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Suetonius - Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus


Definition: Suetonius (fully, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus) was an equestrian-rank Roman writer of biographies who lived from c. A.D. 70. to c. 130, making him a child during the start of the reign of the Flavian emperors. Suetonius' father was a military tribune in the thirteenth legion Gemina, under the Emperor Otho when he committed suicide, which, based on the necessary retirement of a defeated emperor's officers -- that or execution, suggests the earliest possible birthdate for Suetonius, according to Lendering.

Suetonius may have come Hippo Regius in the province of Africa. By A.D. 97, Suetonius' scholarship had come to attention in Rome, and especially the Roman statesman, governor of Pontus and Bithynia in 111-113, and correspondent of the Emperor Trajan, Pliny the Younger.

Suetonius probably accompanied Pliny when he went to Bithynia to serve as legate. Pliny arranged for Suetonius to receive undeservedly the privilege of the law of three children.

Under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian, Suetonius held important administrative posts. Suetonius is best known for his "Lives of the 12 Caesars" (De vita Caesarum), but he also wrote about famous men of letters, including his friend Pliny, in "On Famous Men" (De viris illustribus).


  • Keith R. Bradley "Suetonius" The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • C. Suetonius Tranquillus (Jona Lendering)
  • "The Hippo Inscription and the Career of Suetonius"
    G. B. Townend
    Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Jan., 1961), pp. 99-109
  • "Travels of Suetonius Tranquillus"
    Ronald Syme
    Hermes, Vol. 109, No. 1 (1981), pp. 105-117

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