He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble As Rome s first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen His consolidation and expansion of Roman power two thousand years ago laid the foundations, for all of Western history to follow Yet, despite Augustus s accomplishments, very few biographers have concentrated on the man himself, instead choosing to chronicle the age in which he lived Here, Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of Cicero, gives a spellbinding and intimate account of his illustrious subject Augustus began his career as an inexperienced teenager plucked from his studies to take center stage in the drama of Roman politics, assisted by two school friends, Agrippa and Maecenas Augustus s rise to power began with the assassination of his great uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, and culminated in the titanic duel with Mark Antony and CleopatraThe world that made Augustus and that he himself later remade was driven by intrigue, sex, ceremony, violence, scandal, and naked ambition Everitt has taken some of the household names of history Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cleopatra whom few know the full truth about, and turned them into flesh and blood human beingsAt a time when many consider America an empire, this stunning portrait of the greatest emperor who ever lived makes for enlightening and engrossing reading Everitt brings to life the world of a giant, rendered faithfully and sympathetically in human scale A study of power and political genius, Augustusis a vivid, compelling biography of one of the most important rulers in history From the Hardcover edition


10 thoughts on “Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor

  1. Lynne King Lynne King says:

    I have tried over and over again to write a review on this outstanding and spellbinding book but without success Nevertheless what I will state categorically is that Everitt has succeeded magnificently in bringing Augustus alive to the reader The author also achieved a real sense of place as Rome also became alive to me I so wish that the book had been longer as I didn t want to finish it. Trust me, read this book It is out there waiting for you to be captivated the way I was.One of my to I have tried over and over again to write a review on this outstanding and spellbinding book but without success Nevertheless what I will state categorically is that Everitt has succeeded magnificently in bringing Augustus alive to the reader The author also achieved a real sense of place as Rome also became alive to me I so wish that the book had been longer as I didn t want to finish it. Trust me, read this book It is out there waiting for you to be captivated the way I was.One of my top favourite books highly recommended


  2. Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ says:

    The story of Augustus is woven with betrayal violence His rise to power, his political adversaries, and his unprecedented rule at are all covered in glorious detail while remaining engaging informative Augustus is a fascinating historical figure this is by far the most compelling narrative I ve read about how he rose to power through clever maneuvers and an unyielding ambition Would recommend this for anyone interested in learning about the life of Augustus how he shaped the Rome of h The story of Augustus is woven with betrayal violence His rise to power, his political adversaries, and his unprecedented rule at are all covered in glorious detail while remaining engaging informative Augustus is a fascinating historical figure this is by far the most compelling narrative I ve read about how he rose to power through clever maneuvers and an unyielding ambition Would recommend this for anyone interested in learning about the life of Augustus how he shaped the Rome of his time


  3. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    Probably the best either this one or Cicero 4 stars3.


  4. aPriL does feral sometimes aPriL does feral sometimes says:

