Augustus, Res Gestae

LCL 152: 332-333

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Introduction

Introduction

Among extant historical documents there is none that outweighs in importance the account of his stewardship which the Emperor Augustus left among the papers deposited with the Vestal Virgins before his death, preserved to us in a copy chiselled upon the walls of the Temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra in Asia Minor, the modern Angora. This copy, known as the Monumentum Ancyranum, has justly been called by Mommsen the “Queen of Inscriptions.”

Suetonius, Augustus, 101, states that Augustus had deposited with the Vestal Virgins, along with his will, three other documents, all of which were opened and read in the Senate. The first contained instructions for his funeral; the third, a summarized statement of the condition of the whole empire; the second, the one with which we are here concerned, contained “a résumé of his acts which he wished to have engraved upon bronze tablets to be set up before his mausoleum.” More than forty years before his death Augustus had built this mausoleum on the Tiber at the northern edge of the Campus Martius, in the midst of a small park, which was opened by the Emperor to the public. The mausoleum itself was probably surrounded by an enclosing wall, at the entrance to which, facing the Campus Martius, stood the pillars, or pilasters, on which was engraved the index rerum gestarum. The shell of the

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Introduction

mausoleum itself has outlived the centuries and is still standing on the Ripetta, but the bronze tablets have long since disappeared. The original document, however, was copied on the walls of many of the temples of Augustus throughout the empire, and remains of three copies have come to light in Asia Minor alone. In addition to the Augusteum at Ancyra, inscribed with both the Latin text and a Greek version, there was found another ruined temple at Apollonia with remnants of the same Greek version; it is fairly certain that the Augusteum at Pergamon had both the Latin and the Greek versions; and finally at Antioch in Pisidia (Colonia Caesarea) Sir W. M. Ramsay discovered, in 1914, a number of fragments of the Latin text from a fourth copy.1 But the inscription on the temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra is relatively so complete, although marred in places by the scaling of the stone, that it outweighs all the others in importance, and the designation Monumentum Ancyranum has become synonymous with Res Gestae Divi Augusti.

The temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra is still in a fair state of preservation. The Latin text is chiselled upon both sides of the inner walls of the pronaos or vestibule. It was arranged in six pages, three of forty-six lines each, on the left as one entered, surmounted by the title, which runs in two and a half lines across the top of all three, and three pages on the right of fifty-four lines each. The arrangement undoubtedly was in general a replica of that of the inscription at Rome. Each line contained on the

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.augustus-res_gestae.1924