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JACT Teachers’ Notes
OCR Ancient History
AS level Roman History, Option 2
Augustus and the Principate
Compiled by
M.G.L. Cooley, Warwick School
Alison Cooley, University of Warwick
August, 2008.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
A rough schedule:
Chronological overview (8 weeks)
Topic 1 - The background, 753 – c.100 BC
Topic 2 – Julius Caesar
Topic 3 – 43-33 BC: the Triumviral period
Topic 4 – 32-29 BC: Actium and aftermath
Topic 5 – 28-24 BC – The early years of ‘Augustus’
Topic 6 – 23-12 BC ‘The golden age?’
Topic 7 – 12 BC – AD 14 - The succession (2 weeks)
Source Methodology (8 weeks)
Topic 8 – historical accounts
Topic 9 – poetry
Topic 10 – inscriptions
Topic 11 – coins, art, architecture
Themes (8 weeks)
Topic 12: The Princeps and the People
Topic 13: Religion
Topic 14: Ruling the Empire
Topic 15: The Army and the Frontiers
Topic 16: Partners in Power I: Agrippa & Maecenas
Topic 17: Partners in Power II: The Senate
Topic 18: Partners in Power III: Family
Topic 19: Opponents: Conspiracies, Scandals, Free Speech
Revision (4 weeks)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 1 - The background, 753 – c.100 BC
Exam topic
This topic obviously does not form part of the syllabus, but would provide useful
Key sources
Tacitus, Annals 1.1
Other primary sources
Livy, Preface
Livy, book 1.4-16, especially 4, 6.4-7.3, and 15.6-16 (Romulus)
Livy, book 1, 49-50 (Tarquin the Proud)
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 1.72-2.56 (esp 2.56 for death of
Romulus) [available online at Lacus Curtius]
Key questions and debates
Why was the name ‘Romulus’ suggested for Octavian and declined?
(It would be pointless to attempt to give any detail on what to do with classes in the first
few lessons, since circumstances will vary so much from school to school. Some will
even be able to assume that all their pupils have done Latin at some stage. Any or all
groups may well want assurance of what the course is likely to contain, and of the
relevance of doing ancient history!
The teacher will obviously have to decide how they want to approach the first
lesson. The JACT home page for teachers notes for ancient history provides some
interesting suggestions )
At the very least some background is necessary to understand how the principate came
about and the historical factors which influenced its development.
This topic looks forward, to explain, for example, why Octavian was princeps, rather
than king, and also why he took the ‘name’ Augustus, rather than Romulus (Suetonius,
Augustus 7; Dio 53.16.7; recent excavations on the Palatine, apparently showing that
Augustus’ house was situated directly above the site celebrated and sanctified as the
wolf’s cave see ). Augustus was
very keenly aware of Roman history and traditions, and how they could be exploited.
Livy was writing his monumental history of Rome throughout the Augustan period, and
monuments to historical figures played a key role in Augustus’ Forum. Dionysius of
Halicarnassus was also directly contemporary, as of course was Virgil’s Aeneid.
Teaching ideas:
The first few sentences of Tacitus’ Annals [1.1 = LACTOR Section F, page 83] would
provide a very useful and source-based frame for a brief conspectus of Roman history, its
JACT Teachers’ Notes
democratic elements, and the reasons why Augustus preferred to be princeps rather than
king or dictator.
The very recent archaeological discoveries on the Palatine (see above) also give a
wonderful example of Ancient History being anything but ancient history, showing how
new discoveries are being made all the time, and can substantially change our knowledge
and opinions in a way hardly possible for most periods of more modern history.
Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, 201-215 on ‘the mythical
foundations of the New Rome’.
Mary Beard & Michael Crawford, Rome in the Late Republic (Duckworth, 1985) on the
causes of the collapse of the Republican system.
Le Glay, M., Voisin, J.-L., Le Bohec A History of Rome (Blackwell, 2nd or 3rd edns: 2001,
2005) ch.6 'Crisis of the Republic'
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 2 – Julius Caesar
Exam topic
Again this topic is concerned with background to the exam syllabus, but is none the less
important for that!
Key sources
Res Gestae, 1-2
Other primary sources
Suetonius, Julius Caesar 40-89 (not, of course, the most reliable source, but easily
accessible, good background to reading Suetonius, Augustus and covers most topics
‘Ides of March’ denarius (see below)
Caesar’s heir aureus (LACTOR H2)
Pliny, NH 2.94 (LACTOR H3)
Key questions and debates
‘et te, o puer, qui omnia nomine debes’ ‘and you, boy, who owe everything to your name’
(Mark Antony, quoted by Cicero, Philippics 13.24).
Brief survey of complex process of collapse of Republic. By the mid-first century
BC, a few individuals (Caesar, Pompey, Crassus) had become enormously wealthy,
largely through spoils of conquest of vast overseas territories; armies increasingly loyal to
them rather than the Senate (hope of booty and land on retirement, largely made up of
landless former peasants who were alienated from the rest of society). Competition for
power and prestige was an integral part of the republican system, but now both the
rewards and the risks were higher, and the main players were no longer bound by any
rules. Fierce rivalry between Pompey and Caesar, with the Senate caught in the middle;
eventually Pompey decided to side with the Senate, whereupon Caesar crossed the
Rubicon and marched on Rome in 49 BC. Defeated Pompey at Pharsalus in 48; having
defeated other opponents, was appointed perpetual dictator in 44, introduced a wide range
of legislation and was assassinated on 15th March that year. Most of the people, above
all the army, were looking for a single leader to take Caesar’s place. General sense that
autocracy was the only realistic option?
Survey career of Augustus (referred to by historians as Octavian during his early years,
until he adopted the name of Augustus in 27 BC). Born 63 BC in Rome; mother was
Caesar’s niece, and so in 44 he inherited most of Caesar’s fortune and took his name.
Only 18, and not much experience or reputation of his own, but could count on loyalty of
many of Caesar’s troops, and lots of money to win support; initially fought Antony, then
joined him in triumvirate (along with Lepidus) to defeat the assassins of Caesar and
divide the empire between them.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Teaching ideas:
Source to open discussion: coin of Ides of March issued by the liberators. (Google
Images ‘Ides of March Roman Coin’ etc will immediately give you lots of good images
of the coin issued by Brutus to celebrate Julius Caesar’s assassination as liberating the
people of Rome.)
This coin is not on the syllabus, but is a very good one to introduce pupils to how to read
Roman coins, since the iconography and legends are mostly very obvious.
Start with very obvious questions – What is it? (coin) How can you tell? (coins are still
that shape) What two main things do you expect there to be on a modern coin? (get them
to get out a coin – picture and letters (often in Latin!) What do the images to right and left
of centre show (daggers)? What is the second word and abbreviation of? (then AND
NOW – March) Can you recognize the first word (without the E)? (Ides). Can you tell the
story of the coin? What would you expect to find on the other side of the coin
(technically the obverse)?
Pupils will need help with the central image (= a pileus or ‘cap of liberty’ worn by slaves
who had received their freedom), and the obverse having the name of the moneyer (i.e.
the person in charge of the mint).
Discussion could then move backwards into what else Julius Caesar is famous for,
besides being assassinated, and could raise ideas such as:
The Julian calendar
Kaiser / Tsar
Dividing Gaul into three equal parts
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapter IV
Rawson, E. (1994) 'Caesar: Civil War and Dictatorship', in CAH IX (2nd edn) 424-67
Rawson, E. (1994) 'The aftermath of the Ides', in CAH IX (2nd edn) 468-90 = Annotated guide to online resources
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 3 – 43-33 BC: the Triumviral period
Exam topic
Strictly outside the exam syllabus, though several set texts are about this period.
Obviously vital for understanding what happened afterwards!
Key sources
Res Gestae 1-3, 7, 25
Tacitus Annals 1.1-2, 1.9-10
Suetonius, Augustus 17, 27
Other primary sources
‘Laudatio Turiae’ inscription = LACTOR T37
Virgil, Eclogue 1, 9 (LACTOR G1, G2)
Horace, Epode 7 (LACTOR G3)
Key questions and debates
Why did Octavian need a name change? (not exactly a ‘debate’!)
