Ancient History & Civilisation


GAIUS SUETONIUS TRANQUILLUS was born into a family of equestrian rank, probably in AD 70; his father had served as a military tribune under the emperor Otho. The place of his birth is unknown (possibly Hippo Regius in North Africa), but he was in Rome by the 90s. He practised as an advocate, perhaps for only a brief time, and embarked on a public career under the patronage of Pliny the Younger; he may have served on his staff when Pliny was governor of the province of Pontus and Bithynia in AD 110–11. Suetonius also devoted himself to scholarship from an early age, producing a number of learned works that are now almost entirely lost; the most important of these was On Illustrious Men, a collection of over 100 brief lives of notable Roman writers, parts of which still survive. He served as imperial secretary ‘for studies’ and ‘for libraries’, probably under the emperor Trajan, and as imperial secretary in charge of correspondence under the emperor Hadrian, a post from which he was dismissed in AD 122. He was at that time at work on his magnum opus, The Twelve Caesars, the only one of his works to survive virtually complete. He died perhaps sometime after the year AD 130.

The poet and novelist ROBERT GRAVES was born in 1895, the son of the poet Alfred Graves and his wife Amy, the great–niece of the historian Leopold von Ranke. He was educated at Charterhouse (1909–14), where he began publishing poetry. After leaving school, he served in the army during the First World War, and was severely wounded in the Battle of the Somme (1916). His first book of poetry appeared later that same year, but it was his autobiography of the war years, Good–bye to All That (1929), that first made him famous. Among the most notable of the more than 135 books that he published in his lifetime are the best–selling novels I, Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1935); The White Goddess (1948), an original and highly personal study of myth and poetic inspiration; and his Collected Poems (1975). He died in Majorca, his home since 1928, in 1985.

J. B. RIVES received his PhD in Classics from Stanford University (1990), and taught at Columbia University and York University in Toronto before moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is currently Kenan Eminent Professor of Classics. He is the author of Religion and Authority in Roman Carthage (1995) and Religion in the Roman Empire (2006) as well as numerous articles on aspects of religion in the Roman world; he has also published a translation, with introduction and commentary, of Tacitus’ Germania (1999).



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