My White Paper
Working hypothesis 1:
Augustus Caesar was able to successfully reinstate values of old Rome, but he did so through deceit and hypocrisy that in turn questions his sincerity and morals as an emperor.
Working hypothesis 2:
Augustus was able to change the state of the Roman empire to model old Rome, but only by contradicting the standards he upheld for his citizens.
Sources with summaries:
Note: Since this is a paper based on ancient material, I believe the most valuable information doesn’t just come from people agreeing or disagreeing with me, but also comes from why I have the opinion I do. Truth of the matter is that I have this poor opinion on Augustus solely based on what I know of him reforming the Roman empire. That being said, I figured I would start with finding sources to discuss the founding of the empire, and later expand onto others’ thoughts on the emperor. In addition, some of the evidence that I believe is valuable can take many forms (since it is ancient after all.) I wanted to use some architectural designs to help prove my point. I mentioned the names of the buildings and things like that, as well as wrote down my assessments and thoughts. I didn’t attach a photo in wordpress because I didn’t know how to format it correctly.
Also I know it said to include links, but I have physical books for some of these, so that’s why they’re missing 🙂
Eulogy for the Republic: Virgil’s Anti-Augustan Longing for the Roman Republic in the Aeneid. By Dylan McAuley https://scholarship.richmond.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=as-student-symposium
-Useful for talking about the ancient criticisms of Augustus even from his trusted advisors
-Would work as a good segue for talking about the board of authors and reinventing of the origin stories
-Also would work as a segue for the banning of Vergil and Iulia.
The Eulogy for the Republic by Dylan McAuley challenges the modern hypothesis of Vergil’s Aeneid being a pro-Augustan work. The Aeneid being pro-Augustan is a totally reasonable hypothesis for a few reasons. First, Augustus commissioned Virgil to write the Aeneid; and second, every time Augustus is mentioned by name in the Aeneid, it is for a positive reason. McAuley states the reason Augustus commissioned the Aeneid as, “Augustus wanted an epic that could connect his claim to power to divine rule and to the very foundation of Rome itself in order to suggest that Fate intended all along for Augustus to rule the Empire and bring it to its fullest sense of glory.” The use of the Aeneid was mainly for propaganda in Augustus’ eyes. He had to get his citizens to believe in him, and the best way to do that would be through claiming divine descent.
-As I began to write this part of the white paper, I considered a couple of things: A lot of arguing specifics with the Aeneid would require the reader to be quite familiar with the story. I may just use this to say it is an anti-Augustan work, but try to do so swiftly. I feel that going into specifics waters down the argument and also would have the reader off on a side tangent on the Aeneid which could take way more than 10 pages to explain in itself. However, I am leaving this here in case it becomes useful later.
Augustus’ Political, Moral, and Social reforms. By Steven Fife
-Useful because this is a contemporary piece of work giving Augustus a bit of praise
-Also talks about Augustan values and what they are
In the Article Augustus’ Political, Moral, and Social reforms by Steven Fife, Fife talks about the accomplishments and ideals of the first emperor or Rome. Augustus as the first Emperor had a lot of work to do. He campaigned on the promise of reviving old Rome and restoring ancient Roman values such as monogamy, chastity, and piety. The article written by Fife goes into detail of how he achieved these specific goals. He made religious reforms which entailed giving himself the role of Pontifex Maximus, reintroduced the Lustrum ceremony and Lupercalia, and even started the cult to worship the emperor as a god. The article even continues onto his tax and marriage laws. Citizens were forced to pay a higher tax if they weren’t married or didn’t have children by a certain age. Adultery was now a civil crime, which even caused the exile of Augustus’ own daughter Julia.
The Ara Pacis/Eumachia’s Building
-Useful for talking about the appreciation of A. Caesar and the success of his propaganda
-Also can be used to talk about Augustus as the “new founder” of Rome.
