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Suetonius(Caius Suetonius Tranquillus) (swētō`nēəs), c.A.D. 69–c.A.D. 140, Roman biographer. Little is known about his life except that he was briefly the private secretary of Emperor Hadrian. His De vita Caesarum [concerning the lives of the Caesars] survives almost in full; it was translated into English by Robert Graves as The Twelve Caesars (1957). There are also fragments of a much larger collection of biographies, De viris illustribus [concerning illustrious men]. He gathered together all sorts of anecdotes, and the resultant biographies are lively and informative. Suetonius was taken as a model by many later biographers.
(Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus). Born circa A.D. 70; died after 122. Roman historian and writer.
Of equestrian rank, Suetonius served as secretary under the emperor Hadrian from approximately 119 to 122. Of Suetonius’ numerous works on history, everyday customs, and philology, only two principal works have survived: the whole of Lives of the Caesars (in eight books) and De Grammaticis et rhetoribus, from a longer work about famous figures of Roman literature.
Lives of the Caesars contains biographies of the Roman emperors from Julius Caesar to Domitian. All the biographies follow the same outline: first, a description of the emperor’s origins and youth; next, an account of his political, military, and juridical activities and details of his character, external appearance, and private life; and finally, an account of the circumstances of his death. Suetonius depicts Augustus and Titus as ideal rulers. Suetonius was interested mainly in presenting facts rather than in analyzing the historical causes or the psychological motives of the events he recorded. His entertaining style accounts for the popularity of his works among his contemporaries and later readers.
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Zhizn’ dvenadtsati Tsezarei. [O znamenitykh liudiakh: Fragmenty. Translated from Latin and with notes by M. L. Gasparov.] Moscow, 1966.
REFERENCESGasparov, M. L. “Novaia zarubezhnaia literatura o Tatsite i Svetonii.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1964, no. 1.
Steidle, W. Sueton und die antike Biographie, 2nd ed. Munich, 1963.