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Bill Thayer

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The Historia Augusta

The Text on LacusCurtius

Text and translation are transcribed from the Loeb Classical Library edition. The Latin text is, as stated in the Preface, that of Susan H. Ballou (thru Avidius Cassius), then that of Hermann Peter (from Commodus on). The English translation is by David Magie. Both text and translation are in the public domain: Vol. I was copyright 1921 and is thus expired; the copyrights on Vol. II and Vol. III were 1924 and 1932, but were not renewed at the appropriate times (1951‑1952 and 1959‑1960 respectively), and these volumes thus rose into the public domain. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

As usual, I retyped the text rather than scanning it: not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents below, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, however . . . please do report it.

Further details on the technical aspects of the site layout follow the Table of Contents.


The Historia Augusta poses special problems to the modern reader or researcher: if — either perusing the biographies in it at some length or seeking to mine the work for as little as a single small piece of information — you are not familiar with these problems, it is critically important that you become so before you put your foot in it. They are covered by the editor's introductory material on this site, but not very satisfactorily. Probably the most clear-headed exposition of it all can be found on Livius.Org's introduction to the Historia Augusta: read it.

Another Latin text of the Historia may be found at Latin Library; beware, however: although it is not marked as such, it is incomplete (the biggest problem is the Life of Alexander Severus, reduced there to a few fragments although in fact it has come down to us complete).

Latin Text
English Translation


Capp. 1‑14.7: adoptio a Traiano, imperium

Capp. 14.8‑27: vita privata, mores; mors.


Chs. 1‑14.7: adoption by Trajan, public life

Chs. 14.8‑27: private life, character; death.


Capp. 1‑14: usque ad Veri mortem

Capp. 15‑29: post Veri mortem.


Chs. 1‑14: up to the death of Verus

Chs. 15‑29: after the death of Verus.


Capp. 1‑18.3: mores et mors

Capp. 18.4‑35: fabulae de luxuria eius.


Chs. 1‑18.3: his character and death

Chs. 18.4‑35: tales of his extravagance.


Capp. 1‑28: familia, initium imperii

Capp. 29‑52: vita privata et mores

Capp. 53‑68: belli, mors.


Chs. 1‑28: family, accession, early rule

Chs. 29‑52: private life and character

Chs. 53‑68: campaigns, death.


Cyriades, Postumus, Postumus Iunior, Lollianus, Victorinus, Victorinus Iunior, Marius, Ingenuus, Regalianus, Aureolus, Macrianus, Macrianus Iunior, Quietus, Odaenathus, Herodes, Maeonius, Ballista, Valens, Valens Superior, Piso, Aemilianus, Saturninus, Tetricus Senior, Tetricus Iunior, Trebellianus, Herennianus, Timolaus, Celsus, Zenobia, Victoria, Titus, Censorinus.


Cyriades, Postumus, Postumus the Younger, Lollianus, Victorinus, Victorinus the Younger, Marius, Ingenuus, Regalianus, Aureolus, Macrianus, Macrianus the Younger, Quietus, Odaenathus, Herodes, Maeonius, Ballista, Valens, Valens the Elder, Piso, Aemilianus, Saturninus, Tetricus the Elder, Tetricus the Younger, Trebellianus, Herennianus, Timolaus, Celsus, Zenobia, Victoria, Titus, Censorinus.


Capp. 1‑15: priusquam imperator fuisset

Capp. 16‑37.4: imperium et mors

Capp. 37.5‑50: fabulae variae.


Chs. 1‑15: until he became emperor

Chs. 16‑37.4: rule and death

Chs. 37.5‑50: various anecdotes.

Chapter and Section Numbering, Local Links

Both chapters (large numbers) and sections (small numbers) mark local links, according to a consistent scheme; you can therefore link directly to any passage.

In the Latin text, each American flag [American flag] is a link to the corresponding section of the English translation, opening in another window; in the English text, each Vatican flag [Flag of the Holy See] is a link to the corresponding section of the Latin text, opening in another window.


The Loeb edition provides no comprehensive apparatus criticus, but occasionally marks a variant or a crux. I'm including these notes.


The Loeb translation includes many notes, designed to elucidate the text for a general reader. For the Web, they are both overkill and not enough: so while of my own initiative I wouldn't have put most of them online, given that they're there, I've often linked them to more detailed and specific sources. In the print edition, some notes are referred to a note to a previous Life; I found it simpler to do the same, although often enough that previous note is not thoroughly satisfactory: still, the diligent reader will probably not begrudge me the shortcut — and the superficial reader will never notice.

[image ALT: A bust of a man of about 35, with curly hair and a fierce and wary expression. It is a contemporary portrait of the emperor Caracalla.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a view of the portrait-bust of Caracalla in the Room of the Emperors in the Capitoline Museum in Rome: not one of the "good emperors", but not one of the monsters or the fly-by‑nights, either.

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Site updated: 25 Jul 19