The father Augustus avenged was Julius Caesar, who adopted him as a young man. The rebels he crushed included Mark Antony. But the Emperor’s most famous boast is not about politics or military exploits. It is about civic improvement. The Res Gestae lists building after building which Augustus had constructed or restored. These included aqueducts, a library, a theatre and an astonishing eighty-two temples. A later biographer, Suetonius, stresses how proud he was of this achievement:
Urbem … excoluit adeo, ut iure sit gloriatus marmoream se relinquere, quam latericiam accepisset.
The city… he improved to such a degree, that rightly he boasted to have left marble what he found brick.
There are some useful words here. Adeo is to such a degree. Relinquere: to leave behind (or relinquish – think of a relic). That will crop up again in our look at Ovid in lesson five.
You can read the whole Res Gestae in English here. It is a fascinating insight piece of writing. How much is sincere, and how much is good politics? When you’ve figured that out, you’ll probably be ready for the next lesson. It features some fine Latin prose about the Dursley family from 4 Privet Drive.