AUGUSTUS: The Biography

Classics for All Reviews

By Jochen Bleicken (tr. Anthea Bell)

Allen Lane (2015) h/b 771pp £30.00 (ISBN 9780713994773)

In this work de longue haleine, first published in Germany in 1998, and now admirably (one confidently hazards) translated by Anthea Bell, B. gives a very detailed account of how the 18 year-old Gaius Octavius, with little to back him in terms of birth, wealth, appearance, or military accomplishment, and indeed of distinctly poor health and dubious physical courage, yet rose to become, as Augustus, the first Roman emperor and one whose auctoritas enabled him to rule as princeps for over forty years, while establishing the Roman empire—in doing so he travelled widely and often—in a form that successfully endured for centuries. His one great advantage was that he had been named as son and heir in the will of the assassinated Julius Caesar; and besides steely ambition and will-power, he also enjoyed considerable good…

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