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Anthony Everitt , John Curless

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17. Oktober 2006
He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. As Rome’s first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. His consolidation and expansion of Roman power two thousand years ago laid the foundations, for all of Western history to follow. Yet, despite Augustus’s accomplishments, very few biographers have concentrated on the man himself, instead choosing to chronicle the age in which he lived. Here, Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of Cicero, gives a spellbinding and intimate account of his illustrious subject.

Augustus began his career as an inexperienced teenager plucked from his studies to take center stage in the drama of Roman politics, assisted by two school friends, Agrippa and Maecenas. Augustus’s rise to power began with the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, and culminated in the titanic duel with Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
The world that made Augustus–and that he himself later remade–was driven by intrigue, sex, ceremony, violence, scandal, and naked ambition. Everitt has taken some of the household names of history–Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cleopatra–whom few know the full truth about, and turned them into flesh-and-blood human beings.

At a time when many consider America an empire, this stunning portrait of the greatest emperor who ever lived makes for enlightening and engrossing reading. Everitt brings to life the world of a giant, rendered faithfully and sympathetically in human scale. A study of power and political genius, Augustus is a vivid, compelling biography of one of the most important rulers in history.
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"* 'An engrossing book... Everitt brings [Cicero] alive, making hima credible as well as a remarkable figure' - Allan Massie, Literary Review * 'Unobtrusively crammed with fascinating information about Roman life and customs, splendidly clear and coherent in its narrative and altogether convincing in its portraiture' - Sunday Independent * '[Anthony Everitt's] achievement is to have replaced the austere classroom effigy with an altogether rounder, more awkward and human person' - Financial Times * 'Excellent... Cicero comes across much as he must have lived: reflective... charming and rather vain... Everitt does a good job of bringing Cicero and his age to life' - The Wall Street Journal * '[Everitt makes] his subject - brilliant, vain, principled, opportunistic and courageous - come to life after two millennia' - The Washington Post * 'Gripping... Everitt combines a classical education with practical expertise... He writes fluidly' - New York Times" -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .


Caesar Augustus is one of the most fascinating figures in history. Plucked as teenager from provincial obscurity by his great-uncle Julius Caesar, who adopted him posthumously in his will, Augustus transformed the chaotic Republic into an orderly imperial autocracy. His consolidation of the Roman empire arguably laid the foundations of Europe.Although a sickly young man, with a tendency to fall seriously ill at moments of crisis, Augustus taught himself to be brave and was intelligent, painstaking and patient. He worked extraordinarily hard, and, within a generation, had rebuilt Rome, transforming it into a splendid metropolis and centre for civil government and the arts. In this dynamic and engaging biography, Anthony Everitt uncovers the deeply human character of this extraordinary man. It is also an exhilarating portrait of Roman social customs and politics. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

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5.0 von 5 Sternen An Excellent Biography 26. Oktober 2006
Von Suzanne Cross - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
For a man who's achievement in terms of altering Roman history, Augustus Caesar has always stood (literally from the git-go) in the shadow of his magnificent great Uncle, Julius Caesar. There's a sort of magnificence to Caesar that Augustus simply couldn't match; where Caesar was a protean talent, equally at home in rhetoric, literature, art, ambition, or military genius, Augustus' talents were on a far more normal scale. That said, as was remarked by a grieving friend of Caesar's after the Ides of March, "If Caesar could find no way out, who can?"? And it was the 18-year-old Octavius who, over a 45-year-career, found that way out.

Augustus' achievement was to ruthlessly pursue supreme personal power in Rome for 20 years, and to spend the next 40 years turning that power into a functioning system that prolonged the Roman Empire for at least 200 years, arguably until its demise, and provided the peaceful environment for some of its greatest Roman art and literature. When he was born, Rome was, as it had been for centuries, firmly in the political grip of an incredibly small, wealthy elite of Senators who essentially ran the Republic as their own personal preserve. When he died, men from all over the Empire were now actively involved in its administration, the grip of the "old boys club" on power politics was broken forever, and he managed to harness the incredible competitiveness of Roman politics to solve most, if not all, of the old Republic's problems while taming the aristocracy. He did this through a constant, thoughtful, trial-and-error process that managed - just! - not to offend the hypsensitive reactionary elements in the Republic while accommodating them to a new world in which Roman power, and Roman talent, had to be harnessed world-wide. An extraordinary achievement.