The Laudatio Turiae gives the most extraordinarily vivid, personal and ‘female-centred’
view of the horrors of the period. It is a huge funerary inscription, from 8/2 BC in Rome,
now only surviving in substantial fragments. It reads as if recording the eulogy declaimed
for a deceased noblewoman by her husband. The inscription commemorates her
extraordinary feats during the triumviral period, when her parents were murdered, her
inheritance disputed, her husband exiled and his property subject to looting. The
inscription also provides fascinating evidence for the role expected of a woman (T37c)
but also how a woman might break these boundaries, and it provides a very touching
picture of love and marriage. It might also provide female interest (not, though, actually a
female view) for a male-dominated topic. ‘Turia’ is only a conjectural name for the
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapters 8-9, 14, 17-8, 20
C. Pelling, ‘The triumviral period’, in CAH X.
Teaching ideas:
A good chance to introduce inscriptions as a key source of evidence, via the Laudatio
Turiae, which though obviously exceptional, provides a good starting-point. Its structure
seems simple and easy to relate to – a narrative, apparently based on, or recording, a
funeral eulogy. It is, as often, fragmentary (and note convention of [ ] for words or
phrases that have to be supplied). ‘Laudatio Turiae’ on Google Images instantly supplies
plenty of pictures of what it looks like
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 4 – 32-29 BC: Actium and aftermath
Exam topic
 Actium and the aftermath of civil war
Key sources
G38 – Virgil Aeneid 8.675-728
G5 – Horace Epodes 9;
G39 – Propertius, Elegies 4.6
Suetonius 17-18
Spolia opima
Livy 4.20.5-8 and 4.20.11 (LACTOR P4)
Other primary sources
Cassius Dio 51.1-15 on the aftermath of Actium.
Horace, Epodes7; Odes 1.2, 1.37, 2.1.
H9-17 – various sources on the aftermath
D2 – Summary of Livy book 133 - 31-29 BC
N4-6 various coins
P2, Vell 2.88 – M. Lepidus (son) plots assassination
N 50, P3-4 – M. Licinius Crassus & the spolia opima
Key questions and debates
How did Augustus become sole ruler of the Roman empire?
What were the main problems facing him in the aftermath of the civil wars?
How is his triumph presented by the sources? What don’t they say about it?
Fourteen years of rivalry and intermittent reconciliations culminated with Antony
divorcing Octavian’s sister to marry Cleopatra and the accusation from Octavian that he
was planning to move the capital of the empire to Alexandria. Antony’s fleet defeated at
Actium in 31; Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt, where they committed suicide when
Octavian arrived in 30.
Portrayal of Actium as victory of Romans over barbarians, above all Cleopatra as symbol
of decadence and un-Roman values (note that Antony is scarcely visible); not shown as a
victory of Romans over Romans. Importance of gods, and Apollo in particular; Octavian
as divinely proclaimed saviour of city.
Problems faced by Octavian/Augustus: most obviously, how to establish supreme
authority in a state with a lengthy tradition of hostility to the mere idea of kingship,
JACT Teachers’ Notes
avoiding the fate of Caesar. Need to establish peace, deal with remaining enemies,
reward soldiers, allies and supporters. According to Octavian and his supporters, at least,
also need to restore traditional values, respect for the gods and so forth; how far is this
propaganda to justify his seizure of power? Desire to establish himself as a significant
military commander, including his triple triumph, but this almost spoiled by M. Licinius
Crassus claiming the spolia opima.
Teaching ideas:
This time one could start with poetry, Aeneid 8.675-698, if possible, giving just this
section out of context (ending at ‘waiting at her back.’). Pupils to work out what type of
literature this is, how we know, what ‘facts’ are presented here. The rest of the passage
can then be presented, with great concentration on the gods: how does this affect our
appreciation of the passage as history? Overall context (shield of Aeneas) will also need
some explanation (LACTOR notes pp 142-3).
Wallace-Hadrill, chapter 1; Wells, chapters I and III; Syme, The Roman Revolution
(1939), chapter 21. Zanker, P. (1988) The Power of Images ch.3
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 5 – 28-24 BC – The early years of ‘Augustus’
Exam topic
 The ‘constitutional settlement’ of 28/7 BC and the powers and roles adopted by
Augustus or given to others
Main events and Sources (exam sources in bold, other in normal)
Census of senate
RG 8.2; Vell 89.4
Constitutional settlement
RG 34; Aureus 28 BC–H18
and honours for Augustus
Aureus 27 BC–H21
H19 & M2 – Strabo 17.3.25; Suet 28;
Suet 47; Suet 53-7; Vell 89.3; Lactor
H20-25; Cassius Dio 52.1-42; 53.2-10,
17-19; 56.43-4
27 Jan 16
Octavian “Augustus”
RG 34.2, Lactor H22-3
Aug in Gaul & Spain
RG 12.2; Lactor D4, G29, M15-16,
Closing of Gates of Janus
RG 13; Lactor K47-49
Expeditions to Arabia &
RG 26.5; N34 – Strabo 17.1.34; Lactor
N18-22; Dio 53.29; Lactor N33-35; Dio
Other key sources - Military
Horace, Odes 3.5
Virgil, Aeneid 1.257-296
Virgil, Aeneid 6.789-806, 847-853
Key questions and debates
Why is it misleading to claim that Augustus portrayed himself as having ‘restored the
How does his account of the political settlement compare with those of other sources?
How does the whole issue of the ‘Augustan settlement’ get obscured by the lack of
contemporary sources, and the dubious benefit of hindsight in authors like Cassius Dio
and Tacitus?
What was the constitutional basis of Augustus’ authority? Why was he so keen to
emphasise it in his RG?
War and Peace? What were Augustus’ military objectives and how were these presented?
Res publica does not mean Republic in a constitutional sense, but ‘the state’. Augustus
was claiming to restore normality of government, distancing himself from the illegal
JACT Teachers’ Notes
actions of the triumvirate, but not to be restoring a political system. No pre-existing
system, and clearly no set plan: Octavian gradually developed his role, drawing on and
reworking Roman traditions, titles and institutions. Needed to appeal to different
audiences: the army and (to some extent) the people, who seem to have wanted a strong
ruler, and the traditional aristocracy, who were much more sensitive to anything which
looked like ‘tyranny’.
For the first few years, Octavian held the consulship every year; he also ensured that he
was nominated as princeps senatus in the census of 28 BC, giving him primacy in the
senate. Moreover, he could rely on the support of the army and the urban plebs who had
previously supported Caesar, and was able to build up a strong group of supporters
among the new nobles whom he had promoted to replace the old senatorial families. Note
the evidence for generous handouts of grain and money to the people of Rome during the
crucial years following Actium.
28-27 BC: according to Octavian, he ‘transferred the republic from my power to the
control of the senate and people of Rome’. Accepted title of ‘Augustus’ and a range of
other honours; held the consulship every year, and a special proconsulship giving him
command of Gaul, Spain and Syria. In other respects, normality supposedly restored:,
Augustus took traditional oath to attest that he had acted properly as consul, and handed
over the fasces to his consular colleague in alternate months; elections to magistracies
were held.
Rich, Augustan Settlement, pp. 23-35 and 43-9 covers Dio 53
Good discussion of Augustus’ constitutional position in. Wallace-Hadrill, chapter 2;;
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapter 22. Zanker, The Power of Images in the
Age of Augustus, 89-100
Millar, ‘State and subject’ and Yavetz, ‘The Res Gestae and Augustus’ private image’, in
Millar & Segal, Caesar Augustus: seven aspects. J.A. Crook, ‘Augustus: power,
authority, achievement’, in CAH X. Gruen ch.2, in Galinsky Cambridge Companion to
Age of Augustus.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 6 – 23-12 BC ‘The golden age?’
Exam topic
Events & Sources
Aug powers changed and
refined; trib pot;
imperium maius
23 after 1
Death of Marcellus
Aug in East
Agrippa marries
Return of standards from
Agrippa trib pot
17 MayJune
Centennial Games
Aug adopts Gaius &
Lucius (probably later
than Centennial Gs)
Cinna’s plot to
assassinate Aug
Drusus & Tiberius
campaign in Alps
13, July 4th
Agrippa proconsular
Ara pacis decreed
Aug pontifex maximus
Death of Agrippa
RG 10.1, 6.2, 34.3;
Tac. Ann. 2.43 (H42),
Tac. Ann. 3.56 (H26)
Suet 27; Tac. Ann.
1.2.1; 1.9.2;
RG 21.1; Vir. Aen 6;
Vell 93.1; Lactor J3132
RG 11; Aureus 19 BC
= L9
Suet 63; Tac. Ann.
3.1; Vell 93.1-2
RG 29.2; Lactor K19,
Aureus of 13 BC =
Denarius of 13 BC =
RG 22.2; Aureus 16
BC=L26; L28 –
Horace centennial
RG 14.1; Suet 64;
Tac. Ann. 3.2
P11 – Seneca,
Clemency 1.9.2-12
RG 26.3; Aureus 1512 BC = N15; Vell
95.1-2; G44 – Hor.
Odes 4.14; Lactor N14
RG 12.2
RG 7.3, 10,2; Suet 31;
Lactor H28-32
Key questions and debates
What did (or did not) happen in 23 BC and were these events cause or effect? How
significant was Augustus’ life-threatening illness, followed closely by Marcellus’ death?
JACT Teachers’ Notes
[NB this question is, of course, in no way capable of anything approaching a definitive
answer, since there is complete disagreement by modern experts!]
In what various ways did Augustus seek to convince the senate, people, soldiers and
provincials that they had never had it so good?
From 23, Augustus no longer held the consulship every year (only taking the consulship
briefly at the start of the years in which his grandsons, Gaius and Lucius came of age (5
BC and 2 BC). He was granted tribunician power, giving him, among other things, the
right to introduce legislation and to veto any other legislation. It is essential to appreciate
that he held tribunician power separately from the office of tribune of the plebs,
continuing a pattern whereby he held powers without the actual office. As the name of
the office implied, the tribunes of the plebs had a particular role in defending the ordinary
people from abuses of power by (senatorial) magistrates.
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapter 23. Zanker, The Power of Images in the
Age of Augustus chapter 5, 167-192.
Much of the reading mentioned for the topic above on the constitution is also relevant to
changes in 23 BC.
Teaching ideas
An ambitious but valuable approach to this period, and to ancient history, could go
straight to the frustration and fascination of the subject – the whole question of reliability
of evidence.
The standard Latin text of documents for the period (Ehrenberg & Jones, Documents
Illustrating the Reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, Oxford 1976) prints the following text:
(Aug. I) [imp.] Caesar divi f. C. n. Augustus XI abd. in eius loc. factus est [L. Sestius P.
f. L. n.] Quirin. [Albin.]
A. T[erentius A. f. ? n. Var]ro Murena [in mag. damn.] est, in e. l. f. e. [Cn. Calpurn]ius
Cn. f. Cn. n. Pis[o]
[imp. Caesar divi f. C. n. Augustus posteaquam consu]latu se abdicavit, tri[b. pot.
[Imperator] Caesar Augustus resigned and in his place [L. Sestius] Quirinalis [Albinus]
was made consul.
A. T[erentius Var]ro Murena [was condemned during his magistracy], in his place [Cn.
Calpurn]ius Piso
JACT Teachers’ Notes
[Imperator Caesar Augustus after] he resigned the [consu]lship [received] tri[bunician
But beware the square brackets! These actually show that the words or letters bracketed
do not survive, but have been restored by a modern editor.
How reliably / certainly?
[imp.] line 1 – absolutely certain, as it is effectively a part of Augustus’ name,
included on almost every coin/inscription.
[L. Sestius P. f. L. n.] Quirin. [Albin.] – seems far less obvious, but in fact
Quirinalis is mentioned in a variety of other literary and epigraphic sources (e.g. M27,
p.287, penultimate line).
[in mag. damn.] – this is completely unparalleled if right, and in some senses
intrinsically unlikely - a bit like a school honours board recording – ‘Joe Bloggs was
expelled for taking drugs in his year as head boy’. The gap in the stone could equally well
be filled with Latin meaning ‘died before taking office’, for which parallels are available.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 7 – 12 BC – AD 14 - The succession
Exam topic
 The role of the emperor’s family, friends and supporters
Sources and events (bold for prescribed texts)
Drusus & Tiberius campaign in Germany &
Pannonia, with imperium from 11 BC
Tiberius marries
9 Jan 30
Ara pacis dedicated
Drusus dies
Month of Sextilis renamed
Death of Maecenas
Tiberius campaigns
in Germany
Tib trib pot;
withdraws to
Gaius Caesar comes
of age
2 Feb 5 Augustus pater patriae
Aug 20
4 Feb 21
4 June
13 April
Julia exiled for adultery
Gaius m Livilla;
goes on expedition
to the East
Lucius Caesar dies
Gaius Caesar dies
Aug adopts Agrippa
Tiberius adopts
Postumus and Tiberius, who Germanicus
is granted powers.
Agrippa disowned and exiled
Revolt in Pannonia
Banishment of Julia the younger for adultery
Varus disaster
Tib campaigns in
Aug writes his will
RG 26.2-4, 30; Tac. Ann.
Suet 63
RG 12.2; Lactor J43-47
Suet 31; Lactor H35-6
RG 26.2-4; Vell 97-98
Vell 99.1-4; Lactor J37-8,
RG 14; J56 – inscr. From
RG 35.1; Suet 58; Lactor
H38, K28, M20
Vell 100.3-5; LACTOR
P12-15; Suet 65; Lactor J48
RG 27.2; Lactor J57
RG 14; Vell 102.3; Suet 65;
Tac. Ann. 3.3; Lactor J64-5
RG 14; Vell 102.2-3; Suet
65; Tac. Ann. 3.3; Lactor
Suet 65; Tac. Ann. 3.3, 3.5;
Lactor J41-42, J66, J67-68
Lactor J55
RG 26.2
JACT Teachers’ Notes
14 Aug
Death of Augustus; death of
Agrippa Postumus
Accession of
Vell 123.2
Also (see tables in previous topic): Adoption of Gaius & Lucius in 17 BC; Agrippa’s
share in Centennial Games 17 BC
Key questions and debates
When does it become evident that Augustus is preparing a successor to his position? Who
is his first ‘heir apparent’?
How are Drusus and Tiberius treated differently from the heirs presumptive Gaius and
Lucius; and how does this change for Tiberius in AD 4? How is Agrippa’s partnership
with Augustus different too?
How does Augustus’ complicated family situation create the potential for intrigue and
The perception that Marcellus was being groomed as Augustus’ successor may be
primarily the result of the hindsight of later sources like Tacitus and Dio. Agrippa was,
from the early years, Augustus’ crucial right-hand man and partner in power. Gaius and
Lucius were, from 17 BC, prepared as heirs presumptive, and contemporary sources like
Ovid Ars Am. 1, Sardis inscription for Gaius’ coming-of-age, and Pisan honorific decrees
clearly reflect this. Drusus and Tiberius were useful militarily, but Tiberius only emerged
as potential heir in AD 4 with the deaths of Gaius and Lucius. As in many other respects,
Augustus had to adapt his plans over time.
The real issues in this period concern the scandals (and possible conspiracies) within
Augustus’ family, regarding the succession. These can also be dealt with below in the
topic on conspiracies and scandals. By 12 BC, Augustus had turned 50 and had already
outlived his exact contemporary, Agrippa. He was, as it happened, to outlive his two
older grandsons too.
The public reaction to the deaths of Lucius and the Gaius is very revealing of how the
empire has already come to expect a hereditary monarchy. But if this idea is now a given,
and any other sort of constitution or succession is unthinkable, at least to the people and
provincials, there are clearly rival factions or branches within the family, still represented
by Augustus’ wives (ages at start of 2 BC). The bitterness can still be seen in how
Velleius (partisan of Tiberius) describes members of Julia’s family.
Scribonia’s family
Scribonia (Augustus’ first wife) – aged 68
Her daughter Julia (Augustus’ only child, now married to Tiberius) – aged 36
Julia’s son, Gaius (aged 17)
Julia’s son Lucius (aged 14)
Julia’s son Agrippa Postumus (aged 10)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Julia’s daughter, Julia (the younger, aged 15, married)
Julia’s daughter Agrippina (aged 11)
Livia’s family
Livia (Augustus’ second & ‘current’ wife) - aged 55
Livia’s son by Tiberius Claudius Nero, Tiberius (aged 39)
Livia’s grandson, Drusus (aged 10) (son of Tiberius & his first wife, Vipsania)
Livia’s other son, Drusus, Tiberius’ brother, dies in 9 BC
Livia’s daughter-in-law, Antonia (Mark Antony’s daughter, Augustus’ niece)
Livia’s grandson, Germanicus (aged 14) son of Drusus & Antonia
Livia’s grandson, Claudius (aged 7) son of Drusus & Antonia
Livia’s granddaughter, Livilla (aged 11) daughter of Drusus & Antonia
Attempts to unite the families had been made with Julia’s marriage to Tiberius (11 BC)
and were made with Gaius’ marriage to Livilla (AD 1).
The death of Augustus’ exact contemporary and partner in powers, Agrippa in 12 BC
must have further reminded Augustus and all around him of his own mortality. Tiberius
and Drusus were well placed to take on Agrippa’s role, not least as Augustus’ most
reliable military commander. Yet by 6 BC, Livia seemed to have lost the struggle
between her sons (Drusus (now dead) & Tiberius) and the sons of Julia, Gaius and Lucius
Caesar, Augustus’ own grandsons, soon to come of age, and marked out for huge public
and personal honours. Hence Tiberius’ withdrawal to Rhodes. Julia’s adultery seems not
in doubt, the real question is probably why it became such a huge issue in 2 BC, and
whether the real issue was more political than moral (Iullus Antonius, son of Marc
Antony, was condemned for adultery with Julia entailing designs on the principate).
