augustus

The latest addition to my website is John WilliamsAugustus. This is a novel of the life of Caesar Augustus, formerly Octavian or Gaius Octavius. We follow his life from when he is a young man, unsure of himself, even though Julius Caesar has adopted him as his son, till his death. Williams tells the story through various documents – letters, memoirs and the like – some contemporary and some told with the benefit of hindsight. Octavius faces innumerable problems, particularly after the murder of Julius Caesar, but by a combination of courage, political astuteness and military prowess, he manages to win through. His problems are internal – someone always seem to want to take over in Rome – and external but he survives, despite ill health. His only progeny, despite four wives, is a daughter, Julia, and he loves her very much but he ends up having to send her into exile, because of her serial adultery. Williams clearly is fascinated by this great man who, at least in historical terms, seems to be in the shadow of Julius Caesar, though this may, at least for the English-speaking world, be partially Shakespeare’s fault. Williams does help to put him back in the forefront of history and tells his story very well.