This is simply the best biography of Augustus I have read on multiple levels (although, finally, his regime is receiving the kind of attention it has long deserved; another excellent recent book is Caesar's Legacy). Everett's biography of Cicero was superb, and he brings the same ability to condense multiple facts and sources to his biography of Augustus. While not bowing down in worship, neither does he show the unfortunate tendency of late-20th-century biographers to simply write off Augustus as some kind of proto-Mussolini. After a thorough sketch of the disintegrating Republic, he fairly notes the ruthlessness and power-mad qualities of Augustus' earlier career, the vicious quality of much of the Triumvirate. Of course, after Caesar's murder, Augustus was playing a zero-sum game in which victory or destruction were his only options. More interesting to me is the quiet crawl towards a proto-empire that, if all of Octavian's dynastic plans had not suffered destruction, might have worked far better than the system did under later Julio-Claudian Emperors. In fact, nothing shows up Augustus' extraordinary qualities so much as the fact that his decades-long balancing act could not be maintained by the lesser men who came after him. However, it DID endure, and peace throughout much of Europe and Asia was the greatest goal Augustus achieved. All this was painstakingly achieved through infinite patience, the ability to take pains, coolly analyze situations, the willingness to innovate while appearing to act traditionally, but the determination that the workings of the Roman state would be inclusive, rather than exclusive. It worked. As Augustus loved to say, "Make haste slowly."

Full of fascinating history and highly recommended.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A strong biography of the first Roman Emperor 22. Oktober 2006
Von Steven A. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Anthony Everitt follows up his excellent biography of the Roman politician, lawyer, and writer Cicero with a strong biography of the first Roman emperor, Augustus (born Gaius Octavius in 63 BC). If one add in Goldsworthy's well done recent biography of Julius Caesar, one then has a trio of excellent biographies that help make the political intrigues of Rome in the late Republic and early Empire come to life.

The challenges facing the author include holes in the life story of the man who became Augustus, leaving certain key questions about his life unanswered (nicely outlined in the last chapter). Writing the biography of someone from two thousand years ago is a daunting task, but one that Everitt ends up pulling off well.

The narrative traces the life of Octavius from his childhood onward. What we see is a young man with a lot of grit and determination--and luck. His great uncle, Julius Caesar, became his patron and adopted him, providing a jump start to his career. After Caesar's violent death, Octavius showed political skills by allying with Mark Antony and Lepidus to create a triumvirate, in opposition to those who killed Caesar (whose leaders included Cassius and Brutus).

The book shows how, with great patience, one of his greatest attributes, Octavius slowly increased his power and authority. With some exceptional friends and co-leaders (for instance, Agrippa), he ended up defeating Mark Antony and ascending to power.

The books shows the nature of that ascent, the value of his patience (compared with the impatience of his great uncle), the way that he used his power to stabilize and enhance the Roman Empire, his continual efforts to maintain peace in Rome, his intolerance toward his own family, his dilemmas at trying to organize the succession.

All in all, a very good biography of one of the more important figures in the West.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Edifying and Reasonably Readable 27. Januar 2007
Von Douglas S. Wood - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Anthony Everitt has followed up his earlier biography of Cicero with this compact one-volume work on the life of Rome's first emperor, who began his life as Gaius Octavius, later added Caesar, and then became Augustus. In the end, he was known simply 'princeps', the first citizen. This bit about being just the first citizen was perhaps a useful piece of political flummery - after all, he was supposed to be bringing back the Republic!

Everitt tells Augustus's life story in a straight forward, no nonsense way. He abjures speculation and sticks to the known record. The problem is that there are far more sources for the first half or so of Augustus's life than for the rest. The text reflects this change as the level of detail drops dramatically. The sparseness of sources must be a nightmare for scholars of the classical era.

Having recently read Tom Holland's excellent 'Rubicon' on the last days of the Roman Republic, it seemed to me that Everitt sort of squeezed the life-blood out of this story. In fairness, this grayness at least partly reflects the colorless prig who was Augustus - at least in public. Everitt's 'Augustus' is a study in first the gathering of power and later the mostly judicious use of power.

