Caesar Augustus's story, one of the most riveting in western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. He began as a teenage warlord, whose only claim to power was as the heir of the murdered Julius Caesar. Mark Antony dubbed him "a boy who owes everything to a name," but in the years to come the youth outmaneuvered all the older and more experienced politicians and was the last man standing in 30 BC. Over the next half century, he reinvented himself as a servant of the state who gave Rome peace and stability, and created a new system of government-the Principate, or rule of an emperor. Adrian Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus's rule, the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured, and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability.
©2014 Adrian Goldsworthy (P)2014 Tantor Media
Given that he was the first Principate of the Res Public of Rome, setting the template for every emperor for the next 300 years, he became overshadowed in history by his grand-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar and by his less stable/more flamboyant heirs Caligula and Nero. Even Clau-Clau-Claudius had a book and tv series to himself where his grandfather looked foolish and dowdy. And that's why this book is good read- it's subject is a juicy enigmatic bio/historical specimen. He not only lived through Rome's tumultuous civil wars of the 1st century BC, he came out on top and kept himself there through a combination of wits and brutish force.
Goldsworthy is a veteran Roman historian who knows the limitations and contradictions of his sources biases and his own subject's formidable propaganda machine so I think any reader should feel confident Augustus' story is given the widest breadth and most honest telling. An accomplishment for an author whose subject's identity and personality changed and transformed to fit his needs and ambitions: Gaius Octavius aka Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus aka Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius aka Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus. These are not just frivolous name-changes, but serious agenda-setting strategem to maintain his power over the army, Senate and the people.
His rise was ruthlessly bloody- leaving one of western civilization's greatest orators, Cicero, without his hands, his toungue...his life. He parlayed his victories over Antony and Cleopatra, and Sextus Pompey into triumph, his lucky adoption by "The Divine" Julius Caesar into his own legitimacy and authority, gathered the talented and competent to his inner circle and and ruled as a king without looking or seeming like one- which to traditional Roman aristocrats was the worst eptitath, REX!
Anyone who listened to and liked Caesar: Life of a Colossus will dig this one too although some of the same territory is covered pretty heavily in Part One.
Yes! The printed version is good, but the narrator really brings the story to life.
I found odd similarities to modern life in the United States. Both the religious groups and the state tend to act in similar ways to the ancient Romans.
Definitely worth the price.
As a fan of Roman History I really liked the attention to detail and depth that this book went into. Instead of being a general overview as many books on this period are, the book explored Augustus the man.
The detail, the description. How the setting was created and maintained by both the author and the narrator was excellent.
I have listened to Mr. Perkins' rendition of all of Adrian Goldsworthy's work, and they are all fantastic.
Not moved so much as was interesting. Learning about the Augustus' love of bawdy poetry and similar quirks was very interesting.
If you like history, not just Roman history, listen to this book.
I was so enthralled by Goldsworthys' "Caesar" that I immediately downloaded Augustus. I have to say I was disappointed though. First, to be fair to the author, Augustus had a lifetime to craft his public image by censorship, destruction of correspondence, and editing of historical narrative. So, while Goldsworthy had an abundance of source material to work with in "Caesar," he was much more limited in the case of Augustus. I get that, and understand.
Now, having said that, it is obvious in this book that while Goldsworthy loves Caesar, Augustus is more of a cash cow. The material and narrative isn't as engaging and some of the book clearly recycles portions of "Caesar." The author also strangely spends time reaching back to Sulla while almost sprinting through the war with Antony/Cleopatra - surely Goldsworthy knew that the causal reader would be interested in this clash (thanks billy shakespeare!), so why did he spend time reaching back to pre-Caesar while rushing through Augustus' early life? You could argue historical completeness, but it smacks of love for Caesar/disinterest in Augustus - like he had so much material, he couldn't stand to waste it on just one book, and his publisher said "heck, you have so much on Augustus, you may as well write one about him too," and Goldsworthy said, "sure, why not. I've gotta pay the mortgage..."
I'm only so hard on him because this work was so much smaller when it stands next to Caesar. It's a decent read, and Perkins is a fantastic narrator as usual, but I believe that the author should have done better by the old Princeps.
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