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Lives of the Caesars (Oxford World's Classics)

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192832719
ISBN-10: 0192832719
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Catharine Edwards is at University of Bristol.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192832719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192832719
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When you need a break from memorizing the dates of the Punic Wars, are bored speculating over what kind of salt the Romans used to sow Carthaginian fields, have given up on finding Philippi on any modern map, and can't quite recall the names of the dramatis personae during the year of the three emperors, this book will re-stimulate your interest in history by gratifying the natural human desire to learn more about crime in high places.
Imagine, all the gravitas reeking Romans were up to treason, homicide, intrigue, incest, bestiality, gifting poison mushrooms and assorted produce, adultery, simple theft, complex theft, tax cheating, forgery, perjury, matricide, patricide, fratricide, suicide, sistercide, and murdering or marrying thier neices, and all sorts of stuff not normal entertainment at church family picnics nor encouraged at the office.
A question does arise - was Suetonius accurate or fair? I think not; he is a delightful scandalmonger who makes no pretense at being fair and his sources undoubtedly included talk show hosts from the Forum's late night hour. Tiberius is for example portrayed as a monster; but he seemed to be a talented administrator himself or had the sense to hire those who were. Claudius while making very poor choices in wives and prone to some silly enthusiasms was very prudent in his foreign policy, by-and-large avoiding killling foreign folks who didn't enlist for suicide.

Overall a great book; just take it with a pinch of Roman salt.
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Format: Paperback
Books published as part of the Oxford World's Classics are unlikely to disappoint, and some even delight. This translation of Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars is lively, easy to read, and interesting throughout.

I've recently read a number of works by Seneca, including his biting satire upon the deification of Claudius. Much of Suetonius' work covers the Julio-Claudian emperors and offers readers much background on the reigns and the city of these first Roman Emperors. It is a different perspective than Plutarch's and adds much to the knowledge of Imperial Rome. Lives of the Caesars adds a perspective (generally iconoclastic)that helps students of Roman letters, theater and history have a broader understanding of the place and the era.

I also found the extensive end notes very valuable. In addition to a valuable translation, these notes make this volume a worthy edition to any library or shelf dedicated to the world of ancient Rome.
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Format: Paperback
I have read many biographies of famous historical figures, written by modern scholars, but none had the immediacy, the thrilling emphasis to minor details and the power of words that Suetonius' work features. The Roman historian proves that he was a true child of the classical world, having the gift of telling his stories in a few but full of meaning sentences. I think that after reading Suetonius one has a powerful image of every emperor as a human being first and as a ruler second. Hats off to the ancient writers who are the top specialists to explain the inner secrets of their society and epoch!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't get enough of reading about ancient Rome and the Caesars, and I've only recently gotten around to reading Suetonius' work. The book itself covers 12 of the Caesars, and does so in varied detail. In a way, it's like reading a National Enquirer article about the Caesars. Some of the research into Suetonius' tales are based on gossip, but it's juicy gossip with some truth in there somewhere. But great reading nonetheless.

The translation is very readable, and is able to clearly tell us about those 12 men who led Rome to various degrees of success. But I think that's kept this book from falling into forgotten literature is that the book is highly readable due to the salacious stories about the dalliances of the Caesars. Still, a highly worthy read and would make for a great place on your bookshelf, digital or otherwise.

PS: Amazon needs to fix the description of the book and include Suetonius as the author and list the translator second. I've noticed this as a trend among Oxford World's Classics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The publisher has fixed the issues with the kindle edition (see below). This book is a great read and the kindle edition is now as it should be.

Below is the first review when the text was flawed by poor rendering of the text: First, there are no hyperlinks to the end notes, which are essential in a work that can sometimes be obscure. A real pain in this work. Also, the rendering of this text and another Oxford world classics text I bought (Tacitus' Annals) is rendered very poorly so that when you search for a term, that term will often not show up because it does not recognize the word. This is also shown when you highlight a passage and go to "my highlights and notes" to find that the text often shows up garbled because it has been rendered poorly. The translation and notes are fine, but the problems I'm having with the text make this a bad purchase.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Highly recommend this book - whether it's for a class or just for fun. If you're fascinated by historical politica intricacies in a realistic sense, then this is the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
Being written near the time of the events this book portrays the lives of the first 12 Caesars in the writing style of the period.This is not how history is written today;and it allows a bright light to be shone on both public & private lies of the Caesars.It feels as if Suetonious is speaking to the reader privately.It is a superb account of the time.
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