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GOLDSWORTHY, Adrian



Augustus
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The modern world has grown very suspicious of dictators of whatever political hue, and less willing to pardon the murderous nature of Augustus’ rise as being justified by the peace he eventually created. Yet we need to be careful not to paint the past in simple shades, or automatically to assume that all dictators or all empires, or indeed all states, are essentially alike. Augustus killed a lot of people, but he inflicted on the world nothing like the misery of a Hitler or a Stalin, and, as ever, we should view his behaviour in the context of the times. In his willingness to kill his enemies he was no better or worse than the other warlords to appear at that time. Julius Caesar had been different, and had pardoned Brutus, Cassius and several of the other men who later stabbed him to death – a point Augustus, Antony and Lepidus made when they posted death lists of their enemies.

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