History of Rome

Caesar Augustus, Hero or Tyrant?: The Effects of Hindsight on Dio Cassius' Portrayal of Caesar

Jordan Reid Berkow

Rome of Augustus

TF: Brian Jobe

February 22, 2003

Caesar Augustus, Hero or Tyrant?: The Effects of Hindsight on Dio Cassius' Portrayal of Caesar

Caesar Augustus, during the time of his reign as princeps of the Roman people, cultivated for himself an image of military prowess, generosity, virtue, and clemency. Velleius Paterculus' History of Rome, written only a few years after the death of Augustus, paints a picture of the Caesar that one imagines is quite consistent with the way he wished to be portrayed. Dio Cassius' History of Rome, written around 229 A.D., presents a very different image, representing Augustus as an uncertain, bullying tyrant. The three ways in which the two authors, in their descriptions of the Battle of Actium, represent Caesar's differences most prominently are through his fighting style, his attitude towards his captives, and the attention given to his victory. Through these three vehicles, Velleius and Dio present such radically different versions of Caesar Augustus that it is almost impossible to reconcile the two into a coherent image of who the man truly was.

Caesar's fighting style and character as an opponent are portrayed very differently by Velleius and Dio,...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4493 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in