The Lives of the Caesars

The Lives of the Caesars


A masterful new translation of Suetonius' renowned biography of the twelve Caesars, bringing to life a portrait of the first Roman emperors in stunning detail

The ancient Roman empire was the supreme arena, where emperors had no choice but to fight, to thrill, to dazzle. To rule as a Caesar was to stand as an actor upon the great stage of the world. No biography invites us into the lives of the Caesars more vividly or intimately than that by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, written from the centre of Rome and power, in AD 121.

Placing each Caesar in the context of the generations that had gone before, and connecting personality with policy, Suetonius injected flesh and blood into their stories, which continue to inform how we understand the drama of power today. Their shortfalls, foreign policy crises and sex scandals are laid bare; we are shown their tastes, their foibles, their eccentricities; and we sit at their tables and enter their bedrooms, resulting in a series of biographies mediated through the lives of the Caesars themselves.

That Rome lives more vividly in people's imagination than any other ancient empire owes an inordinate amount to Suetonius, and now award-winning author and translator Tom Holland brings us even closer in a new, spellbinding translation. Giving a deeper understanding of the personal lives of the Caesars and of how they inevitably informed what happened across the vast expanse of empire, The Lives of the Caesars is an astonishing, immersive experience of a time and culture at once familiar and utterly alien to our own.

About the author


Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was probably born in AD69 - the famous 'year of the four Emperors'. From the letters of Suetonius' close friend Pliny the Younger we learn that he practiced briefly at the bar, avoided political life, and became chief secretary to the Emperor Hadrian (AD117-38). Suetonius seems to have lived to a good age and probably died around the year AD140.
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