Posted at 10.17.2018
The value of Suetonius' account of Nero as a source for correct historical information is bounded in hesitation and speculation. His purpose, options and contemporaries must be considered in order to examine the extent to which Suetonius biography of Nero is reliable as a historical reference point. However, despite Suetonius being a biographer top quality as a scandalmonger, his bill of Nero provides different historical interpretations, which his contemporaries in the annals of Nero often omit and therefore offers a distinctive point of view on his life and reign.
Firstly, Suetonius' intentions with regard to the audience of his biography of Nero must be evaluated as a key factor in respect to its value as a historical reference point. For the writer himself acknowledges that his work had not been intended as a historical record, for Holland agrees, proclaiming he was "a biographer and antiquarian rather than historian. " Furthermore, the set up of the biographies; thematically rather than chronologically is clear evidence of Suetonius' aspire to deviate away from writing a history and therefore plainly support's Holland's declaration. Thus, Suetonius' choice of material concerning Nero's life attacks the audience as unneeded, if set alongside the significant events that happen to be neglected. Suetonius appears to focus on events which are appealing to him rather than seeking to present a broad basis of factual detail. Evidence of this is exhibited in how Suetonius prioritises information to recording incidents, including the coverage of Nero's reign is disproportionately substantive compared to Tiberius, who reigned for a longer time frame. In addition, there is absolutely no reference to the unrest within the Empire, including the Boudiccan revolt in 60 AD. Instead of this, Suetonius directs the biography to focus on the scandals within Nero's reign. That is within verse 29, when the libertus Doryphorus marries Nero and he imitates the sounds of a female when executing the marital tasks, "with this man he enjoyed the role of bride. " However, on the other hand it can be argued, the biography is immensely valuable in getting an perception into Nero's personality as well as providing a psychological method of understanding Nero. As Suetonius is the only real author of Nero to give a information of his personal appearance, ". . . a good height but his body was blotchy and ill-smelling. . . " That is in stark compare to Tacitus, who considered personal aspect about them was "under the dignity of a serious historian to record. "
The next factor in assessing the value of Suetonius' dependability as a historian is his use of resources for his information. His bank account incorporates an comprehensive and wide range of facts; from the utilization of word of mouth, senatorial decrees, previous accounts of Nero and indirect talk from the emperor himself, "Nero provided information of the aspiration, revealing. . . " Making use of this evidence maybe it's figured Suetonius' can meet the requirements as a historical source as he rarely introduces any bias. Combined with this, the option of resources which Suetonius got as private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian encourages him to be perceived as a reliable historian. It had been during this time that he commenced writing The Twelve Caesars, although there are limits to this discussion as he lost usage of the archives as he was dismissed by Hadrian. Offer state governments that he was dismissed whilst completing the biography of Augustus, which therefore his accounts on Nero is not as reliable. However, this appears to be a too rigid strategy by Give to Suetonius' sources of information as he didn't wholly basic his findings after imperial archives. You can find evidence of this in how he draws information from Tacitus, in verse 36, when discussing the Pisonian conspiracy in Rome, which Tacitus recently had given a lengthy profile of in his Annals 15, subsequently it is not possible to completely trust Grant's narrow final result. On the main one hand, the lack of Suetonius' own viewpoints as well as desire to make a common sense on the Emperors shines favorably upon the historical trustworthiness of Suetonius' writings. On the other, if using Grant's judgment, as he lost usage of the Imperial archives before writing the account of Nero's life, his bill is not completely reliable.
For Suetonius also documents rumour and popular idea as his sources, these components of gossip include information of Nero's erotic desire for food and mythology of ancestors. In verse 28, he openly suggests this use, "People declare that at one time. . . " and later in verse 54, "some people say. . . " However, it must be argued that despite being only speculative and for that reason not definitive facts, the author shows ancient attitudes for the ruler. These accounts provide a contemporary words for the unheard most the populace, whereas other historians count on accounts from the prosperous literate minority.
