Res Gestae Divi Augusti

Original title: "The achievements of the divine Augustus, by which he brought the world under the empire of the Roman people and the expenses which he bore for the state and the people of Rome."

Composed above all for the people of Rome: many acts of generosity to provincial cities are not included.

Summary of the Res Gestae (35 chapters, most only a few lines long)

1.         At the age of 19, Augustus raised an army "to champion the liberty of the republic". He was made consul and triumvir

(Augustus acted illegally against Mark Antony in 44 BC, after Caesar's death, and made a pact with him in 43BC - a fact not mentioned)

2.         Augustus exiled Caesar's murderers and twice defeated them in battle.

(Two battles of Philippi: first one was indecisive and not a success for Augustus. It was only because command of the army passed from Cassius to Brutus that he won the second)

3.         Augustus involved himself in lots of wars "throughout the world" and "spared the lives of those who asked for mercy, preferring pardon to extermination" (cf. Aeneid VI: 853). Many soldiers pledged their allegiance to him and he gave them land and money.  (Augustus does not mention the proscriptions)

4.         He celebrated lots of triumphs and was hailed as imperator 21 times. The Senate ordered thanksgiving to the gods should be offered for Augustus' successes on 55 occasions. (890 days of thanksgiving were given). He was consul 13 times.

5.         Augustus was offered dictatorship by both Senate and the people but refused. He ensured a good corn supply at his own expense. He was offered the consulship for life but declined.

6.         The Senate and the people suggested that he be appointed "supervisor of law and morals" with supreme power but he would not accept any office "inconsistent with the custom of our ancestors".

(The historian Suetonius contradicts this but he may be wrong. There was felt to be a moral decline in the last years of the republic due to greed, luxury and immorality. (cf. Horace Odes III: 6, 24). Augustus passed laws punishing adultery, penalising those who were not married and giving privileges to those who had three or more children)

7.         Augustus lists his titles, mainly to do with priestly colleges.

8.         He increased the number of patricians (aristocracy). The Senate roll was revised & a census carried out. He brought back practices of the ancestors of Rome which were in danger of dying out.

9.         The Senate ordered vows to be taken every 5 years for Augustus' health. Prayers were continuously offered in the cities.

10.        Augustus' name was inserted into the hymn of the Salii.

(This hymn was originally designed to ensure the safety of Rome in war so the inclusion of his name seems to suggest that his safety and that of Rome were bound up - putting him on a par with the gods).

11.        An altar was put up in honour of Augustus' return from Syria and a sacrifice made there every year by the Vestal Virgins.

12.        Important people were sent to Campania to meet Augustus (unprecedented honour). After his return from Gaul in 13 BC, the Senate ordered an altar of the Augustan peace to be put up.

13.        The gate of the temple of Janus had only been closed twice in Rome's history

up until the time of Augustus' birth but during his principate, the Senate ordered it to be closed three times.

(The closing of the gate signified that Rome was at peace)

14.        Augustus' sons were made consuls at the age of 14.

15.        Augustus gave large sums of money on several occasions to the plebs of Rome and to his soldiers.

16.        He gave money to towns in return for the land given to his soldiers and money to the soldiers themselves.

17.        Augustus gave his own money to the treasury.

18.        He distributed grain and money, when the taxes were insufficient.

19.        Augustus built the Senate house, the Lupercal, a box at the Circus Maximus, and temples to Apollo, divine Julius, Jupiter Feretrius, Jupiter the Thunderer, Quirinius, Minerva, Juno, Jupiter Libertas, the Lares, di penates, of Youth and the Great Mother.

20.        Restored the Capitol & theatre of Pompey and aqueducts, the Forum Julium and basilicas. He restored 82 temples in the city, and most bridges. (cf. Horace Odes III: 6)

21.        Built temple of Mars the Avenger, the Forum Augustum and the theatre of Marcellus (his son-in-law). He gave lots of gifts to the temples.

22.        Gave gladiatorial shows and beast hunts.

23.        Gave a naval battle show - 3000+ men fought in it (2BC)

24.        He replaced the ornaments which had been stolen from temples in Asia (by Mark Antony). He removed silver statues of himself in Rome: with the money they realised, he put golden offerings in the temple of Apollo.

25.        Augustus rid the sea of pirates: he recaptured 30,000 escaped slaves and returned them to their masters.

(This refers to Augustus' victory against Sextus Pompey whose ships were manned by slaves: Augustus actually had 6000 of them crucified)

26.        Augustus extended the Roman empire (cf. Aeneid I: 276-296) and brought peace to Spain and Gaul.

(He mentions lots of places - he was a great conqueror)

27.        Egypt was brought into the Roman empire and he recaptured all the provinces east of the Adriatic sea (these had previously been assigned to M. Antony in 40 BC)

28.        He founded colonies of soldiers in various places.

29.        He recovered lost standards from Spain, Gaul and Dalmatia and placed them in the temple of Mars the Avenger.

30.        He conquered various peoples and annexed their territory to Rome.

31.        Embassies seeking friendship were sent to Augustus from people with no previous connection with the Romans (eg. India, Albania)

(Augustus wants to stress the uniqueness of his achievements)

32.        More kings sought friendship.

33.        Ambassadors were sent from the Parthians and the Medes.

34.        After the civil wars (28-7BC), " when I was in complete control of affairs", Augustus transferred the republic from his power to the power of the Senate and the people. He was named Augustus and bay leaves and the civic crown were fixed over the door of his house because of his "courage, clemency, justice and piety".

(The civic crown was awarded for saving the life of a fellow citizen: Augustus was seen as saving all the citizens)

35.        He was given the title of "Father of my country". At the time of writing, Augustus is 75 years old.