The Twelve Caesars

  • by Suetonius
  • Narrated by Clive Chafer
  • 17 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colorful biographical works in history. The Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus, to the decline into depravity and civil war under Nero and the recovery that came with his successors. A masterpiece of observation, anecdote, and detailed physical description, The Twelve Caesars presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn---and all too human---individuals. This version of The Twelve Caesars is the translation by Alexander Thomson, M.D.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dry, Dry, Dry

This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

You have to be a hard-core historian to really enjoy this book.


What three words best describe Clive Chafer???s performance?

Cultured, dry, emotionless


If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Twelve Caesars?

Some of the really long passages in Latin.


Any additional comments?

I was doing OK with this book even though it's pretty dry material. I expected it to be a bit on the scholastic side. I know enough about Roman history that I was getting by and enjoying some of the bits and pieces. You have to have a pretty good knowledge of that history to even have a chance at understanding what is going on and recognizing the names. There are so many names to keep track of.

And then, I ran into an extraordinarily long passage in Latin that just about put me to sleep before the narrator finished it. Maybe if I understood Latin, I wouldn't have found this so irritating but it would have been better done by translation to English. I can't imagine that there are many who have a full enough knowledge of Latin to understand the passage.

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- Cynthia Freeman "cfreeperson"

Heavily modified and softly translated

The History of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius is one of the most important historical texts of the classical period, and is unique fun in a good translation. Unfortunately, the translator has added long passages of historical context and analysis between the original entry. These passages are overly long and poorly conceived, and are not clearly separated from the translation of the original text. Worse, they contain long passages presented in both Latin and English which destroy any narrative flow in the work.

Finally, apparently for moral reasons, passages describing sexual habits are not translated directly, but paraphrased euphemistically. This is simply not acceptable in a translation of a key historical text.
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- NeoAtreides

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-28-2011
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio