Author Topic: Was Augustus Caesar a psychopath?  (Read 97 times)

Pete at Home

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Was Augustus Caesar a psychopath?
« on: December 29, 2018, 09:12:52 AM »
 I hope that someone on ornery remembers watching the BBC/HBO show “Rome “;  otherwise this is going to be a very short conversation.

As Cleopatra dies, she gazes into the face of young Consul Octavian Caesar and says

“You have a Rotten Soul!”

 Octavian recoils, shocked. His best friend in the world ask him what Cleopatra had said to him and he repeats that she had said that he had a rotten soul. Oh, says his friend.  That. The friend—Agrippa—  notably does not make any effort to deny that Octavian has a “rotten soul “

Soul— Psyche
-path as a suffix, refers to disease.

Is Bruno Heller saying that Augustus was a psychopath?

 When Lucius Barinas says that he and Mark Anthony share a disease that is eating away at their souls and will eventually kill them, is he saying that he and Mark Anthony have been damaged By By their relationships with psychopaths? Or that they are psychopaths themselves? relationships with psychopaths? Or that they are psychopaths themselves?


Fenring

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Re: Was Augustus Caesar a psychopath?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 12:25:05 PM »
I recently finished a rewatch of Rome so have it fresh in my mind. I'm fairly certainly that S2 Augustus was portrayed as a psychopath, but one without the impulse control problems we'd normally associate with it. He just appeared to have no reflexive empathy and made all decisions coldly. But I also think this was a break from how Octavian was portrayed in S1. I'm wondering whether it was anything on Heller's part, versus an acting choice that the script didn't necessitate; I verge towards the latter.

As for Vorenus, I believe the sickness he refers to is the desire to die, and lack of ability to desire for health in life.

Is your OP only about the show, or about how Augustus really was? From what I've read, between Suetonius and secondary sources (never read Plutarch) it seems to me that he was probably the closest thing to a philosopher king one could hope for under the circumstances.

Pete at Home

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Re: Was Augustus Caesar a psychopath?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 06:22:15 PM »
 Right now my question is just about the show. I like your point that Augusta Cesar is a different character as well as a different actor from the first season.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but I’m very sure that it’s a question that should be debated. In fact it’s a question of Bruno Heller puts us directly through Octavian’s mother in the last episode.

As for the “historical “Augustus, I’d have to ask, which history? :-)

Fenring

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Re: Was Augustus Caesar a psychopath?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2018, 12:28:43 AM »
I like your point that Augusta Cesar is a different character as well as a different actor from the first season.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but I’m very sure that it’s a question that should be debated. In fact it’s a question of Bruno Heller puts us directly through Octavian’s mother in the last episode.

To me the biggest difference between them is that if we were seeing psychopathic person from the start one would think there'd be a progress from not understanding basic things that everyone else does, to at least becoming savvy about them and perhaps faking it. But in fact the reverse seems to be the case: young Octavian has no problems at all understanding people, and in fact has a very advanced perception of human behavior (in addition to his strategic gifts). Likewise, he seems shy and withdrawn, and yet not awkward or in any way altering his behavior scenes to scene to put on a fake face, which I would assume would be the case for someone having to act normal. By contrast, S2 Augustus seems actually baffled by people's reactions to things, either numbed to their feelings or else at least to be observing but not really processing what they're going through. He sees what must be done, but as a far-away observer only. And this Augustus does seem o put on faces, pretending to be more human for his sister when necessary, but then dropping the guise at other times. This progress from less awkward to more; from more attentive to more distant, seems to me the opposite of what we'd expect to see from someone who, from youth, hasn't access to the normal emotive faculties of everyone else. So this is why I mainly believe that the S2 actor introduced a new element into it. I don't see it as following naturally from the initial portrayal, because despite being at war, at odds with his family, and otherwise more brutal in his rise to power, if anything I would expect this to create *more* emotion in an older Octavian, not less. We can see in Vorenus, for instance, the effects of having to be a brutal killing machine for so many years; the rage, the buried pain, the despair. But not so in Augustus, who almost seems to have been relieved of his emotions through all that. So I believe the 2nd actor did his own thing, rather than realizing a distinct direction the previous one had been hinting at.

Quote
As for the “historical “Augustus, I’d have to ask, which history? :-)

I don't know? I do tend to think of Suetonius as being a gossip rag, but nonetheless I guess a lot of what I remember comes from that. Beyond that I guess there are a host of sites and books that haven mentioned things about him. Actually one of my favorites was the book The Twelve Caesars by Grant, which I'd recommend.