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The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Scritto da Suetonius

Narrato da Derek Jacobi


The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

Scritto da Suetonius

Narrato da Derek Jacobi

valutazioni:
4/5 (38 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
7 ore
Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9789629547363
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Descrizione

Suetonius wrote his Lives of the Twelve Caesars in the reign of Vespasian around A. D. 70. He chronicled the extraordinary careers of Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian and Domitian and the rest in technicolour terms. They presented some high and low times at the heart of the Roman Empire. The accounts provide us with perspicacious insights into the men as much as their reigns – and it was from Suetonius that subsequent writers such as Robert Graves drew so much of their material.
Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9789629547363
Formato:
Audiolibro

Disponibile anche come...

Disponibile anche come libroLibro


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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    I adored this
  • (2/5)
    Interessant vanwege de overvloed aan details en anekdotes. Historiografie als verzameling van weetjes, ook als ze onwaar-schijnlijk zijn. Zeer veel aandacht aan wondertekens.
  • (5/5)
    What a fantastic little book full of gossip and intrigue of the 12 emperors succeeding Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic. Good translation By Robert Graves.
  • (2/5)
    Interessant vanwege de overvloed aan details en anekdotes. Historiografie als verzameling van weetjes, ook als ze onwaar-schijnlijk zijn. Zeer veel aandacht aan wondertekens.
  • (5/5)
    A succinct and enjoyably gossipy look at each emperor from Julius Caesar to Domitian. Well narrated by the excellent Sir Derek Jacobi.
  • (4/5)
    Suetonius was private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian. He had access to the imperial archives and so, wrote this biographical account of the first twelve Caesars with information from those archives, and some eye witness accounts. It's a very detailed account that sometimes reads like a gossip column of the time. One thing is for sure...most of these emperors were very cruel, unjust and sadistic. I started reading this in February and decided at that point I would need to read it in doses. It can be dry at times, but overall, it gives insight into the lives and reigns of these leaders, and the times in which they lived.
  • (4/5)
    I find it heartening to enjoy with such gusto a 2,000 year old historical account by the Emperor Hadrian's secretary, he being one Suetonius! In his narrative, he describes the biographies of twelve members of Rome's ruling class who led its Empire at its height, beginning with Julius Caesar and ending over a century later with the hapless Domitian. This was a groundbreaking work because, for the first time a writer relied on what we know today as "primary" sources, either direct interviews or documents from those times. There was little heresay and religious or otherworldly accounts, for the most part, were left out of his narrative. What was left in, however, was an entirely different matter: all kinds of depravity and mayhem and violence, and, best of all, decadence, of the most titillating sort, are described with a descriptive delight bordering on the salacious! Keep in mind that, among these Caesars we have Caligula and Nero, two despots we still talk about today! And most of these rulers came to very bad ends, all described with a zeal that makes the reader want to turn the page to find out about the next one and the next one after that! Of note is the masterful translation by Robert Graves who used his ability and knowledge to novelize the life of the Emperor Claudius into two exquisite novels.
  • (5/5)
    For the past two millennia Caesar has denoted the absolute ruler of an empire, a legacy of one man who ruled Rome and the men who succeeded him and used his name. The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius gives biographical sketches of the men who ruled the Western world for a century and a half, from the end of the Republic to the death of Domitian.Each of Suetonius’ biographies follow the similar pattern in which the individual’s heritage, political-military career, private lives, personal habits, and physical appearance. Though the pattern is the same, Suetonius’ style is to slowly weave in elements of one section into another—except for physical appearance—thus not breaking a nice flow for the reader. As the main source of Caligula (Gaius in the text), Claudius, and Vespasian’s family history, Suetonius not only adds on top of Tacitus but covers what was lost from his contemporary’s works. Yet unlike Tacitus, gossip and innuendo features a lot in the work making this book a little bit racy compared to Suetonius’ contemporary.The translation by Robert Graves—of I, Claudius fame—was wonderfully done and did a lot to give the text a great flow. Of Suetonius’ text the overwhelming use of portents and omens was a bit too much at times, though given the time period of the historian’s life this superstitious view was a part of everyday life.The Twelve Caesars gives another view of the men who ruled the Western world. Suetonius’ writing style and subject matter contrast with Tacitus but only for the better for the reader of both who get a full picture of the individuals the two contemporary historians cover.
  • (3/5)
    Accurate? Probably not. Entertaining? Yes. It's hard to believe that the emperors who weren't popular with the aristocrats or senate, but were popular with the people, were the only ones with truly revolting sexual habits. On the other hand, Suetonius is obviously and admittedly recording rumors rather than facts, and it seems pretty likely that the bad sex habits correlate to something a bit wonky. I would have liked a bit more annotation, and a longer introduction, too.
  • (5/5)
    The Roman equivalent of Hollywood Babylon. Gossipy and scandalous, all the juicy, salacious details of the private lives of Rome's first 12 emperors. Suetonius was an archivist during the reign of Hadrian, which gave him access to the Imperial family's private records (and probably led to his eventual dismissal for some unknown pecccadillo, perhaps for delving too deep in things that should not have seen the light of day). Historians are divided about the validity and value of Suetonius' writing, however, since he provides the only known details about a number of important episodes in Rome's early Imperial history, it is a priceless record and high;y readble one for the layman and student.
  • (4/5)
    I'm something of a nerd, and lately I've had a thing for reading original works...or at least English translations of them.

