Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Augustus

I'm slow going through this book because I've been oversleeping in the mornings! Probably because I'm staying up too late!

And I keep getting so caught up in reading the book that I forget to make notes or mark pages or anything. So, general reflections.

I keep being surprise by how sick Augustus was as a child. There's at least half a dozen instances where his weak constitution nearly killed him before he became an adult. His mother, even after he was officially an adult, kept him very firmly under her thumb. Partially, it seems, out of concern for his health and partially out of worries that his great-uncle Caesar's enemies would strike at him.

The interesting part is that Augustus didn't really have anything to do with Caesar until a couple of years before Caesar's assassination. He must have really impressed Caesar with something, his intellect most likely, since Augustus was never in a battle until after Caesar's death and Caesar had a new will written up before his death making Augustus his adopted son (a really common practice back then, to 'adopt' grown sons of other families in order to facilitate peace between them) and his legal heir.

Something I think it's important to remember is that, much as I love Augustus, his reign and everything that he accomplished was built on top of what Caesar did. Without Caesar, there would have been no Augustus.

The long running fight between Antony, Augustus and the Senate is really very interesting. Antony and Augustus were both Caesarians but they had to let the men who had killed their friend, their leader and their family (in the case of Augustus) go in order to secure their own power. But pretty much the first thing they did, when they formed the Second Triumvirate and took power in Rome was to have those who had killed Caesar assassinated. Plus all their political enemies. The funniest part of that is that the assassinations were kind of done in 'broad daylight'. They came up with a *list* of people who needed to be killed, negotiated between themselves, giving up friends and family that one or the other hated in order to get someone they wanted on the list. And then the list was posted in the middle of Rome! So that anyone could take up the job and, upon completion, be paid for it.

It's like writing up a list of people who have pissed you off, posting it on your FB and saying, I will pay anyone who kills any of these people x dollars, no questions asked. And there's no *penalty* for this, because while in office, no one is able to be brought up on criminal charges in the Roman republic (which is already dead and just doesn't know it yet).


  1. That! Is! So! Interesting!

    Cool analogy with Facebook. Maybe I'll start my list today! Haha!

    Glad you shared this. I love these kinds of posts where I learn something. Plus it's interesting to know what YOU find interesting enough to recount for us so thank you!

  2. Sadly, you're not a government official in ancient Rome, so I'm pretty sure you'd get in trouble!

    I forgot to share the original meaning of the word 'decimation' though! Any guesses?

  3. Dismembering someone into ten parts? :)

    Tell me! Please. :)

  4. O.O


    Okay. Some background, first. So, the Roman army, when it existed (it wasn't a standing army), was made up of legions. The numbers vary, but there were generally around 6,000 men in a legion. So if a general could field say, 9 legions, he had 54,000 men at his command. Each legion was broken down into cohorts, which were units of six centuries. In spite of the name, a centuria may not have been 100 men. Depending on the point in time, the number varied from 60 to 100 (always an even number) as standard for a century.

    Right. So, say a centuria or a cohort, or hell, an entire legion did something that was declared punishable. A favorite procedure was to punish by 'decimation'. What would happen is that the group to be punished would be broken down into groups of ten men. And each group of ten men would draw lots. One of out each ten of these groups would draw the 'bad' lot. This man would be either clubbed or stoned to death by the remaining nine men in his group.

  5. Fascinating!! Well, I had no idea, but since 'dec' meant ten and "decimation" makes me think of something really bad...well, it was a guess!

    But that was really interesting. thanks for sharing!


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