Augustus is a legendary figure in Roman history. For us, and the later Roman world, he is a mythical figure, an image of himself that Augustus helped to foster. He is the god-like archetypal father of his country. In this new biography, Pat Southern has succeeded (as much as can be done) in penetrating behind the mask to give us the man behind the legend.
Her opening chapters brilliantly relate the background of Roman history prior to the career of Octavian. She does a remarkable job of untangling the politiacal web of late Republican politics and placing the figures of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Mark Antony and Cleopatra into perspective. She guides us along the very difficult and tortuous route that brought Octavian , the non-entity equestrian, to become the adoptive son of Caesar, the Triumver and finally the beloved ruler of the Roman world.
It is easy to take for granted that Augustus would become the eventual victor in the power struggle following the assassination of Caesar. It is a period populated by meny men who had their eyes on becoming the sole ruler of the Roman empire. Ms. Southern takes us step by step, including the mistakes made by Octavian. In this she reveals much about the personalities of the participants but Roman society.
This is a scholarly book. You will find Mark Antony referred to by his correct name Marcus Antonius; and Pompey is Pompeius. It is a scholarly book that is well written and also even exciting to read at times. She knows her material and has written a thoughtful biography that is the best portrait of Augustus, the man and princeps, that we have.