    Augustus by Anthony Everitt is a very reader accessible biography of Augustus, Rome s first Emperor The book is a chronicle of the entire life of Augustus and his parents from birth to death 70 BCE 14 CE His family was a famous one, well known to those of us familiar with Shakespeare s political stage plays and several PBS Masterpiece series However, as much as the political and family strife of ancient Rome now entertains us, it is the military campaigns and the brilliant commanders whi Augustus by Anthony Everitt is a very reader accessible biography of Augustus, Rome s first Emperor The book is a chronicle of the entire life of Augustus and his parents from birth to death 70 BCE 14 CE His family was a famous one, well known to those of us familiar with Shakespeare s political stage plays and several PBS Masterpiece series However, as much as the political and family strife of ancient Rome now entertains us, it is the military campaigns and the brilliant commanders which made Rome a civilization which lasted almost 500 years as a world power The book too briefly outlines some of the customs and laws the ancient Romans had and how some of them changed or were givenattention after Augustus established himself as emperor A literate society like the Romans possessed, especially since Augustus apparently believed in free speech, means a gold mine of documentation about them It is a shame so much of it has been lost through the succeeding centuries We knowliterature existed because of references to lost books made in surviving works What is known about the military campaigns Augustus participated in or designed and led are discussed in Augustus Ad infinitum Those of you who enjoy reading about the strategies and tactics of military campaigns will certainly enjoy Augustus He was not always the winner of these battles Indeed, he made some serious mistakes which cost many lives in his legions and serious loss of of face But when he realized his limitations as a military mind, he employedable friends and others he knew to be better commanders than himself Augustus was a calm personality, generally, not given to excess of emotions or habits It made him a good ruler, if not a military genius What I picked up from reading about his campaigns decades of them most Romans LOVED instigating constant military campaigns was geography and weather and personalities of leaders was very important Knowledge of roads, hills, marshes, being aware of one s supply lines, deployments of troops often meant the difference between winning and losing Pincer movements, where and when to place infantry archers engineers, taking care of one s troops troops felt free to revolt and desert if not paid, or even if ashamed of their particular Roman commanders , etc are obviously key to battles But don t ask me, I was a secretary Ffs, ancient Romans certainly loved to gather up legions and make war on frenemies, other politicians, and rulers of distant lands Preemptive and defensive war strikes seem to have been always on the agenda of Roman politicians and wannabes I think it is safe to say the constant politicking Romans indulged in stirred up a lot of ambitious men into hopes of furthering their social positions through commanding legions into making war At least it appears so from the written history they left behind after their civilization was done They wrote a LOT of war memoirs Living in Rome, a city of maybe a million people, was a prestigious prize of citizenship not given to anyone not considered important or born there One way to be important was to be born into or marry into an old Roman dynasty which had held onto its property and wealth for generations The other was military action which brought honor and wealth to Rome and enough personal social capital to buy into the top ranks of Roman society which was primarily a political society Thus every ambitious Italian and Roman studied rhetoric and literature, and how to fight wars, as young men Top rank Romans had running water, baths, fabulous houses, slaves, cool art and architecture, amazing circuses and gladiator fights, the pick of beautiful women, exotic foods, respect of other brilliant men of power and authority who could provide armies to their friends who didn t want to become a rich Roman Even if it meant enduring periodic life threatening political purges every other year or so and sometimes exile to muchprimitive lands on occasion.Augustus died at age seventy six perhaps a natural one which set off some uprisings in conquered provinces which had been quiet, and of course some of his relatives immediately plotted to take the top spot you know, the usual ongoing struggle of power and politics in Rome But Augustus ruled an exceptionally long time, almost forty four years He must have had the right stuff , somehow, so it makes him an attractive subject for biographers I think Everitt s is an easy readable one, especially if one is interested in military campaigns There are maps of ancient Rome and the Mediterranean, as well as extensive Notes, Sources and Index sections An excellent Chronology is provided after a table of contents section The author does not really indulge much or too far in speculative or titillating conjectures, despite that he could have from the tidbits of gossip which were hinted at in discovered grafitti the Romans left behind yes Grafitti and sly poetry and plays with libelous references to social gossip there were lawsuits and such, occasionally, too Romans did that This is one of thesedate books about ancient Romans I have read, as a result He does do some logical speculation where there are gaps in discovered ancient memoirs, histories, letters or literature Historians do love literate cultures PS Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Anthony, Pompey, Cicero, Agrippa, Cato, Julia, Tiberius, Drusus, Marcellus, Horace, Germanicus, Ovid all of the Marquee personalities make an appearance They are remembered for their various successes and tragedies because there is so much source material on them They were real people, and Everitt brings them to life, using historical sources


  5. Channing Channing says:

    Towards the end of his previous book, Cicero , Everitt describes Cicero taking Julius Caesar s grand nephew, the young Gaius Octavius, under his wing and introducing him to the world of Roman politics In gratitude, the young Gaius winds up forming an alliance with Mark Antony and reluctantly agreeing to have Cicero killed although he forces Antony to murder his uncle in exchange Thus begins the rise to power of Rome s first emperor, later to call himself Augustus.On one hand, Augustus could Towards the end of his previous book, Cicero , Everitt describes Cicero taking Julius Caesar s grand nephew, the young Gaius Octavius, under his wing and introducing him to the world of Roman politics In gratitude, the young Gaius winds up forming an alliance with Mark Antony and reluctantly agreeing to have Cicero killed although he forces Antony to murder his uncle in exchange Thus begins the rise to power of Rome s first emperor, later to call himself Augustus.On one hand, Augustus could be reviled as a back stabbing, self obsessed, power hungry man who was ultimately responsible for killing the frail, aged granny that was the Roman Republic with a rabbit punch On the other hand, he was careful to at least preserve the facade of democracy and free speech, he secured the Empire s borders, streamlined bureaucracy and weeded out a number of intolerable fools The Bush family would never have flourished in ancient Rome.As in Cicero , Everitt does a generally impressive job of taking famous historical figures that we may be tangentially aware of Antony Cleopatra, Ovid, Horace, etc and really makes them seem like real people living in a world that is at once recognizable on some levels and horrifically different on others It was interesting reading this at the same time as keeping up to date with the machinations of the executive and legislative branches in the news the Scooter Libby scandal the questions about the extent of executive privilege and also having just seen Oliver Stone s excellent interviews with Fidel Castro in his new documentary, Comandante The US is no Roman Empire and neither is Cuba, but all three have their similarities in terms of the limits people are prepared to go to gain and maintain power and the viciousness that can take hold in nominally elected government


