Twelve Caesars

Twelve Caesars

Penguin Classics
by Suetonius, Robert Graves (Translator), Michael Grant (Editor)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Trade Paperback, 363 pages
Price: $16.00

"Too many rulers are a dangerous thing."

As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, Suetonius gained access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eye-witness accounts) to produce one of the most colorful biographical works in history. Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus, to the decline into depravity and civil war under Nero, and the recovery that came with his successors. A masterpiece of anecdote, wry observation and detailed physical description, Twelve Caesars presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn—and all too human—individuals.

Robert Graves's celebrated translation, sensitively revised by James B. Rives, captures the wit and immediacy of Suetonius' original.

NOTE: Some of the content in this book, while toned down from the salacious original, is still very graphic and disturbing. The sexual habits of Caligula, Nero, and Domitian (in particular) are infamous for their perversion and gratuity, and Suetonius had no qualms (indeed, seemed to relish the task of) explaining them in detail. The Graves/Rives edition is less detailed, but still chronicles many of these bizarre behaviours, and many parents will want their kids to skip specific passages. Again, while this is the edited version, there's still a lot of incredibly immoral content; if you're going to get another edition, there will likely be even more.

  • Julius
  • Augustus
  • Tiberius
  • Caligula (aspects)
  • Claudius
  • Nero (aspects)
  • Galba
  • Otho
  • Vitellius
  • Divus Vespasian
  • Divus Titus
  • Domitian (aspects)
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