Reign of Augustus Essay

Pages: 4 (1485 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government

¶ … Reign of Augustus

In what ways did Augustus reform the political system and allow it to continue, and in what ways did he construct a completely new system?

The reign of Octavius, who was later and better known Augustus Caesar, is often seen as marking a kind of dividing line between past and present, in the transition of Rome from a republic to an empirical power. Julius Caesar was murdered because it was feared he was on his way to becoming a dictator and a tyrant. Yet Octavius brought forth a clear break with the republican past and assumed far more power than Julius. Octavius exercised unprecedented direction over the lives of the Roman populace. He was bolstered by a strong popular mandate and enabled in his quest by the weak will of the Roman Senate. According to the historian Suetonius it is said that Octavius thought of restoring the republic first after he assumed power after the defeat of Anthony and once when he feared for his life and lack of successor after a long illness. But "reflecting, however, that as he himself would not be free from danger if he should retire, so too it would be hazardous to trust the State to the control of more than one, he continued to keep it in his hands; and it is not easy to say whether his intentions or their results were the better."Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Reign of Augustus in What Ways Did Assignment

Octavius first used 'fig leaf' of respectability over his increasingly powerful reign. But gradually, the Roman Senate became cowed into granting him more and more powers. According to the historian Cassius Dio, this was not because of Augustus Caesar's use of "flattery" but because "he was truly honored; for in most ways he comported himself toward the Romans as if they were free citizens." The key phrase in this quotation, of course, is 'as if.' In short, Rome was fearful of the political instability and bloodshed that had resulted after the assassination of Julius Caesar, and was willing to turn over the freedoms to Augustus that they had once resisted giving to Julius. Augustus was a skillful political who could quietly consolidate his power yet but on a show that he was not going to trample the freedom of Rome's free citizens. Yet the senate "voted that Augustus should be tribune for life and gave him the privilege of bringing before the senate at each meeting any one matter at whatever time he liked, even if he were not consul at the time; they also permitted him to hold once and for all and for life the office of proconsul, so that he had neither to lay it down upon entering the epomerium nor to have it renewed again, and they gave him in the subject territory authority superior to that of the governor in each instance." Augustus was given authority for life, in a way that did not need to be approved of by the Senate or by the people, or renewed with senatorial favor and he could summon the Senate at will.

Augustus thus kept the trappings of republican rule in the form of the continued existence of the Senate, but as leader he had powers that would last him his entire life like a king, and he exercised domination over the powers of the legislature and could act without their approval. Augustus was careful to appear to not wish to have absolute power, even while according to the institutional powers he possessed he could do what he wanted. The popularity he had amongst the people allowed him to engage in skillful public relations ploys, unintentionally aided in one instance, by a famine that struck Rome. "Romans, therefore, reduced to dire straits by the disease and by the consequent famine, believed that these woes had come upon them for no other reason than that they did not have Augustus for consul at this time...They accordingly wished to elect him [Augustus] dictator," and attempted to force the senators to do so by threatening to burn the senate if they did not. Augustus, noted for his moderation and limitation of extravagant measures both in his private life and in public banqueting, realized was an ideal public relations coup. He rent his garments, and refused to become dictator and only consented to become becoming commissioner of the grain supply, as "since he was superior to the dictators in the power and honor he already possessed, he… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Reign of Augustus" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Reign of Augustus.  (2009, February 21).  Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Reign of Augustus."  21 February 2009.  Web.  21 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Reign of Augustus."  February 21, 2009.  Accessed September 21, 2021.