    The Twelve Caesars was as interesting as it gets, detailing the lives of the first 12 emperors of Rome after the fall of the republic. "Too many rulers is a dangerous thing" seems to be the prologue to this skim of the random details of twelve men's lives, debaucheries, and deaths.

    Maybe not the thing for you if seeking a theme or readable history, but a great perspective of the most powerful men in the world of their time by a contemporary of them.
  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Derek Jacobi does a great job of bringing Claudius and the others to life.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (2/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    How does a institutionalized respect for political figures decay over time? How an emperor view their predecessor, and what happens to this retrospective gaze as it is serialized through a succession of many emperors?

    The Twelve Caesar's is the necessary companion to Plutarch's Lives, at least concerning the emperors.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (4/5)

    2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

    This book is really about six Caesars (Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero) and six men I never heard of before. Of the over 17 hours of the audiobook, just a little over 3 hours are devoted to the last six, but I was fine with that because I learned more about the Caesars I care about. Caligula and Nero are clearly the most entertaining, but Augustus is my favorite.

    2 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Regarding the audio book, what can be better than having Suetonius read by Claudius himself (Derek Jacobi from I, Claudius). The reading is steady with just the right amount of inflection where required. A bonus was Mr. Jacobi studdering through some Claudius quotes just as he did in the TV series.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    My companion read to the fantastic "History of Rome" podcast. Amazing that the imperial political structure survived some of these early abuses of power and poor leadership. Each Caesar is given his accolades and critique, but there is definitely a bias in what is dwelled upon. Still, it seems a genuine attempt at accurate history with little revisionist propaganda

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Do you enjoy drama? Gossip? Archaic methods of determining personality? Roman history? Did I mention gossip?You can find all of these in Suetonius' Twelve Caesars! Easily on of my favorite biographies (?) concerning Imperial Romans. I would certainly suggest it, even to those who aren't avid readers of roman history.There is, of course, the added benefit that it makes for a quick read!

