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    Drawn from the Life: Literary Techniques and the Representation of Complex Characters in Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum

    O'Sullivan, Oliver (2019) Drawn from the Life: Literary Techniques and the Representation of Complex Characters in Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This thesis explores the ways in which Suetonius’ De vita Caesarum represents complex characters beyond simple ciphers of virtue and vice. The first chapter maps out three dimensions of characterization demonstrated in ancient writing (baseline, dissonant, and realistic). The second chapter applies this tripartite perspective to the emperor Claudius, in an isolated case study, as a means of reading his complex character construction. The nature of biography only achieves a complete portrait of a person through selective topics and as such the third chapter examines how external descriptions (i.e. physical appearance, dress, and names) create complex characterization. Speech is often the mirror of a man and the fourth chapter observes the ways in which Suetonius makes use of oratory, epigrams, and humour. The fifth chapter looks at how the sexual episodes and escapades of the Caesars provide intimate insights into their personalities beyond being emblems of virtue and vice. All three of these chapters reveal how characters are reinforced, subverted, or imbued with realism in line with the three dimensions initially outlined. Finally, this thesis shows how the very structure of Suetonius’ collection aids his characterizations. The sixth chapter shows how two stock elements of biographical writing, ancestry and death, act to confirm, develop, or complicate the personalities of his Caesars. The seventh chapter treats the collection as a macro-text to show how characterization is informed by appearances across the Lives and how Suetonius creates characters, such as Germanicus and Livia, through extended cameos.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Drawn from the Life; Literary Techniques; Representation; Complex Characters; Suetonius; De vita Caesarum;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Ancient Classics
    Item ID: 13528
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2020 14:29
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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