Augustus, by Anthony Everitt

Fantastic, fantastic book. I read Everitt’s Cicero a while back and really enjoyed it. I’ve also read a few different accounts of the war between Caesar and Pompey that I’ve enjoyed. But I haven’t read much about the period after Caesar’s assassination as Octavian ruled with, then fought against Marc Antony to become Rome’s first emperor. And even less about his actual reign. With HBO’s Rome starting up again next week, I was especially interested to read this book. Completely delivers — loved the book. The bits about Octavian’s early life aren’t so great, but that’s not much of the book. Things really start getting interesting when Caesar adopts Octavian, then even more interesting when Caesar is killed, and his former advisors clearly helped Octavian elevate into a triumvir position with Antony & Lepidus. Hopefully the new HBO season will cover a bunch of this to reinforce it for me — completely fascinating period in history — a deeply republican society transforming into an imperial one, all the while using the poetry of the Republic. While Augustus was fairly cynical in his use of Republican rhetoric to develop his control of the empire, it turned out to be an incredibly good thing for the society — providing a stability that hadn’t been there in a hundred years. The parallels are too obvious not to notice, but I’m unsure what to learn from them.

Anyway, great great book.

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