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Suetonius' Tacitus*

  • Tristan Power (a1)


This article discusses the relationship of Tacitus to his younger contemporary Suetonius, challenging the view that Suetonius wrote a ‘supplement’ to the historian. Scholarly focus on this pair has led to the widespread belief that Suetonius had read Tacitus’ Annals, which is unsupported by the evidence. The prevailing consensus that the biographer may at times be subtly criticizing the historian persists in commentaries on Suetonius’ Caesars. It is argued that where their two accounts appear to meet, Suetonius is better seen as responding to the earlier common source or sources, or distinguishing himself from the conventions of historiography at large.


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I wish to thank the editorial committee of JRS, as well as the journal's Editor Catherine Steel, for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Ancient references follow the edition of A. Rostagni for Suetonius’ Poets (1944), that of A. Reifferscheid for his fragments (1860), and those of H. Heubner for Tacitus’ Histories (1978) and Annals (1983). Translations of the Caesars and Annals are taken from the Loeb editions of J. C. Rolfe (1914) and J. Jackson (1931–7) respectively. All other translations are my own.



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