Gaius and Lucius do not seem to have been politically affected by their mother’s
disgrace. Their deaths are most convenient to, but not brought about by, Livia and
Tiberius. Even then, Tiberius does not have a clear run, being adopted as Augustus’ son,
alongside Agrippa Postumus and forced in turn to adopt his nephew, Germanicus, when
his own son, Drusus was also of age. Julia’s children finally lose the power struggle with
the disowning and exile of Agrippa Postumus in AD 6, a failed conspiracy by Aemilius
Paullus, aristocrat and husband of Julia the Younger in AD 6 or 8, and the exile for
adultery of Julia the Younger in AD 8.
The truth or otherwise of a possible reconciliation with Agrippa Postumus shortly before
Augustus’ death, and whether his murder was ordered by Augustus, Tiberius or Livia is
beyond recovery.
Zanker, P. Power of Images pp.215-30
Millar, F. and Segal, E. Caesar Augustus. Seven Aspects (Oxford: 1984) (chap. by Bowersock)
Levick, B. Tiberius the Politician (1976 & 1999) chaps. 1-5
Eck, ch.14;
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Fantham, Julia Augusti the Emperor’s Daughter, chapters 7-9.
Teaching ideas:
The ‘What If’ type of history might fruitfully be employed here. For example, since
Augustus was known for his poor health (at least until middle age!), and life expectancy
was far lower than what he achieved, what would or might have happened had he died
suddenly of natural causes in a random year (give pupils a range to consider
individually/in pairs, etc.)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 8 - Source methodology I: historical accounts
a) Tacitus’ Annals
Ronald Syme, Tacitus (OUP, 1958), Parts V and VI; Ronald Martin, Tacitus (Batsford,
1981), chapters II, V, X. Cooley, RG commentary, introduction section on Tacitus and
Written some time in the early second century, looking back over the Julio-Claudian
dynasty; not known if it was ever finished, and certainly a substantial part is missing.
Tacitus had held various political offices under Vespasian, Titus and Domitian; he writes
as a member of the senatorial class, lamenting the loss of libertas under the Principate.
His claims to write impartially have often been taken at face value, but he tends to offer,
or more often hint darkly at, the most discreditable interpretation of any particular event.
A recurring theme is the contrast between appearance and reality under the Principate, the
all-pervading flattery and ‘double-speak’ that he regards as endemic in an autocracy.
The Annals begins not with Augustus but with Tiberius — clearly a serious authorial
decision — but it includes a brief survey of his rise to power and a more detailed account
of the immediate aftermath of his death, including summaries of the different estimations
of Augustus which Tacitus claims were in circulation.
Key Questions
Compare Tacitus’ account of Augustus’ rise to power and the nature of his claim to
authority with Augustus’ own account in the Res Gestae.
How does Tacitus characterise the nature of politics under the Principate?
What can we tell of Tacitus’ own political opinions from this passage?
b) Suetonius’ Divus Augustus
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Suetonius (Duckworth, 1983) and Catharine Edwards, ‘At
home with Augustus’, Omnibus 24 (1992).
Written around the same time as Tacitus’ Annals, though Suetonius was younger. He had
held office under Trajan, as ‘secretary of studies’ and director of the imperial libraries,
and under Hadrian was in charge of the imperial correspondence until dismissed in 122
for disrespectful behaviour towards the empress. He did therefore have access to the
imperial archives, and made use of them in composing biographies of the twelve
emperors up to Domitian.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Suetonius tends to offer a summary of the ancestry of each emperor, an account of their
rise to power (including the portents which predicted it), an account of their major
activities while emperor, and a large quantity of ‘anecdotal’ evidence on their character
and habits, including eating, sexual behaviour and physical appearance. Arguably, this
reflects the nature of politics under the principate; the focus was now on the likes,
dislikes and whims of an all-powerful autocrat, and so every scrap of information about
their behaviour might be relevant. It is also related to the assumption common to ancient
biographical writings (in contrast to modern ones) that true character is fixed, and
revealed in personal habits as much as in public acts.
Key Questions
How does Suetonius’ account of Augustus’ political position compare with those of
Tacitus and Augustus himself?
What can we deduce of Suetonius’ own opinion of Augustus?
Is Augustus portrayed as a sympathetic character?
What are seen to be his major
Compare Suetonius’ and Tacitus’ accounts of the struggle for the succession.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 9 - Source methodology II: Poetry
Initial reading: Poetry as Historical Source Material (B.W.J.G. Wilson’s introduction to
his translations of the poems included in LACTOR 17 (pages 95-6); Griffin, J. in Caesar
Augustus. Seven Aspects, eds Millar and Segal (1984); Griffin and White in Galinsky
Cambridge Companion.
a) Virgil’s Aeneid
Copious bibliography, inevitably. For introductory reading, see; Galinsky, Augustan
Culture, pp. 246-53; and K.W. Gransden, Virgil: The Aeneid (CUP, 1990). More detailed
studies, particularly focusing on the political aspects, include: A. Powell, ‘The Aeneid
and the embarrassments of Augustus’ in Powell, ed., Roman Poetry and Propaganda;
E.L. Harrison and T.P. Wiseman in Woodman & West, eds, Poetry and Politics; H.P.
Stahl in Raaflaub & Toher, eds, Between Republic and Principate; papers in Hans-Peter
Stahl, Vergil’s Aeneid: Augustan epic and political context (Duckworth, 1998); papers in
Charles Martindale, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Virgil (CUP, 1997), esp. Tarrant
and Zetzel.
Begun a year or so after Actium, and never properly revised; the Life of Virgil claims that
he asked on his deathbed for it to be burned, but his executors published it on Augustus’
instructions. The great poem of the Romans, charting the struggles of Aeneas after his
escape from Troy, following his destiny to found Rome. Aeneas can be seen as the
archetypal hero, overcoming barbarism on behalf of civilisation and demonstrating such
heroic and Roman qualities as pietas — although some scholars have found the
characterisation unconvincing, and attributed this to Virgil’s inability to subordinate his
poetic gifts to the purposes of propaganda. The poem includes several passages (the
prescribed texts for this unit) which prophesy the future greatness of the settlement which
Aeneas is to found, culminating in the reign of Augustus; several scholars, however,
argue that the poem as a whole undercuts these eulogistic elements, especially in the
second half, which is felt to express scepticism about the prospects for any new ‘golden
age’ of peace and virtue. One might compare the apparently blatant propaganda of these
passages in the Aeneid with Virgil’s more complicated approach to Augustus in Eclogue
1, which offers two contrasting views of the actions of the young Octavian: has Virgil
simply sold out in his later years, or is he recognising the realities of literary production
under an autocrat while still trying to express his own views?
Key Questions
How does Virgil portray Augustus and his role in these passages?
individuality or personality, or is he merely a symbol of Rome?
Is he given
Discuss Virgil’s depiction of the battle of Actium. What doesn’t he show?
JACT Teachers’ Notes
In what ways do these passages express the ideals of the Romans in general and of the
Augustan regime in particular?
‘Virgil was lucky in that Augustus was indeed a formidably great figure in Roman
history: imagine how different the poem would feel if it had been written for Claudius or
Nero’ (Jenkyns). Discuss.
b) Horace’s Odes
David West, Horace Odes 1: Carpe Diem: text, translation and commentary (OUP,
1995), offers interesting comments on 1.2 and 1.37. See also Steele Commager, the Odes
of Horace: a critical study (Yale UP, 1962), chapter IV. Lyne, R.O.A.M. (1995) Horace
behind the public poetry, espec. ch.1-4, 7, 11-12 offers thought-provoking analysis
particularly of ‘pro-Augustan’ odes in Book 4.
Many of the selected poems deal with similar material to the Carmen Saeculare,
describing the new era which has been inaugurated by Augustus (3.14, 4.5, 4.15) or
showing the decadent state of Roman society which is calling out to Augustus for
salvation and restoration (1.2, 3.6). Several poems celebrate Augustus’ victories, over
the Parthians (3.5) and over Cleopatra (1.37). Some poems make use of religious
imagery, apparently blurring the distinction between man and god: a conscious strategy,
or a reflection of the difficulties Horace, like Virgil, was having in developing an
appropriate language for praise of the emperor?
Key Questions
Compare Horace’s description of the defeat of Cleopatra with that of Virgil. Horace’s
Cleopatra clearly becomes a sympathetic character, almost a heroine, towards the end of
the poem: does this subvert the Augustan message, or reinforce it?
How does Horace depict the state of Roman society before the advent of Augustus? How
does he emphasise that Rome needs such a saviour?
How is Augustus depicted by Horace?
What can we tell of the ideals of the Augustan regime from these poems?