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Very good historical view of the Ceasars.
    Classical and historical.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (5/5)
    This biographies of the twelve Caesars who ruled Rome from Julius Caesar (49-44 B.C.) to Domitian (81-96 A.D.) This edition was translated by Robert Graves and was the basis for his work I Claudius; if you ever had the good fortune of watching the PBS series of that same name, I think you’ll really enjoy this book.The first six Caesars are larger than life, starting with Julius of course; you’ll find all of the major elements of his life, e.g. crossing the Rubicon, declaring Vini, Vidi, Vici, having his tryst with Cleopatra, and getting assassinated. The chapters that follow on the imperious Augustus, the dour and perverted Tiberius, the insane and cruel Caligula, the stuttering and somewhat dimwitted Claudius, and the vain and lecherous Nero are all very interesting. Suetonius provides historical facts and insights into life in Rome at the time, but is most known for how he delves into the personal lives of the Caesars and their debaucheries. It can feel a bit gossipy at times but I suspect most of it is true, and it certainly makes for interesting reading. The cruelty, corruption, and sexual perversion is a window into the time, and an obvious reminder of that old adage about absolute power. The “back six” – Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, were a bit less interesting, even though they had most of the same characteristics, probably because they were lesser known to me. These chapters are much shorter than the others though. I might knock my review score down half a star for that, but the illustrated edition more than makes up for it. It’s chock full of color and black and white photographs of ruins, works of art, images of the Caesars, and artifacts for the time – I highly recommend that if you’re going to read the book, to get this version.
  • (5/5)
    A friend who teaches Latin for a living told me it was this book, along with Tacitus’ Annals, that made her fall in love with Ancient Rome and change her concentration. Suetonius was a secretary to one of the Roman emperors, Hadrian, so one would expect he’d have an understanding of imperial Rome and access to its records. He presents a colorful account of the first twelve emperors from Julius Caesar to Domitian. Along with Plutarch, he’s our source for most of the stories about Julius Caesar. A lot of the most famous tidbits and quotes I’ve heard concerning the early Roman emperors turned out to come from Suetonius. Suetonius’ Julius Caesar definitely comes across as autocratic and a ruthless, ambitious politician--but also (at least in comparison to his successors, or even Tacitus) humane and a superb leader. His successor and nephew Augustus is in comparison a chilly personality, even if an able administrator. After that Rome wasn’t so lucky. Suetonius’ account of Tiberius conforms to Tacitus’ picture of him as a man who started out decently and became more and more corrupt, especially once he retired to Capri. You think after what’s related of him no one can top Tiberius for depravity, but then after him sandwiching Claudius are Caligula and Nero. And well, if your picture of Claudius was formed by Robert Graves’ I, Claudius of someone wiser than he seemed:Unfortunately, when the combatants gave the customary shout of: ‘Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you!’ he joked: ‘Or not, as the case may be!’ so they all refused to fight maintaining that his words amounted to a pardon. He dithered for a while as to whether to have them all massacred in their burning ships, but at last leapt from his throne and hobbling ridiculously up and down the shoreline, in his shambling manner, induced them, by threats and  promises combined, to fight. Twelve Sicilian triremes then fought twelve from Rhodes, the signal being given by a mechanical Triton, made of silver, which emerged from the middle of the lake and blew its horn.This Claudius didn’t just pretend to be a stupid fool to survive. He owned stupid--add cruel as well. Nero’s death marks the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the “Year of Four Emperors” because before a year was over there were three more: Galba, Otho and Vitellius. Galba and Vitellius were cruel and corrupt, even if not as monstrous as Caligula and Nero, Otho in over his head. Then the Flavian dynasty arose, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, restoring stability. Vespasian from this account seems the first decent emperor--in competence and character--since Augustus. His elder son Titus is even described as *gasp* “kind-hearted” and just; he instituted both prohibitions against double jeopardy and a statute of limitations. Alas, the best that can be said about his brother Domitian, the last of the emperors treated here, is that he’s not as heinous as Caligula or Nero.Tacitus covers some of the same material, from Tiberius to Nero, but Suetonius fills in quite a few gaps. It’s not easy to tell in translation, but Tacitus strikes me as the better writer, deeper thinker, and more trustworthy historian, but Suetonius is (even) more gossipy--in fact at some points it’s a bit much. At one point he says of Tiberius’ depravities that they are “things scarcely to be told or heard, let alone credited,”--which didn’t stop Suetonius going on to give us all the gory details. I had to pause for brain bleach--seriously folks. But boring he isn’t. (Except when he goes on and on about auguries and omens and portents.) All in all, if choosing just one to read, I’d put Tacitus first--but Suetonius was certainly worth reading.
