Dec 17 2009

The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius

Suetonius writes more like a gossip columnist than a historian. In this brief work we learn that Augustus was a compulsive gambler, Tiberius was a pervert, Nero was in love with his mother, Galba was a passive homosexual, and most of the emperors liked boys as well as women. From the introduction we learn that Suetonius also wrote a book called *Lives of the Famous Whores*; this work has not survived, but given the scandalous nature of these biographies it seems entirely plausible that he wrote it. Suetonius perfunctorily includes the facts that are of political interest in the lives of the Caesars, but it is clear that his real interest is in their sordid personal lives. The moral of these unedifying stories seems to be that if you’re an emperor you can get away with just about anything.

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