Is Horace only a mouthpiece for Augustan ideology? Compare the tone of the Carmen
Saeculare, commissioned by the regime, with the other odes.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 10 - Source methodology III: Inscriptions
Augustus’ Res Gestae
Cooley (2009) offers a much more wide-ranging analysis than Brunt and Moore. See also
Zvi Yavetz, ‘The Res Gestae and Augustus’ public image’, in F. Millar & E. Segal, eds,
Caesar Augustus: seven aspects (OUP, 1984), and the discussion in the Oxford Classical
Dictionary (3rd edn, eds S. Hornblower & A. Spawforth, OUP, 1996), p. 1309.
Augustus’ own statement of his achievements, written in the final months of his reign.
Found as an inscription attached to the temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra in
Galatia; fragments found at other sites in the region; originally planned by Augustus to be
set up outside his Mausoleum.
Highly significant, both for what it emphasises (restoration, consensus, tradition; honours
bestowed by the community, record of benefactions, military achievements) and for what
it leaves out or plays down. An interesting perspective on Augustus’ constitutional
position in particular.
According to one historian, ‘the document illustrates very well the speciously libertarian
traditionalism which Tacitus so deftly punctures in the opening chapters of the Annals.’
On the other hand, Tacitus’ account is equally partial and extremely cynical. It’s worth
considering the different audiences for this text, some of whom may have been happy to
accept it at face value; certainly its appeal to traditional Roman values is not merely a
sham, masking pure domination. The fact that the text was published posthumously may
also make a difference to our reading and our understanding of how its original readers
may have reacted to it; by the end of Augustus’ life, few others could remember the
circumstances of his rise to power or the early years of his reign, and readers might
equally be influenced by the comparison with his successor Tiberius.
Key questions
What are the most obvious problems in using the Res Gestae as a historical source?
What achievements does Augustus emphasise most strongly? What aspects of his reign
does he omit or play down? How are the civil wars depicted?
Discuss the ways in which Augustus presents himself as the saviour of Rome and the
restorer of its traditions. How far was this actually true?
How does Augustus present his constitutional position?
Who was the intended audience of the Res Gestae, and what was its intended purpose?
Teaching Ideas:
JACT Teachers’ Notes
There is clearly no substitute for reading this text through with a class!
But the more pupils can get used to the idea of political spin in contemporary politics, the
Pupils might enjoy turning parts of the RG into a radio/TV interview between Augustus
and John Humphreys (or even Tacitus!)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 11 - Source methodology IV: Coins, Art, Architecture
Key sources:
The coins on the syllabus; Ara Pacis; Prima Porta statue; Gemma augustea; forum
Augustum; Mausoleum; forum Romanum; via Labicana Augustus statue.
Other sources:
Other Augustan coins illustrated in LACTOR 17 and Zanker
Augustus and the Coinage LACTOR 17, pages 12-15
Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, 53-7 et elsewhere
Howgego, C. (1995) Ancient History from Coins pp.67-87
A. Wallace-Hadrill, 'Image and authority in the coinage of Augustus', JRS 76 (1986) 66-87
Elsner, J. (1995) Art and the Roman Viewer ch.5 (for Prima Porta)
Wallace-Hadrill, A. Augustan Rome
Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. X – chapter 15
Eck (2003) The Age of Augustus – chapter 13
Karl Galinsky (1996) Augustan Culture: an interpretive introduction – ch. 4, 5
Key questions and debates
What can coins tell us that is different/additional/more reliable to/than other sources?
Who was responsible for coin design? And does this matter?
How does Augustus’ family attain unprecedented prominence in official media?
What picture of Augustus’ conception of his place in Roman society and history emerges
from the design of the forum Augustum?
What picture of Augustus as leader of Rome emerges from his depiction in art?
How does the ara Pacis encapsulate the idea of the promised golden age?
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Themes (12 weeks)
Topic 12: The Princeps and the People
Exam topic
 Augustus’ relationship to the senate, soldiers, plebs and provincials
Key sources
Res Gestae Heading, 3, 15, 18, 22-3, Appendix 1,4
Suetonius 28-30, 41-5
Key questions and debates
Why was popular support important to Augustus, and how did he go about winning it?
Importance of popular support; legitimised Augustus’ claim to be the saviour of
the empire and the protector of the plebs (a role particularly associated with tribunician
power). He benefited from popular protests when he attempted to resign power, and was
begged to become dictator in certain times of crisis (e.g. food shortage): a clear reminder
to the senate and to any rivals of his own importance in holding the empire together and
keeping the peace. This was gratifying and valuable, but also clearly risky; if he failed to
satisfy plebs, they might look elsewhere for help (as seen in the popularity of Egnatius
Rufus for organising a fire brigade).
Keeping the people happy. Lavish entertainments — which the emperor makes sure he is
seen to enjoy (note emphasis on games in both Res Gestae and Suetonius). Handouts of
grain and money; various measures taken to improve the corn supply, including the
introduction of an official with specific responsibility for this; improvements in other
public services (aqueducts, fire brigade, reorganisation of city). In the circus and theatre
in particular this can be seen as symbolic exchange, the crowd giving him applause and
acclamation in recognition of his generosity; also an opportunity for the people to make
views known, especially in times of food shortage. Augustus also made use of the stick:
urban cohorts, vigiles, praetorian guard.
Augustus’ building programme does not really belong in the exam specification for the
AS level, since it forms a central part of the A2 topic (Option 2: The invention of
imperial Rome 31 BC – AD 96) Buildings programme: Augustus claims to have found a
Rome of brick and left it one of marble. In fact, most buildings continued to be brick, or
concrete faced with brick, but of higher quality, and many important public buildings
were faced in marble. Restored a number of key buildings, particularly temples and the
Roman Forum (introducing various buildings glorifying his own family, including a new
temple of Divus Iulius). Constructed his own Forum, full of statues of heroic Romans;
constructed monuments in Campus Martius such as meridian line, Ara Pacis and own
mausoleum. Can all be seen as a campaign of visual propaganda, emphasising the ideals
JACT Teachers’ Notes
of the regime (restoration, tradition, piety, family etc.); similar themes appear in coinage.
But we need to ask questions about the audience for this propaganda — would the mass
of the population understand the significance of all this symbolism? — and about its
impact. Buildings can be ‘read’ in different ways: Augustus’ mausoleum was apparently
intended to emphasise his links to Rome, in contrast to Antony’s wish to be buried in
Alexandria, but it could also be seen as evidence of his dynastic ambitions. His new
Forum celebrated Rome’s past, at the same time as it sidelined the traditional centre of
power and politics, the Forum Romanum, as well as the temple of Mars the Avenger
supplanting Capitoline Jupiter in several ways.
Zvi Yavetz, Plebs and Princeps (OUP, 1969), esp. 103-29 and 130-40; Wallace-Hadrill,
chapter 4, on Augustus’ activities in Rome. Thomas Wiedemann, Emperors and
Gladiators (Routledge, 1992) on the importance of the games (and the emperor’s
presence at the games). Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (U of
Michigan, 1988), on buildings, coins and statues working as propaganda. Cooley
commentary on chapters in RG.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 13: Religion
Exam topic
The imperial cult does not belong in the exam specification for the AS level, since it
forms a central part of the A2 topic (Option 2: The invention of imperial Rome 31 BC –
AD 96). However religion is clearly part of ‘powers and roles adopted by Augustus’ and
is also pertinent to ‘Augustus’ relationship to the senate, soldiers, plebs and provincials’.
In addition, Horace’s Centennial Hymn (Carmen Saeculare) is on the prescription, as are
many sources relating directly to Augustus and emperor-worship.
Key sources
Res Gestae 7.3, 9-12, 19-21
Horace Odes 3.6
Horace Carmen Saeculare (L28)
Ovid, Fasti 3.415-428 Augustus pontifex maximus (12 BC)
Ovid, Fasti 5.140-158 worship of the genius (divine spirit) of Aug
Quintilian, Orator’s Education 6.3.77 Aug unimpressed by a ‘miracle’
Suetonius 31
Vitruvius, On Architecture 5.1.7 The Temple of Augustus at Fanum
Key sources - Inscriptions
LACTOR L11 Votive games celebrating Aug’s return, 13 BC
LACTOR L12 Introduction of cult of Augustan Lares at Rome, ? 7 BC
LACTOR L13 Temple of Aug at Puteoli
LACTOR L17 Altar to numen of Aug, AD 12-3, Narbonne
LACTOR H34 New Calendar for Asia, based on Aug’s birthday
LACTOR L1 Symbols of four priesthoods held by Augustus
LACTOR L9 Altar of Fortuna Redux
LACTOR L10 Public vows for Augustus’ safety
LACTOR L26 Augustus distributes suffimenta for ludi saeculares
Other primary sources
Sources in LACTOR section L, especially inscriptions about the Centennial Games (L27)
The passages prescribed from Virgil, Aeneid all more or less explicitly portray Augustus
as an instrument of divine will.
