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The Twelve Caesars Suetonius

The Twelve Caesars


Published 1957
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 About the Book 

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 Grant. Additionally, there are ten maps of the city of Rome and the Roman Empire along with a glossary of key terms. From my own experience, once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Matter of fact, I was inspired to write a Goodreads review of each of the twelve Caesars – Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian.Specifically, here are a couple of quotes from Michael Grant along with my brief comments:“Suetonius’ principal contribution lies in his relatively high degree of objectivity. With him, we have moved away from the traditional eulogistic treatment, and have entered a much more astringent atmosphere, in which the men whom he is describing are looked at with a cooler and more disenchanted eye.” ---------- This ‘disenchanted eye’ is a thoroughly modern perspective, one having synchronicity with our 21st century sensibilities.“The best quality of his work is his power to create rapid, dramatic, and often moving narratives, including, at times, impressive set-pieces, among which the death of Nero is especially notable.” ---------- Unlike a dry academic writing, Suetonius is lively, vivid and sometimes racy.And excerpts from the translation by Robert Graves:“During gladiatorial shows he would have the canopies removed as the hottest time of the day and forbid anyone to leave- or take away the usual equipment and pit feeble old fighters against decrepit wild animals- or stage comic duels between respectable householders who happened to be physically disabled in some way or other.”“Nero’s unreasonable craving for immortal fame made him change a number of well-known names of things and places in his own favor. The month of April, for instance, became Neroneus- and Rome was on the point of being renamed ‘Neropolis’.Again, once I started reading this book, I couldnt stop. Who would think a classic work of history and biography would be so engaging?