Perhaps Suetonius, like other biographers and historians, made mistakes; perhaps he retained ancedotes and bits of gossip that a less lively writer would have discarded; but he made the Caesars mortal men, though some of them carried the title of god, and he showed them in defeat and victory, virtue and vice, as they were or, at least, as some men reputed them to be. So colorful are the details of murders and lustful acts that even the most extravagant of Hollywood representations of ancient Rome are calm and temperate by comparison.
The beginning of the life of Julius Caesar is missing, the account beginning in his sixteenth year, but otherwise the book is complete. Like the other biographies there is more emphasis on Julius the person and on his relationships with the people about him than there is on the great historical moments of his life. But the major events were bound to be reported in great detail in ordinary works; Suetonius performs the service of filling out the cold lines of history with an impartial account of the personal traits of the Caesars.
After the death of his father, Julius married Cornelia, daughter of the consul Cinna, who bore him a daughter, Julia. Since by this act—which allied Julius with the popular party—he irritated the dictator Sulla, he was forced to go into hiding; but Caesar’s friends interceded for him and at last he was forgiven. Sulla warned, however, that Caesar would “one day deal the death blow...
(The entire section is 1789 words.)
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