Augustus - Res Gestae

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Augustus - Res Gestae

Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Wed Oct 02, 2002 4:54 pm

Salvete!

When the great emperor Augustus died in 14, he left us a detailed account, written by himself, about his political career. This book is simply called “Res gestae” (My Deeds). Of course he only mentions his successes, and almost nowhere talks about the failures he encounters. Here are some extracts, in Latin with English translation. Enjoy! :lol:



“Bella terra et mari civilia externaque toto in orbe terrarum saepe gessi, victorque omnibus veniam petentibus civibus peperci. Externas gentes, quibus tuto ignosci potuit, conservare quam excidere malui. Millia civium Romanorum sub sacramento meo fuerunt circiter quingenta. Ex quibus deduxi in colonias aut remisi in municipia sua stipendis emeritis millia aliquanto plura quam trecenta, et iis omnibus agros adsignavi aut pecuniam pro praemiis militiae dedi. Naves cepi sescentas praeter eas, si quae minores quam triremes fuerunt.
Bis ovans triumphavi et tris egi curulis triumphos et appellatus sum viciens et semel imperator, decernente pluris triumphos mihi senatu, quibus omnibus supersedi. Laurum de fascibus deposui in Capitolio, votis quae quoque bello nuncupaveram solutis. Ob res a me aut per legatos meos auspicis meis terra marique prospere gestas quinquagiens et quinquiens decrevit senatus supplicandum esse dis immortalibus. Dies autem, per quos ex senatus consulto supplicatum est, fuere DCCCLXXXX. In triumphis meis ducti sunt ante currum meum reges aut regum liberi novem. Consul fueram terdeciens, cum scribebam haec, et eram septimum et tricensimum tribun iciae potestatis.” (3-4)

I often waged war, civil and foreign, on the earth and sea, in the whole wide world, and as victor I spared all the citizens who sought pardon. As for foreign nations, those which I was able to safely forgive, I preferred to preserve than to destroy. About five hundred thousand Roman citizens were sworn to me. I led something more than three hundred thousand of them into colonies and I returned them to their cities, after their stipend had been earned, and I assigned all of them fields or gave them money for their military service. I captured six hundred ships in addition to those smaller than triremes.
Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyed a curule triumph and twenty one times I was named emperor. When the senate decreed more triumphs for me, I sat out from all of them. I placed the laurel from the fasces in the Capitol, when the vows which I pronounced in each war had been fulfilled. On account of the things successfully done by me and through my officers, under my auspices, on earth and sea, the senate decreed fifty-five times that there be sacrifices to the immortal gods. Moreover there were 890 days on which the senate decreed there would be sacrifices. In my triumphs kings and nine children of kings were led before my chariot. I had been consul thirteen times, when I wrote this, and I was in the thirty-seventh year of tribunician power.



“Ianum Quirinum, quem clausum esse maiores nostri voluerunt cum per totum imperium populi Romani terra marique esset parta victoriis pax, cum, priusquam nascerer, a condita urbe bis omnino clausum fuisse prodatur memoriae, ter me principe senatus claudendum esse censuit.” (13)

Our ancestors wanted Janus Quirinus to be closed when throughout the all the rule of the Roman people, by land and sea, peace had been secured through victory. Although before my birth it had been closed twice in all in recorded memory from the founding of the city, the senate voted three times in my principate that it be closed.



“Capitol ium et Pompeium theatrum utrumque opus impensa grandi refeci sine ulla inscriptione nominis mei. Rivos aquarum compluribus locis vetustate labentes refeci, et aquam quae Marcia appellatur duplicavi fonte novo in rivum eius inmisso. Forum Iulium et hasilicam quae fuit inter aedem Castoris et aedem Saturni, coepta profligataque opera a patre meo, perfeci et eandem basilicam consumptam incendio, ampliato eius solo, sub titulo nominis filiorum meorum incohavi, et, si vivus non perfecissem, perfici ab heredibus meis iussi. Duo et octoginta templa deum in urbe consul sextum ex auctoritate senatus refeci nullo praetermisso quod eo tempore refici debebat. Consul septimum viam Flaminiam ab urbe Ariminum refeci pontesque om nes praeter Mulvium et Minucium.” (20)

