The mockery pervading human affairs in all their aspects
The more I think about history, ancient or modern, the more ironical all human affairs seem. In public opinion, expectation, and esteem no one appeared a less likely candidate for the throne than the man for whom destiny was secretly reserving it.
The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus (p169) translates as follows:
The more I consider recent events or those in the distant past, the more I am confronted by the mockery pervading human affairs in all their aspects. For in public opinion, expectations and esteem, no one was less likely a candidate for the throne than the man whom fortune was secretly holding in reserve.