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The Lives of Twelve Caesars

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Book Overview: 

The Twelve Caesars is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire. The work was written in 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, while Suetonius was Hadrian’s personal secretary. On the Life of the Caesars concentrates on the acts and personalities of the Julio-Claudians and their immediate successors. Together with Tacitus’ Annals, this work is a major source for the historical details in Robert Graves’ novels “I Claudius” and “Claudius the God”.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Eutychus, and that of the animal, Nichon 251. After the victory, he erected a brazen statue to each, in a temple built upon the spot where he had encamped.

XCVII. His death, of which I shall now speak, and his subsequent deification, were intimated by divers manifest prodigies. As he was finishing the census amidst a great crowd of people in the Campus Martius, an eagle hovered round him several times, and then directed its course to a neighbouring temple, where it settled upon the name of Agrippa, and at the first letter. Upon observing this, he ordered his colleague Tiberius to put up the vows, which it is usual to make on such occasions, for the succeeding Lustrum. For he declared he would not meddle with what it was probable he should never accomplish, though the tables were ready drawn for it. About the same time, the first letter of his name, in an inscription upon one of his statues, was struck out by lightning; which was interpreted as a presage t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Julius Caesar the catamite of King of Bithnyia?? Augustus singeing off his leg hair with hot walnut shells!! Caligula's seductive maiden dance!! Oh my! Simply delicious!

Reading this book makes me kind of thankful that the sociopaths who we choose to govern us are relatively harmless men with only strange dreams of imperialism and desires for fame, riches, and adulation. Sure we have a Vice President who shot a friend in the face and who brazenly admits to author...more

This is in my Top 10 books. I love it so much, i think i have read it 3 times (no joke). I took this book with me on my travels in Rome and I bored Matt with my constant readings whilst we were visiting all of the historic sites. I have a huge facination with Roman History, so I do appreciate tha...more

This book is really about six Caesars (Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero) and six men I never heard of before. Of the over 17 hours of the audiobook, just a little over 3 hours are devoted to the last six, but I was fine with that because I learned more about the Caesars I c...more

Suetonius (70 - 140 AD) was a biographer, librarian and high official under Trajanus and head of the royal archives under Hadrian. This biography of the twelve emperors is thought to have been published around 121 AD. The lives of the emperors of the Caesarian-Claudian lineage, thus up to and inc...more

It is a great overview of Rome's emperors from the Julians to the Flavians. The mixture of historical biography and, what must have been, a political gossip tatler. Suetonius was a senator during the reign of Hadrian (2 Caesars after Domitian), so the futher back, the less direct knowledge Sueton...more

This was a fascinating book. Translated by Graves, who wrote I, Claudius, it is, in many ways, a shorter version of those books. Although, Claudius does not come out of this history nearly as well as he does from Graves’ novels.

You may never have seen Monty Python’s The Piranha Brothers, if not...more

Ovako: da je Svetonije novinar, radio bi u Kuriru. Jer, iskreni da budemo, dobar deo njegovih pisanija treba uzeti cum grano salis, budući da se dotični potrudio da nam prenese ne samo potvrđene činjenice, već i rekla-kazala tračeve od kojih su neki čisto preterivanje - kao, na primer, opisi Tibe...more

No words. Each and every member of that "family" and ahherm non family who acquired that infamous title ceasar is such a massive wrecking case of extreams that I can't even begin to fathom that these men are real. Let alone contemplate what citizens must of thought of them in their day. Really? I...more

This Penguin Classic of The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius is the perfect place to start for anybody interested in ancient Greco-Roman history and culture. Not only is this a most engaging translation by Robert Graves, author of I Claudius, but there is a short Forward by classics scholar, Michael G...more

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