Ancient History Sourcebook:
Res Gestae Divi Augusti
, c. 14 CE
This is, perhaps, the most famous inscription left us by Antiquity. It is inscribed on marble in a
building which was a temple of Augustus in Ankara, Asia Minor [today's Turkish capital]. The
original of this document seems to have been set up in bronze before the great Emperor's
mausoleum in Rome, and this is one of the copies distributed through the provinces. Only a
fraction of the long inscription can be cited, and it is hard to abridge what is throughout of high
historical value. It gives us what Augustus wished to have regarded as the leading glories of his
reign, distorting and suppressing some facts, but adding much to our knowledge of others.
Below is a copy of the deeds of the divine Augustus, by which he subjected the whole
world to the dominion of the Roman People, and of the sums of money he spent upon the
Republic and the Roman People, even as they are graven on the two brazen columns which are
set up in Rome.
In my twentieth year [44 B.C.], acting on my own initiative and at my own charges, I
raised an army wherewith I brought again liberty to the Republic oppressed by the dominance of
a faction. Therefore did the Senate admit me to its own order by honorary decrees, in the
consulship of Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius. At the same time they gave unto me rank among
the consulars in the expressing of my opinion [in the Senate]; and they gave unto me the
imperium. It also voted that I, as propreetor, together with the consuls, should "see to it that the
state suffered no harm." In the same year, too, when both consuls had fallen in battle, the people
made me consul and triumvir for the re-establishing of the Republic.
The men who killed my father [Arkenberg: Julius Caesar, who adopted his nephew as his son in
his will] I drove into exile by strictly judicial process, and then, when they took up arms against
the Republic, twice I overcame them in battle.
I undertook civil and foreign wars both by land and by sea; as victor therein I showed
mercy to all surviving [Roman] citizens. Foreign nations, that I could safely pardon, I preferred
to spare rather than to destroy. About 500,000 Roman citizens took the military oath of
allegiance to me. Rather over 300,000 of these have I settled in colonies, or sent back to their
home towns (municipia) when their term of service ran out; and to all of these I have given lands
bought by me, or the money for farms---and this out of my private means. I have taken 600
ships, besides those smaller than triremes.
Twice have I had the lesser triumph [i.e., the ovation]; thrice the [full] curule triumph;
twenty-one times have I been saluted as "Imperator." After that, when the Senate voted me many
triumphs, I declined them. Also I often deposited the laurels in the Capitol, fulfilling the vows
which I had made in battle. On account of the enterprises brought to a happy issue on land and