History Vs. Augustus
Dr G’s collaboration with Alex Gendler and the fantastic team at TED-Ed, is out today! You can check out the the whole lesson and the video here: ‘History Vs. Augustus’.
This project builds on primary source material relating to the career of Octavian and the developments over the course of his lifetime. He’s a pivotal figure in the transformation of Rome regardless of whether you consider him the first emperor or not.
Want to Follow the Sources?
This period of Roman history is rich in source material. This fact combined with the fascination that changing political systems offer students of history means there’s plenty to consider when thinking about Octavian/Augustus.
Dio Cassius’ Roman History provides plenty of narrative history details to consider. Dio Cassius is born in the mid second century CE and is writing into the third century, so we know he’s not a source that was close to the action, but this actually might be one something that benefits his take. Books 45-56 are the ones that follow the rising star of Octavian.
Appian is born in the late first century CE and writing in the second century CE. His work on the The Civil Wars provides a retrospective examination of the tumultuous late Republic. Who should emerge from that struggle? None other than Gaius Julius Caesar, adopted son of Gaius Julius Caesar, formerly known as Octavian…
Tacitus’ Annals is still held up as a classic today and while his focus is really Tiberius onwards, you’ll catch some great shade thrown at Augustus in the opening book.
What About Writers Who Lived Under Augustus?
There are many famous writers who wrote under the aegis of the changing Rome led by Augustus. Vergil (or Virgil), Horace, Ovid, as well as our own sweet historians Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus were active.
What’s Your Take on Augustus?
Put history on trial and weigh up the evidence! What’s your interpretation of Augustus’ career?