Caius Suetonius Tranquillus was born around 70 AD presumably in North Africa. He came of a family of the equestrian class, worked as an advocate at first and eventually came to Rome with the assistance of his friend Plinius the Younger. There he served in imperatorial service and finally held the influential position of emperor’s secretary (»ab epistulis«) at Hadrian’s Court. In 121 AD, he was dismissed and lived as a private scholar in Rome for an indefinite period of time.
»De vita Caesarum« – »Lives of the Caesars« (best known in English as »The Twelve Caesars«) is the name of his preserved chief work, in which he describes the lives of the twelve Roman Emperors from Caius Iulius Caesar to Domitian. He used a fixed scheme which even subordinated historical facts if necessary.
The purpose of his works was to amuse his readers, gladly using anecdotes and not write in the style of a pernickety historian.
Many of his other works are lost. Only the chapters about the poets Terenz and Horaz from his book »On Famous Men« (»De viri illustribus«) are extant.