Most helpful positive review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Scurrilous, gossipy and fascinating
on 12 July 2012
Suetonius is probably one of the most accessible of ancient historians/biographers. His Twelve Caesars tells the life stories of the first emperors from Julius Caesar, via Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasion and Titus to Domitian.
It's interesting to compare his life of Julius Caesar with Plutarch's (which was Shakespeare's source). Unlike Tacitus, who covers the period of Augustus to Nero, Suetonius isn't ostensibly concerned with the politics of empire, but instead focuses around the individual and fills his pages with the delicious gossip that inspired Robert Graves' I, Claudius.
We do, of course, have to take the historical accuracy of this with a very large pinch of salt: Suetonius, like other Roman historians, has both a political and literary agenda that is as much to do with a response to the lost republic as with the caesars.
Edwards' translation is fine, elegant and sensitive to the Latin, and is far better than the Penguin Michael Grant. So if you're looking for Suetonius in English, this is the edition I would recommend.