This is a serious and well researched Biography of a man most of us know as the villain of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and the old fool in I Claudius.
It is eminently clear from Augustus, that he was a born power broker and getter. If he was corrupt it was the kind of corruption we still see in the political arena. The US does not see much in the way of political assasination, but it is certainly a way of life in many countries today just as it was in Rome. This book is very well worth the read.
If Augustus did not did not exist, a novelist would have had to invent him. A truly extraordinary life. The book is far more detailed on his rise to power than his life as the creator of the Rome the movies have made familiar to generations of fans. In part that may be a result of the extraordinary power Augustus exerted over the history of Rome once he was the last man standing when Anthony died. All in all, a great adventure!
A well written and well narrated history of Augustus. Definitely worth a credit. Highly recommend.
An excellent biography of one of the most important persons in all of human history. Beautifully told and brilliantly read. Not only highly enjoyable but factual with caution.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Having been completely captivated by Robert Graves' "I Claudius" when I was young, first as a book and then in the brilliant Masterpiece Theatre series, I'm afraid I was a fairly tough audience for this entirely workmanlike and respectable biography of the pivotal Augustus. It is completely unfair and foolish to compare history with historical fiction--different rules and different objectives. Nonetheless, I could have hoped for a style and approach which were somewhat more evocative of the world in which Augustus operated. Almost all of the context here is political or military which is somewhat disappointing when you are dealing with an era which is so rich in so many other ways. Of course the historian is limited by the available sources, but I think Everitt could have utilized a good deal more of the available material on the social and physical milieu of the times.
Nonetheless, I never found my interest flagging. The presentation of the material was coherent and there is more than enough fascinating detail to draw one along. Where the historical record is too scanty to provide definitive answers to key questions, the author speculates, carefully laying out the evidence for alternative theories and making some tentative judgements about the most likely answers in a way which leaves paths open for further speculation.
So while this is certainly not a riveting account of Augustus’ life, it is definitely worth your time and credit if you want a solid introduction to the subject.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
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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Augustus is perhaps the most historically significant figure in western civilization.
In "Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor," Everitt weaves a very harmonious narrative about the life of Rome's princeps. Proceeding chronologically, Everitt begins with a short history of Julius Caesar's career. What follows is essentially a day to day account of the life of young Gaius becoming the elderly Augustus. Along the way the reader encounters many semi-mythic figures including Agrippa, Sextus Pompei, Cleopatra, and of course Marc Antony. The biography finishes its narrative with Augustus attempting to ensure his dynastic ambitions.
The novel is an excellent in-car read for classics enthusiasts. It paints a vivid and colorful picture of what the life of Augustus was probably like. My biggest complaint, is that this book reads more like a best seller and less like a text book. That is not to say that this work has not been well researched, only that the author does not frequently stray from his interpretation of the truth to acknowledge other understandings of what might have taken place. This aides in readability (or listenability?), but detracts from the intellectual, or more specifically, historical, merit of this work.
TL;DR: The book is not a masterpiece of historical research, but it makes for a fantastic listen for enthusiasts of Classics, Rome, or Western Civilization.
Certainly brought to life the characters. I happened to be in Rome during the listen so it really deepened my experience of the city and ruins. I am not a history buff so I do not know if all facts are true but it was certainly very believable. Enjoyed the read very much.
I've listened to many history books. Some of them are boring, some are too detailed and I lose interest but not this one. I always want facts and this book delivers and that's a fact.
Octavian was an interesting figure but then again the Roman history is interesting in itself.
If you love history, then this is a great book. If your thing is Roman history, then this is a no brainer.
This is a fascinating book about one of history's most significant figures. I studied Roman history extensively in college, but most histories gloss over so many of the most fascinating years of Augustus' life. Everitt's book delves into them and more. It's a compelling, enjoyable, and even-handed appraisal of the man's life an times. A perfect follow-up to the book Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland, which is another great audiobook.