Augustus “The Accomplishments of Augustus” In Sources of the making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, a Concise History, Vol. I: To 1740, ed. Katharine J. Lualdi, 51-55. Boston, Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.
1. The foundation of Augustus’ power and success
After the battle of Actium (31 B.C.), Octavian remained the sole leader from the Triumvirate to rule the largest Empire of that period. Shrewd and subtle politician, Octavian learnt from his predecessor, Julius Caesar, and avoided his mistakes. During his reign, Julius Caesar forced the Senate to proclaim him dictator for life and arrogantly acted as a king (wearing the purple robe of Roman kings and encouraging religious cults in his honor). In this manner, Caesar publicly defied the republican tradition and the conservative Senate, which lead to his death in 44 B.C. Therefore, Octavian realized the strong allegiance and affection of the Senate and People towards the political system of the Republic. Octavian did not underestimate nor neglect this allegiance, but rather used it to gradually introduce legitimate monarchy and bring what Romans most wanted: peace and tolerance. The foundation upon which Augustus built his power was his manipulative, gradual and elegant political manner of strengthening up his position and introducing monarchy, while still preserving the traditional appearances and customs of the Roman Republic. In this way, change and transformation were easier to accept, while the Rome’s urgent need for peace and prosperity was satisfied. In his autobiography “The Accomplishments of Augustus”, Augustus portrayed himself as a generous guardian of the Republic’s tradition. He brought peace to Rome after years of Civil Wars and he received many “honorific decrees” (51), titles and offices from the Senate such as Augustus (the revered one), tribune, pontifex maximus and procunsular power-imperium (51). Throughout his autobiography, Octavian stressed out that he was...
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