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Lives of the Twelve Caesars (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) (Wadsworth Classics of World Literature) Paperback – August 5, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: Wadsworth Classics of World Literature
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd (August 5, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185326475X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853264757
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From AudioFile

While his histories are rich with the details of each Caesar's reign, what makes Suetonius's work particularly interesting are the subjective elements: his character portraits, lurid asides, and open evaluations of each Caesar as good, bad, or flat-out immoral. Derek Jacobi's narration fits this approach marvelously. His delivery is clear, even brisk, when reviewing the factual data, but he lingers over the more personal judgmental elements. Through Jacobi, Suetonius's outrage over what is done to his beloved Rome comes through as both heartfelt and personal. Jacobi brings this history to vivid, dramatic life. G.T.B. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

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Very easy and interesting read.
Clara L Delgado
Seutonius did the world a great service when he wrote his "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars".
Mouldy Pilgrim
Pompous, easy to pass judgment, with an outrageous Victorian voice.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Travis Benson on February 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
In historical study there are two types of literature. Secondary sources are written based on the original writings which are known as Primary sources. If you want to lern about the earliest Roman Emperors this source is indispensable. True, some of it is not historical and Suetonius is somewhat of a gossip monger at times, seeing as he explains in detail the various sexual appetites of each Caesar as well as other deviant behaviour. Still, this is one of the foremost primary sources about those famous Romans and most of the history books written on the Caesars are standing on Suetonius' shoulders.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Not much is known about the life of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillis. He was probably born in A.D. 69--the famous 'year of four Emperors'--when his father, a Roman knight, served as a colonel in a regular legion and took part in the Battle of Baetricum.

Suetonius became a scribe and noted secretary to the military set, eventually ending up in the service of Hadrian, who was emperor from A.D. 117-138. He was dismissed for 'indiscreet behaviour' with Hadrian's empress, Sabina, but not before doing sufficient research to complete many books of a historical nature. His attempts at philosophy were much less well received, and most of his history has been overlooked by all but classical scholars, but this work, 'The Twelve Caesars' has held the imagination of more than just the scholarly set since it was first written.

Suetonius had the good fortune of speaking to eyewitnesses from the time of the early Caesars. Much of his information about Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero in fact comes from those who observed and/or participated in their lives. Suetonius is in many ways more of a reporter than an historian--he would record conflicting statements without worrying about the reconciliation (this set him apart from Tacitus and other classical historians who tried to find a consistency in stories and facts.

Suetonius has been described as the tabloid journalist of ancient Rome, because not only did he not appear to check facts (which in fact is not true--he did check, he just didn't try to smooth over the conflicting facts), but he choose to concentrate on the private lives, motivations and personality quirks of his subjects rather than their grand plans, policies and military/political victories. Thus, many details of the lurid scene appear.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ethan on July 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliantly translated form of Suetonius's "LIVES". Such clarity and definition, the complete essence of his writings are clearly communicated. An intruiging text emanating from intruiging Roman leaders.
A must read for any historian or student.

Ethan*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mouldy Pilgrim on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seutonius did the world a great service when he wrote his "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars". This was one of the first primary sources that I read, and it remains a favourite of mine.

Seutonius tackles each of the first twelve Caesars in chronological order, with a section on each one. He claims he has used many sources, and has even included some hearsay or otherwise unconfirmed information. He certainly was not shy about airing their dirty laundry.

Unlike a lot of ancient authors that get translated into English, Suetonius' style is very relaxed and very easy to get absorbed into. Even in translation, the book maintains a brisk pace and has enough to keep one interested until the last page.

Suetonius' "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars" is a fascinating book, written with access to sources long lost to us. This is a great book to read and enjoy, simultaneously being good for those interested in serious study of the period.
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Format: Paperback
Don't read it, hear it!

Imagine a guy from the ancient world talking in your ear. Well what are you waiting for? You can download the audio of the 12 C's and I promise you; you won't be disappointed.

Reading isn't the same as having the author speak to you and the 12 Caesars is written like a conversation, and the conversational style makes it perfect for a voice actor to read.

The voice actor actually sounds like how you would imagine a Suetonius sounding like. Pompous, easy to pass judgment, with an outrageous Victorian voice.

I read somewhere that the ancients didn't read silently, and that scrolls where meant to be read out loud. Maybe this is why Seutonius wrote the way he did?

Seutonius is meant to be heard and with our technology, we can hear him speak (in English).

Trust me, he is a great eye witness. Suetonius' eyes saw another world and he heard the gossip of the slaves playing dice under the porticos, and he wrote it down. So until they invent a time machine, the audio is almost as good as being there.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mathilde de gardin on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Suetonius book covers the lives and works of the 12 leading Romans of the periode from ca. 70BC to 96AD: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasianus, Titus and Domitianus. He describes their commendable achievements first an then goes in depth into their not so nice qualities too. The account he gives is lively and alive with quite private details of the 12 men. It's a fascinating read that also gives the reader an insight into Roman live in the first century AD
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