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Res Gestae Divi Augusti


Temple of Augustus in Ancyra (modern Ankara). Photo Marco Prins.
Temple of Augustus and Roma in Ankara
The Res Gestae Divi Augusti ("the achievements of the deified Augustus") are the official autobiography of Augustus, the man who had renovated the Roman Empire during his long reign from 31 BCE to 14 CE. The text tells us how he wanted to be remembered. It is best summarized in the full title: "the achievements of the deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the sovereignty of the Roman people, and of the amounts which he expended upon the state and the Roman people". In other words - it is propaganda.

The translation offered here, made by F.W. Shipley, was copied from LacusCurtius, where you can also find the Greek and Latin text.
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[31] Embassies were often sent to me from the kings of India, a thing never seen before in the camp of any general of the Romans. Our friendship was sought, through ambassadors, by the Bastarnae and Scythians, and by the kings of the Sarmatians who live on either side of the river Tanais, and by the king of the Albani and of the Hiberi and of the Medes.

[32] Kings of the Parthians, Tiridates [I], and later Phraates, the son of King Phraates [IV], took refuge with me as suppliants; of the Medes, Artavasdes; of the Adiabeni, Artaxares; of the Britons, Dumnobellaunus and Tim[...]; of the Sugambri, Maelo; of the Marcomanni and Suebi [...]rus.  Phraates [IV], son of Orodes [II], king of the Parthians, sent all his sons and grandsons to me in Italy, not because he had been conquered in war, but rather seeking our friendship by means of his own children as pledges. And a large number of other nations experienced the good faith of the Roman people during my principate who never before had had any interchange of embassies or of friendship with the Roman people.


[33] From me the peoples of the Parthians and of the Medes received the kings for whom they asked through ambassadors, the chief men of those peoples; the Parthians Vonones [I], son of King Phraates [IV], grandson of King Orodes [II]; the Medes Ariobarzanes, the son of King Atavazdes, grandson of King Ariobarzanes.

[34]In my sixth and seventh consulships [28-27 BCE], when I had extinguished the flames of civil war, after receiving by universal consent the absolute control of affairs, I transferred the republic from my own control to the will of the Senate and the Roman people. For this service on my part I was given the title of Augustus by decree of the Senate, and the doorposts of my house were covered with laurels by public act, and a civic crown was fixed above my door, and a golden shield was placed in the Curia Julia whose inscription testified that the senate and the Roman people gave me this in recognition of my valour, my clemency, my justice, and my piety. After that time I took precedence of all in rank, but of power I possessed no more than those who were my colleagues in any magistracy.

[35] While I was administering my thirteenth consulship the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title of Father of my Country, and decreed that this title should be inscribed upon the vestibule of my house and in the senate-house and in the Forum Augustum beneath the quadriga erected in my honour by decree of the senate. At the time of writing this I was in my seventy-sixth year.

Bust of Augustus. Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida (Spain). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Augustus (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano, Mérida)

Appendix

The sum total of the money which he contributed to the treasury or to the Roman plebs or to discharged soldiers was 600,000,000 denarii. The new works which he built were: the temple of Mars, of Jupiter Tonans and Feretrius, of Apollo, of the Deified Julius, of Quirinus, of Minerva, of Juno the queen, of Jupiter Libertas, of the Lares, of the Di Penates, of Youth, of the Mother of the gods, the Lupercal, the state box at the circus, the Senate-house with the Chalcidicum, the Augustan Forum, the Basilica Julia, the theater of Marcellus, [...] the grove of the Caesars beyond the Tiber. He restored the Capitol and sacred buildings to the number of eighty-two, the theater of Pompey, the aqueducts, the Flaminian Way. The expenditures provided for theatrical shows, gladiatorial sports, for exhibitions of athletes, for hunts of wild beasts, and the naval combat, and his gifts to colonies in Italy, to cities in the provinces which had been destroyed by earthquake or conflagration, or to individual friends and senators, whose property he raised to the required rating, are too numerous to be reckoned.
Page by Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2007
Revision: 18 February 2007
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