The Inventio Of Nero Analysis

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Scholar Tamsyn Barton continues with a critical examination of Suetonius, declaring that the ancient historian was more of a rhetorician than a non-biased scholar. Throughout her essay “The inventio of Nero: Suetonius,” Barton points out Suetonius employed a known rhetorical mode of writing, which was used for criticizing politicians in ancient Rome. Therefore, the people of Rome would have understood Suetonius’ words were not meant to be taken as factual information on the emperors’ lives. Barton states there existed two types of writing styles in Roman literature, encomium and invective. While encomium writing praised the subject of the piece, invective literature criticized whoever was the focus of the text. Barton believes Suetonius’ The …show more content…
One of the most vicious accounts in The Twelve Caesars focuses on the emperor Nero. Specific, disgraceful acts such as the castration of his male lover, Sporus, the deflowering of a vestal virgin, and Nero’s enjoyment of penetration, are a few of the sexually charged stories about the emperor’s personal life. Particularly the charge of Nero being penetrated relates back to Edwards’s thesis of important men possessing “mollitia” traits, which was an insult to their character. Barton further mentions other historians, such as Kenkel, have proclaimed the erotic nature of the text came from the political invective writing style, and cannot be trusted. Furthermore, it is questionable how Suetonius knew these specific details without relying on secondary sources for his “facts.” Barton would overall stress that Suetonius’ writings cannot be taken as a completely accurate historical account. While the emperors of Rome may have had character flaws, Suetonius clearly embellished upon them, employing an invective writing …show more content…
... The propaganda of Suetonius’ times could envisage how the Trajanic and Hadrianic succession was a ‘better’ arrangement, with a successor being chosen based on merit rather than blood, while at the same time his position was legitimated through adoption and dynastic marriage.

Thus, the new dynasty of emperors was based on skill rather than familial relations. The sexual depravity and scandal of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties present a foil in Suetonius’ work to the moral, upright, Nerva-Antonine emperors. While there may have been small truths in The Twelve Caesars, much of the work included exaggerations and scandal for public controversy. Conclusively, Chong-Gossard would agree that Suetonius’ work was not a total factual account of the emperors of Rome, but simply a way to further the political agenda of

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