Res Gestae

Near the Mausoleum of Augustus Caesar is long wall forming part of the building that houses the Ara Pacis. The entire Res Gestae Divi Augusti is on that wall in bronze letters. Here is the first panel, followed by an English translation of the part you see.

My emphasis…

In my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction. For that reason, the senate enrolled me in its order by laudatory resolutions, when Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius were consuls (43 BC), assigning me the place of a consul in the giving of opinions, and gave me the imperium. With me as propraetor, it ordered me, together with the consuls, to take care lest any detriment befall the state. But the people made me consul in the same year, when the consuls each perished in battle, and they made me a triumvir for the settling of the state. I drove the men who slaughtered my father into exile with a legal order, punishing their crime, and afterwards, when they waged war on the state, I conquered them in two battles. I often waged war, civil and foreign, on the earth and sea, in the whole wide world, and as victor I spared all the citizens who sought pardon. As for foreign nations, those which I was able to safely forgive, I preferred to preserve than to destroy. About five hundred thousand Roman citizens were sworn to me. I led something more than three hundred thousand of them into colonies and I returned them to their cities, after their stipend had been earned, and I assigned all of them fields or gave them money for their military service. I captured six hundred ships in addition to those smaller than triremes. Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyed a curule triumph and twenty one times I was named emperor. When the senate decreed more triumphs for me, I sat out from all of them. I placed the laurel from the fasces in the Capitol, when the vows which I pronounced in each war had been fulfilled. On account of the things successfully done by me and through my officers, under my auspices, on earth and sea, the senate decreed fifty-five times that there be sacrifices to the immortal gods. Moreover there were 890 days on which the senate decreed there would be sacrifices. In my triumphs kings and nine children of kings were led before my chariot. I had been consul thirteen times, when I wrote this, and I was in the thirty-seventh year of tribunician power (AD 14). When the dictatorship was offered to me, both in my presence and my absence, by the people and senate, when Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius were consuls (22 BC), I did not accept it. I did not evade the curatorship of grain in the height of the food shortage, which I so arranged that within a few days I freed the entire city from the present fear and danger by my own expense and administration. When the annual and perpetual consulate was then again offered to me, I did not accept it. When Marcus Vinicius and Quintus Lucretius were consuls (19 BC), then again when Publius Lentulus and Gnaeus Lentulus were (18 BC), and third when Paullus Fabius Maximus and Quintus Tubero were (11 BC), although the senate and Roman people consented that I alone be made curator of the laws and customs with the highest power, I received no magistracy offered contrary to the customs of the ancestors. What the senate then wanted to accomplish through me, I did through tribunician power, … [and five times on my own accord I both requested and received from the senate a colleague in such power.]

There are several more panels of this. Amazing. Just read the Latin of the first sentence aloud. It gives you shivers.

Annós undéviginti natus exercitum priváto consilio et privatá impensá comparávi, per quem rem publicam a dominatione factionis oppressam in libertátem vindicávi.

Sort of makes you feel like a bit of an under achiever, no?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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6 Responses to Res Gestae

  1. fabrizio says:

    Underachiever? No, why?

    Et postea, Ti. Nerone et Cn. Pisone consulibus itemque C. Antistio et D. Laelio cos. et C. Calvisio et L. Pasieno consulibus et L. Lentulo et M. Messalla consulibus et L. Camnio et Q. FABRICIO cos., militibus quos emeriteis stipendis in sua municipia deduxi praemia numerato persolvi, quam in rem sestertium quater milliens circiter impendi.


  2. Pardon my ignorance, but — how old is that wall itself?

  3. bedwere says:

    I’m not a “Romano de Roma”, but I think the wall is new (or rather an organic development :-). since the Res gestae were discovered in 1861.

  4. vexilla regis says:

    I am very disappointed that you used or allowed to stand, the abbreviations “a.c.e. ” and “b.c.e.” . We need to rebut these attempts to write out of history the unique role of Our Lord so clearly attested in “A.D.” and “B.C.”. Congratulations on everything else about your Blog Father.

  5. fabrizio says:


    You are right. The wall of the Res Gestae was inaugurated in 1938, and is all that survives of the old and fairly decent building housing the Ara Pacis, now replaced by a costly, lousy version of a huge 1960 gas station by R. Meier, who is also responsible for one of the most revolting buildings ever to be used as a church in the Eternal City.

  6. Vexilla: I made a change to that. That is the sort of thing I usually catch.