Augustus Bears Disgrace Poorly

 

“He bore the deaths of his family more readily than their disgraces. For, although he was not wholly broken by the deaths of Gaius and Lucius, he pronounced his judgment on his daughter Julia by having a letter read to the senate by a quaestor, and he long abstained from human interaction from shame, while even contemplating her execution. Indeed, at that same time, he heard that a freedwoman named Phoebe, one of Julia’s associates in debauchery, had ended her life by hanging herself, Augustus said that he wish he had been Phoebe’s father rather than Julia’s.”

Aliquanto autem patientius mortem quam dedecora suorum tulit. Nam C. Lucique casu non adeo fractus, de filia absens ac libello per quaestorem recitato notum senatui fecit abstinuitque congressu hominum diu prae pudore, etiam de necanda deliberavit. Certe cum sub idem tempus una ex consciis liberta Phoebe suspendio vitam finisset, maluisse se ait Phoebes patrem fuisse.

Suetonius, Divus Augustus 65

“I’m Kind of a Big Deal”: Augusuts’ Res Gestae on Pirates, Slaves, Consuls and Priests

Res Gestae 25 (Column V)

“I cleared the sea of pirates. The nearly thirty thousand slaves who fled their masters in the war and carried arms against the Republic, I captured and handed over to their masters to be punished. All of Italy willingly swore an oath to me and requested me as leader in the war at Actium in which I prevailed. They swore the same oath to me in the provinces of Gaul, Hispania, Africa, Sicily and Sardinia. More than seven hundred senators were among those who marched under my banners at the time and among those eighty-three served as consul and 170 have been priests either before or after as of the day on which this is written.”

Mare pacavi a praedonibus. Eo bello servorum qui fugerant a dominis suis et arma contra rem publicam ceperant triginta fere millia capta dominis ad supplicium sumendum tradidi. Iuravit in mea verba tota Italia sponte sua, et me belli quo vici ad Actium ducem depoposcit; iuraverunt in eadem verba provinciae Galliae, Hispaniae, Africa, Sicilia, Sardinia. Qui sub signis meis tum militaverint fuerunt senatores plures quam DCC, in iis qui vel antea vel postea consules facti sunt ad eum diem quo scripta sunt haec LXXXIII, sacerdotes circiter CLXX

Θάλασσαν πειρατευομένην ὑπὸ ἀποστατῶν δούλων εἰρήνευσα· ἐξ ὧν τρεῖς που μυριάδας τοῖς  δεσπόταις εἰς κόλασιν παρέδωκα. § Ὤμοσεν εἰς τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους ἅπασα ἡ Ἰταλία ἑκοῦσα κἀ18 μὲ πολέμου, ὧι ἐπ᾽ Ἀκτίωι ἐνείκησα, ἡγεμόνα ἐξῃτήσατο. Ὤμοσαν εἰς τοὺς αὐτοὺς λόγους ἐπαρ20 χεῖαι Γαλατία Ἱσπανία Λιβύη Σικελία Σαρδῶ. Οἱ ὑπ᾽ ἐ21 μαῖς σημέαις τότε στρατευσάμενοι ἦσαν συνκλητικοὶ πλείους ἑπτακοσίων· ἐν αὐτοῖς οἳ ἢ πρότερον ἢ  μετέπειτα ἐγένοντο ὑπατοι εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν, ἐν ἧι ταῦτα γέγραπται, ὀγδοήκοντα τρεἲς, ἱερεἲς 1 πρόσπου ἑκατὸν ἑβδομήκοντα

As always, the full text has been made available by the indefatigable Lacus Curtius.

