Augustus, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire, adopted son of Julius Caesar, friend and later foe of Mark Antony, patron of Horace and Virgil.

Frank and forceful, this putative autobiography tells his story from the assassination of Caesar, through his military, political and personal struggles to his final days as Emperor in everything but name.




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I struggled to enjoy this book. I have no problems with Massie's knowledge of Augustus and the era, and no doubt that his fictionalised account is soundly based in fact. But the writing seemed patchy.The book starts with Augustus speaking asides to his grandsons as the structure of the "autobiography". The content in this section is roughly chronological. But after 180 pages, we get Book 2, written with no stage whispers and jumping around in time. I felt as if Massie had got bored with his initial structure, or that his editor had told him to liven it up. Funnily, I wasn't bored, and would have been quite happy to continue in the original format. I found the chronological leaps a bit clumsy, not well referenced to time, and more than a little artificial.But, as I reflected toward the end of the book, my problem was that the characters did not come to life. Augustus is good - the self justifying arrogance seems true to character, but none else seemed to be painted as deeply. Livia, Tiberius, Agrippa and Maecenas all seemed to be one dimensional - Maecenas as excessively camp, Agrippa as the gruff no-nonsense military man, and so on.Read June 2015.

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