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Augustus not so weak

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Young Octavian Augustus
Young Octavian Augustus

The popular opinion is that young Gaius Octavian, the future Roman Emperor, was cowardly and weak. However, we know the message about how Octavian enters the area of a military camp to talk to rebel soldiers. In the camp, he could see the body of a murdered emissary who was also looking for a dialogue. Nevertheless, Oktavian did not give up the daring decision.

We know the information that the future emperor was suddenly unconscious. The sudden change in the state of Octavian, however, resulted not from paralyzing stress, but rather from illness. Historians suspect asthma or ascites, however, Suetonius mentions that Octavian lost consciousness. These diseases do not cause such a reaction of the organism.

It is believed that Octavian probably had strong clonic-tonic attacks during which he was completely vulnerable. The argument for this thesis is that in his family there were people suffering from epilepsy. What is important, however, despite his poor health, Octavian was ready to take risks and challenges. For example, after a hard day’s illness, he arrived at Philippi (42 BCE) and commanded in battle.

It is also worth emphasizing that he often brushed against death. It was about to pass him missiles, and moreover, he survived the collapse of the bridge. So the rumours of his cowardice and weak psyche should be moved to the past.

  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Cesarz August, Warszawa 1973
  • Suetonius, The life of Augustus

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