The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
Suetonius Tranquillus, C[aius ie. Gaius]; [Jabez Hughes, trans.]. THE LIVES OF THE XII CAESARS, or the First Twelve Roman Emperors . . . Translated into English, with Explanatory Notes [by Jabez Hughes]. London: Printed for J. Nicholson, 1717. Two volumes. 12mo (leaves approx. 16.5 x 9 cm). Continuously paginated: , 244 and , -502,  pages, plus 16 full-page and 5 folding copper-engraved plates. Lacking the frontispiece. 18th-century full paneled calf with raised bands, red and black leather spine labels, and gilt floral decorations and filets on the spines. Worn with slight loss to the spine ends, corners rounded with boards showing, and some small scuffs to the spines and boards. Joints cracked on vol. I and started on vol. II, but all covers holding well. Endpapers and title pages foxed; light scattered foxing and mild tanning elsewhere. Offsetting from plates to neighboring pages and a little self-offsetting to some of the folding plates. One folding plate neatly repaired and reinforced on the verso with laid-paper with no loss; another with a little creasing due to misfolding. Small ink stains to the outer margin of the first page of the text with a slight impact on the headpiece; marginal ink stain to one page (II, p. 341) affecting one word of the chapter title. Still, a good set. Bookplate of Auchincruive, the estate of R.A. Oswald, Esq., on the front pastedown of each volume. Oswald's library was sold by Sotheby's in 1922.
First edition of the Jabez Hughes translation, with his lengthy preface and numerous footnotes. "The Lives of the XII Cæsars (1717), an annotated, illustrated duodecimo dedicated to John Duncombe, and reprinted in 1726, was the first eighteenth-century English version of Suetonius. . . . As the prefaces to his translations demonstrate, Hughes was a thoughtful classical scholar. In addition, he was discerningly well-read: echoes of Milton's blank verse, and the diction of John Philips, for example, and Dryden, may be heard in his work." --Oxford DNB.
The illustrations include portraits of each of the twelve emperors as well as views of chariot racing, a parade of thensae, two gladiator battles, Nero driving a chariot at the Circus Maximus, the Pyrrhic dance, musical instruments, etc. The full-page plates included portraits of each of the twelve emperors as well as views of scabella (percussion instruments played by the feet), strigiles (cleaning instruments used by athletes), the "Pyrrich Dance," and a display of ancilia (sacred shields). The folding plates depict chariots racing at the Circensian games, a parade of thensae (sacred vehicles carrying statues of the gods), a gladiator battle (a retiarius vs. a murmillo), two battling essedarii (gladiators mounted on chariots), and Nero driving a chariot at the Circus Maximus. All of the plates were engraved by Michael van der Gucht (later spelled Vandergucht, 1660-1725), a native of Antwerp and pupil of Philip Bouttats, who emigrated to England in 1688. Although best remembered as the teacher of his son, Gerard Vandergucht, Michael Vandergucht achieved some renown as a portrait engraver and illustrator, and he contributed plates to Lowe's noted 1709 edition of Shakespeare's works.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was a Roman historian active during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian. He was a close friend of the younger Pliny, served for a time as Hadrian's private secretary, and had access to the imperial library. The Lives of the XII Caesars is the only of his many books to survive in near completeness (a few chapters have been lost, including material on Julius Caesar's youth prior to the age of 16). The work contains vivid portrayals of the emperors, with much on their public and personal excesses, and Suetonius includes a good deal of material on their reigns not found in other sources (particularly regarding Caligula).
Lowndes, p. 2544 ("A translation vastly preferable to Morrell's ").