The Augustan Age

A List of Writers of Augustan Age of Literature

Augustus and the Augustan Age > Augustan Age Literature

The major surviving Augustan Age literature is mostly from poets, with the exception of prose writer Livy. These Augustan Age poets had an advantage over most writers: wealthy patrons who afforded them the leisure to write -- and read, since according to Suetonius, there was, then, a library to read from.

Augustan Age literature was noticeably influenced not only by the preceding era of Latin literature, but by Syracusan (like Theocritus, Moschus, and Bion of Smyrna) and Alexandrian (like Eratosthenes, Nicophron, and Apollonius of Rhodes) Greek writers.

While Vergil (Virgil), Horace, and Livy may have sought or held a lofty moral tone, other authors of the period were more ... relaxed. They wrote in a wide variety of forms, including didactic poetry, love elegy, satire, history, and epic.


  • A history of Rome up to 500 A.D., by Eustace Miles
  • The Roman poets of the Augustan age: Virgil, by William Young Sellar
  • "Augustan Poetry and the Life of Luxury," by Jasper Griffin; The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 66, (1976), pp. 87-105

Vergil (Virgil)


Virgil (Vergil) was commissioned to write the great national epic of Rome, the Aeneid, but he also wrote other poetry, the didactic Eclogues, and the Georgics.


Bronze medallion of Horace from the reign of Constantine.
Bronze medallion of Horace from the reign of Constantine. Horace, by Wm Tuckwell (1829-1919). London: G. Bell & sons. 1905.

The Latin poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus or Horace was born December 8, 65 at Venusia, near Apulia, and died on November 27, 8 B.C. He wrote odes, epodes, epistles, and satires.

  • Odes of Horace in English Translation, With Pictures


Return of Tibullus to Delia - Rosetti
Art Gallery ErgsArt - by ErgSap Follow/Flickr/Public Domain Mark 1.0

Tibullus was born about the same time as Horace. He died in about 19 B.C. He was an equestrian of means, until he lost his inheritance in the proscriptions, although his poverty may be more an aspect of his persona than reality. Tibullus did, however, have a patron, Messala.

Tibullus wrote love poetry about Delia, whom Apuleius identified as Plania, and then Nemesis.


Propertius, born, perhaps in 58 B.C. or 49, was a poet was associated with Maecenas. Some of his (mostly mythological) allusions puzzle modern readers. Propertius wrote love elegies about a woman he called Cynthia.


Ovid. Image ID: 1806132 Ovid. NYPL DIGITAL LIBRARY

The Augustan Age technically begins with the Battle of Actium and ends with the death of Augustus, but in terms of Augustan Age Literature, its end point is the death of Livy and Ovid in A.D. 17. Typically, the dates are 44 B.C. to A.D. 17.

Publius Ovidius Naso or Ovid was born on March 20, 43 B.C.*, in Sulmo (modern Sulmona, Italy), to an equestrian** (moneyed class), family. His father took him and his one-year-older brother to Rome to study to become public speakers and politicians, but instead, Ovid put his rhetorical education to work in his poetic writing.



Unlike the preceding writers, Livy wrote prose -- a lot of it. The Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy), from Patavium, lived about 76 years, from c. 59 B.C. to c. A.D. 17. That hardly seems long enough to have finished his magnum opus, Ab Urbe Condita 'From the Founding of the City', a feat that has been compared with publishing one 300-page book each year for 40 years.