Agrippa und Augustus

Term Paper, 2012

17 Pages, Grade: 2,7


Table of Contents


2. Historical researches on Agrippa by selected historians

3. Agrippa and Augustus
3.1 Agrippa and his self-understanding
3.2 Gathering and contrariness among the two of them
3.3 Agrippa, his request and his road of life alongside Agustus
3.4 Agrippa and his funeral

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The center of attention is, with regards to this seminar paper, the relation between Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa[1] and Augustus. The paper is especially focused on their long and intimate fellowship. To illustrate the statement that neither one of them would have won fame, in exactly the same way as it took place, is the main objective of this work because it clarifies their close connectedness and dependency.

This seminar paper starts with a consideration of historical researches on Agrippa by selected historians. Agrippa appeared most often on the side of Augustus and so it is a matter of common knowledge that litera- ture about Augustus had a huge number whereas literature in respect of Agrippa was very contemplatively. Afterwards a reflection with specific aspects is joining the work for clarifying the connectedness between Agrippa and Augustus. The following key aspects like Agrippa and his self-understanding, gathering and contrariness among the two of them, Agrippa and his request as well as his road of life alongside Augustus and his funeral are entering the limelight.

2. Historical researches on Agrippa by selected historians

By observing the body of source material regarding to Agrippa the spectator is realizing that there is a limited amount of substance available compared with Augustus. As a consequence literary material is as well very tenuous. According to the literary material, there were only a few authors which have discussed the issue of Agrippa.

Therefore it is hardly surprising to discover only nine significant works which appeared during the last 176 years, dealing with Agrippa. Frand- sen (1836) broke the first ground and historians like Meyer (1933), Sig- non (1978) and Roddaz (1984) joined him in his studies.[2] One of the most important writers who dealt with these studies was Reinhold Meyer. The renowned ancient historian from America wrote his dissertation about the subject of Marcus Agrippa. In many cases, the name Marcus Agrippa occurs in connection with the name of Au- gustus, just as in the dissertation of Meyer. In the eyes of him, Marcus Agrippa was the man pulling the strings behind Augustus who was considered as the ‘architect of the Roman Empire’. [3]

Allen B. West stated in his review that Reinhold Meyer constructed a helpful monograph which is an advantageous supplement for academic purposes. From his point of view Meyer did a great job by collecting almost every little piece of information that can be found with regard to the life of Agrippa.[4] Nevertheless West points out that Meyer had a strong relationship to the figure of Agrippa, as one of his biographers. For that reason the spectator has to be aware in his reflections during the reading.

Approximately one and the same position represents M. Cary. Observed from his vantage point, Cary displays Agrippa as Meyer’s hero who did a complete, laborious and intensive research. Incidentally he remarks that not even Meyer himself was able to find out the mysteries surrounding Agrippa’s character. [5]

Another essential historian who dealt with the issue of Agrippa was Jean-Michel Roddaz. Meyer himself declared his monograph as ‘mo- numental contribution to the Augustan Age’; he ennobles his work by defining it as an indispensable monograph for present and future stu- dies. [6] Similarly to Robin Seagers point of view, who classified Roddaz biography as a narration that contains almost everything what is known about Agrippa; it specifically emphasizes Roddaz approach to Agrippa by accentuating his way of looking at him in analyzing different aspects of Agrippa. In the course of this not only Agrippa’s military and political career are fore grounded but rather his naval and civil construction projects as much as his reflection of iconography.[7]

In the final analysis all the authors mentioned above were observing Agrippa’s actions and his appearance in order to create an accurate overview about him as individual character. The meaning of it all is to put Agrippa into spotlight of historian researches because he was a man moving more or less behind the scenes of the ‘Augustan Theatre’. Monographs referring to Agrippa remained relatively unattended in his- torian researches compared with the overwhelming stature of his com- panion Octavian/ Augustus. Consequently it seems interesting to ana- lyze the relationship between Agrippa and Augustus in greater detail due to the fact that it is mostly the case that both of them come into pic- ture with each other.

