Alexandra Benavidez

Alexandra Benavidez

Published: 29 Sep 2023


Suetonius is a name that evokes intrigue and fascination among history enthusiasts. As one of the most renowned ancient Roman historians, Suetonius has left behind a wealth of knowledge and insights about the Roman emperors and their reigns. His works, particularly the “Lives of the Twelve Caesars,” provide a unique and enigmatic perspective on the lives and characters of Roman leaders.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Suetonius and uncover 13 fascinating and lesser-known facts about this remarkable historian. From his controversial writing style to his sources of information and even his rumored connections to the imperial court, we’ll shed light on the intriguing aspects of Suetonius’s life and works. So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a journey through the mysterious world of Suetonius, where history meets curiosity.

Table of Contents

Suetonius was a Roman historian and biographer.

Suetonius, born in 69 AD, was a prominent figure in ancient Rome. He is best known for his collection of biographies called “The Lives of the Twelve Caesars”. His meticulous research and detailed accounts provide valuable insights into the lives of Roman emperors.

His works were groundbreaking and controversial.

Suetonius pushed the boundaries of historical writing by including scandalous and sensational details about the lives of the emperors. His writing style was often considered unorthodox, as he delved into intimate aspects of their personal lives and behaviors, offering a unique perspective not found in other historical accounts of the time.

Suetonius served as an imperial secretary.

Before becoming a historian, Suetonius held a position as an imperial secretary under Emperor Hadrian and later under Emperor Trajan. This gave him access to valuable information and records that he used to enrich his biographies.

He was known for his meticulous research.

Suetonius dedicated considerable time and effort to his research, consulting a wide range of sources including official documents, letters, and eyewitness accounts. His commitment to accuracy and thoroughness ensured that his biographies were highly regarded for their historical reliability.

Suetonius had a fascination with the private lives of emperors.

Unlike other historians who focused primarily on political and military achievements, Suetonius had a keen interest in the personal lives and habits of the emperors. He explored their relationships, vices, and eccentricities, painting a vivid picture of their characters and offering readers a glimpse into the often scandalous and debauched world of the Roman emperors.

His works were meant for public consumption.

Suetonius intended his biographies to be read by a wide audience. By delving into the private lives of the emperors, he aimed to entertain and educate the masses, arousing curiosity and providing an intriguing narrative that highlighted the human side of these powerful individuals.

Suetonius’ writing style was characterized by vivid anecdotes.

A hallmark of Suetonius’ writing was his ability to captivate readers with colorful anecdotes. These anecdotes brought the emperors to life, revealing their quirks, whims, and idiosyncrasies. His ability to weave together juicy stories made his works engaging and captivating.

His biographical work influenced future historians.

Suetonius’ unique approach to biography had a lasting impact on the genre. His focus on individual emperors and their personal lives paved the way for future biographical works, shaping the way historians approached the study of famous figures.

Some of Suetonius’ works have been lost.

Unfortunately, not all of Suetonius’ writings have survived to the present day. Some of his works, including biographies on important figures such as Julius Caesar and Augustus, have been lost over time. However, the surviving works still showcase his remarkable talent as a biographer.

His biographies reveal the complexities of power.

Through his detailed accounts, Suetonius demonstrated the intricate relationships between power, ambition, and morality. He showcased how power corrupted some emperors, while others managed to maintain a virtuous rule. His biographies provide a nuanced understanding of the complexities of leadership and the impact it has on individuals and society.

Suetonius’ works shed light on important historical events.

In addition to providing insights into the personal lives of emperors, Suetonius’ biographies also offer valuable historical information. They shed light on significant events, policies, and cultural shifts that occurred during the reigns of the Roman emperors, making them an important resource for historians.

He was known for his attention to detail.

Suetonius’ attention to detail is evident in his biographies, which are filled with specific dates, descriptions of clothing, and meticulous accounts of events. This dedication to accuracy and precision allows readers to immerse themselves in the story and gain a deeper understanding of the historical context.

Suetonius’ works continue to inspire and intrigue readers today.

Even centuries after their publication, Suetonius’ biographies remain a captivating and enlightening read. They offer a unique glimpse into the lives of the emperors and the intricate tapestry of the Roman Empire, ensuring that Suetonius’ legacy endures.


In conclusion, Suetonius is a fascinating historical figure known for his enigmatic nature. His works provide invaluable insights into the lives of the emperors of ancient Rome, but his personal life remains shrouded in mystery. From his controversial biographies to his influential role as an imperial secretary, Suetonius continues to captivate scholars and history enthusiasts alike.

While there are many intriguing aspects of Suetonius, these 13 enigmatic facts highlight just a glimpse of his complex personality and contributions. From his meticulous research methods to his unique writing style, Suetonius leaves a lasting impact on the study of Roman history. Explore his works and delve deeper into the world of ancient Rome, and you’ll discover even more fascinating aspects of this enigmatic figure.


Q: What are some of Suetonius’s most famous works?
A: Suetonius is best known for his biographies of the Roman emperors, including “The Twelve Caesars.” This collection of biographies provides valuable insights into the lives and reigns of Julius Caesar, Augustus, and other significant figures of the time.

Q: How accurate are Suetonius’s biographies?
A: While Suetonius’s biographies are highly regarded for their rich details, they should be approached with caution. Suetonius often included scandalous anecdotes and rumors, which may have influenced the accuracy of his accounts. Corroborating his information with other historical sources is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the emperors’ lives.

Q: What was Suetonius’s role as an imperial secretary?
A: Suetonius served as an imperial secretary during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. In this role, he was responsible for administrative tasks, managing correspondence, and advising the emperor on various matters. His position gave him access to valuable information and allowed him to gather material for his biographical works.

Q: Why is Suetonius considered enigmatic?
A: Suetonius remains enigmatic due to limited information about his personal life. We have little knowledge of his background, education, and even his exact date of birth. Additionally, his biographical works often leave out details about his own life, leaving historians with tantalizing gaps in their understanding of this intriguing figure.

Q: How did Suetonius collect information for his biographies?
A: Suetonius extensively researched and gathered information for his biographies. He interviewed witnesses, consulted official documents, and relied on accounts from contemporary figures. His meticulous approach allowed him to provide detailed and revealing insights into the emperors’ lives and characters.