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Review: Augustus. Godfather of Europe

Richard Holland

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Oktawian August. Ojciec chrzestny Europy

The book “Augustus. Godfather of Europe” by Richard Holland is a position focusing on the figure of the first Roman emperor, his rise to power, reign and attempt to establish a successor.

I must admit that I approached the position very positively because the topic is really interesting. Gaius Octavian – a young man whose father came from plebeians – could not count on great successes in politics. With the coming to power of Julius Caesar, the entire Julius family, including his niece Atia (Octavian’s mother) gained a better position in the capital. However, everything changed dramatically when it turned out that Caesar chose Octavian as his main heir and adopted him posthumously. Thus, Octavian became the owner of a huge estate, and numerous slaves, and due to the nickname Caesar received, he could count on the support of the legions.

The story of a 19-year-old young man who went from nothing to a major figure on Rome’s political scene defeated his adoptive father’s killers in the civil war, defeated Antony and Cleopatra, and finally established his independent power, stabilized the state, and founded the first Roman dynasty. for a sensational film. To this day, historians wonder how an inexperienced young man was able to demonstrate such determination and infallibility in his movements.

The author deliberately refers to Octavian as “the godfather” in the title of the book. He argues his opinion by the fact that the first emperor, using his own position and strength, concentrated power in the hands of his family and associates, with whom he ruled the Empire – often, if the situation required it, bloodily.

The book could have been really interesting if not for the numerous errors. At the very beginning of the book, the author mentions the capture of Carthage in 167 BCE. Moreover, the author does not use one type of nomenclature and, for example, mentions “Lucius Sergius Catilina”. In the description of the battle of Mudna in 45 BCE in turn, the wrong name of Muna appears.

Errors are often not very severe, but noticeable and unfortunately annoying. The author also has a manner of exaggeration, such as mentioning that Octavian Augustus created a new regime almost 1,000 years after the expulsion of the last king. What also caught my eye, unfortunately, was the author’s clear reluctance to Cicero, which in my opinion was unnecessary.

Unfortunately, what else may alienate the reader is the fact that footnotes are at the end of the book. In this type of item, the footnotes often have very important information, and leafing through the book is very inconvenient. On the plus side, you can certainly give a well-prepared edition of the book.

In conclusion, Richard Holland’s book is not an outstanding work. Of course, it has a lot of information about the life of the first emperor and the events taking place at that time; but I don’t think it’s very well written. What’s more, numerous errors and overly open comments by the author make reading simply longer. Certainly, but I think that every Rome enthusiast will find something for themselves here.

Purchase book in Amazon

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