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Res Gestae Divi Augusti

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Presentation on theme: "Res Gestae Divi Augusti"— Presentation transcript:

1 Res Gestae Divi Augusti
The accomplishments of the Divine Augustus

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3 Augustus’ Mausoleum

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5 RES GESTAE

6 Roman Autobiography Roots in Classical Greek literary tradition and native Latin traditions Modern conception of autobiography: personal self-revelation including education, upbringing, emotional development, etc., Greeks liked to write about themselves: Hesiods wrote about his conflict with his brother and the leading magistrates of his days – not really autobiography

7 Greek autobiography Memoirs (still popular today)
Xenophon: The Anabasis (The March up Country) 400 BCE Xenophon enlisted as a mercenary in the army of the Persian Cyrus who tried to remove his brother from power. Attempt failed, Cyrus died, Anabasis tells march of 10,000 Greek mercenaries from Mesopotamia all the way back to the Black Sea Xenophon became leader of this army and wrote story 20 years after he experienced it

8 Greek Autobiography 4th century – several autobiographies of various shapes: orator Isocrates – in a defence speech (Antidosis from 354 BCE) provides history of his entire life – education, etc. Orator Demosthenes in a speech On the Crown in 330 BCE, includes autobiography of his entire life and career Plato: in the Seventh Letter gives detailed account of his actions

9 Roman autobiography Embraced in Late Republic
Different types and terms: Greek terms taken over from Greeks, own tradition hypomnema (Greek term) =any sort of memoir ephemeris (Greek term)= diary commentarius (pl. commentarii) Latin term -=private journal autobiography becomes important in extremely competitive political environment of the Late Republic Generals on campaigns sent back reports to Roman senate

10 Roman autobiography At first was a private genre
By early 2nd century BCE became public as a tool in competition for office 190 BCE Scipio Africanus published pamphlet in which he detailed all his victories against Carthage in Spain and against Hannibal Cato, the elder included autobiographical material into his public speeches By early 1st century BCE common practice for members of the elite to write and publish their memoirs (hypomnemata)

11 commentarius (commentarii)
Developed out of the private diary – originally just the bare facts Accounts of one’s actions in campaigns had its roots in military diaries of Greek Kings (Pyrrhus) and in practice of honorary and funerary inscriptions set up by members of Roman elite Roman funerary inscriptions included offices, honors, accomplishments, military conquests, etc. Practice even emulated by lower classes who included their (more humble) accomplishments, i.e. the baker Eurisakes

12 Tomb of Caecilia Metella very aristocratic wealthy family

13 Tomb of the baker Eurysakes

14 Tomb of the Baker Eurysakes

15 commentarii Sulla was the first politician to use commentarii to establish his public image 23 books of diaries mostly his military campaigns, nothing political, nothing personal, but also included dreams and portents advertising divine support for his rise to power Sulla’s diary provided the model for Iulius Caesar’s commentarii

16 Iulius Caesar’s Commentarii
A very highly polished form of commentarii Added literary components not really part of a commentarius, used as model Xenophon’s Anabasis : third-person narrative, speeches, digressions into geography, customs of Gauls etc., Purpose: political Important for him to convey his virtutes his intelligence, military genius, decisiveness, common sense, clementia, his respect for his soldiers, wrote both for Romans and for new Gallic elite

17 Augustus’ autobiographies
de vita suae now lost – have only about 24 fragments – ends in 25 BCE Res Gestae Divi Augusti – extremely important official document that survived, covers his entire rule. Not a narrative, but 1st person review of his office and actions Set up on bronze tablets on his mausoleum in Rome Another copy in Ankara, and other sites in Turkey – allowed Archaeologists to paste document together

18 The purpose of the De Vita Suae
Augustus’ biography (now lost), an early work – only goes as far as 25 BCE Purpose – propaganda - to respond to criticism of his actions after Caesar’s death and to improve his reputation and public image: areas include his birth, his cruelty His position was solidified after Actium and by constitutional settlements of 27 and 23 BCE – his biography had served its purpose – he required no more justification for his position

19 The ‘other’ Augustus 44 BCE attempts to kill Marcus Antonius; Octavian had hired assassins to get rid of him 43 BCE was involved in the proscriptions (including the one of Cicero) 42 BCE brought head of Brutus to Rome 40 BCE – earned the name of “Butcher of Perusia” , Italian town that had provided sanctuary for assassins’ party – had 300 senators and Equestrians of Perusia killed on the Ides of March 40 BCE on the altar of Iulius Caesar

20 Res Gestae (RG) Modeled on Roman tradition to inscribe honours and achievements on triumphal arches Also modeled on honorific texts (inscriptions) elogia - where only honours included nothing negative Res Gestae – content very selective – only positive aspects of Augustus’ principate Looks like scrutiny account that had to be submitted to the senate by magistrate at end of his term Only includes official acts, does not mention family members unless in connection to official act

21 Ancient Opinions of Augustus

22 Augustus’ Forum

23 The Augustan Forum

24 Augustus set up 108 statues of great Romans in his forum with their elogia
Res Gestae drafted in same years as forum of Augustus constructed (20-2 BCE) Res Gestae much longer than any elogium (elogia plural)

25 Res Gestae organization
Divided into 3 sections Short preface, first two paragraphs serve as introduction emphasizing his contributions to the Roman people 1. Paragraphs 3-14 lists the honors received, and offices given to him by senate and Roman people, and honors he gave to his grandsons 2. Paragraphs numerical account of various things: money spent, games given, slaves captured, temples repaired, priesthoods bestowed, animals slaughtered for games in arena

26 3. Paragraphs 26 – 33 military and diplomatic achievements that furthered expansion of Roman imperium The final two paragraphs 34 and 35 return to themes of beginning, his devotion to the interests of the Roman people and the Republic, and emphasizes their gratitude to him.

27 Res Gestae- characteristics
Written in first person Very selective material: period from 42 – 31 no discussion – the period in which he developed from member of a homicidal coalition to sole ruler Dark period: proscriptions, civil war

28 Purpose of the Res Gestae
testament of his mission to restore peace, the Republican government, prosperity to Rome

29 Modern views on the Res Gestae
hypocrisy of claim that he restored the republic and returned power to Senate and populus Romanus Valuable as a document recording what Augustus considered important of his reign and what he wanted to suppress As constitutional statement: the princeps on one side, senate and populus on the other side, Providing insight into Augustus’ philosophy on government


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