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Augustus From Revolutionary to Emperor by Adrian Goldsworthy

Augustus From Revolutionary to Emperor

Biography / Autobiography   History   

RRP £25.00

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The story of how Augustus rose from an obscure teenager to become Rome's first and greatest emperor

If you like Adrian Goldsworthy you might also like to read books by Bernard Cornwell, Michael Arnold and Claire Letemendia.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Goldsworthy has made a name for himself writing biographies of the great and the good of the Roman world. A careful scholar, he wears his knowledge lightly and is a skilled narrator and engaging writer. He brings all these attributes to play in his biography of Augustus. And he needs them, for making sense of the foul and complicated world of Roman republican politics is a complex job. Goldsworthy sets the scene and includes the context, and ably narrates the life of Gaius Octavius, or Augustus, from his early days and family life, to his marriage to Livia, and then his meteoric rise to ruler, or dictator, of Rome. His success was such that the rule of Augustus would long be considered a golden age. Goldsworthy’s biography demolishes some of the half-truths and tales that dog any successful ruler, and his book also acts as a brilliant history of Rome under Augustus.
~ Jonathan North

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Augustus From Revolutionary to Emperor by Adrian Goldsworthy

In the year 44 BC, when Julius Caesar was killed, Augustus was a mere teenager who had been adopted into Caesar's household. His reaction to Caesar's death was to step forward and proclaim himself Caesar's rightful successor. The Senate did not take him seriously, but over the following months he raised his own army and, after defeating Mark Antony in battle, became one of the three most powerful men in Rome. He was not yet 20 years old. Over the next ten years he consolidated his power in Rome, and finally overthrew the last of his rivals in 31 BC. From that moment on Rome became an empire, and Augustus its first emperor. This is the story of how one man rose to become the most powerful man in the world, and stabilised an empire that had been racked by decades of civil war. Augustus's achievements, and his legacy, are almost unparalleled. Like Julius Caesar, he presided over a huge expansion in wealth and territory. Like Caesar he was honoured by having a month of the year named after him. But unlike Caesar he was able to keep hold of power for over 40 years, and bequeath the empire, whole, to his successors.


Embarrassed by his short stature Augustus is said to have worn build-up shoes. He also had a love of crude jokes and poems, which he wrote himself. He was one part of the ultimate power couple. Aged 24 and on the verge of great power he fell in love with the beautiful, clever Livia, who was 20. Both were already married and while Augustus had a daughter, Livia was pregnant by her first husband. Livia and Augustus married three days after she gave birth. Extraordinary... This vast accomplished book... is a book to read avidly but also dip into, to enjoy the huge range of characters and the events -- Jenny Selway DAILY EXPRESS Goldsworthy admits that pinning Augustus down is a tricky task. But he never allows any aspect of the Augustan project to slip away. The focus shifts easily from Augustus
military might to his love of poetry

... He shines a light on the many contradictions of Augustus

... Goldsworthy doesn't hesitate to describe the emperor for what he was: a mass-murderer and then a military dictator. But he reminds us of Augustus
charm and humanity too