The Ara Pacis Augustae (literal translation: The Altar of Augustan Peace) was created by the senate for the Emperor Augustus. What is really important about this monument isn’t necessarily who created it or why, but specifically what it depicts. On the front panel of the altar, there are reliefs depicting Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf on one side, and Aeneas and his father/son on the other. The two relief panels are of the “founders of Rome.” Putting them on the Ara Pacis shows that Augustus was also seen as a “founder of Rome” not only in his own eyes, but in the eyes of others as well. We see this same depiction in Eumachia’s building in Pompeii. Eumachia’s building is believed to be a tribute to Augustan values and even has them written along the entranceway. Along with the actual writing of Augustan values, the entranceway to Eumachia’s building also depicts a statue of Romulus, Remus, and the she-wolf on one side and a statue of Aeneas on the other. The similarities show that it was an intentional reference to the Ara Pacis Augustae and furthermore showing the success of the propaganda.
The Twelve Caesars By Suetonius
-useful for critique
-Suetonius was the private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian
-Used the imperial archives, as well as eyewitness accounts to describe the history of each individual reign within the Julio-Claudian clan
-Important because it is a really great ancient source that discusses Roman core values of the emperors and what they did to uphold/not uphold them.
The Roman scribe to the emperor Hadrian, Suetonius, recorded the history of the Julio-Claudian clan within his book The Twelve Caesars. In the chapter about Augustus, he talks about the reforms that Augustus made on the architectural beauty of Rome. “Aware that the city was architecturally unworthy of its position as capital of the empire, besides being vulnerable to fire and river floods, Augustus so improved its appearance so that he could justifiably boast ‘I found Rome built of bricks; I leave it clothed in marble!’” Augustus has a self-righteous attitude that is pushing him to make an impact on the Roman empire. Not only did Augustus’ own ego fuel his fire, but also the public admiration that surrounded him. Suetonius writes “Some senators wished him to be called Romulus, as the second founder of the city!” (can use this quote to prove earlier inferences about the Ara Pacis)
Prior to Augustus being emperor, he had different motivations and different ideals that were not so pure, and not all about him directly. “News then came that Caesar (Julius) had been assassinated after naming him (Augustus) his heir, and Augustus was tempted, for a while, to put himself under the protection of the troops quartered nearby. However deciding that this would be rash and injudicious he returned to Rome and there entered upon his inheritance,” (Seutonius, pg 46, paragraph 3.) Augustus believed that it would be rash and injudicious to put himself under protection, however later on in his career, he contrasts this belief completely. Seutonius states, “Augustus actually engaged assassins to murder Antony and, when the plot came to light, spent as much money as he could raise on enlisting a force of veterans to protect himself and the commonwealth.” Augustus felt that now all of a sudden it should be lawful in order to protect himself. His own ego would be driven by his accomplishments and titles throughout his career. After the assasination of Julius Caesar, Augustus’ ideals seemed to derive from his ancestor’s death. “The underlying motive of every campaign was that Augustus felt it his duty, above all, to avenge Caesar (Julius) and to keep his decrees in force.” Augustus had the motivation of the assasination of a family member and ideals he wanted to keep in place, but if he was really ‘keeping Julius Caesar’s decrees in force’ he’s not ‘refounding Rome,’ Julius did.
One of the main points within Augustus’ campaign is to bring back Roman pride and nationalism. Although he expects this pride in Rome from his citizens, his own past doesn’t show much nationalism. Suetonius says “He usurped the consulship, marching on Rome as though it were an enemy city and sending messengers ahead in the name of his army to demand the appointment.” The piece of this quote that really sticks out to me is the part where Seutonius says “marching on Rome as though it were an enemy city.” His aggressive manner towards gaining the consulship displays how little he loved Rome. His attitude seems to change as soon as he takes power, encouraging the idea that Augustus didn’t love Rome, he loved his Rome.
The Rape Of the Sabine Women: by Livy and Ovid and Rape and the Founding of Rome: by Julie Hemker
Under the direction of Augustus, a board of authors was assembled that included Livy, Ovid, and Virgil. Livy and Ovid both retell the famous story of the rape of the sabine women, but do so in order to undermine the large crime committed by the Roman citizens. An article by Julie Hemker compares and contrasts the two retellings, and points out the flaws that ultimately are immoral. In Livy’s retelling of the rape of the Sabine women, he argues how the women should be regarded as “heros” and the rape was “necessary” for the greater good of Rome. Hemker even points out Livy’s retelling to victim blame, and play off the rape as if it was okay. Ovid on the other hand takes a more critical approach. Ovid’s retelling comments on the normality of women as war prizes and compares Roman soldiers to selfish predators. Hemker discusses Ovid as an opposer to Livy’s perspective because of his adjustments and critiques to Rome’s founding story. Augustus wanted Rome to have a good foundation story, so rather than keeping the rape of the Sabine women in it’s original format, he had it rewritten to make it seem “not so bad.” Is it possible to ‘bring back ancient Roman values’ if the ‘updated foundation stories’ are intentional lies?
SPQR A History of Ancient Rome: by Mary Beard
Useful because it has a detailed history of the beginnings of Rome from a modern standpoint. Mary Beard uses many sources to dive into the eras of the monarchy and republic. Specifically when it comes to the Julio-Claudian clan, she talks about the lineage. The structure of the Julio-Claudian family is important because they tend to take a lot of influence from each other. Seutonius mentions Augustus wanting to keep a lot of Julius Caesar’s laws in place and to continue with his plans. Mary Beard dives into what those plans were of Julius Caesar’s and even describes the transition of power from Julius to Augustus.
Caesar’s Blood Greek tragedy in Roman Life: by Rose Williams
Caesar’s Blood is an interesting source. It tells the history of the Caesar’s but in the format of an epic. It is very easy to read, however not too detailed. What makes this a useful source is that it spends a lot of time detailing Julius Caesar. Since Augustus wanted to follow in Caesar’s footsteps, it may give a clear indication of what J. Caesar actually did/ was going to do before his assassination in 44 BC.
Ten Caesars: by Barry Strauss
Similar to Seutonius in structure, but very easy to follow and read. The Ten Caesar’s is a modern account of the reign of each individual Caesar. It is useful because it is extremely easy to follow, however since it is modern and easy to follow, it does omit some detail. The novel will clearly depict the transition of J. Caesar to Augustus Caesar. Upon reading this source, I noticed it didn’t entirely introduce anything new, however it may be easier to read and be useful for better flowing quotes.
Caesar, Augustus: National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/caesar-augustus/
Article gives a brief description of Augustus and his accomplishments. Useful for a quick overview of his achievements. It also gives a very positive view of Augustus with minimal criticism. In addition it shows the Prima Porta Augustus and other forms of work made by or made for Augustus. It could be a good source for just a quick to the point synopsis or even as a source for the artwork.
Personality and achievement of Augustus: Encyclopædia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/biography/Augustus-Roman-emperor/Personality-and-achievement
This article gives a very positive description of Augustus as a person and goes through the positives of his reign. There are also links on the page to more specific information such as his military career, empire expansion, and rise to power.
The Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire: By: Carlos Gomez
Useful because it can give more insight into specific terms or people. It also accounts the events chronologically so it is easy to follow.
There are a couple ways to go here, Jules. (At least a couple.)
You can follow your instincts and weave the several thread of your complex argument to support a grand hypothesis about Augustus’s hypocrisy, or you might narrow your focus to the “side project” you’ve already declared worthy of 10 pages: “going into specifics waters down the argument and also would have the reader off on a side tangent on the Aeneid which could take way more than 10 pages to explain in itself.” You might find that a close critical analysis of the Aeneid as Augustus imagined it, studded with observations of how Virgil undermined Augustus’s intentions, would provide you just the battleground you need to make your primary argument, supplemented by details from your other sources that contribute to your main theme.
I agree. It could make for a really cool paper, but to analyze the Aeneid would take at least 10 pages just to get through book 1, even through the eyes of Augustus. Maybe if I ever go to grad school that would be a fun thing to research
Anyways I do really like the use of mentioning the Aeneid for the purpose of using the panel of authors to prove that Augustus just wanted to see himself as a hero in a pure society (and using it to clearly show his undermining of rape in a “moral” society) but I’m not sure if I need to directly reference an article for that since I really only need to briefly describe why he wanted the Aeneid to be written, not whether its pro or anti Augustan, and honestly maybe if I do some more digging I could maybe find an article that talks about it in this light. I know I read a wonderful article on it once by someone with the first name Julie, but I can’t find it now. (I only remember because her name is similar to mine haha) but hopefully I can find something more on the lines of that.
Your grade on the White Paper will remain 50/100 until you engage in feedback with your beloved professor, Pluto. I have started the conversation for us.