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Elizabeth I revealed as the translator of Tacitus into English

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Elizabeth I revealed as the translator of Tacitus into English

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FILE PHOTO: A letter written by Queen Elizabeth I of England is inspected at Christies auctioneers in London prior to its sale on June 26, 2007. The Albin Schram Autograph Card Collection auction will be held in London in July. REUTERS / James Boardman

LONDON (Reuters) – Elizabeth I, one of England's most beloved monarchs, was revealed as the translator behind an English version of an old Tacitus text describing the high politics, betrayal and debauchery of the Roman elite.

A 16th century translation of the first book of the Annals of Tacitus – written in elegant italic hand on plain paper – proved to be Elizabeth's after an analysis of the handwriting, writing style, and type of paper used.

"Tacitus Annales' handwritten translation now preserved in the Lambeth Palace Library is the work of Elizabeth I," wrote John-Mark Philo in The Review of English Studies.

"Elizabeth goes out of her way to maintain Tacitus' prose density and celebrated brevity," Philo wrote. "It follows the contours of Latin syntax with remarkable commitment, even at the risk of obscuring the English meaning."

Tacitus, historian of the Roman Empire, casts Tiberius and Nero as tyrants and relates the debauchery and corruption of the rulers of the empire.

Elizabeth suffered a tumultuous childhood, including her mother's misfortune and death, and persecution under her half sister Mary I, before rising to the throne at age 25.

Elizabeth, known as "the Virgin Queen," who ruled from 1558 to 1603, saw a Spanish attempt to defeat England, although she never married or named a successor.

Report by Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean Edition

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