I rebuilt the Capitol and the theatre of Pompey, each work at enormous cost, without any inscription of my name. I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age, and I doubled the capacity of the Marcian aqueduct by sending a new spring into its channel. I completed the Forum of Julius and the basilica which he built between the temple of Castor and the temple of Saturn, works begun and almost finished by my father. When the same basilica was burned with fire I expanded its grounds and I began it under an inscription of the name of my sons, and, if I should not complete it alive, I ordered it to be completed by my heirs. Consul for the sixth time, I rebuilt eighty-two temples of the gods in the city by the authority of the senate, omitting nothing which ought to have been rebuilt at that time. Consul for the seventh time, I rebuilt the Flaminian road from the city to Ariminum and all the bridges except the Mulvian and Minucian.



“In consulatu sexto et septimo, postquam bella civilia exstinxeram, per consensum universorum potitus rerum omnium, rem publicam ex mea potestate in senatus populique Romani arbitrium transtuli. Quo pro merito meo senatus consulto Augustus appellatus sum et laureis postes aedium mearum vestiti publice coronaque civica super ianuam meam fixa est et clupeus aureus in curia Iulia positus, quem mihi senatum populumque Romanum dare virtutis clementiaeque et iustitiae et pietatis caussa testatum est per eius clupei inscriptionem. Post id tempus auctoritate omnibus praestiti, potestatis autem nihilo amplius habui quam ceteri qui mihi quoque in magistratu conlegae fuerunt.” (34)

In my sixth and seventh consulates (28-27 B.C.E.), after putting out the civil war, having obtained all things by universal consent, I handed over the state from my power to the dominion of the senate and Roman people. And for this merit of mine, by a senate decree, I was called Augustus and the doors of my temple were publicly clothed with laurel and a civic crown was fixed over my door and a gold shield placed in the Julian senate-house, and the inscription of that shield testified to the virtue, mercy, justice, and piety, for which the senate and Roman people gave it to me. After that time, I exceeded all in influence, but I had no greater power than the others who were colleagues with me in each magistracy.


The whole English text (not too big) can be found at:
http://classics.mit.edu/Augustus/deeds.html

A Latin version can be found at:
http://patriot.net/~lillard/cp/resgestae.html

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Augustus - question

Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Wed Oct 02, 2002 5:08 pm

Salvete!

And after reading this big :) text, here is a simple, but tricky question to everyone here:

Was Augustus really the best emperor? Are his achievements and influences as big as they sometimes describe? Were his reforms as new and radical as is sometimes said?

So... everyone's opinion on the emperor Augustus!



I'll start with mine:

I agree on the theory that describes Augustus' rule as a turning point in Roman History. However, I also consider him a culmination point of previous generations and their achievements.

After reading his Res Gestae, I think Augustus did not try to remain Octavianus: he knew he had all the powers, and in my opinion he never intended to restore the Res Publica totally. He followed of course in the footsteps of his adoptive father Caius Iulius Caesar, who already possessed considerable powers granted by the people. And Octavianus received even more powers. And possibly he knew that in the future there would never be a completer eturn to the old Res Publica. Although he refused many honours offered to him by the people and the senate, he accepted even more of them.

Of course Augustus' rule was abundant with good and clever decisions, and he was a fair and good ruler (although he massacred quite a lot while hunting Caesar's killers, and later Marcus Antonius). But certainly when he became more and more a real emperor, he showed his many talents.

Just my opinion in short on Augustus... 8)


What do the others think of Augustus?


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By treason they fell
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Oct 04, 2002 9:47 am

One can't deny that Augustus played a key role. Unlike Caesar, he was the right man at the right time on the right place. As a human, he had many positive traits. I think he's one of the few rulers who started out very young but wasn't entirely corrupted by the power he had. Most other young rulers were corrupted by their power (Nero, Caracalla...).

And of course everyone knows that he operated under the guise of a reformed republic. I'm not sure however if he himself was the driving force behind a dynasty. It's been frequently said that it was Livia who took care of this. Personally I think that succession was Augustus' only problem in this system, and continued to be a problem throughout Roman history after him: when an unsuitable successor came to power or when a power vacuum came into being, conflict erupted.

And about massacres... I think that was just a common thing to do, how rude it may sound. For Romans killing people to attain one's target was not especially laudable, but sometimes it was accepted or even legitimate. Macchiavellists avant la lettre perhaps?

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