Roman Authors and Works
Upon the ascension of Augustus Caesar as the first emperor of Rome,Latin literature began to reach new heights.Under him such famous Roman poets and Authors as Virgil and Ovid left their mark and it was during his reign that Roman literature finally reached the level of sophistication and beauty of the Greeks.
The most notable writers of this period are Livy, Virgil and Horace. Livy is most famous for his History of Rome which chronicles the history of the city from the founding up to the end of the republic. This work was massive and took an impressive 142 scrolls to complete. Sadly, however, only 35 volumes of this great work remain.The purpose Livy had in writing his history is that he believed that war and corruption of the last century of the republic had made the Roman world corrupt and so he referred to past deeds of great and noble Romans in his history.
Virgil is often consitered to be the greatest of the Augustan poets and even shared the favour of Augustus himself. One of the earliest of Virgil's published works is a series of poem known as the Georgics. In this series of four poems, Virgil showed his idea of what the life of the Roman countryman should be like as it was written during a tim when the rural farmers were demanding more rights and equal opportunities. Also, in these works, Virgil showed his great regard for all living beings and the beauties that nature held.
Virgil's most brilliant, and well known work,is known by lovers of Classical literature as the Aeneid and it was the first of his great works. In this work, Virgil patriotically presented the importance, and greatness,of Rome in the known world. He wrote about how man evolved through trials and pains to a society of peaceful order. He writes about how Rome was guided by the gods to a prosperous empire.This poem is named after Aeneas , the believed father of all that is Roman(Romulus), and his trials and triumphs after his escape from Troy and his eventual rule of Latium.Virgil ,on his deathbed,requested that this work be destroyed but this great manuscript was spared.
The final great writer of the Augustan age is a man named Horace.Horace was a firm believer in the fact that Rome was destined to be ruled by one man,Augstus and became one of his greatest supporters.Horace wrote many poems in the forms of Odes,Epistles and Satires on the lives ,and habits, of the Roman man so as to give a detealed account of the daily life of the Romans in the early empire.
The "Tabloids" of Tactius and Seutonius
Though the ancient Romans did not have tabloids ,like the National Enquiror,in a literal form, they none the less had writers who specialized in the writings of scandals and rumours within the imperal palaces.Such wacky stories as the emperor Gaius,better known as Caligula, who made his racehorse a senator and of the emperor Nero who set fire to Rome and "fiddled while it burned" are stories that have no concrete basis in fact and were first told to the world by these writers.The two most famous of these Roman "Tabloid" writers are Seutonius and Tactius whose writings are a well used albet unreliable source for information on the Roman emperors.
Seutonius was born around the year 69 AD and died around the time of 140 AD.His most famous and widely read work is "The 12 Caesars" which chronicles the reigns and personal lives of the first 12 Roman emperors ,from Augustus to Nerva.Though he tried to be objective in his work and not paint every emperor out as a mad tyrant,he still wrote alot of propoganda that was popular throughout his day.
Like Seutonius,Tacitus was an objective writer and he tried to write unbiased works though he did manage to also include a degree of propoganda as Seutonius did .The two most famous works of Tacitus are the Annals and the History.Both of these works are histories of the Roman empire during the time of the Julio Claudians and they begin just before the ascension of Tiberius as emperor.It is because of his quite accuratelly presented works that Tactius has become an excellent reference for information on the daily life and history of the early Roman empire.
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
The emperor Marcus Aurelius (161 to 180 AD) is often consitered by many to be the "philosopher emperor" because of his deep love of the study of Stoicism.Stoicism is the branch of philosophy where the main objective of the human existance is for all men to co-exist with nature and the world around them.Marcus Aurelius was a firm believer in this theology and he even went as far as to write his Meditations in which he showed the reader his personal beliefs about the world around him and his feelings about being the head of state.These works were written during the emperor's last years of life and showed his belief that the public duties of the emperor depressed him and that he would rather have retired peacefully in the country.