Velleius Paterculus on the death of Augustus, II.123

 

 

“This is the time attended by the most fear. Augustus had sent his own grandson Germanicus to Germany to handle the end of the conflict there. And he was about to send his son Tiberius to Illyricum to shore up the peace where he had subjugated with war. Following him and at the same time intending to visit the athletic competitions which had been established in his honor by the Neapolitans, Augustus traveled to Campania. Although he had already at that point felt the growth of weakness and sensed the beginning of his own deterioration, he followed his son with a resolute strength of spirit—he parted from him at Beneventum and left for Nola. There, as his strength dissipated by the day, and he recognized whom it was necessary to summon if he wished for everything to remain safe once he was gone, he quickly recalled his son.

Tiberius returned back to the father of his fatherland more quickly than he was expected. Then, confessing that he has more content because he was surrounded by the embrace of his son, he entrusted to him their common efforts without any kind of an end, allowing that, if the fates demanded, he was ready. Even though he was renewed at first by the sight of his son and at the voice of someone dearest to him, soon, since the fates can conquer every kind of care, he released his elements and returned his divine soul to heaven in his seventy-sixth year, during the consulship of Pompeius and Apuleius” (14 CE).

Venitur ad tempus, in quo fuit plurimum metus. Quippe Caesar Augustus cum Germanicum nepotem suum reliqua belli patraturum misisset in Germaniam. Tiberium autem filium missurus esset in Illyricum ad firmanda pace quae bello subegerat, prosequens eum simulque interfuturus athletarum certaminis ludicro, quod eius honori sacratum a Neapolitanis est, processit in Campaniam. Quamquam iam motus imbecillitatis inclinataeque in deterius principia valetudinis senserat, tamen obnitente vi animi prosecutus filium digressusque ab eo Beneventi ipse Nolam petiit: et ingravescente in dies valetudine, cum sciret, quis volenti omnia post se salva remanere accersendus foret, festinanter revocavit filium; ille ad patrem patriae expectato revolavit maturius. 2 Tum securum se Augustus praedicans circumfususque amplexibus Tiberii sui, commendans illi sua atque ipsius opera nec quidquam iam de fine, si fata poscerent, recusans, subrefectus primo conspectu alloquioque carissimi sibi spiritus, mox, cum omnem curam fata vincerent, in sua resolutus initia Pompeio Apuleioque consulibus septuagesimo et sexto anno animam caelestem caelo reddidit.

 

Great Deeds Require Great Assistance (PS: Sejanus, I Love You) Velleius Paterculus 2.127

“It is rare for eminent men to guide their fortunes without making use of great assistants—as the two Scipios needed the two Laelii whom they treated as equal to themselves in everything or as the divine Augustus used Marcus Agrippa and then Statilius Taurus after him. For these men the newness of their families was certainly not any serious obstacle to selections to their multiple consulships, triumphs or priesthoods. For great deeds need great helpers and it is crucial to that state that those who are needed by it receive adequate rank and that their usefulness is fortified by authority.

With these men as examples, Tiberius Caesar elevated Seianus Aelius as his sole assistant in the burdens of the principate, a son of a father from a lofty equestrian family and on his mother’s side related to famous ancient men distinguished as well by their public service, a man who also had brothers, cousins and an uncle as consuls and who was himself a man most dedicated to loyalty and service, endowed with sufficient physical strength to match his mental ability, a man happily stern and strictly cheerful, busy though seeming at leisure, a man who neither acquires nor pursues anything for himself, and whose belief in himself always falls below the estimation of others, calm in his appearance and life though vigilant in his mind.”

Raro eminentes viri non magnis adiutoribus ad gubernandam fortunam suam usi sunt, ut duo Scipiones duobus Laeliis, quos per omnia aequaverunt sibi, ut divus Augustus M. Agrippa et proxime ab eo Statilio Tauro, quibus novitas familiae haut obstitit quominus ad multiplicis consulatus triumphosque et complura eveherentur sacerdotia. 2 Etenim magna negotia magnis adiutoribus egent interestque rei publicae quod usu necessariurn est, dignitate eminere utilitatemque auctoritate muniri. 3 Sub his exemplis Ti. Caesar Seianum Aelium, principe equestris ordinis patre natum, materno vero genere clarissimas veteresque et insignes honoribus complexum familias, habentem consularis fratres, consobrinos, avunculum, ipsum vero laboris ac fidei capacissimum, sufficiente etiam vigori animi compage corporis, singularem principalium onerum adiutorem in omnia habuit atque habet, 4virum severitatis laetissimae, hilaritatis priscae, actu otiosis simillimum, nihil sibi vindicantem eoque adsequentem omnia, semperque infra aliorum aestimationes se metientem, vultu vitaque tranquillum, animo exsomnem.

