Tacitus’s pointed use of fire-related metaphors in connection with three dissident authors in the Annals—Cremutius Cordus, Lucan, and Arulenus Rusticus—works proleptically against known aspects of each author’s life and works. Such terms highlight the state-mandated burning of the books of Cremutius and Arulenus under Tiberius and Domitian, respectively; in the case of Lucan, Tacitus seems to be playing indirectly on the poet’s fatal conflict with the “incendiary” Nero, as well as (perhaps) alluding to his lost De incendio urbis. Finally, the imagery and content of these episodes find further company in Tacitus’s account of the Fire of 64.

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