Friday, February 23, 2007

Book review: Augustus

From the desk of The Movie Snob

Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt (2006). After reading the outstanding biography of Julius Caesar by Adrian Goldsworthy, I was sure to be disappointed by this book, and I was. But taken on its own merits, Augustus really isn't bad. (It sure could have benefited from a few maps, both of the empire and of the battles described in the book, like Goldsworthy's book featured.) Augustus learned well from his great-uncle's fate, and his rise to the status of "first citizen" was cautious and methodical. His defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and his efforts to secure a dynasty for his family, read like a soap opera. He himself had only one child, a daughter whom he eventually exiled to an island. He had other male relatives, or relatives by marriage, but the ones that he favored all died young, and ultimately he was succeeded by Tiberius, who was only a stepson to Augustus and who had only a cordial relationship with the emperor at the best of times. A good book.


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