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SUETONIUS

69AD - 122AD
Roman

"On one occasion the people cheered the team he opposed; he cried angrily: I wish all you Romans had only one neck!"

Suetonius was born the son of Suetonius Laetus, who probably came from Hippo Regius (Annaba, Algeria). His father Laetus was an equestrian who served and took part in the first Battle of Bedriacum for the Emperor Otho, against the future Emperor Vitellius in 69. Suetonius was a close friend of Senator and letter-writer Pliny the Younger. Pliny describes him as a quiet and studious man, dedicated to writing. Pliny helped him to buy a small property in Italy and interceded with the Emperor Trajan to grant Suetonius immunities usually granted to a father of three, the ius trium liberorum, because his marriage was childless. Through Pliny, Suetonius came into favour with Trajan and Hadrian.

Suetonius may have served on Pliny’s staff when Pliny was Proconsul of Bithynia Pontus, northern Asia Minor, between 110 and 112. Under Trajan he served as secretary of studies (precise functions are uncertain) and director of the Imperial Archives. Under Hadrian, he became the Emperor's secretary. However, in 119, Hadrian dismissed Suetonius for having an affair with Empress Vibia Sabina.

Suetonius may have later regained imperial favor under Hadrian and returned to his position. This hypothesis is based on the suggestion that Offices of State was one of his last works, and that the subject was chosen to reflect Hadrian's administrative reforms. However, there is no certain evidence for a public career after 120.

He is mainly remembered as the author of De Vita Caesarum, best known in English as The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, his only extant work. The Twelve Caesars, probably written in Hadrian's time, is a collective biography of the Roman Empire's first leaders, Julius Caesar (the first few chapters are missing), Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

TITLES BY SUETONIUS

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