Augustus

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Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon.
I declined to be made Pontifex Maximus in succession to a colleague still living, when the people tendered me that priesthood which my father had held. Several years later I accepted that sacred office when he at last was dead...

Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August 14), born Gaius Octavius, was the adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first Roman Emperor. He also became a pontiff and later Pontifex Maximus.

Quotes[edit]

  • If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance; but since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.
  • Festina lente.
    • Make haste slowly.
    • As quoted in Houghton, Mifflin, Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men (1882), p. 25
    • Variant translations: "Hurry slowly"; or, "Hasten slowly." Originally quoted in Greek, in Suetonius, II. Augustus, section 25, but better known in the Latin form, as reported in Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (1997), p. 50
  • If I have played my part well, clap your hands, and dismiss me with applause from the stage.
    • Statement made as he was dying, as quoted in The Fall of the Roman Empire (2007) by Rita J. Markel, p. 126
  • To seek to keep the established constitution unchanged argues a good citizen and a good man.
    • Of Cato, as quoted in An Examination of the Isis Cult with Preliminary Exploration into New Testament Studies (2008) by Elizabeth A. McCabe
  • May it be my privilege to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a firm and secure basis and thus enjoy the reward which I desire, but only if I may be called the author of the best possible government; and bear with me the hope when I die that the foundations which I have laid for its future government, will stand firm and stable.
  • I came to see a king, not a row of corpses.
    • After having visited the mausoleum of Alexander the Great in Alexandria, Augustus was asked if he also wanted to visit the mausoleum of the Ptolemies; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 16. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • Sat celeriter fieri, quidquid fiat satis bene.
    • Whatever is done well enough is done quickly enough.
    • In Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, II., 25.
    • Cf. Shakespeare, Macbeth I. vii, "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly".
  • En Romanos, rerum dominos, gentemque togatam!
    • Behold them, conquerors of the world, the toga-clad race of Romans!
    • Said disparagingly of a group of men in cloaks, quoting Virgil's The Aeneid. Augustus allowed only those wearing a toga and no cloak to enter the Forum; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 40. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • I had a good mind to discontinue permanently the supply of grain to the city, reliance on which had discouraged Italian agriculture, but refrained because some politician would be bound one day to revive the dole as a means of ingratiating himself with the people.
  • Aetati tuae, mi Tiberi, noli in hac re indulgere et nimium indignari quemquam esse, qui de me male loquatur; satis est enim, si hoc habemus ne quis nobis male facere possit.
    • My dear Tiberius, you must not give way to youthful emotion or take it to heart if anyone speaks ill of me; let us be satisfied if we can make people stop short at unkind words.
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 51. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
    • Ut vides, klimaktera communem seniorum omnium tertium et sexagesimum annum evasimus.
    • I have escaped, as you see, the common climacteric of all old men—my sixty-third year.
    • Epistle to Caius Caesar (Aul. Gell. Noct. Att. xv. 7.), written on 23 September A.D. 1.
  • Αἴθ᾽ ὄφελον ἄγαμός τ᾽ ἔμεναι ἄγονός τ᾽ ἀπολέσθαι.
    • Ah, never to have married, and childless to have died!
    • Quoting Homer's Iliad. Augustus was frequently disappointed in the conduct of some of his children; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 65. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • Livia, nostri coniugii memor vive, ac vale!
    • Goodbye, Livia; remember our marriage!
    • Said to his wife Livia on his deathbed; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 99. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.

Res Gestae Divi Augusti[edit]

Res Gestae Divi Augusti as translated in Loeb Library edition (1924)
  • At the age of nineteen, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army by means of which I restored liberty to the republic, which had been oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. For which service the senate, with complimentary resolutions, enrolled me in its order...
  • Those who slew my father I drove into exile, punishing their deed by due process of law, and afterwards when they waged war upon the republic I twice defeated them in battle.
  • Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned I preferred to save rather than to destroy.
  • I declined to be made Pontifex Maximus in succession to a colleague still living, when the people tendered me that priesthood which my father had held. Several years later I accepted that sacred office when he at last was dead who, taking advantage of a time of civil disturbance, had seized it for himself, such a multitude from all Italy assembling for my election, in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius, as is never recorded to have been in Rome before.
  • Iuravit in mea verba tota Italia.
    • The whole of Italy swore allegiance to me.
    • XXV, 3-4. Translation by Thomas Bushnell

About Augustus[edit]

  • He could boast that he inherited it brick and left it marble.
    • Suetonius, of Augustus and the city of Rome, in Lives of the Caesars, Divus Augustus, XXVIII, 3.
  • He [Julius Caesar] learned that Alexander, having completed nearly all his conquests by the time he was thirty-two years old, was at an utter loss to know what he should do during the rest of his life, whereat Augustus expressed his surprise that Alexander did not regard it as a greater task to set in order the empire which he had won than to win it.
  • He could not even stand up to review his fleet when the ships were already at their fighting stations, but lay on his back and gazed up at the sky, never rising to show that he was alive until Marcus Agrippa had routed the enemy.
    • Marcus Antonius, taunting Augustus for his conduct during the Sicilian war against Sextus Pompey in 36 BC; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 16. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • Postquam bis classe victus naves perdidit, Aliquando ut vincat, ludit assidue aleam.
    • He took a beating twice at sea, And threw two fleets away. So now to achieve one victory, He tosses dice all day.
    • A popular rhyme at the time of the Sicilian war, mocking Augustus' habit of playing dice; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 70. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • The story of his career shows that Augustus was indeed ruthless, cruel, and ambitious for himself. This was only in part a personal trait, for upper-class Romans were educated to compete with one another and to excel. However, he combined an overriding concern for his personal interests with a deep-seated patriotism, based on a nostalgia of Rome's antique virtues. In his capacity as princeps, selfishness and selflessness coexisted in his mind. While fighting for dominance, he paid little attention to legality or to the normal civilities of political life. He was devious, untrustworthy, and bloodthirsty. But once he had established his authority, he governed efficiently and justly, generally allowed freedom of speech, and promoted the rule of law. He was immensely hardworking and tried as hard as any democratic parliamentarian to treat his senatorial colleagues with respect and sensitivity. He suffered from no delusions of grandeur.
    • Anthony Everitt in Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor (2006)

External links[edit]

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