... Augustus took the Roman world from civil war to lasting peace and prosperity, and the mechanisms he used to obtain and maintain power were extraordinary. Like Goldsworthy's biography of Julius Caesar, this is essential reading for anyone interested in Ancient Rome. -- Natalie Haynes THE INDEPENDENT Goldsworthy's true expertise is as a military historian and this is what really gives his biography its strength and bite: his depiction of Augustus's relationship with his legions is masterly -- Robert Harris THE SUNDAY TIMES This is a very fine story, very skilfully told -- Peter Jones LITERARY REVIEW Goldsworthy capably guides us over the rapids of modern scholarship... Goldsworthy is particularly sound on senatorial power struggles and the use of marriage to cement or break political alliances. Augustus was, incredibly, both brother-in-law and son-in-law of Antony, having previously married the under-age daughter of Antony's first wife -- Nicholas Shakespeare THE DAILY TELEGRAPH Adrian Goldsworthy does not hesitate to describe Emperor Augustus as he really was: a mass-murderer and then a military dictator i NEWSPAPER Authoritative and always interesting -- John Gray NEW STATESMAN Goldsworthy examines the life of Augustus Caesar, who rose from obscurity to become Rome's first emperor and the most powerful and enduring in the history of the Empire. He killed and manipulated his way to the top, then reinvented himself as 'the father of his country', achieving peace and prosperity ITALIA! Goldsworthy has fashioned an engrossing account of this extraordinary man, pointing out his many contradictions; fiercely ambitious but publicly reluctant to accept state triumphs, his power built on the success of his legions but never an outstanding soldier himself, adulterous in the extreme but a determined public supporter of traditional marriage. Augustus has been somewhat neglected in recent years, and Goldsworthy skilfully and painstakingly builds his case for greater prominence using the detail of his daily conduct and administration expertly... This is an excellent biography, which succeeds in ranking Augustus once more high amongst the great leaders in world history. HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY Historian and biographer Goldsworthy (Caesar) showcases his deep knowledge of Ancient Rome in this masterful document of a life whose themes still resonate in modern times... A strong narrative emphasis ties the work together and is enriched by evocative details of Roman life, whether it be bathing practices, voting tendencies, or the contemporary significance of Virgil. Readers may be surprised to find ancient precedents for still-visible cultural phenomena, such as the celebrity status accorded to politicians, public delight in scandal, and leadership constantly reinforced by... propaganda. ... the overall effect that Goldsworthy generates is of meeting a man whose life seems hardly distant from the modern experience. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (USA) Goldsworthy has made a name for himself writing biographies of the great and the good of the Roman world. A careful scholar, he wears his knowledge lightly and is a skilled narrator and engaging writer. He brings all these attributes to play in his biography of Augustus... Goldworthy's biography demolishes some of the half-truths and tales that dog any successful ruler, and his book also acts as a brilliant history of Rome under Augustus GOOD BOOK GUIDE A timely biography of Augustus. He was Julius Caesar's adopted son who saw off his rivals and gave to Rome and its colonies a stability and a form of democracy which has a surprising significance to our own weary company of statesmen... 500 pages of solid and often exciting history -- Illtyd Harrington CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL Superb, unputdownable and scholarly -- Simon Sebag Montefiore EVENING STANDARD Adrian Goldsworthy's portrait is the most trustworthy we are likely to get -- Nicholas Shakespeare THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'Books for Christmas
Adrian Goldsworthy does justice to the many sides of Augustus

's character: devoted husband, ruthless politician, masterly tactician. He makes complex Roman politics digestible with generous illustrations; quotations from the emperor's own writings; a glossary to help with technical terms from Roman law and politics; a list of dramatis personae; helpful end-notes, index and bibliography... The biography mixes vivid anecdotes... with narrative detail of military and political developments. -- Cally Hammond CHURCH TIMES Patiently, imaginatively but without recourse to flashy surmise, Goldsworthy offers reappraisals that inspire confidence because of their balance and good sense. Such an elusive man is never going to leap off these pages but he does begin to live and breathe -- Noonie Minogue THE TABLET His depiction of Augustus's relationship with his legions is masterly. -- Robert Harris SUNDAY TIMES Goldsworthy is a master storyteller...This is the account of the man who remade Rome in his's a tale that never loses it's appeal. -- Miles Russell BBC History Magazine'

About the Author

Adrian Goldsworthy

Adrian Goldsworthy has a doctorate from Oxford University. His first book, THE ROMAN ARMY AT WAR was recognised by John Keegan as an exceptionally impressive work, original in treatment and impressive in style. He has gone on to write several other books, including THE FALL OF THE WEST, CAESAR, IN THE NAME OF ROME, CANNAE and ROMAN WARFARE, which have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages. A full-time author, he regularly contributes to TV documentaries on Roman themes.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th August 2014


Adrian Goldsworthy

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


608 pages


Biography / Autobiography

Biography: historical, political & military
Ancient history: to c 500 CE
European history



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