Horace Odes 1.2, 3.14,
Suetonius 6, 31, 90-3;
Ovid Fasti 1.1-26
Key questions and debates
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Was Roman religion in decline in the late republic? Did Augustus’ activities make any
significant difference? How did Augustus ostensibly ‘revive’ traditions, whilst
introducing striking innovations?
Discuss the importance of the development of ruler cult in the empire.
Beard, North & Price Volume II contains most relevant sources on Roman religion.
Wallace-Hadrill, chapters 5-6; Garnsey & Saller, The Roman Empire, chapter 9. Mary
Beard, John North & Simon Price, Religions of Rome (CUP, 1998), especially chapter 4;
Simon Price, ‘The place of religion’, CAH X; Karl Galinsky, Augustan Culture: an
interpretative introduction (Princeton UP, 1996), chapter VI. The state of religion in the
late republic is discussed clearly and concisely in Beard & Crawford, Rome in the Late
Republic, chapter 3. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, 101-135;
Scheid ch.8 in Galinsky Companion
Traditional picture of the decline of religion in the late republic: neglect of temples (since
Augustus needed to restore so many), the spread of rationalism (seen in the writings of
Cicero), the influx of foreign cults, a general lack of belief aggravated and seen in the
cynical manipulation of religion for political purposes. Thus a clear need for Augustus to
save the situation; he emphasises this role in Res Gestae, stressing his restoration and
construction of temples and his concern for traditional religion and values, and it is
echoed in the works of Horace.
Decline exaggerated: Roman religion always political (ritual central to state and priests
drawn from ruling class — and this continues in Principate), foreign cults regularly
absorbed, and the concern of a minority anyway; as for rationalism, we can hardly take
Cicero’s views as typical of the majority of Romans. No way of knowing how much
restoration the temples actually needed, and clearly it was in Augustus’ interests to
exaggerate decline so as to magnify his own role as saviour and restorer. Certainly he
expends energy and money in building temples, reviving or inventing rituals (closing the
gates of Janus, holding the Secular Games; augurium salutis; Arvals) and including lost
of religious imagery on coins and monuments.
Presented by Horace as sent by gods to save Rome, if not partly divine himself (Odes 1.2
especially). Emphasised links to deified (adopted) father (styled himself divi filius) and
through Caesar to Aeneas and Venus. Eastern tradition of ruler-worship, but highly
problematic in Rome; certainly allows temples to be set up in provinces to ‘Roma and
Augustus’ (helps to hold empire together by providing common focus of loyalty and
worship?), and sources disagree over how far he allowed himself to be worshipped as
divine. No actual state cult in Rome, but plenty of literary and artistic representations
blur the distinction between god and man, and present him almost as messianic figure,
JACT Teachers’ Notes
bringer of the new golden age. Cult of genius Augusti introduced at compitalia, and
prayers for his safety surely blurred the distinction between man and god even at Rome.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 14: Ruling the Empire
Exam topic
 Augustus’ relationship to the senate, soldiers, plebs and provincials
Key sources
Strabo, Geography 10.5.3 Petitioning of Octavian abroad by fishermen
Strabo, Geography 17.3.25 Division of Empire in two and Imperial/Public provinces
Suetonius 47
Other primary sources
LACTOR, Section M (various sources, divided geographically and by topic)
Suetonius 46-50
Cassius Dio 56.18;
Virgil Eclogue 1, on the view from Italy in the triumvirate
Key questions and debates
What impact did Augustus have on life in the provinces?
Range of reforms to provincial administration, including (as mentioned above) division
of provinces into public and imperial. (Note especially the unusual arrangements put in
place in Egypt, to prevent any threat from ambitious senators – LACTOR M6-14). All
governors received a fixed salary, rather than relying on taking a proportion of the tax
revenues; improvements in financial structures and taxation; better communication with
introduction of imperial post; changes in management of legal cases brought by
provincials on the grounds of extortion. Measures intended to reform endemic corruption
and oppression of provincials (LACTOR M76-79), and also improve flow of wealth to
Provinces benefit from peace, allowing increase in trade and communication around
Mediterranean; arguably, flow of taxes to Rome stimulates trade as provinces have to
raise money to pay tax. Most regions left more or less to govern themselves, reliance on
local urban elites; unity developed through gradual spread of citizenship and Roman law,
and common adherence to the imperial cult.
Italy (though not itself a province, of course) seems to do particularly well under
Augustus. Old Roman aristocracy heavily depleted in civil wars; replaced by new
aristocracy, most of it appointed by Augustus, coming mostly from elsewhere in Italy
(with a few from other ‘more civilized’ provinces such as southern Spain).
Archaeological evidence shows prosperity and increased settlement in many areas of the
countryside, and epigraphy attests to buildings activities in many towns, often sponsored
by the emperor, members of his family, and friends. Note that many key literary sources
(Virgil, Horace, Livy) are produced by writers from Italy, not the old Roman elite.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Eck, chapter 10; Wells, chapters IV and VI. A.K. Bowman, ‘Provincial administration
and taxation’, in CAH X. More generally on the subject, Peter Garnsey & Richard Saller,
The Roman Empire (Duckworth, 1987), chapters 1 and 2; Fergus Millar, The Roman
Empire and its Neighbours (Duckworth, 2nd edn 1981), especially chapters 3-5; David
Braund, ed., The Administration of the Roman Empire (Exeter UP, 1988). Purcell and
Woolf in Galinsky Companion.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 15: The Army and the Frontiers
Exam topic
 Augustus’ relationship to the senate, soldiers, plebs and provincials
Key sources
Res Gestae 25-30
Suetonius 49
Other primary sources
LACTOR, section N
Cassius Dio 55.23-5; 56.33.
Suetonius 21-25
Velleius 2.104.2 – 111.4 (Campaigns with Tiberius, AD 4-12)
Key questions and debates
How did the army change during the age of Augustus? What motivated these changes?
Did Augustus have a coherent strategy for establishing the boundaries of the empire?
With regard to the army, Augustus simply completed a long process of transformation,
from the citizen militia of the middle Republic, recruited above all from the peasant
classes, to a professional army. The impoverishment of the Italian peasantry, and the
extraordinary military efforts of the last two centuries, had already led to recruitment
from the capite censi, the bottom census class, who fought for pay and the prospect of
booty. Augustus apparently fixed the number of legions at 28 and set a minimum term of
service; he also fixed the soldiers’ pay, and arranged for them to receive money or land
when they were discharged (under the triumvirate, this had been provided by confiscating
land). After Actium, Augustus shouldered the burden, until he established a military
treasury in AD 6). Perhaps most importantly, he enforced an annual oath of allegiance to
himself. Finally, he preferred to entrust important commands to members of his own
family like Tiberius and Germanicus, rather than giving them to members of the old
nobility. Army became increasingly attached to imperial house (though, as Nero’s reign
shows, its loyalty could not be counted on if the emperor lost its confidence) and
increasingly separate from the rest of society.
Frontiers: historians have debated in recent years whether the emperors ever had a
coherent strategy. Some have argued that Augustus aimed to use major rivers like the
Danube, the Elbe and the Rhine as frontiers between Rome and the barbarians; after the
disastrous ambush of three Roman legions in the Teutoberg Forest in AD 9, his strategy
became defensive, and he advised Tiberius that the frontiers of the empire should not be
extended. In the East, where the Romans faced a powerful state rather than disorganised
tribes, they tended to deal with Parthians through negotiation and treaties rather than
JACT Teachers’ Notes
outright hostility — though still presented the return of the standards lost on Crassus’
disastrous campaign in 53 BC as a great victory.
Whittaker offers an alternative view: there is no evidence that Augustus considered
anything more than a temporary halt to expansion, and possibly the words used in his
posthumous instructions to Tiberius advise against reorganising already-existing
provinces rather than forbid the acquisition of new ones. He argues that frontiers stopped
where they did because of logistics (length of supply lines), not strategy, and also stresses
that it is not helpful to think of frontiers as fixed, impermeable boundaries between
Romans and barbarians but rather as zones of controlled movement.
Eck, chapters 11-12; Fergus Millar, The Roman Empire and its Neighbours (Duckworth,
2nd edn 1981), chapter 6. C.R. Whittaker, Frontiers of the Roman Empire (Johns
Hopkins, 1994), chapters 1-3, esp. chapters 2 and 3. Lawrence Keppie, The Making of
the Roman Army (Batsford, 1984), chapter 6 and ‘The army and the navy’ in CAH X.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 16: Partners in Power I: Agrippa & Maecenas
Exam topic
 The constitutional settlement of 28/7 BC and 23 BC and the powers and roles
adopted by Augustus or given to others
 The role of the emperor’s family, friends and supporters
Key sources
Velleius on Maecenas as urban praetor and his character [88.2]
Velleius on Agrippa’s ‘retirement’ then marriage to Julia [93.1-2]
LACTOR H27 (Denarius of Augustus & Agrippa as tribunes)
LACTOR L22, L27 (Agrippa’s role in Centennial Games)
Other primary sources
See LACTOR, Section R – Maecenas and the Arts, especially R1-13, and parts of the
Lives of Horace & Virgil (R14-15)
See LACTOR, Section T – Augustan Society, especially T2-14 (T14 = Augustus’ Eulogy
for Agrippa after death – papyrus fragment)
Key questions and debates
How important a part did Agrippa and Maecenas play in Augustus’ rise to prominence
and consolidation of his position?
