Monday, April 6, 2009

In Defense of Augustus


Lately I've been hearing a lot of comments such as the following:

"Caesar Augustus? Yeah, I know of him. What a dick."

Or:

"Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus - a good emperor? I don't think so!"

Comments such as these frustrate me. Why all of a sudden are many people openly criticizing one of the greatest politicians the world has ever seen? I mean, if you want to know all the things he did, you could check out the Res Gestae Divi Augusti; but he wrote that so it's obviously a little biased. So why don't you hear it from me? That is, let me tell you a few reasons why you or people you know should cut this guy a break and maybe even show him a little respect.



First of all, in 27 B.C., Octavian returned full power to the Roman Senate and relinquished control of the Roman provinces and their armies. Following that, he was given the names "Augustus" and "Princeps" and even awarded a golden shield with the words virtus, pietas, clementia, iustitia inscribed on it. Pretty neat, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought. If you think that is cool, check this out: In 23 B.C., Augustus was granted the power of a tribune!

Secondly, the guy was a great politician. Don't take my word for it, hear it straight from the academic source Wikipedia: "In 28 BC, he melted down 80 silver statues erected in his likeness and in honor of him, an attempt of his to appear frugal and modest" (Wikipedia).

Last but not least, the Prima Porta is an important statue and monument depicting him.

In conclusion, I think I've put to rest any arguments that critics of August may have. He may have died on August 19, A.D. 14, but his legacy lives on. So the next time I'm on the subway or in a deli and I hear the person next to me say, "Oh my gosh - Octavian was such a douchebag!", I will be very angry and probably direct that person to this blog entry.

Feel free to comment on this post with thoughts of your own regarding the great Roman emperor.

As for me, I'm out.

-JWH

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