Octavian

This is an excerpt from the “Biography of Augustus” by the Ancient Historian, known as SUETONIUS (69 AD-122 AD).

“He was unusually handsome and exceedingly graceful at all periods of his life, though he cared nothing for personal adornment. His hair was slightly curly and inclining to golden, and he was so far from being particular about the dressing of it that, in later years, he would have several barbers working in a hurry at the same time, while he would either be reading or writing something.

He had clear, bright eyes, in which he liked to have people think that it was because of a kind of divine power. His expression was calm and mild.

He did not readily make friends, but when he did, he clung to them with unfailing loyalty, even condoning their faults, provided they were not too great. In his administration of justice he was both highly conscientious and very lenient.

But he surpassed all others in the cruelty of his vengeance against his enemies. After the capture of Perusia, he met all attempts to beg for mercy with one reply, “You must die!” Some write that more than three hundred prisoners were put to death by throwing them into the fire of a funeral pyre at the altar raised to the deified Julius Caesar.

He taught his grandsons reading, swimming, and the other elements of education, and he never dined in their company unless he sat beside them on their low couch, or made a journey with them unless they rode close by his carriage on either side.

He did not in the least shrink from a reputation for gaming, and played dice frankly and openly for recreation, even when he was well on in years.

When Gallus Cerrinius, a senator with whom he was not familiar, had suddenly become blind and had therefore resolved to end his life by starvation, Augustus called on him and by his consoling words induced him to live.

He thought twice of restoring the republic; ‘May it be my privilege to establish the State in a firm and secure position… but only if I may be called the author of the best possible government, the foundations of which will remain unshaken after I die.’ But deeming it to be too hazardous to be put in the hands of more than one, he instead realized his hope by making every effort to prevent any dissatisfaction with his regime and so beautified the city that he could justly boast that he had ‘found it built of brick and left it in marble’.”