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The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 14: Lives of the Poets   By: (75-160)

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In Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus' engrossing narrative, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 14: Lives of the Poets, readers are granted an intimate glimpse into the fascinating lives of some of Rome's most celebrated poets. With meticulous attention to historical detail and a remarkable ability to weave together multiple narratives, Tranquillus presents a captivating account of these legendary figures, both their personal lives and their literary achievements.

What sets this volume apart from its predecessors is Tranquillus' emphasis on exploring the unique journeys and creative minds of the poets. From Virgil's path from humble beginnings to becoming Rome's most illustrious poet, to Ovid's arrestingly controversial works that saw him exiled from his beloved city, each biography showcases the struggles, achievements, and impact these individuals made on the Roman literary landscape.

One of the book's strengths lies in Tranquillus' ability to balance rigorous historical analysis with compelling storytelling. While the wealth of information can be overwhelming at times, his vivid descriptions and engaging writing style elevate the narratives, making them both accessible and enjoyable. Whether recounting Horace's witty satires or Lucan's grand epic, Tranquillus' passion for the subject matter translates into a compelling narrative that captures the essence of each poet's personality and artistic contribution.

Tranquillus' research is formidable, and readers will find themselves immersed in the rich context surrounding each poet's life. From society's expectations to political turmoil, the historical backdrop provides a backdrop against which the poets' lives unfold, making their struggles and triumphs all the more impactful. Furthermore, the inclusion of anecdotes and excerpts from their works serves to deepen our understanding of not just the poets themselves but also the poetic tradition they were part of.

Although the volume focuses on the poets, Tranquillus does not shy away from discussing their relationships with the emperors, particularly Augustus and Nero. Through these interactions, readers gain insights into how the political climate of the time influenced the work and lives of these renowned writers. This nuanced exploration reinforces the interconnectedness between literature, power, and patronage, illuminating the socio-cultural dynamics of ancient Rome.

If there is one criticism to be made, it is that the book lacks a comprehensive overview or analysis of the broader poetic trends during this period. While each poet is thoroughly examined individually, a more holistic understanding of the development of Roman poetry would have added depth to the overall narrative. However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise exceptional work.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus' The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Volume 14: Lives of the Poets is an enthralling exploration of the lives and works of Rome's most revered poets. Through his masterful storytelling and exhaustive research, Tranquillus brings these characters to life, providing readers with a captivating account of their triumphs and challenges, both personal and artistic. Rich in historical detail, this volume is an invaluable resource for scholars and a delightful read for anyone interested in the intersection of literature and history.

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.




Terence Juvenal Persius Horace Lucan Pliny


Publius Terentius Afer, a native of Carthage, was a slave, at Rome, of the senator Terentius Lucanus, who, struck by his abilities and handsome person, gave him not only a liberal education in his youth, but his freedom when he arrived at years of maturity. Some say that he was a captive taken in war, but this, as Fenestella [925] informs us, could by no means have been the case, since both his birth and death took place in the interval between the termination of the second Punic war and the commencement of the third [926]; nor, even supposing that he had been taken prisoner by the Numidian or Getulian tribes, could he have fallen into the hands of a Roman general, as there was no commercial intercourse between the Italians and Africans until after the fall of Carthage [927]... Continue reading book >>

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