The last sentence seems to go on a bit suspiciously long for Sejanus, the leader of the Praetorian guard who ran the Roman Empire after Tiberius withdrew to Capri. Things did not go well forever for Sejanus–he was executed in 31 CE.

The Senate Loved Augustus for His Virtue, Clemency, Justice and Piety. Truly.

Yesterday we posted a bit from Ovid’s Tristia where he appears to be a little less than sincere in his lament from exile. Today, here’s a bit from the man who allegedly exiled him–Augustus Caesar–which I do wish were a little more ironic. The full Greek and Latin texts are drawn from the Loeb and made available online by Lacus Curtius.

“In my sixth and seventh consulships [28-27 BCE], after I had ended the civil wars and had achieved power over everything by universal consensus, I returned the state from my control to the guidance of the senate and Roman people. For this, the senate decreed that I would be named Augustus: the door posts of my house were decorated with laurel; a public crown was put up over my doorway, and a golden shield was dedicated in the Curia Julia, whose inscription declared that the senate and people of Rome gave it to me to recognize my virtue, clemency, justice and piety. After that moment, I stood apart from all other men in authority, but I had no more power than those who were my associates in any magistracy.”

In consulatu sexto et septimo, postquam bella civilia exstinxeram, per consensum universorum potitus rerum omnium, rem publicam ex mea potestate in senatus populique Romani arbitrium transtuli. Quo pro merito meo senatus consulto Augustus appellatus sum et laureis postes aedium mearum vestiti publice coronaque civica super ianuam meam fixa est et clupeus aureus in curia Iulia positus, quem mihi senatum populumque Romanum dare virtutis clementiaeque et iustitiae et pietatis caussa testatum est per eius clupei inscriptionem. Post id tempus auctoritate omnibus praestiti, potestatis autem nihilo amplius habui quam ceteri qui mihi quoque in magistratu conlegae fuerunt.

34 Ἑν ὑπατείαι ἔκτηι καὶ ἑβδόμηι μετὰ τὸ τοὺς ἐνφυλίους ζβέσαι με πολέμους κατὰ τὰς εὐχὰς τῶν ἐμῶν πολειτῶν ἐνκρατὴς γενόμενος πάντων τῶν πραγμάτων, ἐκ τῆς ἐμῆς ἐξουσίας εἰς τὴν τῆς συν κλήτου καὶ τοῦ δήμου τῶν Ῥωμαίων μετήνεγκα κυριήαν. Ἐξ ἧς αἰτίας δόγματι συνκλήτου Σεβαστὸς προσηγορεύθην καὶ δάφναις δημοσίαι τὰ πρόπυλά μου ἐστέφθη, ὅ τε δρύινος στέφανος ὁ διδόμενος ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ τῶν πολειτῶν ὑπεράνω τοῦ πυλῶ2 νος τῆς ἐμῆς οἰκίας ἀνετέθη, ὅπλον τε χρυσοῦν ἐν τῶι βουλευτηρίωι ἀνατεθὲν ὑπό τε τῆς συνκλήτου καὶ τοῦ δήμου τῶν Ῥωμαίων διὰ τῆς ἐπιγραφῆς ἀρετὴν καὶ ἐπείκειαν καὶ δικαιοσύνην καὶ εὐσέβειαν ἐμοὶ μαρτυρεῖ. Ἀξιώμὰτι πάντων διήνεγκα, § ἐξουσίας δὲ οὐδέν τι πλεῖον ἔσχον τῶν συναρξάντων μοι.

