Thank you all for your help with the pig tombstone. Now I have been pressing on with the home straight of the book. We are now into the imperial period (ie we have hit Augustus) and you have to do this stretch slightly differently from what went before. It would of course be possible to go through the early principate, emperor by emperor, but the question would be cui bono? In the end the basic principle of Roman imperial rule remains, good rulers and bad rulers, for a couple of hundred years, and no particular heinous crime or virtuous rule makes much difference, except at the margins. I am trying to think how to do it instead, and how to think what the issue are, rather than the people.
And Augustus, first emperor (unless you count Pompey or Julius Caesar -- a big "unless" if you ask me), must be crucial, and that's where I am.The ancient tradition on Augustus is to be honest confusing, from founding father of the Roman imperial regime (and on some views the only "good" emperor), to rank hypocrite who dressed up a bloody tyranny in the cloak of a restored Republic. That's not just a disagreement between friends and enemies, but is rooted in bigger disagreements on what the whole rule was all about.
My problem has been exactly where to start, and I have tried all kinds of different kick off points over the last few days. My first idea was to go from the disagreements that Tacitus reports as being aired at Augustus' funeral: loved by some as a moderate ruler, hated by others as a butcher who had not really changed his spots since the civil war.
But somehow, this all got to feel terribly "meta" -- I mean a perspective from 100 years too late.