In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Suetonius

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Collections of Articles
  • Editions of Text and Textual History
  • Translations
  • Concordance
  • Commentaries on the Whole of De Vita Caesarum
  • Commentaries on Multiple Lives of De Vita Caesarum

Classics Suetonius
David Wardle
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 May 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0154


Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (born c. 69 CE) was prominent as a senior figure in the imperial administration of the early 2nd century CE and as a scholar who produced a range of works in the areas of biography, antiquarianism, and philology. The majority of these survive only as titles or in fragmentary form. He is best known for his best-preserved work, De vita Caesarum, biographies of the rulers of the Roman world from Julius Caesar to Domitian, and was probably the first Roman to write imperial biographies that were distinct from annalistic histories. The work is of major importance as a historical source for the early Principate, as his inclusivity has preserved much unique material revealing what contemporaries, and near-contemporaries, of the emperors said about them. It has often been criticized for its inclusion of trivial material and (wrongly) for an absence of critical judgment of the emperors. Its vivid depictions spawned imitators in antiquity and have remained a principal source for many modern depictions of the emperors.


Suetonius, despite the wide range of his scholarly works, has not before Benediktson 1992–93 been deemed worthy of a major, comprehensive bibliography, although the various contributions to Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt II 33.5 (Haase 1991, cited under Collections of Articles) provide substantial, but partial, bibliographies, most notably Galand-Hallyn 1991 on the De vita Caesarum alone. Poignault 2009 in effect continues Benediktson up to 2007, but without annotation.

  • Benediktson, Thomas D. 1992–1993. A survey of Suetonius scholarship: 1938–87. Classical World 86:377–447.

    An analytical, annotated bibliography of 711 items on all of Suetonius’s works categorized into very helpful subdivisions, with handy reference to bibliographies going back to 1897.

  • Galand-Hallyn, Perrine. 1991. Bibliographie suétonienne: (Les vies des XII Césars) 1950–1988. Vers une réhabilitation. In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 33.5. Edited by Wolfgang Haase, 3576–3622. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter.

    Alphabetically organized under few categories, but with a useful index locorum.

  • Poignault, Rémy. 2009. Sélection bibliographique (1989–2007). In Le Présence de Suétone. Edited by Rémy Poignault, 337–360. Tours, France: Univ. de Tours, Centre de Recherches A. Piganiol.

    Bibliography broken down into useful categories.

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