“I’m Kind of a Big Deal”: Augusuts’ Res Gestae on Pirates, Slaves, Consuls and Priests

Res Gestae 25 (Column V)

“I cleared the sea of pirates. The nearly thirty thousand slaves who fled their masters in the war and carried arms against the Republic, I captured and handed over to their masters to be punished. All of Italy willingly swore an oath to me and requested me as leader in the war at Actium in which I prevailed. They swore the same oath to me in the provinces of Gaul, Hispania, Africa, Sicily and Sardinia. More than seven hundred senators were among those who marched under my banners at the time and among those eighty-three served as consul and 170 have been priests either before or after as of the day on which this is written.”

Mare pacavi a praedonibus. Eo bello servorum qui fugerant a dominis suis et arma contra rem publicam ceperant triginta fere millia capta dominis ad supplicium sumendum tradidi. Iuravit in mea verba tota Italia sponte sua, et me belli quo vici ad Actium ducem depoposcit; iuraverunt in eadem verba provinciae Galliae, Hispaniae, Africa, Sicilia, Sardinia. Qui sub signis meis tum militaverint fuerunt senatores plures quam DCC, in iis qui vel antea vel postea consules facti sunt ad eum diem quo scripta sunt haec LXXXIII, sacerdotes circiter CLXX

Θάλασσαν πειρατευομένην ὑπὸ ἀποστατῶν δούλων εἰρήνευσα· ἐξ ὧν τρεῖς που μυριάδας τοῖς  δεσπόταις εἰς κόλασιν παρέδωκα. § Ὤμοσεν εἰς τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους ἅπασα ἡ Ἰταλία ἑκοῦσα κἀ18 μὲ πολέμου, ὧι ἐπ᾽ Ἀκτίωι ἐνείκησα, ἡγεμόνα ἐξῃτήσατο. Ὤμοσαν εἰς τοὺς αὐτοὺς λόγους ἐπαρ20 χεῖαι Γαλατία Ἱσπανία Λιβύη Σικελία Σαρδῶ. Οἱ ὑπ᾽ ἐ21 μαῖς σημέαις τότε στρατευσάμενοι ἦσαν συνκλητικοὶ πλείους ἑπτακοσίων· ἐν αὐτοῖς οἳ ἢ πρότερον ἢ  μετέπειτα ἐγένοντο ὑπατοι εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέραν, ἐν ἧι ταῦτα γέγραπται, ὀγδοήκοντα τρεἲς, ἱερεἲς 1 πρόσπου ἑκατὸν ἑβδομήκοντα

As always, the full text has been made available by the indefatigable Lacus Curtius.

I Saved the Republic! Augustus, Res Gestae, 1-2

Augustus composed (or had composed?) his public accomplishments before his death and they were published on his mausoleum and temples soon thereafter. We have Latin and Greek versions from  the Temple to Rome and Augustus in Ancyra (Modern Turkey).

(The Full text in Greek, English and Latin from the 1924 Loeb is made available by Lacus Curtius. A simpler Latin text is on The Latin Library.)

“1 When I was nineteen I raised an army on my own counsel and at my own expense, with which I restored the republic, then best by the oppression of a faction, to freedom. In recognition of this, the senate enrolled me in its order with honorific decrees during the consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, granting me as well the consular place in the declaration of opinion and they also gave me military command [imperium]. The senate ordered me, along with the consuls, to ensure that the Republic suffer no injury. When, in the same year, both consuls died in war, the People elected me consul and a triumvir, because I preserved the state.

2 I drove the men who murdered my father [Julius Caesar] into exile as a punishment for their crime according to legitimate legal judgments. And later when they waged war on the Republic, I defeated them twice.”