Did Maecenas fall from favour? How, if at all, were they replaced when they fell from
favour or died?
Dio’s ‘constitutional debate’ = History, book 54, between Agrippa and Maecenas is pure
Teaching ideas
This topic leads itself very well to a formal or informal debate (or balloon debate)
between pupils representing Agrippa and Maecenas.
Oxford Classsical Dictionary: Maecenas, Agrippa (pedantically under VIPSANIUS)
Syme, RR chapter 30 and see index; J. Griffin, ‘Caesar qui cogere postest’ in F. Millar
and E. Segal, Caesar Augustus (1984), E. Fantham, Julia Augusti, the Emperor’s
Daughter (2006), chapters 4-5.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 17: Partners in Power II: The Senate
Exam topic
 The constitutional settlement of 28/7 BC and 23 BC and the powers and roles
adopted by Augustus or given to others
 The role of the emperor’s family, friends and supporters
Key sources
Res Gestae – frequent references to ‘the senate decreed …’ etc
Section F, Tacitus, Annals I. 1-4, 9-10
Strabo, Geography 17.3.25
Tacitus, Annals 2.43
Velleius 2.95.3
Other primary sources
LACTOR, T1 and T15-29
LACTOR Section B (pages 36-45 – the consul list)
Key questions and debates
Did Augustus merely play lip-service to the senate’s traditional role? How did the
senate’s functions change (judicial court; loyal supporter of Augustus and his family;
decrees beginning to take force of law)? How did Augustus begin to bypass the senate
(foreign embassies approach him rather than senate)?
Most senators were in a much better position under Augustus than they would have been
if in the senate in the fifty years before Actium. Discuss.
Senate’s traditional role was to advise the magistrates (taken from their ranks and who
would return to being ‘ordinary senators’ after their term of office expired). This advice
covered all aspects of policy in Rome, Italy and the empire, finance and religion. The
senate also controlled the levying and disposal of military forces. Magistrates had the
power to command (imperium), and their powers included everything short of putting to
death a Roman citizen without appeal. Only members of the senate could command
armed forces (hence the illegality of Octavian raising an army as a private citizen). The
senate usually discussed proposed legislation. They also decided on peace and war,
though a popular assembly was required to give assent. The senate also essentially ruled
the religious life of Rome. The senate chose, from amongst its members, governors to
rule the provinces of the empire.
‘senate’ in OCD, the whole entry including that for regal and republican periods.
Syme, AA chapter XXX, The Apologia for the Principate.
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapter 26-27.
C. Nicolet, ‘Augustus, government and the propertied classes’, in Caesar Augustus. Seven
Aspects eds Millar & Segal (1984) esp. pp. 89-96
JACT Teachers’ Notes
R. Talbert, The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984); more briefly, Talbert, R. (1996) 'The
Senate and senatorial and equestrian posts', in CAH X 324-43
Teaching ideas: one approach would be to follow as closely as possible the career of one
or more Augustan consuls (and sometimes that of their fathers and sons).
Interesting studies could be (one from each decade):
M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus (cos 31 BC)
in OCD (under Valerius); Syme AA chapter XV
Cn. Calpurnius Piso (cos 23 BC)
In OCD (= Calpurnius (RE 95) Piso (2), Gnaeus)
Syme, RR 334f
L. Domitius Ahenobarbus (cos 16 BC)
In OCD (= Domitius (RE 28) Ahenobarbus (2), Lucius
Syme AA index
P. Sulpicius Quirinius (cos 12 BC)
Syme RR index
Cossus Cornelius Lentulus (cos 1 BC)
Not in OCD
Syme AA index
C. Poppaeus Sabinus (cos AD 9)
See Poppaea Sabina in OCD
Use index to LACTOR and follow other references.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 18: Partners in Power III: Family
Exam topic
 The constitutional settlement of 28/7 BC and 23 BC and the powers and roles
adopted by Augustus or given to others
 The role of the emperor’s family, friends and supporters
Key sources
Aeneid 6.752-892 (Marcellus)
Horace Odes 4.14 (Tiberius & Drusus)
Pliny, Natural History 7.147-150
Velleius 93, 100.3-5
Suetonius, The Deified Augustus 63-66
Other primary sources
LACTOR, Section J
Ara pacis augustae (picture)
K11, K15, K29-32, K40-42, K52-53,
Key questions and debates
In what various ways did Augustus try to create a dynasty, and how did he present this in
Rome and the provinces?
Were his family more of an advantage or a hindrance to him?
See family trees at end of LACTOR 17 (pages 412-5)
E. Fantham, Julia Augusti, the Emperor’s Daughter (2006), chapter 8 (Julia’s boys)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Topic 19: Opponents: Conspiracies, Scandals, Free Speech
Exam topic
 The opposition to the emperor and its presentation in the sources
Key sources
For all the sources on the various conspiracies or scandals, arranged
chronologically, see LACTOR, Section P, with notes giving cross-references to
elsewhere in the LACTOR and to other sources, including
Velleius 88.1 & 88.3 - M. Lepidus assassination plot
Velleius 92.1-5 - Sentius Saturninus puts down Egnatius Rufus (19 BC)
Velleius 93.1 - Murena & Caepio conspiracy (23 BC)
(see also pp.38-9 under consuls for 23 BC)
Velleius 100.3-5 - Julia’s adultery and banishment
Suetonius 19 (mostly trivializing)
Key questions and debates
Why is it often so difficult to determine what actually happened?
Which, if any, of the various episodes seem to have been serious threats to the
princeps personally or to the stability of the state?
Syme, AA, pages 387-9
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939), chapter 31.
E. Fantham, Julia Augusti, the Emperor’s Daughter (2006), chapters 7 & 9
Teaching ideas:
Pupils may well be able to relate this topic to more modern ‘conspiracy theories’,
and consider whether different levels of technology and communication are likely to lead
to such conspiracy theories being more likely in Augustan or modern times.
Conspiracies and scandals are, of course, particularly prominent in Robert
Graves’ wonderful historical novel (which often sticks very close to the sources), I,
Claudius and the famous BBC adaptation, now on DVDs.
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Teaching Ideas:
For most pupils, the first resource, one suspects will be Augustus on Wikipedia, which
almost entirely ignores any source-material or difficulties of interpretation! An excellent
revision task would be to get pupils to mark the Wikipedia articles, indicating where the
picture given is too simplistic and, especially, marking in sources for the various
statements, with some evaluation
JACT Teachers’ Notes
LACTOR 17, The Age of Augustus, edited M.G.L. Cooley ISBN 0 903625 30X:
Augustus, Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Section A – pp 27-35)
Horace, Epode 9 (G5 – p105-6, 1 page) Rejoice for Victory at Actium
Horace, Odes 1.37 (G24 – p.123-4, 1 page) Suicide of Cleopatra
Horace, Odes 3.5 (G27 – pp.127-8, 1½ pages) (Military victories predicted in Britain)
Horace Odes 3.6 (G28- pp.129-130, 1 page) (Civil wars as divine punishment for neglect
of temples and sexual impropriety)
Horace Odes 4.14 (G44 – pp.154-6, 1½ pages) (Tiberius & Drusus in the Alps)
Horace Odes 4.15 (G45 – pp.156-7, 1 page) (Celebration of Augustus’s achievements)
Horace Carmen Saeculare (L28)
Livy 4.20.5-8, 11 (P4 - p.332, ½ page) Aulus Cornelius Cossus and the Spoils of
Honour (29 BC)
Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.11.17 (P14 – p 336, 3 lines) Freedman tortured to give
evidence of an affair of Julia (2 BC)
Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.11.21 (P9 – p 334, 5 lines) Slave of Caepio, would-be assassin
of Augustus (23/2 BC?)
