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Bill Thayer

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Suetonius: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

The Text on LacusCurtius

The Latin text is that of Maximilian Ihm in the Teubner edition of 1907, with cosmetic changes as printed in the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1913‑1914. The English translation is by J. C. Rolfe, printed in the same edition. Both text and translation are in the public domain.

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.)

In the table of contents below, all the Books are shown on blue backgrounds; red backgrounds would indicate that my transcription was still not proofread. The header bar at the top of each webpage will remind you with the same color scheme. Should you spot an error, please do report it, of course.

And here's an opportunity for me to thank Sergei Gerasenko and John Boal for doing some careful proofreading after me, especially of the Latin text, and catching all kinds of mistakes. Thank you both!

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

Background material on Suetonius, the Lives of the Twelve Caesars, the manuscripts, etc. will appear here in the fullness of time, but as usual I'm not about to let that delay anything, preferring to get a good text online first.

Offsite, a good orientation to Suetonius' life and works (not only the XII Caesars) may be found at Livius.Org.

Latin Text
English Translation

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.

Apparatus Criticus

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


J. C. Rolfe's 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.

A special case is five longer notes published separately by Rolfe in the Transactions of the American Philological Association (45:35‑47, 1914).

[image ALT: A bust of a bald old man. It is a contemporary portrait of the emperor Vespasian.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is based on my own photograph of a bust of Vespasian in the Musei Capitolini in Rome, which I chose because he is instantly recognizable to a reader of Suetonius (Vesp. 20, q.v.).

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Site updated: 10 Dec 16