Caligula and the Bludgeoned Priest

in Mnemosyne
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Caligula and the Bludgeoned Priest

in Mnemosyne


BarrettA.A. Caligula: The Corruption of Power 1989 London

BoissevainU.P. Cassii Dionis Coceiani Historiarum Romanarum quae supersunt 1898 Vol. II Berlin

BradleyK.R. Suetonius’ Life of Nero: An Historical Commentary 1978 Brussels

BrandãoJ.L. Máscaras dos Césares: teatro e moralidade nas Vidas suetonianas 2009 Coimbra

CarterJ.M. Suetonius: Divus Augustus 1982 London

CizekE. Structures et idéologie dans ‘Les vies des douze Césars’ de Suétone 1977 Paris

DamonC. PowerT.GibsonR.K. Suetonius the Ventriloquist Suetonius the Biographer: Studies in Roman Lives 2014 Oxford 38 57

EdmondsonJ. Dio: The Julio-Claudians 1992 London

EdwardsC. Suetonius: Lives of the Caesars 2000 Oxford

GascouJ. Suétone historien 1984 Rome

GravesR. RivesJ.B. Suetonius: The Twelve Caesars 2007 3rd ed. London

GuastellaG. Gaio Svetonio Tranquillo: La vita di Caligola 1992 Rome

HurleyD.W. An Historical and Historiographical Commentary on Suetonius’ Life of C. Caligula 1993 Atlanta

HurleyD.W. Suetonius: Diuus Claudius 2001 Cambridge

HurleyD.W. Suetonius: The Caesars 2011 Indianapolis, IN

IhmM. C. Suetoni Tranquilli De vita Caesarum libri viii 1908 editio minor Leipzig

LindsayH. Suetonius: Caligula 1993 London

MouchováB. Studie zu Kaiserbiographien Suetons 1968 Prague

OsgoodJ. Caesar’s Legacy: Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire 2006 Cambridge

PauschD. Biographie und Bildungskultur: Personendarstellungen bei Plinius dem Jüngeren Gellius und Sueton 2004 Berlin

PlassP. Wit and the Writing of History: The Rhetoric of Historiography in Imperial Rome 1988 Madison, WI

ReekmansT. Verbal Humour in Plutarch and Suetonius’ Lives AncSoc 1992 23 189 232

RolfeJ.C. Suetonius 1913 Vol. I Cambridge, MA

SallerR. Anecdotes as Historical Evidence for the Principate G&R 1980 27 69 83

ScantamburloC. Pisa Svetonio: Vita di Cesare 2011

SteidleW. Sueton und die antike Biographie 1951 Munich

SumiG.S. Impersonating the Dead: Mimes at Roman Funerals AJPh 2002 123 559 585

TownendG.B. ButlerH.E.CaryM. Introduction Suetonius: Divus Julius 1982 2nd ed. London vii xv

WardleD. Suetonius’ Life of Caligula: A Commentary 1994 Brussels

WardleD. Suetonius: The ‘Change’ in, and the ‘Generosity’ of Titus Antichthon 2001 35 64 69

WinterlingA. Caligula: A Biography 2011 Berkeley

WoodsD. DerouxC. Seven Notes on the Reign of Caligula Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History 2012 vol. XVI Brussels 437 471


See Hurley 1993128 (ad loc.); cf. Brandão 2009 223 for this section as part of a larger crescendo (gradatio) in the Life. On this technique in Suetonius see e.g. Steidle 1951 56-58; Mouchová 1968 79-104; Cizek 1977 118-134; Gascou 1984 697-700; Pausch 2004 294-301; for the biographer’s use of characterizing sayings Damon 2014.


Woods 2012452-454. For scepticism about the historical reliability of Suetonius’ story cf. Plass 1988 68 82; Guastella 1992 212 (ad loc.): “Di questo episodio raccontato nella consueta forma generica e così privo di un qualsiasi inquadramento da sembrare francamente incredibile ancora una volta Svetonio è l’unico testimone”; also Brandão 2009 184 322. It is notably absent from two major biographies of Caligula: Barrett 1989 and Winterling 2011.


Woods 2012454. Nor is he the only scholar to feel the need to explain or apologize for the story’s placement; see Hurley 1993 128: “Suetonius classifies religious ritual among leisure activities (animum . . . remittenti 32.1)”; Wardle 1994 26: “within examples of saeuitia at times of relaxation at play or banquets Caligula’s murder of the cultrarius at a sacrifice seems ill chosen . . . However compared to the occasions where Suetonius orders and classifies his material consistently and appropriately his failures or apparent failures are a small problem.”


Reekmans 1992230; Brandão 2009 80; cf. Plass 1988 35.


See e.g. Hurley 1993128; also Wardle 1994 262 with bibliography. This perceived inconsistency has no doubt led to the story’s widespread dismissal.


See Edmondson 1992173 (on Dio 59.22.3-4); pace Saller 1980 75 and Wardle 1994 64-65 who question whether Suetonius reports the same event as Dio at Calig. 41.2 but fail to observe the evidence of 30.1.


Cf. Hurley 1993122 on Calig. 30.1; and generally Bradley 1978 263.

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