As part of my blog series on ancient biography, I thought that it would be fitting to discuss a new volume that was published just earlier this summer (July 3, 2014) on the Roman biographer Suetonius Tranquillus.
The new volume — Suetonius the Biographer: Studies in the Roman Lives — provides a much needed collection of essays on Suetonius in English. I say that these essays are “much needed” in light of the fact that there as been a dearth of studies on Suetonius in English over the last several decades. The most recent English monographs on the author — Andrew Wallace-Hadrill’s Suetonius: the Scholar and His Caesars and Barry Baldwin’s Suetonius — were both published in 1983. In addition to those, Richard Lounsbury published a short work on Suetonius — The Arts of Suetonius: An Introduction — back in 1987. But, aside from those, Suetonius has largely been neglected in English scholarship for about the last three decades. Even in foreign scholarship Suetonius has been neglected. Jacques Gascou’s Suétone historien is the largest study on Suetonius’ style in French (or any language for that matter), but even this monograph was published back in 1984. In German, Helmut Gugel’s Studien zur biographischen Technik Suetons has many good structural observations about Suetonius’ organization of material, but was published way back in in 1977. Clearly, Suetonius has needed some fresh scholarship, so I am really glad to see this new volume in English.
The volume is edited by Tristan Power and Roy Gibson. I have been following Power’s scholarship for some time in my graduate studies. Over the last several years, Power has published a number of short articles on different aspects of Suetonius’ works, which have been very helpful for my own research. I received my M.A. in Classics at the University of Arizona in 2012 after completing a master’s thesis on Suetonius’ biographical structure. This new Suetonius volume discusses a number of topics similar with my recent graduate work, which I will discuss below.