n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - What's in a name? Tacitus on Augustus

Volume 51, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The paper argues that the title 'Augustus' as used by Tacitus is implicitly associated with the growing despotism introduced after Actium, that Tacitus took this term to represent or to imply the whole process by which the Republic was finally destroyed and the Empire came into being. It further maintains that Tacitus makes his reservations about the new political order vested in the emperor clear by carefully and consistently crafting circumstances of doubt to surround the use of the title Augustus. This focus on individual power is identified by Tacitus as one of the fundamental changes introduced by Augustus after taking political control. An analysis of how Tacitus uses the reference to 'Augustus' gives some indication of his assessment of the new dispensation. Tacitus subsequently expects the reader to test this subversive construct against the for the Empire, namely the establishment of a lasting peace, or failure thereof.

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