Week 12: Thursday, January 12, 2017
LECTURE Anthony Everitt on Augustus: “His career was a masterly study in the wielding of power. He learned how to obtain it and, more important, how to keep it. As the history of the last hundred years has shown, empires are hard won and easily lost. In the first century B.C., Rome governed one of the largest empires the world had seen, but through foolish policies and bad governance risked its collapse. Augustus devised a political system that enabled the empire’s survival for half a millennium. History never repeats itself exactly, but today’s leaders and students of politics will find his policies and methods to be of interest. . . .Augustus was a very great man, but he grew gradually into greatness. He did not possess Julius Caesar’s bravura and political genius (it was that genius, of course, which killed Caesar, for it made him incapable of compromise). He was a physical coward who taught himself to be brave. He was intelligent, painstaking, and patient, but could also be cruel and ruthless. He worked extraordinarily hard. He thought in the long term, achieving his aims slowly and by trial and error. Augustus is one of the few historical figures who improved with the passage of time.” Everitt, Anthony,Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor.” see link below.
Michael Grant, History of Rome, Part VI, Chapter 13, “Augustus”
Here is an excellent new biography of Augustus by one of our favorite authors, Anthony Everitt, whose biography of Cicero is also excellent.
Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor,
British author Everitt begins his biography of Augustus (63 B.C. - A.D. 14) with a novelistic reconstruction of the Roman emperor's last days, offering a new spin on his murder at the hands of his wife, Livia. Everitt presents the death as an assisted suicide intended to speed and secure the transition of imperial power to his stepson Tiberius. Later, Everitt presents a careful historical argument for this theoryâ€”and, save for a few other shadowy incidents such as the banishment of the poet Ovid, he keeps guesswork to a minimum, building his narrative carefully on solid evidence. Everitt (Cicero) makes Augustus's rapid rise through Roman society comprehensible to contemporary readers, deftly shifting through the major phases of his life, from childhood through his adoption by his great-uncle Julius Caesar to the power struggle with Mark Antony that ended with Augustus's recognition as both imperator and princeps, or "first citizen." Everitt also neatly presents his subject's complex personality, revealing how Augustus secured a political infrastructure that would last for centuries while reportedly keeping up a highly active sex life, all the while fighting off longstanding rumors of cowardice in battle. This familiar story is fresh again in this lively retelling. (Oct. 17) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PART TWO: PICTURES
Pictures of Augustus and his friends and family.