Analysis of The Deeds of the Divine Augustus

The Res Gestae represents the ideologies of Augustus that he contributed significantly to Roman history.  Analyzing The Deeds of the Divine Augustus shows that Augustus wanted to document his contribution to the Roman people while also providing a detailed account for future societies. Güven (1998) writes, “In thirty-five paragraphs, the creation of an empire and a golden age, saeculum aureum, under his rule unfolds before our eyes like a historical film” (30).

As the lines reveal, Augustus uses the continued use of words like “me, my, and I” (Augustus 14 A.C.E) to let readers know that the sole purpose of his writing was to document his accomplishments in a way that elevated him to the role of a great leader where future generations would remember his name.  Augustus writes, “In my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction” (para. #2).  The referral to his will and expense shows he also wanted to remind those in the Roman society that they too should not forget him.  He also writes, “I drove the men who slaughtered my father into exile” (para. #3).  Augustus, whose father was Gaius Octavius, was also a great leader.  The referral to his father may indicate that he was different than his father, and that while his father failed, Augustus had not.  However, he also speaks of his sons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar.  The reference to his family’s contributions indicates that he wanted to remind others that the family served the Roman people in all areas of society.

He also refers to his military career, political career, and appointment nominations to the Senate and consul.  He compares his career to that of Marcus Vinicius, Quintus Lucretius, Publius Lentulus, Gnaeus Lentulus, Paullus Fabius Maximus, and Quintus Tubero.  Augustus (14 A.C.E) writes, “…the senate and Roman people consented that I alone be made curator of the laws and customs with the highest power…” (para. # 7).  The use of other great leaders helped to distinguish himself as most achieved among the Roman people.  He also seems to remind the society of his importance when he writes, “By a senate decree my name was included in the Saliar Hymn, and it was sanctified by a law, both that I would be sacrosanct for ever” (14 A.C.E.).  The reference to forever signifies that his role in history should remain alive and taught to future Roman societies.  He reflects several times that he paid money to advance the causes of the people while also rebuilding parts of Rome.  He writes about his vast journeys to Africa, Asia, Spain, Italy, and other distanced lands to bring wealth and honor to the Roman people. The reference to the social influence like that of the gladiators brings to mind the very reason that Augustus chose to write The Res Gestae.  He wanted to remain significant to mankind so that his name was synonymous with the history of Rome.  In so doing, he documented a piece of history still being retold in society today.


Works Cited

Augustus. “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus” (14 A.C.E.).  Translation by Thomas Bushnell.  (14 A.C.E). Retrieved on April 2, 2015 from website http://classics.mit.edu/Augustus/deeds.html

Güven, Suna. “Displaying the Res Gestae of Augustus: a monument of imperial image for all.” The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians(1998): 30-45.


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