Augustus Deeds

Augustus was named Gaius Octavius when he was born. In 44BC, Julius Caesar adopted him. He was involved in the Actium Battle and consequently defeated Mark Antony during this war. Moreover he mobilized and led an army that defeated the Mediterranean world in 49BC.Octavian was later named Augustus which means a person is worthy of honor (Eder, 2011). He ruled the entire Roman world with power. He developed new laws and led the reconstruction of cities. He further created uniformity in the Mediterranean in the aspects of politics, religion, social life, and economy. In the account of “Res Gestae,” Augustus narrates of his personal achievements. He explains what he considers his main achievements during his reign in Rome. However, many historians have criticized Augustus’s achievements during his reign (Shotter, 2005). Therefore, Augustus highly overrated his achieves and their impact on the society as a way of creating a personal image, they sought discredit majority of the achievements that Augustus had enlisted.

The main issues that have largely been espoused by the historian critics of this account of Augustus achievement are the obvious bias of this account towards the emperor. In this account, it is apparent that Augustus sought be showing himself as having achieved tremendous results during his reign. This approach hides the most fundamental issues that Augustus faced. While seeking to give a positive impression about his legacy he gives an erroneous notion that his reign did not encounter any challenges (Shotter, 2005). He further created the impression that he did not fail the Roman Empire ant any one given point. Therefore, the skewed nature of his account depicts a leader who did not leave any negative impact during his reign. The marble inscriptions used points to the fact that Augustus targeted the future generation as his audience rather than the immediate generations. He seems motivated by the desire to create remembrance among the people about him, and his rule drives the bias in his narration.

One of the achievements that Augustus greatly valued is avenging the death of his father. He lists this fact as a great achievement when he says that he exiled the people who murdered his father. However, critics consider this as a biased statement and a propagandist approach (Eder, 2011). In his statement, he does not mention the actual names of the people who killed his father. On the contrary, he leaves them anonymous. The actual people who murdered his father are Brutus and Cassius. However, he does not mention them by name in his account. The mentioning of names is imperative in stating facts and creating credibility. It enables the counterchecking of facts stated and hence creates credibility of the information presented. By failing to give specific names, Augustus does not authenticate the victory that he claims (Eder, 2011). As such, this can only be considered as propaganda aimed at supporting his skewed position on the matter with the view of positively depicting his legacy.

Augustus also highlights the provision of “bread and circuses” as one of the outstanding achievements of his reign. He further sites how he bought corn and grain with his own money and distributed it to the people. Stating this achievement largely depicted him as a generous person who sought the welfare of the people he led (Eck, 2007). However, critics have downplayed this depiction claiming that it was erroneous and does not depict who Augustus was in reality. The actual reason why Augustus provided gifts to the army was to seduce them to support his point of view fight his battles consistently. As such, the gifts were not in any way out of generosity or good faith but choreographed to eliminate any complaints or discontentment among the Amy (Cornwell, 2017). Moreover, he provided cheap food to the people as a way of wooing them to support his regime. He further seduced the people to support his reign and view him in the positive light by flatteries of peace. While Augustus depicts these provisions as a great success of his reign, an examination into the motivation behind such provisions negates the very legacy that Augustus sought to establish by highlighting them.

From part 26 to part 33, Augustus gives the account of how he won battles over non-Roman people. He mentions Asia and Tiber as places where he triumphed in a battle against people that were not Roman in origin. However, Historic commentators have noted that this account lacks facts of merit. They argue that glory was of great significance to the Roman. In the pursuit of glory, Augustus failed to be objective by emphasizing the elements of tradition as well as continuity (Shotter, 2005). The concurring of non-Roman people and the expansion of the Roman Empire was of great significance to the people of Rome. It is from this perspective that Augustus devotes a significant portion of his account on explaining his victory over non-Roman people and his role in the expansion of the Roman Empire. As such, the emphasis depicts an element of bias and lack of objectivity when evaluating the performance of his reign. He was only keen to depict those areas that are relevant to the society of the time while hiding his performance in many other areas that could have depicted him negatively.

