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The Biographies Of The Roman Emperors

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author discusses the general characteristics of the biography, then the recent opinions about Suetonius as a writer and researcher, and finally, the author wishes to deal with the development or, if preferred, the degeneration of the genre in the Historia Augusta. The hallmarks of Suetonius's prose in the biographies are simplicity and transparency. The problem concerning the proper relationship between narrative and descriptive parts of the biography affects the choice of material just as much as its disposition. The Historia Augusta contains numerous passages, in which the hunt for trivia, vilia or frivola, of which some authors were guilty, is discussed with some scorn. Serious consideration should be given to the proposition, that in the late fourth century the awareness of the genre differences between biography and historiography was very much active, and even led to an exchange of polemical remarks.

Keywords: biography; character; Historia Augusta; historiography; prose; Roman emperors; Suetonius



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