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Suetonius the BiographerStudies in Roman Lives$
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Tristan Power and Roy K. Gibson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697106

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697106.001.0001

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The Mirror in the Text: Privacy, Performance, and the Power of Suetonius’ Domitian

The Mirror in the Text: Privacy, Performance, and the Power of Suetonius’ Domitian

Chapter:
(p.178) 9 The Mirror in the Text: Privacy, Performance, and the Power of Suetonius’ Domitian
Source:
Suetonius the Biographer
Author(s):

Jean-Michel Hulls

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697106.003.0010

This chapter examines the symbolism of mirrors in Suetonius. As opposed to Plutarch, who uses the mirror as an explicit metaphor in his programmatic statement in the Aemilius to express the aim of the biographical genre, Suetonius uses mirrors more subtly to suggest the theme of solitude in the Domitian. The use of mirrors in Suetonius’ Life of Horace is compared, as well as that poet’s similar reluctance to partake in public life, and more general connections are drawn between solitude and tyranny in the Caesars. Domitian’s secrecy constitutes an inversion of the Augustan model of the emperor as a public figure, and Suetonius’ inversion of themes in the Life, such as his paradoxical focus on the emperor’s private life, underscores his portrayal of Domitian as the opposite of a good emperor.

Keywords:   Suetonius, Domitian, Horace, Plutarch, spectacle

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