Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia
Venue: Forgan Smith (building 1), The University of Queensland, St Lucia.

The Res Gestae in the Context of Augustan Epigraphy

On the one hand, we regard the Res Gestae Divi Augusti as a form of autobiography – as an original and integral composition by Augustus – and we often assert that it is sui generis. On the other, we can cite dozens of monumental inscriptions and coin legends, as well as passages from literature, that predate the Res Gestae and anticipate its wording precisely. In this paper, I propose a new way of reading the Res Gestae. Following standard epigraphical method, I look at the Res Gestae in the context of contemporary inscriptions, and argue 1) that the honours, benefactions, and military achievements catalogued in the Res Gestae had normally been expressed or commemorated in inscribed monuments already long before the Res Gestae was posted outside Augustus' Mausoleum; 2) that these earlier epigraphical commemorations should be seen as precedents for the Res Gestae in both content and form; and 3) that the Res Gestae itself should be seen as in large part reproducing the contents of senatorial decrees and other honours to Augustus.