Adrian Goldsworthy's Augustus

This biography is brilliant. It's better than sliced bread - and far more interesting to read.

Okay, a few people might have noticed I tend to get thanked in the start of Goldsworthy books, and a few others might be aware that he's one of my best friends and think that might make me biased but ... it's actually the other way around: I couldn't be such good friends with a mediocre historian.

Anyway, to be fair I've asked Uncle Marty (aka Martin Lobel), to write a proper unbiased and thoroughly objective review as an ordinary member of the public. Hopefully it'll appear on the blog soon.

A grad student who works at my local cafe was so overly excited I had a review copy of the book, that I gave it to him. And he loved it. He's not a friend of Adrian's but he also recognises that Goldsworthy is one of the most gifted historians of our generation.

The book is bloody brilliant, and I can't recommend it enough. It starts off by explaining why calling Julius Caesar Octavianus instead "Octavian" after the Julius Caesar's death is merely continuing to propagate Mark Anthony's propaganda against him. For example this 'reminder' of Augustus' original name - rather than his legal right to be named Julius Caesar, as the adopted heir of - was stamped onto lead sling-bullets found at Perusia. Calling him "Octavian" was an attempt to undermine his claim to be Caesar's heir. Yes that seems obvious, once it's pointed out. Other bullets are rude about Fulvia and Lucius 'baldy' Antonius, and suggest 'Octavian' liked to be buggered; landica was rude Latin slang for clitoris.

Another thing Adrian does which also seems obvious, but which has not to my knowledge been done before, and is a stroke of genius: he 'breaks down' the family trees. So there is one family tree to show relationships and intermarriages at the start of his career, another for those in his middle age, and so forth. This very cleverly sorts out the confusion otherwise created by trees showing, for example, all the successive marriages in one family tree covering a lifetime.

The book is well illustrated with both figures - such as this one showing the forum in Rome around 63 BC, the year Augustus was born - and photographs (some by me, admittedly).

Buy it, read it, buy more copies and give them to everyone you know - you won't regret it.

Hatchards in London has signed copies; as, I believe, does Politics and Prose in DC.

Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor - hardcover at Amazon UK
Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor - Kindle at Amazon UK

Yale hardcover at Amazon US - Augustus: First Emperor of Rome

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