The Res Gestae Divi Augusti was a document drawn-up by Augustus listing his achievements, victories, the expenditures that he made as a private benefactor and the honours bestowed upon him by the State. It is uncertain at which point the Res Gestae was composed; it is likely that it was in existence well before 13CE, the year prior to Augustus' death. The document was entrusted to the Vestal Virgins until Augustus' death, when it was to be read out in the Senate House. Following that, it was inscribed onto bronze tablets which were affixed to the columns of Augustus' Mausoleum, on the Campus Martius (the Plain of Mars). The original tablets are no longer extant; however, copies were distributed throughout the Empire. It is the marble copy (known as the Monumentum Ancyranum), found in the temple dedicated to Augustus at Ancyra (modern Ankara, Turkey) that serves as the current source.

Augustus has been acknowledged as a master of propaganda and the Res Gestae suggests that he had no intention of allowing the minor obstacle of his death preventing his continued influence over politics in Rome. His Mausoleum was an impressive building, which coupled with the exhibition of his, somewhat edited, list of deeds, served to legitimate his assumption of power and the transferral of this authority to his chosen heir. (Augustus was succeeded by Tiberius, the son of his wife, Livia, from a previous marriage.)

For Augustus, the continual re-inforcement of his claims to power was especially important. Having risen to power through a series of civil wars, Augustus had to work to counter-act claims from his enemies, to suppress assignations of treachery or cowardice and to convince the public that he was the suitable figure to lead Rome. Furthermore, Rome had been a Republic for nearly 500 years before Augustus asserted himself as sole ruler and placing authority in the hands of one man was an abhorrent concept for a great many Romans (a fantastic story involving a King, a noblewoman, a rape and suicide — the Rape of Lucretia). Given all of this, and his intention to name an heir, Augustus had to promote himself and his right to power. The Res Gestae and the Mausoleum were part of this plan.

Augustus was able to manipulate his projected image in the Res Gestae by emphasising those deeds which he perceived as particularly important, and ignoring — or at least by putting a favourable spin on — those which could have been to his detriment. For example, Augustus mentions only breifly that he came to power through civil war, and does not mention at all who he defeated (Marcus Antonius, who had been an ally and married to Augustus' sister, Octavia, or a least until he ran off to Cleopatra). However, the foreign conquests made by Augustus' legions feature prominently, especially those bringing the Eastern provinces under Roman dominion.

With the exception of the small appendix added following Augustus' death, the Res Gestae concludes with Augustus announcing his acceptance of the title Pater Patriae, or "Father of the Country," in 2 BCE. As Augustus regarded this as the most honorific and prestigious of his titles, and it served well to reiterate his position in the hearts of his subjects, it was perhaps the most suitable point to conclude his Res Gestae.

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