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Extended Audio Sample The Twelve Caesars, by Suetonius Click for printable size audiobook cover
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As private secretary to the emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colorful biographical works in history. The 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 observation, anecdote, and detailed physical description, The Twelve Caesars presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn—and all too human—individuals. This version of The Twelve Caesars is the translation by Alexander Thomson, MD.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paulkelly05 | 2/16/2014

    " I enjoy ancient Rome this was an enjoyable book. Starts with Julius and continues on. Brings them to life very well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rozonda | 2/12/2014

    " A piece of gossip if there ever was one. Suetonius tells us all the juicy bits about the Emperors of Rome, and while flattering the Emperor of that time, Hadrian (who didn't trust him one bit, since he was found plotting with Hadrian's wife)he writes about the vices and virtues of the likes of Caesar, Augustus and Nero. Surprisingly entertaining and fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Nathan | 2/10/2014

    " Contemporary Roman history (with a good bit of editorializing by Suetonius), readably and eloquently translated. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rob Atkinson | 2/1/2014

    " One of those classics that is a genuine, even salacious pleasure to read, and the historical basis for Robert Graves's "I, Claudius", "The Twelve Caesars" covers the first twelve emperors of Ancient Rome (Including Julius Caesar, though Augustus was the first officially); the Julio-Claudians through Nero, his very brief successors Galba,Otho and Vitellius (in the tumultuous 'year of three Emperors', A.D. 69), and finally the Flavians Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Secretary to Hadrian, Suetonius had direct access to the Imperial archives, which gives his account a depth and immediacy lacking in the other Roman chroniclers' accounts, as well as a wealth of anecdote regarding the subjects' often scandalous personal lives. While full of jaw-dropping accounts of profligacy and debauchery, the author nevertheless appears to be very conscientious in presenting balanced accounts of each ruler, often including differing accounts of the same events when the facts are in dispute, and carefully crediting even the worst Emperors with any mitigating benevolent acts -- this is no hatchet job in the manner of Procopius' 'Secret History', and appears to be very credible, on the whole. Each Emperor is given his own chapter, which begins with an account of his acts and accomplishments, followed by a discussion of his character and personal life. This non-chronological approach can sometimes be slightly confusing, but the Penguin Edition is replete with explanatory footnotes, glossaries, and maps of Rome and the Empire, which are very helpful to the lay reader. A bonus for those who come to this work after reading and loving Robert Graves's novels and wanting more is that this is his own fine and pellucid translation from the Latin. A very informative read for anyone interested in Imperial Rome, and juicy fun as well! "

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About the Author
Author Suetonius

Suetonius (AD 69–AD 122?) was a Roman biographer and antiquarian whose writings include De viris illustribus (“Concerning Illustrious Men”), a collection of short biographies of celebrated Roman literary figures, and De vita Caesarum (Lives of the Caesars). The latter book, seasoned with bits of gossip and scandal relating to the lives of the first eleven emperors, secured him lasting fame.