Key Quotations on Augustus's Principate from Suetonius and Res Gestae

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Suetonius: Proscriptions in the triumvirate ‘carried them out more ruthlessly than either of them’

Res Gesae: ‘when they [Brutus and Cassius)  made war on the republic, I twice defeated them in battle’ 

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Foreign Policy

Suetonius- -‘Augustus never wantonly invaded any country, and felt no temptation to increase the boundaries of the empire or enhance his military glory’

-The Battle of Phillipi was Octavian’s ‘most dangerous battle’

-Lollius’ defeat was of ‘ignominious rather than strategic importance’ whereas Varus’ ‘nearly wrecked the empire’. Augustus would shout ‘Varus, give me back my legions!’

-Believed that ‘no battle should ever be fought unless the hope of victory was clearly greater than the fear of defeat’ 

Res Gestae:  ‘The whole of Italy of its own free will swore allegiance to me and demanded me as the leader in the way in which I was victorious at Actium’

‘Italy too has twenty- eight colonies founded by my authority which were densely populated during my lifetime’

‘Recovered all the provinces beyond the Adriatic sea towards the east’ and Sicily and Sardinia.

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Politics

Suetonius: Relationship with Antony was ‘a tenuous one and in continuous need of patching’

-Wished to ‘build firm and lasting foundations for the Government of the state’

Res Gestae:  21 times emperor

Celebrated two ovations and three curule triumphs

Consul 13 times

Upon appointment of Pontifex Maximus ‘such a concourse poured in from the whole of Italy to my election as has never been recorded at Rome before that time’.

First Settlement- BC ‘after I had extinguished civil war, and at a time when with universal consent I was in complete control of affairs, I transferred the republic from my power to the dominion of the senate and the people of Rome’

‘After this time I excelled all in influence, although I possessed no more official power than others’ 

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Society and Social Change

Suetonius- ‘treated all classes equally’

'showed generosity to all classes on several occasions'

'None of Augustus's predecessors put on so many, so different or such splendid shows' 

Res Gestae:  -‘I built or restored 82 temples’

-‘I found Rome built in bricks, I leave her clothed in marble’

-At a time of corn dearth Augustus ‘delivered the whole city from apprehension and immediate danger at my own cost and by my own efforts’

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Family

Suetonius: Referred to exiled family members (two granddaughters, Julia and Agrippa Postumus) as ‘my three boils’ and excluded them from the mausoleum

 

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