  6. Arminius Arminius says:

    I do not think I ever read a book on Roman history that I did not like and this book has not changed that Augustus is considered Rome s first Emperor due to the fact that he spent over 40 years as Emperor He came to this position by being the nephew and then becoming Julius Caesar s adopted son Caesar trained him, as a youngster, in the rudiments of Rome s military leadership training However, when Caesar was assassinated in March 15 of 44 BC Caesar s most important soldier Mark Antony and A I do not think I ever read a book on Roman history that I did not like and this book has not changed that Augustus is considered Rome s first Emperor due to the fact that he spent over 40 years as Emperor He came to this position by being the nephew and then becoming Julius Caesar s adopted son Caesar trained him, as a youngster, in the rudiments of Rome s military leadership training However, when Caesar was assassinated in March 15 of 44 BC Caesar s most important soldier Mark Antony and Augustus led their armies and defeated Caesar s murderer s armies led by Brutus in the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC Following Brutus s defeat Antony, Augustus and Lepidus divided the vast Roman Empire in 3 sections Antony cleverly took the East including Egypt for that was the wealthiest region Augustus took Rome which was in rebellion Lepidus was given Trans Alpine Gaul.Antony was a poor administer reveling in the wealth of Egypt and falling for Egypt s seductive Queen Cleopatra Augustus needed grain from Egypt to feed his constituents Antony s slow response in providing the grain angered Augustus In addition Antony s popularity faded in Rome due to his relationship with the non Roman Egyptian Queen Augustus sensing a time to unify Rome under himself attacked Antony and defeated him in the Battle of Actium 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea.Augustus implemented two reforms in his long reign constitutional reform and imperial expansion under himself as the ruler He accomplished this as well as brought relative peace and prosperity to Rome As a result, he is regarded as one of Rome s greatest Emperors


  7. Daniel Villines Daniel Villines says:

    Writing a biography about a person that lived 2,000 years ago is a risky endeavor for anyone who strives for historical accuracy Even when the person is Augustus Caesar, the known facts predominantly consist of isolated events of macro importance or fragments of writing that have lost much of their context As is the case with Augustus The Life of Rome s First Emperor, extensive speculation is required to bring a semblance of life to the factual islands that dot the historical timeline.The und Writing a biography about a person that lived 2,000 years ago is a risky endeavor for anyone who strives for historical accuracy Even when the person is Augustus Caesar, the known facts predominantly consist of isolated events of macro importance or fragments of writing that have lost much of their context As is the case with Augustus The Life of Rome s First Emperor, extensive speculation is required to bring a semblance of life to the factual islands that dot the historical timeline.The underlying ambiguity begs the need for the reader keep at hand a small pinch of salt to be taken one grain at a time as they proceed through the book To Everitt s credit, he s dedicated his career to writing on ancient people and civilizations including a biography on one of Augustus contemporaries, Cicero He has also written books on the rise of Rome and on the life of one other Roman emperor, Hadrain From this perspective, it s probable that Everitt s speculations are as good as they get But nonetheless, too many facts will never be known.The impression of Augustus that Everitt imparts is one of measured control Augustus is presented as the emperor that had the loyalty of the entire Roman army at his command, but recognized the need to rule through subtle means He had the wisdom to be inclusive of his opponents in the formulation of ideas And he often took extended periods of time to achieve his goals so that others would have time to recognize the purpose of his policies In short, his public governance seems to have effectively resisted the absolute corruption that accompanies absolute power take grain of salt here.As for collaboration, I have no other expert opinions to offer I read Everitt s biography in an attempt to verify John Williams historical fiction Augustus Both Everitt and Williams agree on an Augustus Caesar that lead through wisdom rather than force Then there is my uninformed opinion of Augustus Caesar that was instilled in me during my elementary school days so long ago that Augustus was the Roman emperor who ushered in a period of peace that lasted 200 years While I know now that this far from the truth from a world perspective, both Everitt and Williams suggest that this may be somewhat true for the Romans living in the Rome that was transformed by Augustus Caesar take grain of salt here


