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Classics & Ancient History   >   Augustus

The Sources

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In this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Across twenty-one lectures, we consider a range of issues including: (i) the historical sources for reign of Augustus and their reliability; (ii) the events that led to the creation of the principate, particularly the Battle of Actium; (iii) the various constitutional settlements that formalised Augustus’ powers; (iv) his military achievements; (v) the importance of contemporary poetry (Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid) and coinage for understanding his reign; (vi) the significance of key figures around Augustus, such as Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Tiberius and Germanicus; (vii) the extent to which Augustus really ‘restored the republic’ as he claimed he did; (viii) Augustus’ involvement in religious life at Rome and in the provinces; (ix) his administrative changes in Rome and in the provinces; (x) his management of various different sections of Roman society – the senatorial elite, the equestrian order, the army, the people of Rome and the provincial elites; (xi) challenges to his rule; (xii) his management of the succession; and (xiii) the importance of his own record of his achievements, the Res Gestae.

The Sources

In this lecture we provide an introduction to the figure of Augustus and think about the different kinds of sources that are available, focusing in particular on: (i) the literary sources: Suetonius, Tacitus and Cassius Dio; (ii) the poetry of Ovid, Propertius, Horace and Virgil; (iii) the material culture, including coins, buildings, statues and inscriptions; and (iv) the importance of being critical readers of the source material.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nicholls, M. (2023, May 23). Augustus - The Sources [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Nicholls, M. "Augustus – The Sources." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 May 2023,


Prof. Matthew Nicholls

Prof. Matthew Nicholls

University of Oxford