This research paper discusses and analyzes the posthumous Res Gestae, or account of his stewardship in office, left by the Emperor Caesar Augustus (B.C. 63-A.D. 14). The Res Gestae, like most political autobiographies, is deficient in that it is subjective and self-serving. It recounts those facets of his long period of rule which Augustus wished to emphasize and the world to remember while omitting or distorting others. On the other hand, it is a remarkable historical document, not only because it clearly conveys the principal accomplishments of the Augustan era, but also because it captures the essence of Augustus' unique approach to governance and the benevolence of his despotic rule which largely responded to the needs of the Roman Empire and its people.
Origins, Authenticity and Summary of Contents and Style
The Res Gestae, index rerum a se gestarum or Acts of Augustus, was one of four documents left by Augustus at his death with the Vestal Virgins for safekeeping. His instructions were for it "to be inscribed on bronze tablets and set up in front of his mausoleum." In fact, the main sources of the surviving inscriptions in Latin and Greek were found in Galatia (modern Ankara), principally on the temple of 'Rome and Augustus' at Ancyra there. Although portions of the inscriptions are damaged, almost all of them have been restored. By comparing the texts with other writings of Augustus, all experts agree that the Res Gestae so discovered is his authentic expression.
The Res Gestae contains three basic themes: (i) the honors bestowed on Augustus which he emphasizes represented a broad consensus of the communities which made up the Roman empire; (ii) his generosity out of his private purse to various groups in society, especially veterans and the plebeian class, and his expenditures for the erection of temples, shrines and other public edifices and works; and (iii) his military and political deeds on behalf of the Stat...