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The Twelve Caesars by Michael Grant

The Twelve Caesars

by Michael Grant

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486531,936 (3.54)9



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A relatively concise look at the 12 Caesars a la Suetonius, but without the lovely gossipy undertone. Not bad at all, but I would certainly recommend a look at Suetonius if you enjoyed it! ( )
  SnowcatCradle | Jan 2, 2017 |
Michael Grant, the author of more than 20 works, combines his deep knowledge of Roman historians & numismatics (study of coins) in producing an excellent study of 12 Caesars from Julius Caesar to Domitian using Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars as a base adding Tacitus & Dio Cassius' histories as well as with lesser known ancient writers like Juvenal (a Roman satirist) & Pliny the Elder (author of the Natural History). In his introduction which is a solid essay on the historiographical methods of the ancient writers. He writes in humble tribute to Suetonius but warns his readers that combining other writers, a different picture emerges out of the shadows of who the Caesars were. He reflects on how the ancient historian saw their role & how the texts we now have survived the centuries. He also suggests that Suetonius & other writers were children of their own time believing at times gossips & rumors as if they were facts & at other times quoted from lost texts. In other words, Mr. Grant carefully explains both the texts veracity & the drawbacks they have. For example, he quotes "There...never was a series of biographies so crammed with anecdotes." to point out the difficulty of sorting out the truth from the falsehoods.
The author divides his work into 4 parts, with each part containing a time period like "the Flavian Emperors", each biography opens with a paragraph or more from Suetonius & after that, Mr. Grant combines other writers to flesh out each of his subject. Then he completes this work concluding that all in all that every ruler became overloaded with imperial duties adding to that fear & suspicion, unable to trust anyone. He suggests not only unbalanced personalities, but also ambition, greed, as well as unwise decisions blinded too many rulers which led to disastrous ends. Few managed like Augustus & Vespasion to place their successors in prime positions to alleviate those heavy loads but not always with success. Mr. Grant's book, especially the Introduction & Conclusion pages would serve the student of history well in understanding ancient history & methods of this particular subject. ( )
  walterhistory | May 4, 2016 |
The personalities of the twelve caesars of ancient Rome have profoundly impressed themselves upon the world. They formed the theme of that most readable of biographers, Suetonius. He had a lot to say about their sexual and other aberrations, and one of the purposes of the present book is to try to penetrate the fog of picturesque rumor and estimate how seriously the various stories can be regarded. But this is only one part of a general attempt to... ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 20, 2015 |
A take on Suetonius' "12 Caesars" but with limited depth and analysis ( )
  starkravingmad | Jul 22, 2011 |
Not the scandal ridden fun of Suetonius, but still good stuff. ( )
  lucybrown | Jul 16, 2011 |
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Twelve men in 200 years changed the known world and the course of history forever: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.

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