We have welcomed lots of excellent speakers to Dean Close over the years  but the performance of Professor Stephen Oakley of Emmanuel College, Cambridge must rank amongst the very best. Professor Oakley delivered a stunning talk on the style of the Roman historian Tacitus which was wide-ranging, informative and a timely reminder to all of the brilliance of Tacitus. Professor Oakley spoke eloquently on Tacitus’ debt to his literary predecessors,the historians Livy and Sallust, the historian’s use of antithesis and the insertion of the “ablatival appendage” into a sentence in order to convey a particularly biting critique of the Roman imperial system. Tacitus’ aphoristic style and deployment of sententiae are perhaps best reflected in his acerbic comments on the reign of the hapless emperor Galba who was assassinated by his own Praetorian guard in 69 AD: et omnium consensus capax imperii nisi imperasset: “by general agreement well able to rule, if only he had not ruled”. And what about this for a scathing denunciation of Roman imperialism – these are the words of Calgacus, a proto-William Wallace, delivered to his men as the Romans advance under their general Agricola: atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant: and when they (the Romans) make a desert, they call it peace. Tacitus could so easily be describing the American invasion of Iraq!