Agricola (book) - Wikipedia
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Themes[ edit ] For Tacitus, Agricola served as an example of how, even under despotism, it was possible to behave correctly, avoiding the opposite extremes of servility and useless opposition.
The work can be viewed as an apologia for a large part of the governing class: On the other hand, the work may well have been a plea to the recently re-instated Stoics not to harass and oppose the new regime in a time of great instability. The work has a strong anti-despotic tone. Tacitus sets the despotism of Domitian against the merits of Agricola: The writer implicitly says that, as the Empire should be accepted as a necessary evil, one has to keep one's dignity without mixing up one's own responsibility with the responsibility of an arbitrary despot like Domitian.
One can be an honest and scrupulous officer, doing his job with serenity and in collaboration with the regime, keeping his job and keeping the interest of the state, waiting for a better age, when a writer would be able to write in freedom.
Style[ edit ] The Agricola mixes various literary genres.
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It is a biography, crossed with a laudatio funebris and with historical and ethnographical material. For this reason, the book contains portions written in different styles.
The exordium, the speeches, and the final peroration show strong influence from Ciceroprobably derived from Tacitus's own training in rhetoric.
While few of his works can be dated precisely, he does use many of the non-imitative, complex, rhythmically diverse contrapuntal procedures more often associated with Ockeghem. Unlike Ockeghem, however, he was willing to employ repetition, sequenceand florid imitation in the manner of the other composers who were working around when the technique became widespread. Genres[ edit ] Agricola wrote massesmotetsmotet-chansonssecular songs in the prevailing formes fixes such as rondeaux and bergerettesother chansonsand instrumental music.
Much of his instrumental music was based on secular music by Gilles Binchois or Ockeghem.
Many of these pieces had become quite popular in the late 15th century. Compositional hallmarks[ edit ] Above all the variants in his general musical style over his working life, Agricola himself wrote in a highly distinctive style, taking the mysteriously sinuous lines of Ockeghem as his point of departure. His music is often very busy and highly detailed, with repeated sequence, repetition of terse rhythmic and motivic units, and a desire to usurp the underlying pulse, sometimes seeming to border on the perverse, either by prolonging cadential figures to cadence on the "wrong" beat, or by shifting the metrical beat of some parts against others.
As an example, the closing Agnus Dei of his unusually extended Missa 'In myne zin' features the cantus firmus stated in equal notes of eleven quavers' duration each in first statement, followed by a statement of five quavers' duration each, or in the second Salve Regina setting, offsetting part of the statement of the cantus firmus by a quaver for its entire duration, in both cases with the other voices proceeding in a more strict quadruple meter above.
Other "games" played in the music include posing puzzles of mode and musica ficta for the performers e. The music is characteristically athletic in all voice parts, with the lower parts in particular featuring much that requires very fine singers, and not representing the normal simply harmonic function of the tenor-bass combinations used by most of his contemporaries.
Often a highly elaborate set of quick motifs will spring unexpected from a previous slow-moving texture e.
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