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21. Res Gestae
About this Lecture
In this lecture we think about the usefulness of the Res Gestae as a source for the reign of Augustus, focusing in particular on: (i) the merits of epigraphic evidence (i.e. inscriptions) versus other kinds of evidence; (ii) the nature of the Res Gestae, and where it was originally displayed in Rome; (iii) the dissemination of the Res Gestae across the empire; (iv) the extent to which the Res Gestae exaggerates Augustus’ achievements, especially in relation to his military conquests; (v) the central section of the Res Gestae, and its importance in showing us what Augustus himself considered were his most important achievements; (vi) the final section of the Res Gestae; (vii) the opening section of the Res Gestae; (viii) the parts of Augustus’ career that the Res Gestae leaves out, particularly his actions as part of the Second Triumvirate; (ix) the importance of the sheer length of the Res Gestae; and (x) the location of the Res Gestae next to the Mausoleum of Augustus, and the idea of the Res Gestae as a kind of epitaph for Augustus.
In this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Across twenty-one lectures, we consider a range of issues including: (i) the historical sources for reign of Augustus and their reliability; (ii) the events that led to the creation of the principate, particularly the Battle of Actium; (iii) the various constitutional settlements that formalised Augustus’ powers; (iv) his military achievements; (v) the importance of contemporary poetry (Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid) and coinage for understanding his reign; (vi) the significance of key figures around Augustus, such as Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Tiberius and Germanicus; (vii) the extent to which Augustus really ‘restored the republic’ as he claimed he did; (viii) Augustus’ involvement in religious life at Rome and in the provinces; (ix) his administrative changes in Rome and in the provinces; (x) his management of various different sections of Roman society – the senatorial elite, the equestrian order, the army, the people of Rome and the provincial elites; (xi) challenges to his rule; (xii) his management of the succession; and (xiii) the importance of his own record of his achievements, the Res Gestae.
Matthew Nicholls is a visiting professor of classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John's College, Oxford, specialising in the political and social history of the Romans, and the way the built environments of Rome and cities around the empire expressed their values and priorities. In 2014, Matthew was presented with a Guardian Teaching Award for his 'Virtual Rome' project, a digital model of the city of Rome, showing the city as it appeared in c. AD 315.
Cite this Lecture
Nicholls, M. (2023, May 23). Augustus - Res Gestae [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/augustus/res-gestae
Nicholls, M. "Augustus – Res Gestae." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 May 2023, https://www.massolit.io/courses/augustus/res-gestae