Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Woods, D.
Rewriting a Contentious Omen: Tacitus, Caligula, and the Phoenix
In Press
Optional Fields
Tacitus, Caligula, Phoenix, Flamingo, Omen, Dio, Pliny
This paper investigates why Tacitus dates the alleged appearance of the phoenix in Egypt during the reign of the emperor Tiberius to AD 34 in contrast to Pliny the Elder and Dio who date it to AD 36. It argues that the appearance of the phoenix had originally been invented as an omen not so much of the death of Tiberius, but of the succession of Caligula, and that a later source changed the date of this alleged appearance and cast doubt on its validity in order to deprive Caligula of an omen that had seemed to characterize his reign as a time of renewal. Tacitus then followed this source.
Leiden, Netherlands
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