CHW 3M: In the Shadow of Augustus..

Augustus of Prima Porta, photo by Till Niermann. Does he looks like he rules an empire? Yes. Yes he does.

Rome’s greatest emperor wasn’t really an emperor. Augustus ruled like an emperor, certainly, but he was technically the Princeps Civitatis (first citizen) and Pontifex Maximus (high priest), not the ruler of an empire.

And yet, every emperor that followed him lived, to some extent, in his shadow. Today, you will choose one emperor from the list below and compare him to Augustus. Use the questions below to guide your research:

  • Was this emperor great? (remember our discussion of greatness in the context of Alexander)
  • What impact did this emperor have on Rome?
  • To what extent did this Emperor strengthen/weaken the Empire?

Once everyone in the class has researched one of the choices, the class will rank the emperors on the board. At the top, you will place Augustus (because, well, he was Augustus). Where you place everyone else is up to the class; just be ready to justify your placement in the context of the criteria above!

Your Choices are:

  • Caligula
  • Claudius
  • Nero
  • Vespasian (one of my personal favourites…best death-bed quotation ever)
  • Domitian
  • Hadrian
  • Commodus
  • Diocletian



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