Augustus & the Principate Another Level to the Aeneid
Virgil’s Masterpiece• Virgil spent 11 years on this poem, but unfortunately died before he was finished.• He wanted the poem to be burnt, but the emperor Augustus would not allow this and had it published after his death.• The poem is now over 2000 years old and is still considered to be one of the greatest poems ever written…
A National Poem• Written at a time of optimism, to represent a new and exciting time.• It gave the Romans an equivalent to Homer and explored what they were like, what they should be like and what they could achieve.• The majority of Virgil’s life, Rome was in a period of civil war, or civil war was around the corner.• The Aeneid combines the Homeric age, with the Augustan period, merging myth with historical fact.• Virgil manages to include the past, present and future, in a way that we do not see in Homer, through the use of prophecy, myth, Roman legends, and finally, Stoic philosophy used by the humans and gods in the poem
A Brief History of Rome…• After the founding of Rome, there were seven kings. (as you will find out later)• The last king was ousted by Brutus (not that one, an ancestor!) and the Republic was created. 509 B.C.• The Romans were very proud of the way Rome was run and feared those who sought absolute power.• This was the problem with Caesar.
Brutus the Second• Brutus and Cassius killed Caesar and were hailed by many as saviours of the Republic 44BC.• Many Romans feared a dictator or king coming to power again.• At this point Octavian (Caesar’s nephew) was at the time of Caesar’s death but returned to Rome to claim his inheritance.
Civil War• 48 B.C. – end of civil war between Caesar and Pompey.• After Octavian returns, another period of civil war between him, Brutus and Cassius.• Another possibility of civil war with Antony over leadership, but Octavian splits the empire three ways between himself, Antony and Lepidus - The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Actium• Tension rises with Antony and Octavian but Antony marries Octavian’s sister• Lepidus and Octavian fall out – Octavian now has complete power over the west, whilst Antony has the East.• Antony had been living in the East with Cleopatra, who had an illegitimate son with Caesar called Caesarion, Antony called him King of Kings – direct attack on Octavian’s inheritance.• Octavian used this to portray Antony as a defector from Rome, who had created an independent Eastern Empire.
Battle of Actium 2• When senators loyal to Antony attack Augustus in the senate, Augustus reacts so strongly that they flee to Egypt.• Augustus then claimed that they were setting up their own senate in Egypt.• Octavian then seized Antony’s will and published it – within it Antony stated he wanted to be buried next to Cleopatra in Egypt• Octavian showed this to be a betrayal of Rome and his sister, and waged war against Cleopatra – not another civil war.
Defeated• Cleopatra and Antony were easily defeated in Egypt.• They both committed suicide and their son and Caesarion were killed by Octavian.• Octavian had now become the single most powerful man in the Roman world and had to protect his position.• Aware of the Romans’ feelings about dictatorship Octavian did everything he could to show he did not want absolute power.• If he was ever bestowed with honours, he made it appear as though it was the senate’s idea and often refused.• He even claimed he would resign at one point, and the senate fearing another civil war (by those who sought his position) begged him to stay.
The Customs of the Ancestors• More power than any other citizen, yet no one could claim he wanted to be king or dictator.• Augustus - return to the golden age, or returning to the mos maiorum, customs of the ancestors.• Long period of civil war, the Romans were optimistic and believed Augustus could save them.• Augustus promoted piety, marriage, proper behaviour, peace, family life and started a building regime.
Augustan Propaganda• Augustus presented himself as the ideal Roman citizen – pietas, auctoritas (like Aeneas)• He wanted to be viewed as a father to the Roman people and under Maecenas, his friend, many poets were encouraged to write pro – Augustan literature.• Maecenas supported and influenced struggling poets.• This literature highlighted and praised Augustus’ ideals, e.g. Horace’s ode on the battle of Actium.
The Aeneid• Virgil attempted to write an epic both showing the greatness of the Roman race (and what they could become) and linking the hero with their hero – Augustus.• The legend was developed, made more well known and used to highlight a link between Augustus and both Aeneas and the gods.• Augustus is represented as the culmination of years of history and his rule is made to appear fated.• He would make Rome glorious again.
Looking ForwardCrucial book in the development of Aeneas’character and resolution. Everything that has gonebefore is summarised in it, and all the events of therest of the poem take their starting point.First 2/3 of book – Aeneas is backward looking,regretful, uncertain.After meeting with Anchises – strengthened andresolved in his mission.Aeneas is left ‘fired with glory to come’