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Ideology and Humor in Suetonius' "Life of Vespasian" 8

TREVOR LUKE
The Classical World
Vol. 103, No. 4 (SUMMER 2010), pp. 511-527
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27856653
Page Count: 17
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Ideology and Humor in Suetonius' "Life of Vespasian" 8
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Abstract

In chapter eight of his biography of Vespasian, Suetonius recounts two odd episodes that demonstrate the emperor's old-fashioned sternness in exercising military discipline: the revocation of a prefecture and the refusal of a shoe allowance for marines. Located in a passage about the restoration of the empire, these stories seem out of place, but their deft mixture of humor and ideology appropriately highlights the contrast between the destructive toll of Julio-Claudian misrule and the rejuvenating effects of Vespasian's regime. The biographer uses the humor of the unexpected to portray Vespasian's rise to the Principate as truly unanticipated, yet salutary.

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