The Res Gestae Of Augustus

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The Res Gestae of Augustus is hardly what we would regard as a politician’s typical autobiography. Discuss how it is different: what does the emperor include, emphasize, and omit. What can we learn about his personality from this formal document? The Res Gestae or The Deeds of the Divine Augustus is an account of the life of the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus. The biography, preserved on two bronze pillars in the city of Rome, was commissioned by the emperor himself. It constitutes a rare first hand account of the life of a roman Princeps. The autobiography is a source of valuable insights into life in the Augustan period, it represents the ‘official’ view of the life of Augustus, and of the era he presided over. In this essay I will…show more content…
The title is a good indication of the tone that is adopted throughout the text, the use of the word Divine at the very start of work, indicates that this is an account of the life of a divine individual, perhaps of a god incarnate. This clear association between Augustus and the “Divine” suggests from the start that this text is going to be an overwhelmingly positive account of the life of the emperor. After all a “Divine” individual, is hardly a flawed one. The text in its entirety does not include a single criticism of Octavian. The text consistently emphasizes certain traits of the emperor, in particular fairness, mercy, and a deep respect for traditional values. The text makes a concerted effort, at showing Augustus to be a restorer and upholder of the traditional republic, rather than a reformer or destroyer. His deep respect for the Senate is especially emphasized. The names of the Consuls, who were his “colleagues”, are included in almost all of the main events of Augustus’s life, and the emperor explicitly states that although he had more “influence” than any other Roman, he had no “greater power”, than each of his colleagues, in each magistracy. By portraying himself as a loyal servant of the Senate and people, Augustus hides the true extent of his power. The fiction of equal “power” but outsized “influence”, allows Augustus to ‘restore’ the Republic and rule over it at the same
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