Augustus

  • by Anthony Everitt
  • Narrated by John Curless
  • 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Historian Anthony Everitt earned widespread critical acclaim for his best-selling biography of Cicero. Now, with Augustus, he delivers his second spellbinding account of a Roman icon whose legacy has echoed through the ages. Caesar Augustus has been called history's greatest emperor. It was said he found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. With a senator for a father and Julius Caesar for a great-uncle, he ascended the ranks of Roman society with breathtaking speed. His courage in battle is still questioned, yet his political savvy was second to none. He had a lifelong rival in Mark Antony and a 51-year companion in his wife, Livia. And his influence extended perhaps further than that of any ruler who has ever lived.
Drawing on the available information, while making a handful of his own groundbreaking assertions, Everitt brings the real Augustus to vivid life in this fascinating narrative.

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What the Critics Say

"This familiar story is fresh again in this lively retelling." (Publishers Weekly)
"Everitt's writing is so crisp and so lively he brings both Rome and Augustus to life in this magnificent work, a must-read for anyone interested in classical times." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Original Game of Thrones

Augustus

Before I listened to Anthony Everett's "Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor" (2007), my knowledge of Ancient Roman History was woefully inadequate. I had a high school world history class with a chapter on Ancient Greece and Rome, and an inexplicably thorough semester long course on mythology, both that I promptly forgot.

Everett's "Augustus" made that time and place real to me. I was fascinated by the political and military acumen that Octavian (later Augustus) used to gain and keep his power. Ancient Romans needed family pedigrees to attain rank, and Augustus did so by becoming the adopted son of his uncle, Julius Caesar.

Daughters were treated as political coin, used to establish and maintain powerful connections. For example, Livia, Augustus' wife, was married to Tiberius Claudius Nero, and divorced him to marry Octavian (Augustus). The political connection was so important that Tiberius gave her away in marriage, since Livia's father was dead. Julius Caesar had adopted the younger Tiberius. The younger Tiberius married Julia Augustus Filii, Augustus' son with his former wife, Scribonia. That Tiberius succeeded Augustus as Emperor.

The Ancient Romans resorted to murders and forced suicides to gain power, and this story had them all - from the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC to the suicides of Marc Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BC, to the assassination of Postumus Agrippa, Augustus' grandson 14 AD, shortly after Augustus death. Postumus Agrippa's murder cleared any claim to Augustus' throne. There has always been speculation that Livia helped in some other convenient deaths.

If these story lines were written for the soap opera "One Life to Live" they would be edited to make them more believable.

The familial relationships, deifications, name changes, and honors granted with titles were so complex that I wished for a text version of the book with an index and family trees.

I enjoyed the narration, but I have no idea whether the Latin pronunciations were correct. However, as a long ago Latin teacher pointed out to me - no one knows. It's not spoken anymore except in Mass, and after 2,000 years, it may have changed.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Ancient biographies are hard

Even though Augustus's life is about as well documented as is possible for figures from ancient times, author Anthony Everitt brings off a tour de force in this reconstruction of Octavian's life. He is always clear about the difference between fact and speculation, but by the end you get a much clearer and more trustworthy picture of Augustus than you get from, say, I, Claudius. John Curless's reading is clear and unobtrusive; the Latin words and names roll smoothly from his tongue, his pacing is perfect, and he has just enough inflection for you to feel that he is also interested in what he's reading. An excellent experience from beginning to end.
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- Orson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-14-2007
  • Publisher: Recorded Books