Suetonius:The 12 Caesars

With Suetonius, the question has always been whether or not what he says is true.  As an important figure in Hadrian’s rule, he would have had access to the documents which could have told him the truth about his subjects. However, too much of his work seems so utterly scandalous that it is almost unbelievable. Are we supposed to believe that Tiberius had a home where he took young boys to rape them, or is this exaggeration to make a point.  Clearly the emperors were corrupted by their ultimate power, as shown by their extravagance and greed, but surely they weren’t that bad. Peeling away at Suetonius, though, and removing the exaggeration shows us all too human characteristics on such depraved men. Therefore, one presumes that Suetonius’ point is that anyone can be corrupted by such extreme power, and even the best people cannot stand having ultimate control over everything. Suetonius’ writing style is uncomplicated and easy to read, and much of what he says must be true, so it is certainly a useful source. Moreover, it is one of the most interesting historical books, mainly due to its wide selection of salacious gossip.


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