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Orality And Autobiography: The Case Of The Res Gestae

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Chapter Summary

In the ongoing debates over the nature of the Augustan imperial settlement, however, discussion of the form of the Res Gestae as an act of communication has usually been pushed to the background, as has its importance as autobiography, however brief. Although Augustus' own words more than once acknowledge the status of the Res Gestae as writing, the first person mode of discourse seems to position the text somewhere between the oral and the written. There is one apparent exception to the general tendency to refer to this work only briefly: one and only one extensive direct quotation commonly attributed to the Commentaries. Ironies survived only because it was both transported to and translated in one of the provinces, there to outlast almost every trace of Augustus earlier Autobiography or Commentaries. Through a re-imagined first-person orality, Augustus recounts and justifies the public self he created in an enduringly compelling autobiography.

Keywords: Augustan imperial settlement; Augustus' Autobiography; first-person orality; Res Gestae



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