3. Agrippa and Augustus

Agrippa was a man with different temperament and physical extent in contradistinction to Augustus. He had the same age as his friend Au- gustus and was always on his side. It means in effect Augustus was not a single moment without the encouragement of his companion who should be from enormous remarkableness later on, how history showed.[8]

The two of them became acquainted with each other during their years of study and they obtained closest friends for the rest of their lives. They experienced education from the great rhetorician Apollodorus of Pergamum. We can deduce, therefore, that both of them experienced the same educational level, even though Augustus’ apprehension was more distinctive as it was from Agrippa.[9]

3.1 Agrippa and his self-understanding

To consider the friendship between Agrippa and Augustus is truly amazing. Over the course of time there were a couple of further out- standing and amicable relationships between leading personalities which afterwards have broken into pieces. The friendship between Au- gustus and Marcus Antonius was exemplary for such a crumbling.

Firstly there was unity among the two parties concerning the persecu- tion of Caesars murderer, but ultimately they ended up as opponents with regard to the issue ‘Who should take the lead of the empire?’ [10] Completely different on that point was the friendship between Agrippa and Augustus. Agrippa was not only a supporter or an assistant. He was more than that. He was that certain something for Augustus what is nowadays called a ‘truthful friend’.

The obvious question on that account is: ‘Why Agrippa never asked himself the question of leading without Augustus?’ His friend was al- ways one step ahead on the career ladder. Enviousness was a phenomenon that was wide-spread, precisely in times like this and for that reason the mentioned question is not easily answered. To make Agrippa’s trains of thought accessible it is advantageous to have a look at his self-understanding.

In history he is reconsidered as a man with much priority and influence standing above everybody with the exception of his position to Augus- tus. Throughout his life he acted, in many cases, in ‘the second place’. From this point of view it is easier to follow that his center of interest was more a question of serving as having the burden of responsibility solely on his shoulder. [11]

Their friendship was a relation of dependence with profit on both sides. Agrippa outnumbered his friend in corporality, strength and virtue whe- reas Augustus surpassed him in politics, rhetoric and spirituality. Agrip- pa was a tough and straitlaced man with puritan background ‘vir rustici- tati propior quam delciis’ and was therefore a symbol of military and peasant virtues of old Rome.[12] On that score it appears to be obvious that Agrippa was corporeal and psychological the ideal complement to Augustus.

Agrippa played a specific part in the entire framework; he was a faithful and unselfish adjutant ‘fidus Achates’- playing an inconspicuous charac- ter.


[1] Kienast, D.: Der Neue Pauly, Bd. 1, Slot 294-296, s.v. Agrippa.

[2] Meyer R.: Review: Marcus Agrippa, by Jean- Michel Roddaz, in: The American Journal of Philology, Vol.107, No. 1, Boston 1986, p. 130.

[3] Meyer R.: Marcus Agrippa, A Biography, Rome 1965, p. 7.

[4] West A.B.: Review: Marcus Agrippa, by Reinhold Meyer, in: The Classical Journal, Vol.30, No. 9, Cincinnati 1935, p. 556-557.

[5] Cary M.: Review: Marcus Agrippa, by Reinhold Meyer, in: The Classical Review, Vol.48, No. 4, London 1934, p. 151.

[6] Meyer R.: Review: Marcus Agrippa, by Jean- Michel Roddaz, p. 132.

[7] Seager R.: Review: Marcus Agrippa, by Jean- Michel Roddaz, in: The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 36, No. 1, Liverpool 1986, p. 96-98.

[8] Signon H.: Agrippa, Freund und Mitregent des Augustus, Frankfurt 1978, p. 10.

[9] Roddaz J.M.: Marcus Agrippa, Rome 1984, p. 33.

[10] Signon H.: Agrippa, Freund und Mitregent des Augustus, p. 28,29.

[11] Signon H.: Agrippa, Freund und Mitregent des Augustus, p. 29.

[12] Syme R.: Die Römische Revolution, Machtkämpfe im antiken Rom, Stuttgart 2003, p. 355.

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Agrippa und Augustus
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