The primary source of The Deeds of The Divine Augustus at first glance seems to be a somewhat megalomaniacal listing by Augustus himself of his own accomplishments as ruler of Rome. However, when taking into consideration the way in which Augustus created a strong and centralized Roman state, one which went on to rule a good portion of the known world, the document provides a valuable example of how the transition to a functioning and powerful governmental apparatus during this time period was in fact realized and made possible. The document is valuable in communicating how Roman politics both on an internal level and on a foreign policy level managed to become so successful.
When considering, however, the accuracy of Augustus’ own reflections, it would seem that the source, as written by Augustus himself, may be considered to be biased. This is only natural in any historical context, as autobiographical sources would tend to aggrandize the accomplishments of the writer: Augustus, in this case, would be no exception. However, it seems that Augustus’ remarks bear a grain of the truth, and this is above all because of his upfront style in writing. For example, at the very outset of The Deeds, Augustus writes “in my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction.” Obviously, from the perspective of the faction in question, Augustus’ conquest was not welcomed. However, if we separate the more descriptive parts of the text from the facts that they portray, it appears that the text is an accurate reflection of what went on in Augustus’ life.
This is not to suggest that Augustus may not be prone to exaggeration: for example, in discussing the civil war in Rome, he emerged from this civil war “having obtained all things by universal consent.” It is difficult to imagine that anything could be attained via universal consent, especially in the midst of a civil war, which by definition means infighting.
Nevertheless, from a factual perspective, and because of Augustus’ aforementioned upfront style, the text serves a valuable function in giving insight into how Roman politics operated and furthermore how Roman emperors themselves thought about their accomplishments. In the case of The Deeds of Augustus, these accomplishments are explicitly stated.