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The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 08: Otho   By: (75-160)

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In "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 08: Otho," Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus delves into the fascinating life and times of a lesser-known Roman emperor, Otho. This historical account unveils the intricate web of political ambition, betrayal, and power struggles characteristic of the early Imperial era.

Suetonius starts by tracing Otho's rise through the military ranks and his close relationship with the infamous Nero. Through meticulous research and detailed accounts, the author offers a vivid portrayal of Otho's character, revealing him as a man torn between his loyalty to the emperor and his own aspirations for power.

One of the most captivating aspects of this biography is Suetonius' exploration of the psychological motivations behind Otho's actions. By providing insights into his subject's inner thoughts and struggles, the author paints a multi-dimensional portrait that goes beyond surface-level historical facts. Suetonius skillfully captures the depth of Otho's complexity, making the reader empathize and even sympathize with this often misunderstood ruler.

The author's extensive research is evident throughout the book, as he draws from a wide array of sources including official documents, diaries, and eyewitness accounts. Suetonius weaves together historical narratives and anecdotes, ensuring that the reader gains a comprehensive understanding of Otho's reign and the turbulent times in which he lived.

Moreover, the author skillfully portrays the political environment during Otho's era, shedding light on the intricate power struggles within the Roman Empire. Suetonius provides insightful analysis of the motivations and machinations of Otho's contemporaries, offering a broader understanding of the complex web of alliances and betrayals that shaped the period.

While the book primarily focuses on Otho, Suetonius also explores the larger historical context, touching on significant events and developments during the time. This inclusion enhances the reader's understanding and provides a well-rounded view of the epoch, making the biography not just a study of an individual but a window into an entire era.

One minor drawback is that, at times, the narrative becomes too dense with details and intricate historical references, which might overwhelm readers with limited prior knowledge of Roman history. Nevertheless, Suetonius manages to balance the level of detail and pace throughout the book, ensuring that it remains engaging and accessible.

In conclusion, "The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 08: Otho" by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus is a captivating and meticulously researched biography that brings to life the story of a complex Roman emperor. Suetonius' narrative skill, combined with his in-depth analysis and historical context, makes this an essential read for anyone interested in Roman history or the tumultuous machinations of power.

First Page:


By C. Suetonius Tranquillus;

To which are added,


The Translation of Alexander Thomson, M.D.

revised and corrected by T.Forester, Esq., A.M.



I. The ancestors of Otho were originally of the town of Ferentum, of an ancient and honourable family, and, indeed, one of the most considerable in Etruria. His grandfather, M. Salvius Otho (whose father was a Roman knight, but his mother of mean extraction, for it is not certain whether she was free born), by the favour of Livia Augusta, in whose house he had his education, was made a senator, but never rose higher than the praetorship. His father, Lucius Otho, was by the mother's side nobly descended, allied to several great families, and so dearly beloved by Tiberius, and so much resembled him in his features, that most people believed Tiberius was his father. He behaved with great strictness and severity, not only in the city offices, but in the pro consulship of Africa, and some extraordinary commands in the army... Continue reading book >>

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