Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (69-122) was a Roman historian, who wrote biographies of twelve Roman caesars, starting with Julis Caesar and ending with Domitian. He had a great preference for gossip and saucy details, making him more a journalist of The Sun than ofThe Independent. For this reason his trustworthyness is doubted, but without Suetonius, Robert Graves could never have written his I Claudius!
The gossip and saucy details are especially evident in the biographies of those emperors he disliked, like Nero (37-68). Nero came to power at the age of 17 and as a young emperor he liked to roam incognito the streets of Rome after dark and beat up people, as Suetonius tells us.
The Latin is not exactly simple, but here is a link to a translation:
I have given a lot of words, but when you need to know more, load the Latin text on the site obove (upper right), click on the Latin word and you will be connected to some dictionaries.
XXVI. Petulantiam, libidinem, luxuriam, avaritiam, crudelitatem sensim quidem primo et occulte et velut iuvenili errore exercuit, sed ut tunc quoque dubium nemini foret naturae illa vitia, non aetatis esse. Post crepusculum statim adrepto pilleo vel galero popinas inibat circumque vicos vagabatur ludibundus nec sine pernicie tamen, siquidem redeuntes a cena verberare ac repugnantes vulnerare cloacisque demergere assuerat, tabernas etiam effingere et expilare. Quintana domi constituta ubi partae et ad licitationem dividendae praedae pretium absumeretur. Ac saepe in eius modi rixis oculorum et vitae periculum adiit, a quodam latriclavio, cuius uxorem adtrectaverat, necem prope ad caesus. Quare numquam postea publico se illud horae sine tribunis commisit et occulte subsequentibus. Interdiu quoque clam gestoraria sella delatus in theatrum seditionibus pantomimorum e parte proscaeni superiore signifer simul ac spectator aderat. Et cum ad manus ventum esset lapidibusque et subselliorum fragminibus decerneretur, multa et ipse iecit in populum atque etiam praetoris caput consauciavit.
petulantia petulance, capricious ill humor
crudelitas, -atis cruelty
sensim quidem primo et occulte …..exercuit In the beginning (primo) he (Nero) practised indeed (quidem) gradually (sensim) and secretly (occulte)
sed ut tunc but (in such way) that even then
foret = esset
crepusculum evening twilight
adrepto pilleo vel galero abl.abs. a hat or a wig being grasped (arripio)
popina eating-house, low tavern
vagor to roam
ludibundus playful, frolicsome
siquidem since indeed
redeuntes from red-ire
cena dinner (either from the popina or from friends. Inviting each other for dinner was a wide-spread custom.)
verbero to beat
repugno to fight back
vulnero to wound
cloaca sewer, drain (Rome had a sysrem of artificial canals by which the filth was carried from the streets into the Tiber.)
assuesco to be used to (assuerat = assueverat plq.pf. )
affringo to break open
quintana market (quintana via: the fifth street in a Roman army camp, where the market place was.)
domi at home. The i denotes the locative case, which in Latin has only survived in a couple of words as `humi `on the ground’. In place-names ending on a it was written ae so Romae `at Rome’.
ubi partae et ad licitationem dividendae praedae pretium absumeretur difficult Latin: where the booty (praeda, pl) divided (partae!) and being sold (dividendae! from mecantile language `to sell piecemeal’. The gerundive has here hardly the force of `have to, must’) by auction, the money (pretium) was squandered. The difficulty lies in the unusual meaning of some words
in eius modi rixis litt. ìn scuffles of this sort
perculum adiit `he ran into danger
laticlavius senator (actually an adiective` having a broad purple stripe’ , the mark on the toga of a senator.)
attracto to touch in an indecent manner
necem prope ad caesus almost beaten to death (what would have happened to Roman history if that senator had succeeded in beating Nero to death?)
illud horae…..commisit = he committed (himself) to that (kind) of hour. horae is a genitivus qualitatis.
subsequentibus goes with tribunis, from subsequor to follow
interdiu during day time
gestoraria sella sedan-chair, litter (abl.!)
seditionibus pantomimorum e parte proscaeni superiore signifer simul ac spectator aderat. he was present at the uproars (seditionibus) of the pantomime plays, from the upper part of the proscenium (kind of balcony) giving signs (for the uproars) and being spectator at the same time..
The pantomime was a form of theatre in which actors danced and enacted a story without speaking. The theme could be anything, but especially love and adultry was popular. Nero himself often acted himself in pantomimes.
cum ad manus ventum esset and when it came to handfights. An impersonal construction
subsellium low bench
decerno to fight (decernetur: impersonal construction) The first meaning of decerno is `to decide’, hence to decide by military means `to fight, combat’.
iecit from iacio to throw
consaucio to wound severely