Everitt misses an opportunity to explore a couple intersting inquiries. First, how did Augustus manage to hold on to power for so many decades in a Rome that had a habit of regularly and sometimes violently changing leaders? Second, why did Marcus Agrippa, Augustus's great general, eschew the pursuit of power - even to the extent of refusing his well-earned 'triumphs'? Agrippa seemed well placed to challenge his friend's power, if he so desired, but never did so, at least openly.

On the whole, an edifying work and reasonably readable. Recommended.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen "I found Rome built of clay; I leave it to you in marble." 20. Dezember 2006
Von John Sollami - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Thorough, solid, scholarly, and balanced, this well-written biography immerses the reader in the haunted, violent, and sprawling empire whose focal point of power was Rome and its princeps, or first citizen, Gaius Octavius, later known as Augustus, the first and longest reigning and arguably most influential of all of Rome's emperors. Apart from giving us a well-drawn portrait of Octavius's rise to power through his adoptive father Julius Caesar and his long and eventful life thereafter, this biography places us in the midst of constant struggles for power and the ever-present border wars that were necessary to ensure the empire's expansion and stability. We are treated as well to the complex world of political intrigues, shifting loyalties, and shaky alliances that sewed the empire together over the years. Monumental events in the lives not only of Julius Caesar and Augustus, but also of Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Agrippa, and Tiberius, among many others, are portrayed in detail from available historical sources. The author is careful to guide us as to the accuracy of these sources, and his judgments seem reasonable and fair. In the end, Augustus was on balance a decent leader, but Everett doesn't spare us the princeps' vicious cruelties and shrewd drive to power as well as his willingness to sacrifice anyone and anything for the good of the empire and for the perpetuation of his bloodline after his death.

Anyone wanting a thorough understanding of this period of the Roman Empire is well advised to read this work. Not only is it highly educational, but it's damned enjoyable reading.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Study In Leadership 12. Februar 2007
Von John A. Van Devender - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a well written, anecdotal history of a complex and pivotal life, a study in how a single man can be the focus of world changing significance. Anthony Everitt's disciplined recounting of the events and manner of Gaius Octavius Caesar (Augustus) allows for more than a pleasant re-acquaintance with important historical facts. Fundamental to the author's approach is the manner in which he allows us to see parallels to our own time and culture in the issues confronted by nation whose very success surpassed its political structures' capacity to resolve. Furthermore, at a bit further distance, this book supplies a study of the nature, perils, rewards and costs of unwavering ambition when it controls a capable, energetic and charismatic leader. When read with an eye toward this aspect, it is a sobering reminder that a person must count the cost of significance. If any aspire to greatness, the pathway they must walk, the cost they must bear and the steel resolve they must demonstrate, cannot be far removed from that we see in Augustus. The book is an excellent critique of ambition even as it clearly demonstrates that which can be attained through it.

This book does not conduce to a loving appreciation of the man but it does make him very human to us, separated as we are by two thousand years and a considerable gap in cultural perspective. One admires Octavius as one admires Don Corleone, and there is much similarity between them. One feels the anguish in his soul as he contemplates his own, far-from-heroic military capacities. He was not a "man's man" as was his prime opponent Mark Antony. He was far from the brilliant general that was Julius Caesar. Yet, the flame absent in him, that drove those men, made them vulnerable. Mark Antony's passion obscured his judgment and hid the potential of greatness which lay open to him. Julius Caesar was not patient and hence pressed to hard, too early and too fast. Where Octavius lacked the fire and brilliance of these men, he more than surpassed them in deliberation. And it was deliberate, steady, unyielding resolve which carried this man beyond even Julius Caesar's glory.

Octavius is a study in leadership in a time when penetrating and sure-footed leaders were necessary. It is easy to speculate that apart from him, Rome would have surely never lasted another 200 years. The internal fragmentation and centrifugal forces in the society could not have been contained and the barbarians at the gate would not have had to wait another half millenium to have the city at their feet. But Augustus did live and the world was changed. Such was a man's potential then and certainly, such it must be now.
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