Suetonius And Augustus Analysis

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Introduction: Suetonius and Augustus
Suetonius’ approach to biography is elucidated by centring focus on the Life of Augustus. Suetonius rose to prominence as a scholar, and later gained positions in Hadrian’s court, with his work The Twelve Caesars dated tentatively to the reign of Hadrian between 117-38 C.E. He did not write in a chronological style like his contemporary Plutarch, but rather divided his work thematically, into categories such as birth, achievements, career, morals and death, although the structure varied within his work. One of the proposed reasons for this structure is that Suetonius was inspired by Augustus’ Res Gestae.

Erik Gunderson argues that Suetonius used Augustus’ Res Gestae as an exempla, while his section on
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Yet the genus Caesar does not seem to begin with Julius, but rather with Augustus, who established the system of governance and conduct by which all other Caesar’s are measured. Suetonius’ use of themes invites comparison between each life, creating in some ways a more direct comparison than a linear account. Suetonius depicts not only the public achievements of his Caesars, but also their private life commenting on appearance and family. However, Edwards argues Romans felt the personal life of their leaders was a public concern, as public figures acted as exempla for the populace on how to live their own lives. Julius’ ostentatious dress sense, is therefore contrasted to the description of the simplicity of Augustus’ home. Suetonius’ choice to include these personal details, has no equivalent among his scholarly peers, and yet tells us about what Suetonius, and by extension Rome, valued in a …show more content…
He indicates that by doing so and becoming a dictator, rather than consul, Julius was justly slain. Suetonius continues this preoccupation with the relationship between Emperor and divine power throughout his work. Augustus is portrayed as a stronger individual for his refusal of temples dedicated to him in Rome, avoiding association with divine power in his lifetime. Individuals such as Caligula and Domitian, who do not follow Augustus’ example of modesty are therefore characterised as arrogant. This demonstrates Suetonius’ view that a successful Emperor is once whose character is shown to be humble in his dismissal of divine praise. Augustus’ Res Gestae denotes this importance, for he emphasises restoration of the res publica, his own refusal to accept dictatorship, noting he obtained “all things through universal consent”. Suetonius is therefore indicating a view that has been perpetuated by the Roman aristocracy, and which Hadrian, during Suetonius’ lifetime, would also emulate by deifying his predecessor Trajan upon his death, and erecting a temple in his

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