qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Good Caesar, Bad Caesar

Book Review: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus
I was inspired to fetch this off the shelves following my recent holiday in Rome. Some of the names are well-known, others somewhat obscure, and the first three - Julius Caesar, Augustus and Tiberius - take up about half of the book. Suetonius doesn't shy away from character flaws, although there does seem to be quite a distinction between those listed as "afterwards deified" (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian and Titus) and the others. The first chapter in particular was interesting for giving context for Caesar's own writings and the Civil War. Augustus is generally praised for everything; some of the initial paragraphs on Tiberius sound promising, but then all his foibles and despotic nature are described, a pattern which follows in the chapters for many of the subsequent emperors. This was the Robert Graves translation, and I, Clavdivs is somewhere on the to-read list.
Tags: books, history
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