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Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Karthago 70 -
Rom 130


Gaius Suetonis Tranquillus, known as Suetonius, was born about 70 C.E. He presumably came from Hippo Regius, an originally Phoenician port city west of Carthage. For several generations, his family maintained a connection to the house of the emperor and his father was a member of the equestrian order.
It is therefore be assumed that Suetonius received an education in the liberal arts befitting a youth of his class. Rhetoric became the central point of his education. Following his education, he worked as praetor in Rome.
The Senator Pliny's influence and favor toward Suetonius helped him obtain tax privileges: he was given the privileges normally given a father of three (jus trium liberorum), though he never married or had children; this eased his passage into a career in public office.
When his patron Pliny was named governor of the province of Bythinia in Asia Minor by Emperor Trajan in 111 C.E., Suetonius accompanied him until Pliny's death. On his return to Rome, he was successful in establishing his career in the emperor's court without the usual stops along the way.
He then took over the office "a studiis;" thereafter, he managed the imperial libraries. Suetonius was probably supported at this time by the Praetorian prefect Septicius Clarus.
In 117 C.E. under Emperor Hadrian, he assumed the office "ab epistulis," whose duties included the position of director of the imperial chancellory. His functions here gave him important political and administrative influence. Answering judicial questions through the chancellory had the force of law in the Roman empire.
Suetonius became caught up in court intrigues in 122 C.E., which caused him to fall from Hadrian's grace. Thereafter he devoted himself exclusively to his studies. With his approach to biography, he created a paradigm for all historians following. His writings are also some of the most important sources of information on the Roman Empire.
Gaius Suetonis Tranquillus died between the years 130 and 140 C.E.

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