n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Sometimes a name is just a name : Tacitus' use of 'Augustus'

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Against the thesis of Thom, that whenever Tacitus uses the word 'Augustus' in his works, particularly those written before the , its function is to cast doubt on the institution of the principate as well as on the first emperor, this article argues that Augustus is predominantly used as a name rather than an imperial title and that there is no overarching design in Tacitus' uses of the word to denigrate the imperial institution or the first emperor. When Tacitus' references to Augustus are understood with appropriate nuance and with appreciation of the rhetorical or contextual situation in which the author has placed them, differing emphases and lights on the first emperor emerge, as is to be expected from the diversity of those referring to him. No change in Tacitus' use of Augustus and other descriptors of the first emperor is discernible from Tacitus' earliest extant works to his latest.

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