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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.

(P)2005 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.; ©2005 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • sean
  • ABERDEEN, United Kingdom
  • 13-04-13

Twelve ceasars

Narrated with great skill by Derek Jacobi who brings ancient history up to date and very much to life. Seutonius is a skilled eloquent writer who makes history enjoyable. If you know nothing of the early roman emperors this will go a long way to enlighten you. I would recommend this book to all readers aged 16+

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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"....

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth
  • 20-05-07

Translation doubts

Jacobi reads beautifully (he played Claudius, one of the Caesars in question), but Naxos, the publisher, seems strangely coy about the translator--not even in its catalog does it reveal whose English version Jacobi is reading. It's certainly not the celebrated Robert Graves translation (for that go to the Audio Connoisseurs edition) but a far looser one, and, of course, heavily abridged. Information about the translator would seem a basic courtesy to the buyer. This buyer, at least, is disappointed by the lack of it.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Trent Infield
  • 19-07-15

Masterful

It felt like I was a contemporary roman listening to a wise and educated man tell the stories of the Caesars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lloyd Chappell
  • 14-09-18

Derek Jacobi knocks it out of the Park

This is the finest reading of a Roman primary resource (book) I've ever heard. Derek Jacobi makes Seutonius come alive, almost like you are talking with Seutonius. Here his outstanding work in the BBC series "I, Claudius" really pays off. He knows the material inside and out. I marveled at his performance on this audio book.

Anyone who knows Roman history knows there are flaws with Seutonius; some of the information here is true; some is court gossip, rumor or innuendo. However, it is an important work, warts and all.

If you love Roman history, this is worth a try. There are so many wild, interesting and somewhat crazy anecdotes here. And some real History.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • italophile
  • 11-03-18

Stupidly shortened

Absurd book for children. A book about real live monsters. Men who universally were murderers. Adult only, and therefore useless because it has been edited (shortened)
Stay away. It could have been great.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • 11-07-07

Reader is distracting

I found myself fixated on the reader's pronounciation rather than the book itself. Think Pontius Pilate/Michael Palin from the movie "Life of Brian", because I do whenever I listen to it.

Perhaps the choice of reader was intentional.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful