From Publishers Weekly
Southern (Domitian: Tragic Tyrant) has contributed the first true biography of Augustus Caesar in 75 years. Even though hundreds of books and articles have appeared, Southern's approach is to disregard all the writing about politics, the arts and other specialized studies. Instead, she concentrates on the man himself, a daunting task because the man originally known as Octavian carefully orchestrated the public perception of himself. Her approach is chronological, from his family's heritage to his deathbed, when Octavian asked his family and friends if they had enjoyed the performance. Along the way, Southern analyzes problems and conflicts among surviving Roman sources and offers her own informed opinion as to which were more accurate. The frail youth Octavian was hardly suited to greatness, but his ties to Julius Caesar brought him into prominence. In the death throes of the Republic, Octavian emerged as Caesar's avenger, crushed his chief rival, Mark Anthony, then went on to hold supreme power for 44 years. Always careful to appear that he followed legal procedures, Octavian, Southern cogently argues, did not have a master plan to change the Republic into an empire. He simply brought order out of chaos, improvising as he went, and held power for so long that upon his death in A.D. 14 many of his subjects knew no other form of government. Although Octavian could have failed many times, Southern's astute character portrait shows why he ultimately succeeded. 30 b&w photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
'...she notes points of controversy and does not shrink from making reasoned and judicious speculations of her own...Southern's interpretaion of Augustus adds little that is new, but as a straightforward telling of the story within a single volume incorporating recent scholarship, it is most welcome.'
- CHOICE, New York'For someone seeking a short introduction to the study of Augustus and his reign, this readable work is a good place to start. Stronlgy recommended for readers of all levels.'
- CHOICE, New York'Southern's biography, Augustus is thorough ... supplies a reliable up-to-date guide through the snake pits of Roman politics.'
- Frederic Raphael, Sunday Times'Southern deserves credit for carefully weighing the primary evidence, working through an overwhelming amount of secondary scholarship, and producing a clear and balanced account.'
- Bryn Mawr, Classical Review'This is an accessible and well-written() portrait of an extraordinary man,'
- Bowdens Dec 98