  • (4/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Being a student of classics and I myself falling in tandem with modern scholars over the accuracy of Suetonius' accounts believe they should be taken with more than a pinch of salt.Especially when you notice that as he progresses further through his Lives he refers to less sources and presents many rumours as facts.Reading Suetonius only highlights how much better an historian Tacitus was.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (4/5)
    Not quite as good as Tacitus' Annals and I found myself questioning much of Suetonius' research. But of course this period is one of the most fascinating in all of human history, and tales of Nero's and Caligula's craziness are always worth laughing at.
  • (5/5)
    Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was a prolific writer who lived between 69-130 AD.His only surviving work is An essential and very readable collection of essays about the Roman Emperors from Julius Caesar to Hadrian written by Hadrian's personal secretary. Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and, in the case of some of the later emperors, some eyewitnesses to history. Given who Suetonius worked for and the politics of his times, there are many biases, conflicting stories, and untruths (like the legends about Nero singing while Rome burned) in his accounts of former emperors. This is the work of a court historian who is obliged to follow the party line. That said, Hadrian's reign had a very strong "good governance" theme to it so no apologies are made for the tyrants that preceded him. Hadrian, the scribe's boss, emerges well even though he eventually fired Suetonius for some offense or insult against the Empress.Anyone interested in a sweeping overview of one of the most fascinating times in history, and the colorful, ruthless, often brilliant and sometimes insane men who made it to the top of the heap should read this book. Rich with intrigue, "The Twelve Caesars" stands alone as a study of leadership and absolute power, rich with anecdotes and scandals, deep in detail. No history degree required, it's a must for any novelist working in this period.Just for kicks, get the edition that was translated by Robert Graves, the poet and author of "I, Claudius."
  • (5/5)
    A very interesting look into the lives of the Caesars. I loved reading "The Twelve Caesars." There are parts that are disturbing and parts that are hilarious, like Suetonius' portrayal of Claudius. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Rome.
  • (5/5)
    If you thought salacious tell-all celebrity biographies were a 20th Century phenomenon, think again! Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was a 1st Century Roman nobleman who worked as secretary for both the emperors Trajan and Hadrian: his position in the Imperial household did not stop him penning the most gossipy and scandalous histories of former holders of the highest office. Tellingly, he did not write about the two men under whom he had served: I don't know what the laws of libel were like back in 75 AD [roughly the time of writing] but many of the things Suetonius said would have got him killed had the charges been leveled against someone strill living.Caligula, for example, was not only insane, he was also incestuous, pimped out his royal sisters, turned the palace into a brothel and tried to make his horse a consul - the rough equivalent of a Prime Minister.However, Caligula's name is a byword by depravity and we would expect no less: we might be surprised however at his description of Julius Caesar as an epileptic with a high-pitched voice and a comb-over, he enjoyed taking it up the bum, or Tiberius as a perverse and vicious brute. Claudius drooled, had a bad stutter and was also prone to fits: he was a greedy drunkard, weak, cruel and stupid - but still a paragon of all the virtues when compared with his successor, the infamous Nero, about whom the only good thing he has to say is that he was a gifted musician. On the other hand, Suetonius started the rumour that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.Great stuff, a real page turned even now. If you thought the Romans were stuffy, read the Twelve Caesars and think again! Also pity our poor modern biographers who have such tame fodder to work with...
  • (5/5)
    This is a pleasure from beginning to end and started me on a long streak of reading original Roman and Greek authors. Suetonius is not always reliable, but he is the source of so many things that have entered our culture and our language. Reading this book will create more "a-ha" moments for a reasonably intelligent reader than just about anything else I can think of. Robert Graves translation is excellent, as one would expect from reading his own books.
  • (5/5)
    If you thought ancient history was dry and dull... you haven't read Suetonius!
  • (5/5)
    A dictionary of vice and lechery.Suetonius at least attempts to give accounts of family history, political careers, public works, and so forth, but just can't wait to get to the juicy stuff: gossip and scandal quite beyond today's impetuous pop stars and politicians, thrilling and unbelievable. It definitely gives history some zip.His physical descriptions ("spindly-legged") are fun, too.
  • (5/5)
    Great, fun read even though it's not always historically accurate.
  • (3/5)
    Suetonius is the more entertaining colleague of Tacitus. Tacitus is widely considered the more reliable historian, but Suetonius is more fun. He has included the gossip, the sordid rumours and dirty limericks of ancient rome. While it must be taken with a grain of salt, it makes for a vivid read.