  8. Kelly Kelly says:

    Very well done Told as narratively as possible, almost in novel form at some points Very engaging, makes you feel like you know these people If you liked the HBO series, you ll like this book It was a very easy read each time I picked it up, which is saying something as I read it during a very stressful time during which I didn t have a lot of time to spare But I always enjoyed diving into it You d think that I d need something a bitrelaxing But not with the way this was written.I d Very well done Told as narratively as possible, almost in novel form at some points Very engaging, makes you feel like you know these people If you liked the HBO series, you ll like this book It was a very easy read each time I picked it up, which is saying something as I read it during a very stressful time during which I didn t have a lot of time to spare But I always enjoyed diving into it You d think that I d need something a bitrelaxing But not with the way this was written.I don t have to expound upon why Augustus was worth reading about Augustus was awesome The man had his faults, but he was brilliant, thoughtful, a capable administrator and the founder of the Roman Empire It is thanks to him that we speak of the glories of Rome, arguably At least I think it is I m going to have to read this againcarefully, not distracted by other things It d be worth it


  9. Sean Sean says:

    A solid biography of the founding father of the Roman Principate Indulges in a fair amount of speculation, but I suppose that s what separates scholarly history from popular history, and the author gives you plenty of notice when he s off on a flight of informed fancy Besides, given the paucity of reliable sources for much of Gaius s Octavian s Augustus s life, perhaps some speculation is called for.Any student of Roman history should have a handle on the life and times of Imperator no 1, a A solid biography of the founding father of the Roman Principate Indulges in a fair amount of speculation, but I suppose that s what separates scholarly history from popular history, and the author gives you plenty of notice when he s off on a flight of informed fancy Besides, given the paucity of reliable sources for much of Gaius s Octavian s Augustus s life, perhaps some speculation is called for.Any student of Roman history should have a handle on the life and times of Imperator no 1, and this isn t a bad place to start Everitt also includes a nice appendix of primary source materials, and a bibliography for suggested reading in a variety of areas related to the end of the Republic and the early Imperial period


  10. Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎ Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎ says:

    Approachable biography of one of the most important figures in western history The book, being relatively short, is dense but very informative Beside Augustus itself, Everitt brings to life many historical figures that had an influence on the emperor both past and contemporary and are essential to understand the political situation at the time This approach contributes to a true 360 degrees view of the main character It is important to stress that this is a non fiction book, heavy on the d Approachable biography of one of the most important figures in western history The book, being relatively short, is dense but very informative Beside Augustus itself, Everitt brings to life many historical figures that had an influence on the emperor both past and contemporary and are essential to understand the political situation at the time This approach contributes to a true 360 degrees view of the main character It is important to stress that this is a non fiction book, heavy on the details of political manoeuvres and the geography and strategies of military campaigns, sometimes down to a blow by blow account of battles first half of the book , and is not equally detailed on the aspects of Augustus personal life Chapter 20 contains a vivid and engaging account of a day in Augustus and Livia s times, however readers looking for a romanticised version of the emperor life, for instance, his infatuation with Livia, the alleged numerous extramarital affairs, the turbulent relationship with his daughter Julia or the private struggle with Mark Antony and Cleopatra may be disappointed.Everitt names and provides excerpts from the primary sources this is done in a casual and unobtrusive manner so to not distract the reader from the narrative flow, while providing evidence to statements and corroboration to his theories The Julio Claudian dynasty tree, geographical maps at the beginning as well as the comprehensive primary sources references and bibliography at the end of the book are welcome useful inclusions Recommended to readers interested in Roman history Favourite quotes If Julius Caesar had lived he would probably have devised a farradical scheme, imposing a brutally abrupt transition from a republican past to an imperial future Augustus may have been less brilliant than his adoptive father, but he was wiser He understood that if his new system was to last, it should be seen to grow out of what came before Rather than insist on a chasm, he built a bridge Romans distinguished between imperium, power, and auctoritas, authority It was evidence of the remarkable success of the Augustan system that the princeps was able to command obedience simply through his authority, and was very seldom obliged to draw on the brute power at his disposal.Perhaps the most instructive aspect of Augustus approach to politics was his twin recognition that in the long run power was unsustainable without consent, and that consent could best be won by associating radical constitutional change with a traditional and moralizing ideology.