[1] Annos undeviginti natus exercitum privato consilio et privata impensa comparavi, per quem rem publicam a dominatione factionis oppressam in libertatem vindicavi. [Ob quae] senatus decretis honorificis in ordinem suum me adlegit, C. Pansa et A. Hirtio consulibus, consularem locum sententiae dicendae tribuens, et imperium mihi dedit. Res publica ne quid detrimenti caperet, me propraetore simul cum consulibus providere iussit. Populus autem eodem anno me consulem, cum cos. uterque bello cecidisset, et triumvirum rei publicae constituendae creavit.

Qui parentem meum trucidaverunt, eos in exilium expuli iudiciis legitimis ultus eorum facinus, et postea bellum inferentis rei publicae vici bis acie

1 Ἐτῶν δεκαεννέα ὢν τὸ στράτευμα ἐμῆι γνώμηι καὶ ἐμοῖς ἀναλώμασιν ἡτοίμασα, δι᾽ οὗ τὰ κοινὰ πράγματα ἐκ τῆς τῶν συνομοσαμένων δουλήας ἠλευθέρωσα. Ἐφ᾽ οἷς ἡ σύνκλητος ἐπαινέσασά  με ψηφίσμασι προκατέλεξε τῆι βουλῆι Γαϊωι Πάνσᾳ  Αὔλωι Ἱρτίωι ὑπάτοις, ἐν τῆι τάξει τῶν ὑπατικῶν 7 ἅμα τὸ συμβουλεύειν δοῦσα, ῥάβδους τ᾽ ἐμοὶ ἔδωκεν. Περὶ τὰ δημόσια πράγματα μή τι βλαβῆι, ἐμοὶ μετὰ τῶν ὑπάτων προνοεῖν ἐπέτρεψεν ἀντὶ στρατηγοῦ ὄντι. § Ὀδὲ δῆμος τῶι αὐτῶι ἐνιαυτῶι, ἀμφοτέρων τῶν ὑπάτων πολέωι πεπτωκότων, ἐμὲ ὕπατον ἀπέδειξεν καὶ τὴν τῶν τριῶν ἀνδρῶν ἔχοντα ἀρχὴν ἐπὶ τῆι καταστάσει τῶν δημοσίων πρα γμάτων εἵλατο.

2 Τοὺς τὸν πατέρα τὸν ἐμὸν φονεύσαντας ἐξώρισα κρίσεσιν ἐνδίκοις τειμωρησάμενος αὐτῶν τὸ 17 ἀσέβημα καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα αὐτοὺς πόλεμον ἐπιφέροντας τῆι πατρίδι δὶς ἐνείκησα παρατάξει.

Augustus Knew How to Take a Joke (Macrobius, Saturnalia II.4.19-20)

I often wonder in surprise more at the jokes Augustus tolerated than the ones he made (since tolerance is a quality worthier of praise than wit). Especially remarkable are the jests he accepted with ease which were a bit biting. A sharp retort from a certain soldier became well known. A man came to Rome and caused everyone to turn their heads because he was so very similar to Caesar. Augustus order that the man be introduced to him and when he saw him he asked this: “Tell me, young man, was your mother ever in Rome?” He denied that she was, but still not content he added “But my father was often!”

19 Soleo in Augusto magis mirari quos pertulit iocos quam ipse quos protulit, qui maior est patientiae quam facundiae laus, maxime cum aequanimiter aliqua etiam iocis mordaciora pertulerit. 20 Cuiusdam provincialis iocus asper innotuit. Intraverat Romam simillimus Caesari et in se omnium ora converterat. Augustus perduci ad se hominem iussit, visumque hoc modo interrogavit: Dic mihi, adolescens, fuit aliquando mater tua Romae? Negavit ille, nec contentus adiecit: Sed pater meus saepe.

Sententiae in Antiquitatem: Johnson on Augustus

“He observed of Lord Bute, ‘it was said of Augustus, that it would have been better for Rome that he had never been born, or had never died.'”

-Boswell, Life of Johnson, p. 605 (New York: The Modern Library)

 

NOTE: I do not know off the top of my head from whom Johnson pulled this notion. If anyone happens to recall an ancient sentiment roughly approximating this one, please let us know in the comments!