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Given that he was the first Principate of the Res Public of Rome, setting the template for every emperor for the next 300 years, he became overshadowed in history by his grand-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar and by his less stable/more flamboyant heirs Caligula and Nero. Even Clau-Clau-Claudius had a book and tv series to himself where his grandfather looked foolish and dowdy. And that's why this book is good read- it's subject is a juicy enigmatic bio/historical specimen. He not only lived through Rome's tumultuous civil wars of the 1st century BC, he came out on top and kept himself there through a combination of wits and brutish force.
Goldsworthy is a veteran Roman historian who knows the limitations and contradictions of his sources biases and his own subject's formidable propaganda machine so I think any reader should feel confident Augustus' story is given the widest breadth and most honest telling. An accomplishment for an author whose subject's identity and personality changed and transformed to fit his needs and ambitions: Gaius Octavius aka Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus aka Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus. These are not just frivolous name-changes, but serious agenda-setting strategem to maintain his power over the army, Senate and the people.
His rise was ruthlessly bloody- leaving one of western civilization's greatest orators, Cicero, without his hands, his toungue...his life. He parlayed his victories over Antony and Cleopatra, and Sextus Pompey into triumph, his lucky adoption by "The Divine" Julius Caesar into his own legitimacy and authority, gathered the talented and competent to his inner circle and and ruled as a king without looking or seeming like one- which to traditional Roman aristocrats was the worst eptitath, REX!
Anyone who listened to and liked Caesar: Life of a Colossus will dig this one too although some of the same territory is covered pretty heavily in Part One.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Augustus to be better than the print version?
Yes! The printed version is good, but the narrator really brings the story to life.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I found odd similarities to modern life in the United States. Both the religious groups and the state tend to act in similar ways to the ancient Romans.
Any additional comments?
Definitely worth the price.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful