Chapter Eighteen. The First Biographers: Plutarch and Suetonius

  1. Miriam Griffin Emeritus Fellow
  1. Christopher Pelling Regius Professor

Published Online: 5 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch18

A Companion to Julius Caesar

A Companion to Julius Caesar

How to Cite

Pelling, C. (2009) The First Biographers: Plutarch and Suetonius, in A Companion to Julius Caesar (ed M. Griffin), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch18

Editor Information

  1. Somerville College, Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. Oxford University, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405149235

Online ISBN: 9781444308440



  • the first biographers - Plutarch and Suetonius;
  • taste for big things comes out early in Plutarch's Life, discussing Caesar's gifts as an orator;
  • making Caesar intelligible? What features in his motivation, his success, or his failure need to be explained;
  • Suetonius' Caesar - patterns of categories appropriate for presenting later emperors, patterns for what he, and some of them, got right;
  • Plutarch - writing his Caesar under Trajan around 110 AD and Suetonius his Divus Iulius under Hadrian around 120;
  • Caesar, though his commentarii - covered only last 15 years of his life and only their military aspects;
  • Caesar's friends, C. Oppius - knew more about his work's scope and form that one might as “the first biographer”


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Further Reading