Lives of the Twelve Caesars

  • by Suetonius
  • Narrated by Derek Jacobi
  • 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Suetonius wrote his Lives of the Twelve Caesars in the reign of Vespasian around 70AD. He chronicled the extraordinary careers of Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, and Domitian and the rest in technicolour terms. They presented some high and low times at the heart of the Roman Empire. The accounts provide us with perspicacious insights into the men as much as their reigns, and it was from Suetoniaus that subsequent writers such as Robert Graves drew so much of their material.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Perfect narrator, great text, poor translation

A sadly wasted opportunity. Unfortunately this audiobook is very abridged. Some unusual and odd choices were also made in Latin pronunciations, which can be off putting or confusing. The translation of the text itself (done by person/s unknown and difficult to discover) is strange and archaic, occasionally making the text difficult to understand (even for a classics scholar!). This includes the bizarre miss-use of technical terms, to give just one example, the term ‘poignard’ is often repeated (a fairly obscure term for a specific medieval type of dagger) instead of using the generic simple translation of ‘dagger’ or a specific correct term like the Latin ‘pugio’.

The fact that, despite all this, I still think it deserves 4 stars it testament to both the original text of Suetonius and the fantastic narrating of the great Sir Derek Jacobi, but could have been so much better, so easily!
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- George

Useful history, but of its time.

3 stars for performance are because of poor presentation. Derek Jacobi's reading is fine, but nowhere is the translator named, even though every bit of intrusive music is detailed in the pdf notes. It is arbitrarily divided into 6 chapters, presumably reflecting the original Naxos recording from pre-digital days. This makes it difficult to locate any individual Caesar - they are 12, after all, some meriting more space than others! - and since Audible on the iPhone tends to lose one's place, it can be confusing trying to get back to where you were before.
I was slightly taken aback when it began with a perky American child announcing "This is Audible KIDS!" this is an abridged version; did that mean all the salacious scandal had been censored and only the politics and warfare left in? (US media have a reputation for being much less squeamish about violence than sex, after all.)
Not so. More outrageous allegations than Robert Graves dared to include in his novels. I admit they supplemented my Latin studies at school, but they weren't marketed for "kids"....
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- Mary Carnegie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-08-2005
  • Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks