Classics for All Reviews

Translated and with Introduction and Historical Commentary

By D. Wardle

OUP (2014) p/b 603pp £100 (ISBN 9780199686469)

 If you want all the lies and smears about the early Roman emperors, and a lot more mildly random information, Suetonius is your man. I, Claudius was based on Robert Graves’s novel, and he translated Suetonius for Penguin. But Suetonius was no fool. A serious historian, he worked in the imperial civil service under the emperor Trajan as director of archives AD 114-5 and director of the imperial library 116-7, and finally (under Hadrian) chief secretary i/c correspondence 118-122 (he was dismissed for an offence related to Hadrian’s wife). So the whole of the imperial archives was open to him, together with the works of large numbers of Roman historians otherwise unknown to us, as Suetonius reveals by quoting them. His major work, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, was published…

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