State, but omits imitation of the narrative and structural qualities of Tacitus's composition, and their implications, which are central to modern interpretations.

Conceptual history, Grotius, Late humanism, Tacitism, Tacitus,
History of European Ideas
Article in press - dd August 2010
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Waszink, J.H. (2010). Your Tacitism or mine? Modern and early-modern conceptions of Tacitus and Tacitism. History of European Ideas, 36(4), 375–385. doi:10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2010.06.003