The Emperor Caesar Augustus was a man with a grand vision for his future and the future of his city, Rome. He was born into a wealthy family, but he was not necessarily born to become Emperor of Rome—this was a position that he grew into, rather than one he inherited ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”). During the course of his time as ruler, Augustus—sometimes alternatively known in other texts as Avgvsto—began to keep a text that described his time as leader of Rome (Bushnell). He eventually had this text transcribed onto a number of bronze tablets, and it was this transcription that ensured that all of the words that Augustus wrote about his time as Caesar were preserved for many future generations to come (Bushnell).
Many have questioned why Augustus decided to write these words and preserve them for years to come. Some parts of the text are important, and describe his reign; however, other parts of the text are less important, detailing Augustus’ desired funeral ritual, and so forth—these were not inscribed on bronze tablets (Bushnell). In these texts, Augustus details the different parts of his reign, including the way he came to power; however, it is detailed in his own voice, which means that the experience is undoubtedly designed to portray him in a better light than actual historical accounts may portray him ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”). These texts also detail the ways in which Augustus began to wage war on his enemies; it is a fascinating account of his struggles with his enemies, because historians are aware that he was a war-loving leader in many ways, but he was also a scholar as well ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”).
Interestingly, despite the fact that Augustus seemed to love to wage war against his enemies, he managed to create a lasting peace in Rome and throughout the Roman Empire ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”). He was a relatively long-lived Emperor of Rome, and because of the literary and scholastic traditions of Rome at this time, it seems natural that as his life progressed, he would want to write down the experiences that he had and the many different political, social, and military battles that he fought, won, and lost; all of this, however, is colored by his own personal perspective on what he experienced in his lifetime (“Caesar Augustus ("Octavian")”).
Augustus wanted to make himself larger than life in the eyes of his people, but he also wanted to make himself larger than life in the eyes of all future generations to come (Bushnell). Reading the translated texts available, it seemed that Augustus could do no wrong in any sphere; when he set his mind to something, it became a reality (Bushnell). First he punished his father’s killers, beating them twice in battle; then, he says, he secured Egypt as part of the Roman Empire (Bushnell). Both of these feats are extraordinary and larger than life, and the ease by which he describes himself doing these amazing things makes him, in comparison, also seem to be god-like. It is this god-like figure that he was most interested in achieving, and he was quite successful; the transcription of his many great deeds was enough to erase many of his failures from the public memory for a long period of time, at least until Rome became an area of great interest for historians and artists hundreds of years later ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”).
In creating what is essentially an autobiography, Augustus was able to control the way that his people remembered him. He was able to show them what a great emperor he was, and he was able to control the dialogue and set the bar for the future emperors of Rome—if they could not match his greatness, they would not be remembered in the same way, and he had already written extensive texts to detail what kind of ruler he was. In the same way that the pharaohs of Egypt ensured that their names would not be forgotten for all time, so too did Augustus make an attempt at immortality: he just happened to choose the pen and the expansion of an empire rather than the creation of massive pyramids.
If the overall goal of the texts that Augustus created was to ensure his memory and legacy lived on, he was successful. However, in these texts he also left something else—a blueprint for the continued peace, security, and success of Rome. Augustus was an amazing man and an innovator—he created a police and fire force, changed the structure of the Senate to be more inclusive, and expanded the borders of the Roman Empire significantly ("AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome”). He rebuilt Rome into something that could be continued long after his death—and the texts that he created were important, even fundamental, in the continuation of the Augustan tradition.
"AVGVSTO The Emperor Returns to Rome." Swide Magazine. Swide Magazine, n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.
Bushnell, Thomas. "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus." The Deeds of the Divine Augustus. UCSD, n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.
"Caesar Augustus ("Octavian")." Augustus. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.