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Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor | [Anthony Everitt]

Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

Caesar Augustus has been called history's greatest emperor. It was said he found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. With a senator for a father and Julius Caesar for a great-uncle, he ascended the ranks of Roman society with breathtaking speed. His courage in battle is still questioned yet his political savvy was second to none. He had a lifelong rival in Mark Antony and a 51-year companion in his wife, Livia. And his influence extended perhaps further than that of any ruler who has ever lived.
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Publisher's Summary

Historian Anthony Everitt earned widespread critical acclaim for his best-selling biography of Cicero. Now, with Augustus, he delivers his second spellbinding account of a Roman icon whose legacy has echoed through the ages.

Caesar Augustus has been called history's greatest emperor. It was said he found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. With a senator for a father and Julius Caesar for a great-uncle, he ascended the ranks of Roman society with breathtaking speed. His courage in battle is still questioned, yet his political savvy was second to none. He had a lifelong rival in Mark Antony and a 51-year companion in his wife, Livia. And his influence extended perhaps further than that of any ruler who has ever lived.

Drawing on the available information, while making a handful of his own groundbreaking assertions, Everitt brings the real Augustus to vivid life in this fascinating narrative.

©2006 Anthony Everitt; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC

What the Critics Say

"This familiar story is fresh again in this lively retelling." (Publishers Weekly)
"Everitt's writing is so crisp and so lively he brings both Rome and Augustus to life in this magnificent work, a must-read for anyone interested in classical times." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Joyce Eriksen Blairsville, Ga United States 04-11-07
    Joyce Eriksen Blairsville, Ga United States 04-11-07 Member Since 2007

    History addict

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    "The real thing"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James F. Geary 04-08-07 Member Since 2003
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    "Excellent story"

    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!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Mcpherson Illinois 04-09-09
    T. Mcpherson Illinois 04-09-09 Listener Since 2008

    csjt04

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    "A well rounded history of Augustus"

    A well written and well narrated history of Augustus. Definitely worth a credit. Highly recommend.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    proton 08-27-07
    proton 08-27-07 Member Since 2012
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    "Outstanding"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 12-27-12
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 12-27-12 Member Since 2008

    jw1917

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    "Great Book about Rome's Greatest Empire."

    This is a great book about the man who created the Roman Empire. Granted there are a few fictitious parts dealing with Augustus's death that I did not care for. Also he is more lenient on Livia's the wife of Augustus than I would have been. I have always found her a detestable and manipulative woman

    For me this book was at its best when it deals with the young Augustus and his formative years. In his youth it would be hard to imagine that this sickly boy with no military skills would nevertheless triumph over far better known opponents like Mark Anthony and eventually be the last man standing after the civil wars are over. It makes one wonder what latent talents Julius Caesar must have seen in the the young Octavian to make him his heir -- and a worthy heir he turned out to be.

    Augustus had an iron fist in a velvet glove. He got his way without ever seeming to dominate the various political entities in Rome. He was a skilled politician who knew his own limitations and thus surrounded himself with the most able people for the job who would complement and supplement his own talents.

    In Marcus Agrippa he found a brilliant military leader who more than anyone defeated Antony and Cleopatra at Actium while Octavian lay sick in his tent. It was Agrippa who created. built, and trained the fleet which would win Actium. Also Agrippa was responsible for an enormous rebuilding of Rome and constructed the Pantheon and the Baths of Agrippa.

    However, like all those able men who surrounded Augustus, they never attempted to outshine him, but rather let him take the credit. In their own way they were as skillful at politics as Augustus himself.

    Everitt thoroughly explortes not only the personality and political skill of Augusted himself, but he also gives us great portraits of the able men he surrounded himself with -- Agrippa, Maecenas etc. This is a well-rounded book since it focuses on all aspects of Augustus' rule and the heartbreaking inability of the great man to have a worthy successor.

    This is probably the best book ever written on the man, but also on the birth of Imperial Rome,

    The narrator is outstanding and gives the right nuance to the author's word. If you are atll interested in this period of Roman History this book should not be missed.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-15-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 07-15-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

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    "The Original Game of Thrones"

    Augustus

    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.

    [If you found this review helpful please let me know by pushing the helpful button. Thanks!]

    14 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trevor Paso Robles, CA, United States 01-10-13
    Trevor Paso Robles, CA, United States 01-10-13 Member Since 2014

    History Major Video Game Player Avid Skiier Unskilled Lover

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    "Noncontroversial but Entertaining!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Iga Los Angeles 08-24-12
    Carolyn Iga Los Angeles 08-24-12 Member Since 2014

    Carolyn

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    "Engaging"
    What made the experience of listening to Augustus the most enjoyable?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pino Montreal, Quebec, Canada 07-26-12
    Pino Montreal, Quebec, Canada 07-26-12 Member Since 2015
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    "History done right."
    Where does Augustus rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Octavian was an interesting figure but then again the Roman history is interesting in itself.


    Any additional comments?

    If you love history, then this is a great book. If your thing is Roman history, then this is a no brainer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sarasota, FL United States 02-05-12
    Amazon Customer Sarasota, FL United States 02-05-12 Member Since 2009

    Ricko

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All the Details Most Histories Skip Over"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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