Nepos, Life of Atticus 20.3 (P3 – p 332, 4 lines) Temple of Jupiter Feretrius (connected
with spolia opima controversy, 29 BC)
Ovid, Fasti 3.415-428 (H30 – p.190, 14 lines) Augustus pontifex maximus (12 BC)
Ovid, Fasti 5.140-158 (L13 – p.263, 19 lines) worship of the genius (divine spirit) of
Pliny, Natural History 7.147-150 (P1 – p.331, ½ page) Augustus’ misfortunes
Propertius, 4.6 (G39 – pp.146-8, 2 pages) Temple of Apollo of Actium
Quintilian, Orator’s Education 6.3.77 (L18 – p.265, 2 lines) Aug unimpressed by a
‘miracle’ (emperor-worship)
Strabo, Geography 10.5.3 (M68 – p.304, 7 lines) Petitioning of Octavian abroad by
fishermen (29 BC)
Strabo, Geography 17.1.54 (N34 – p.324, ½ page) Petronius’ expedition to Ethiopia
(25/24 BC)
Strabo, Geography 17.1.54 (N35 – p.324, 7 lines) Ethiopian revolt and peace
settlement, c. 21 BC
Strabo, Geography 17.3.25 (H19 & M2) Division of Empire in two and
Imperial/Public provinces (28/7 BC)
Seneca the Younger, Concerning Clemency 1.9.2-1.9.12 (P11 – pp.334-5, 1 page)
Cinna’s plot to assassinate Aug (16 BC)
Seneca the Younger, Concerning Clemency 1.10.3-4 (P15 – pp.336-7, 10 lines) Aug’s
clemency to Julia’s lovers
Seneca the Younger, On Benefits 6.32 (P12 – p.336, 14 lines) Elder Julia tried and
banished, 2 BC
Suetonius, Tiberius 8.1 (P10 – p.334, 2 lines) Tiberius prosecutes Caepio
Tacitus, Annals 1.1-4 & 9-10 (Section F – pp. 83-86 & 89-91) 5 pages
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Tacitus, Annals 2.43 (H42 – p.196, 4 lines) Aug encourages a republican stalwart to
become consul (23 BC)
Tacitus, Annals 3.56 (H26 – p.188, 8 lines) Tribunician power (23 BC)
Tacitus, Annals 4.44 (P13 – p.336, 5 lines) Iullus Antonius executed for adultery, his
son exiled (2 BC)
Velleius Paterculus (Section E) 2. 88-89 (pp58-60 – 2 pages), 92 –95 (pp.61-63 – 2
pages), 99-100 (pp.65-66 – 1½ pages), 123-24 (pp.79-81 – 1½ pages)
Vitruvius, On Architecture 5.1.7 (L14 – p.263-4, 4 lines) The Temple of Augustus at
Fanum (emperor-worship during Aug life)
Virgil, Aeneid 1.257-296 (G36, pp.135-7, 1 page) Jupiter’s prophecy (of Roman
conquest and peace under Aug)
Virgil, Aeneid 6.752-892 (G37, pp.137-140, 3 pages) Pageant of Roman Heroes
(especially Aug and Marcellus)
Virgil, Aeneid 8.671-731 (G38, pp.143-5, 1½ pages) The Shield of Aeneas (especially
Battle of Actium)
Suetonius, The Deified Augustus 17-19 (2 pages); 26-28 (2 pages); 31 (1 page); 47 (½
page); 49 (½ page); 58 (½ page); 63-66 (3 pages)
Archaeological sources
Aureus 28 BC = H18, p.185: New Aureus
Aureus 27 BC = H21, p.186: Civic crown aureus
Denarius 13 BC = H27, p.189: Agrippa & Augustus as Tribunes
Aureus 2 BC-AD 11 = J58, p.220: Gaius & Lucius as principes iuventutis
Denarius 16 BC = L1, p.258: Symbols of 4 priesthoods held by Aug.
Aureus c. 19 BC = L9, pp 261-2: Altar of Fortuna Redux
Denarius 16 BC = L10, p.262: Public vows for Aug’s safety
Aureus 16 BC = L26, pp 270: Augustus distributes suffimenta for ludi saeculares
Denarius 29-7 BC = N5, p.313: Victory
Aureus 15-12 BC = N15, p.317: Aug. receiving triumphal branches
Denarius 27 BC = N31, p.323: Capture of Egypt
Aureus 13 BC = T13, p.377: Agrippa & Augustus
Inscription Rome ILS 88 = (L11 p.262, 4 lines) Votive games celebrating Aug’s return,
13 BC
Inscription Rome ILS 3612 = (L12 p.263, 4 lines) Introduction of cult of Augustan
Lares at Rome, ? 7 BC
Inscription Puteoli CIL X.1613 = (L15 p.264, 2 lines) Temple of Aug at Puteoli
(emperor-worship in Italy in Aug’s life)
Inscription Altar Narbonne ILS 112 = (L17 pp.264-6, 1 page) Altar to numen of Aug,
AD 12-3, Narbonne
Calendar Inscription SEG 4.490 (not 34.490!) = (H34 pp.191-193, 2 pages) New
Calendar for Asia, based on Aug’s birthday
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Chapter guides for Velleius
M. Lepidus assassination plot [88.1 & 88.3]
Maecenas as urban praetor and his character [88.2]
Octavian’s return (29 BC) and triumphs [89.1]
Panegyric [89.2-6]
Restoration of traditional form of the republic [89.3 with note 10]
Sentius Saturninus puts down Egnatius Rufus (19 BC) [92.1-5]
Murena & Caepio conspiracy (23 BC) [93.1] – (see also pp.38-9 under consuls for
23 BC and p.334, including P9-10)
Marcellus as possible successor; his death (23 BC, after Aug 1) [93.1]
Agrippa’s ‘retirement’ then marriage to Julia [93.1-2]
In praise of Tiberius [94.1-3]; date of Livia’s marriage [94.1]
Tiberius in Armenia (20-19 BC) [94.4]
Tiberius & Drusus in the Alps (15-14 BC) [95.1-2]
Censordship of Plancus & Paulus (22 BC) [95.3]
Tiberius trib pot [99.1]
Tiberius’ withdrawal from public life (the Tib. version) [99.2-4]
Dedication of Temple of Mars Ultor (2 BC) [100.2]
Julia’s adultery and banishment [100.3-5]
Augustus’ last days and death [123.1-2]
Tiberius takes over [124.1-4]
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Chapter guides for Suetonius
Break with Antony, including Actium (2 lines!) (mid 30s – 31BC)
Mutiny at Brindisium (30 BC)
Deaths of Antony & Cleopatra at Alexandria (30 BC)
Sees sarcophagus of Alexander the Great
Incorporates Egypt into Roman Empire
Celebrates Actium with foundation of Nicopolis, and quinquennial games
Various conspiracies (throughout reign, few details most trivial)
Aug’s consulships,
Aug’s cruel acts as triumvir
Trib pot and censorships
Considers restoring republic
Building works (Rome brick to marble)
Chief priest and other religious matters
Month named August
Honours great Romans
Provinces, including visits and imperial/public
Military dispositions and reforms
Pater Patriae
Aug’s grandchildren
Family Deaths and disgrace
Aug’s friends (including scandals)
JACT Teachers’ Notes
Other useful editions of primary texts with translation and commentary
Brunt, P.A. & Moore, J.M, eds, Res Gestae Divi Augusti (OUP, 1967)
Cooley, A.E. Res Gestae Divi Augusti (CUP, Feb 2009)
Rich, J.W., Cassius Dio: the Augustan Settlement (Aris and Phillips, 1990).
Secondary reading
(The following are likely to be of great general use for many of the topics in the period
for teachers and students. Other more specific books and articles are listed in the reading
for individual topics.)
Eck, W., Augustus (1998 & Eng ed, Blackwell, 2003)
The most reliable short, modern biography
Fantham, Julia Augusti the Emperor’s Daughter, (Routledge, 2006)
Biography, with useful appendixes detailing and translating sources
Galinsky, K., Cambridge Companion to Age of Augustus (1996)
Wide-ranging selection of articles
Levick, B. Tiberius the Politician (1976 & Routledge 1999) chaps. 1-5
Early chapters about Tiberius effectively cover much of Augustus’ reign.
Millar, F.G.B. & Segal, E., Caesar Augustus: seven aspects
Seven individual and important articles
Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939),
Hugely influential and itself revolutionary. Brilliantly but densely written. Greatly
influenced by his own times (dedicated to his parents and his country). Excellent
Syme, The Augustan Aristocracy, (OUP 1986)
30 studies of leading people and their families under Augustus. Excellent indexes.
Wallace-Hadrill, A., Augustan Rome (BCP, 1993)
Sophisticated and readable introduction to the period. Good on literary and
archaeological sources.
Wells, C. The Roman Empire (Fontana, 2nd edn 1992)
Standard general introduction to the Roman Empire
Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, (U. of Michigan, 1990)
Ground-breaking work on Augustus’ image through art & architecture, but also
Cambridge Ancient History Volume X, The Augustan Empire, edited by A.K. Bowman,
E. Champlin and A. Lintott (CUP, 1999).
The standard work on the period.