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Senior: 11 & 12: Unit 4: Augustus

Primary Sources

undefined  Reed Uni: Augustus - Nature of the Sources

An excellent analysis of the primary sources available for Augustus.

undefined A large collection of primary sources below!

undefined   The Annals of Tacitus

Roman historian and senator Tacitus wrote a history of the Roman Empire after Augustus died, from the reign of Tiberius to that of Nero, in the years AD 14–68. He was therefore able to sum up the conflicting opinions on the character of Augustus' rule by repeating unconfirmed rumour and giving greater prominence to negative rather than favourable comments.
NOTE: Use your 'Ctrl F' button to search for mentions of Augustus.
This item in The Conversation - 'Tacitus's Annals And Its Enduring Portrait of Monarchical Power' analyses his writing.

undefinedSuetonius: Lives of the Caesars - Augustus

Suetonius interpreted Augustus' actions and intentions more favourably by the items he chose for his biography and occasionally specific comment.

undefined Nicolaus of Damascus: Augustus

Served as a minister of both Cleopatra and Herod the Great, and wrote a lost biography of Augustus. Fragments of it survive.

More Primary Sources


The Deeds of the Divine Augustus (Res Gestae Divi Augusti) - By Augustus  
A monumental inscription composed by Augustus himself, giving his interpretation of his life and accomplishments. It is especially significant because it gives an insight into the image Augustus portrayed to the Roman people. He reviewed his rise to power, his conquest of the world and his unparalleled generosity towards his subjects, so it is seen by many as propaganda.


Fordham University: Ancient History Sourcebook - Rome
Scroll down to 'The Principate to 192 CD' for information on Augustus.

undefined   Lacus Curtius 

By Bill Thayer, of the University of Chicago
Cassius Dio on Augustus
  • Book 52 References to Augustus (Scroll down to no. 23, then 27-29). Here Cassius Dio makes the settlement of imperial powers upon Augustus dramatic by devoting Book 52 to an imaginary debate in the presence of Augustus between Agrippa as a proponent of republicanism and Maecenas as a proponent of monarchy. Augustus follows Maecenas' advice.
  • Book 53 References to Augustus (Scroll down to nos. 4 and 11)
  • Book 55 References to Augustus (use 'Ctrl F' to find many reference to Augustus)

undefined  Attalus 

Minutes of the Secular Games of Augustus (Acta ludorum saecularium), preserved in a fragmentary inscription.
This festival of 17 B.C. was part of Augustus' revival of republican religious institutions.

  Lacus Curtius

By Bill Thayer, of the University of Chicago

The Geography of Strabo     (Scroll down to no. 7).
Strabo was a Greek geographer and historian who saw the final collapse of the Roman Republic and the creation by Augustus of the Roman Empire. His description of Rome is more realistic in considering its disadvantages than most other ancient writers.




  Prima Porta Augustus



The victorius Augustus (or Augusto de Prima Porta) statue demonstrates one of the ways that the ancients used art for propaganda purposes. Here, Augustus shows himself as a great military victor and a staunch supporter of Roman religion and mythology through the link with Cupid at his feet. He is a magnificent figure, youthfully athletic (even though he was middle-aged at the time), stands in a relaxed pose where one leg bears the weight, wears military regalia and his right arm is outstretched, demonstrating that  the emperor is addressing his troops.  We immediately sense the emperor’s power as the leader of the army and a military conqueror.

See more at Khan Academy.

The Ara Pacis Augustae ('Altar of the Augustan Peace')








This is an altar in Rome dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace, but promoting Augustus' Pax Romana. The monument was commissioned by the Roman Senate on July 4, 13 BC to honour the return of Augustus to Rome after three years in Hispania and Gaul and consecrated on January 30, 9 BC. At its simplest, it is an open-air altar for blood sacrifice associated with the Roman state religion.

See more at Khan Academy and MIT.


The ENTIRE collection of resources provided by the BBC Birtles Library can be searched on ONE single, powerful search platform, which retrieves print books, eBooks, database articles and websites. Click HERE for assistance.

Useful eBooks

undefinedAugustus: First Emperor of Rome 

By Adrian Goldsworthy
To access this ebook, use your student number as login.
Also, read this book review of Adrian Goldsworthy's book on Augustus.

Useful Websites & Articles

Scanned / Printed Chapters of Recommended Reading

undefined Rome: The Augustan Age 44 BC - AD14

undefined History of Rome: Augustus chapter

undefined The early emperorors - Augustus to Domitian

undefined Augustus

undefined The Age of Augustus