Finally, the worthiness of Suetonius' home elevators Nero is most beneficial judged by comparing how his contemporaries package with the same subject matter. Steiner claims that Suetonius' biography is merely elevated to it's important position therefore of having less basic historical narratives of Nero's reign. Although the two major sources of Tacitus and Cassius Dio continue to be, the existence of others which no more remain are attested by Tacitus and Josephus. Within the Antiquities of the Jews 20. 8, Josephus state governments that many historians had lied about Nero;
". . . a few of that have departed from the reality of facts out of favour, as having received advantages from him; while some, out of hatred to him, and the fantastic ill-will that they bare him, have so impudently raved against him using their lies. . . "
Suetonius' explanation of the reign of the Emperor Nero is mostly negative. For he expresses, by verse 19 of his biography of Nero, "These deeds, a few of them meriting no reproach, others even deserving some compliment, I have obtained together to split up them from the shameful deeds and offences with that i shall henceforth be concerned ". Suetonius' debate declares differing opportunities; the author has been objective in his research of Nero's life, but has completed depicting the strengths by the end of section 19, or Suetonius is wanting to heighten a sense of play to his biography by highly contrasting the various aspects of Nero's life.
Furthermore, the contrastive depictions of similar views suggest that the contemporaries of Suetonius applied the same resources with their accounts. Shotter shows in Appendix IV of Nero that the functions by Suetonius, Cassius Dio and Tacitus have many similarities, which spotlight their common source material on Nero. In Tacitus' Annals, he mentions Doryphorus was poisoned as he disapproved of Nero's matrimony to Poppaea, but he points out no more. With Suetonius in verse 29, Doryphorus is brought up in passing as the marital plaything of Nero. The tone of the information, "to such a level virtually all have been used in lusts", reveals that it appears to be added only to empathise Nero's depravity and sadistic procedures for the reader's joy somewhat than to plainly notify and record a history of Nero's activities. The references of Doryphoros in both extracts suggests that the authors gained their understanding of him from the same source, nevertheless the differing explanations of Doryphorus' role during Nero's reign means that both accounts' validity are disputable.
It must be considered the historical importance of Suetonius' work is most beneficial evaluated by immediately comparing happenings which both he and his contemporaries record. The differing views of Suetonius, Cassius Dio and Tacitus towards as to who was accountable for the hearth of Advertising 64 demonstrate this. Suetonius directly blames Nero, "he established fire to the city, so openly indeed. . . ", and goes on to describe his happiness in watching Rome burn. On the other hand, Cassius Dio, writing at the end of the 1st century AD, is for certain, in his account, that Nero purchased the flames to recreate the using of Troy as he envied Priam's downfall. He says in Roman Background 62. 16 that "Nero establish his heart on completing his desire, to make an end of the location and realm during his life He secretly sent out men to create flames. " However, he writes a century following the fire occurred, recommending that later historians securely believed Nero was the cause. Finally, Tacitus, writing nearer to the time, states the doubts of Nero's role in the fantastic Hearth. His bitterness in speaking about the Christians advises bias, in Annals 15. 44 he declares that these were "a course hated for his or her abominations, called Christians by the populace", in contrast to how he speaks fondly of Nero's actions helping to restore the city using his own money. Whereas Cassius Dio makes no mention of any other recommended culprits such as the Christians, leading the reader to think that Christianity had become more broadly accepted by this time.
In bottom line, Suetonius' account provides a source of debate, as a substitute viewpoint of Nero's life, for this offers a character-based perspective in contrast to other historians' works of the time. In doing this, it offers value as a historical source but as a solely biographical work, this restricts Suetonius' dependability. Thus, Suetonius' profile of Nero pays to as a historical reference to the level that they must not be respected to provide an accurate narrative of reality but represent popular opinion at that time so when a character guide for Nero whilst providing an enjoyable narration for the reader.