Search This Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Res Gestae Augustus Divi by Augustus (2 BCE-14 CE)

Augustus had a long and successful life as the emperor of Rome.  Which was no small task.  The Roman Republic was a government headed by 2 leaders and a complex system of checks and balances that had become intolerably corrupt and dysfunctional.  It was a story of the Optimates, who favored the rich, and the Populares, who were rich themselves, but believed in spreading the wealth rather than hoarding it amongst themselves (is any of this sounding familiar?).  There was significant conflict between these two, a fair amount of fighting, and ultimately the Optimates found Caesar so threatening that they banished him from Rome in 44 BC.  Big mistake.  The most successful general and leader of men in the history of Rome, who still had a standing army was told to disband his men and live in exile.  That, as we know, did not go well for them.  It went so badly that when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, meaning he defied the order the senate had given to him, the supposed defenders of Rome left.  Caesar won the war, but was later assassinated by Optimates.

In steps Augustus, then known as Octavian.  He was the 18 year old nephew of Caesar and not a battle hardened warrior.  He was clever and politically savvy, and he had a life long faithful companion who was a brilliant general.  Augustus managed to take Rome into peace after it had been at war with itself for over a 100 years.  Before he died he wanted his accomplishments recorded and he wanted his mistakes forgotten, so he wrote what was short for a work of writing, but long for an inscription, the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, and had it inscribed on his mausoleum and on monuments across the Roman empire.  Remarkable, and not too long a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment