2 SUETONIUS biographies ..twelve Emperors /Virtual Book Fair 106


Description: The famous biographies of the twelve Roman Emperors, printed by the Giunta's

SUETONIUS Tranquillus, Gaius.
Vitae duodecim Caesarum diligentissime recognitae.

Florence, Filippo Giunta, March 1515. 8vo. Later vellum, ribbed spine with title lettered in ink. Woodcut printer's device on verso of last leaf. 184, (8) ff.

One of the charming early 16th-century (post-incunable) editions of Suetonius' biographies of the twelve Caesars printed by the famous Giunta publishing and printing house in Florence. Suetonius (ca. 70 - ca.140 AD) was born the son of Suetonius Laetus, who probably came from Hippo Regius (Annaba, Algeria ). He was a close friend to Senator and letter-writer Pliny the Younger. Through Pliny, Suetonius came into favour with Trajan and Hadrian. Under Trajan he served as secretary of studies (precise functions are uncertain) and director of Imperial archives. Under Hadrian, he became the Emperor's secretary. In 122, Hadrian dismissed him for disrespectful behaviour towards Empress Vibia Sabina. Suetonius may have later regained imperial favour under Hadrian and returned to his position.
He is mainly remembered as the author of the current work, the famous De Vita Caesarum ('About the Lives of the Caesars', best known in English as 'The Twelve Caesars'). The Twelve Caesars, probably written in Hadrian's time, is a collective biography of the Roman Empire's first leaders. The book was dedicated to a friend Gaius Septicius Clarus, a prefect of the Praetorian Guard in 119. The work tells the tale of each Caesar's life according to a set formula: the descriptions of appearance, omens, family history, quotes, and then a history, often full of spicy, erotic, often pornographic, shocking and cruel details, are given in a consistent order for each Caesar.

Good annotated copy.- (17th-century ownership's entries on title, a.o. 'Ex libris Nicolai Dominic. Stella, nunc ex libris Michaelis Nus (?) X Jan. 1688'; contemporary ms. annotations in ink throughout, sometimes cut short; title sl. soiled).
STC Italian p. 651; Adams S-2030; Isaac 13373; not in Dibdin.
  • Number: 1060188
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum