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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 colourful 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.
De vita Caesarum, known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies, each about one of the Roman emperors, including one on Julius Caesar. It was written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly referred to as Suetonius, in 121. Considered highly significant in antiquity, The Twelve Caesars has remained a major source of Roman history.
This text by Suetonius, a Latin biographer, is a major source for the period from Julius Caesar to Domitian. It sets out a great range of aspects illuminating the emperors' characters, their habits - from table to bedchamber - their intrigues, loves and their deaths.
The personalities of the Twelve Caesars of ancient Rome - Julius Caesar and the first eleven Roman emperors who followed him - have profoundly impressed themselves upon the world. They formed the theme of the great Roman biographer Suetonius, who had much to say about their sexual and other aberrations, which have been the subject of countless legends and bizarre fantasies. In this book Michael Grant attempts to penetrate the fog of superstition and rumour that has gathered around these astonishingly powerful men and investigates how they wielded such vast might, how they coped or failed with their task, and considers the effects their intensely demanding public careers had on their private lives. He questions the truth of the many stories which have suggested that the Caesars were consumed by erotic eccentricities, and he asks to what extent we are justified, after a study of the scorching pages of Tacitus, in applying to the Roman Caesars Lord Actor's saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname 'sphincter artist'. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide - and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the 'twelve Caesars' - Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an erao of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.

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