Moreover, the bias in choosing his achievements is largely depicted in how he presents the achievements. While trying to appear as a hero, he was deceitful in the way he mentioned his achievement (Eder, 2011). At no point does he mention the specific areas he failed as a leader. He enumerates his achievements in war and the transformation of the society from the aspects of politics, religion, and governance. Whereas he appears to be a hero, his lack of mention in areas that his performance as a leader in areas that were not exemplary ultimately negates the heroism he intends to receive. It depicts him to be deceitful he wants people to believe that he did not have any weaknesses of failures attributed to him. As such, he appears deceitful rather than the hero he intended to be.

In part five, he explains how he refused to take up dictatorship offered to him in his absence. By claiming that he rejected dictatorship, Augustus was arguing that his leadership was very democratic and greatly accommodated differing opinion (Cornwell, 2017). In democratic leadership, the leader is willing to listen to every opinion without victimizing anyone. On the contrary, this cannot be said of Augustus leadership. He demonstrated great intolerance to the people who were not supportive of him or his ideas (Eder, 2011). He did not accommodate differing opinions as a leader. He began the trials for treason whose main aim was to silence any political opponent who attempted to rise. While he wants people to believe that he was very peaceful and advancing his gender in the most peaceful and democratic ways, he did use extreme force against the people who differed with his point of view. While he did not directly accept dictatorship, His leadership style was largely characterized by the very dictatorship that he claims to have rejected. Therefore, this claim is a deliberate misrepresentation of facts with the intention of creating a positive legacy for Augustus.

Augustus further argued that he was consistent in upholding the morals of the people as handed down by the ancestors. He sighted the numerous instances in which he rejected the request by the Senate to supervise morals with supreme powers. However, he rejected that Call given the fact that it was inconsistent with the ancestral way of life (Cornwell, 2017). While the examples that he gives are true, they do not demonstrate the totality of his commitment to the ancestral morality and way of life and morality. Faced with the question of many young people failing to marry, Augustus declined to issue laws that would govern issues of morality and adultery in particular. However, he advised the members of the Senate to individual lay down rules that they would wish their wives to follow rather than requiring a universal law. Moreover, he declined to demonstrate how he had admonished his wife. As such, he failed to provide leadership in matters of morality and ancestral ways of life. From this perspective, critics have argued that Augustus had no right to claim that he upheld morality and offered leadership in aspects of morality and ancestral ways of life.

Lastly, Augustus hailed himself as a supporter of religion. He pointed out the fact that he had built many temples and reconstructed several other ruined temples. He argued that such development was critical not only for the preservation of their religion but also for the propagation of long-held religious activities. However, his actions largely contradicted this stand (Shotter, 2005). After taking up the role of Pontifex Maximus, he burned all the religious books that had been written by unanimous writers as well as those written by writers who were little known. In effect, he left few books in circulation. As such, much of the religious information was destroyed. This was great destruction and inhibitor to the advancement of religion. If he were interested in the advancement of education, he would have preserved all forms of religious literature. By destroying all the relevant religious literature, he actively negated his claim that he has propagated and supported religion (Cornwell, 2017). By citing his support for religion as one of his achievements, Augustus fails to acknowledge his role in the destruction of fundamental religious literature. Therefore, his actions did not support his claims of achievements.

Overall, Augustus gave several achievements that he wished to be remembered for after his death. He was keen to ensure that his legacy is preserved and that the people he led remembered him for his role in fundamental aspects of the society such morality, governance, an extension of the emperor and his victory in war (Eck, 2007). Therefore, he listed all his achievements in these aspects. He sought to establish a legacy for himself after his death. However, historian critics have argued that Augustus exaggerated his achievements. They further claim that Augustus was seeking glory, as was the nature of many Romans of the time. Therefore, his depiction of his achievements is not objective but biased. This bias is demonstrated in his argument about the revenge of the people who killed his father and his purported supply of grains to the people. In the latter case, he fails to disclose fundamental information that would be helpful to the audience in judging his intentions. This bias is also demonstrated in his explanation about his avoidance of dictatorship. In this case, his explanation and example are only skewed towards the few instances he demonstrated democratic leadership while withholding information about several instances he was undemocratic.


Cornwell, H. (2017). Peace in the New Age of Augustus. Oxford Scholarship, 12-47.

Eck, W. (2007). The age of Augustus. Oxford: Blackwell.

Eder, W. (2011). Augustus and the Power of Tradition. The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus, 1(2), 13-32.

Shotter, D. C. (2005). Augustus Caesar. London: Routledge.

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