Using The Evidence Of Suetonius And Res Gestae, To What Extent Did Augustus Rely On Republican Precedent And Tradition In The Settlement Of 31 And 23 Bc

4218 words - 17 pages

Augustus came to power following his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in the battle of Actium in 31BC. He was faced with the task of restoring peace, stability, order and tradition to a Rome that had experience three decades of civil war cause by bitter rivalry of competing members of Patrician class. Augustus realised that the republic could no longer cope with administering both Rome and the Empire it had gained. All efforts over the last 30 years had failed, so he sought to create a system of government with himself at the head, but he had to ensure power with relevance to republican precedent and tradition. “I would not accept any office inconsistent with the customs of our ...view middle of the document...

He also did not want to isolate the republic, so had to make it appear to the aristocracy and the common plebeians that the traditions of the republic, and Rome’s customary way of life had not been destroyed. Augustus had amassed a great deal of power since his victory at Actium, this historic battle portrayed Augustus as the saviour of Roman precedent and tradition, an image he was keen to evoke. Augustus was seen to be defending the republican values and everything that it stood for. He appeared to be fighting against the dictatorship of Cleopatra in the East, when in reality Actium was a quest for power. By implying that Mark Antony was under the control of Cleopatra he made the Roman people believe he was trying to keep their traditions alive, and that he was winning the war purely to defend Rome’s honour and heritage. Augustus not only amassed the support of the Roman people, but also the support of the army. Augustus used the war booty to pay the solider, they were well fed, well clothed and well paid. They had it better then they ever had, so they would follow Augustus in whatever he did. Augustus had also defeated all of the republics rivals, Mark Anthony and Lepidus, that they would have been unable to defeat without him. This meant he had a lot of power within the republic; they had no choice but to do as he requested. “When the senate hesitated to obey, one Cornelius, displayed the hilt of his sword and boldly said, ‘if you don’t make his consul, this will’ ”#. Augustus literally gave the republic no choice but to make him consul, but to everyone else it would seem that the republic had graciously accepted Augustus in, and that they were working together. Working together the way Rome had done for generations. “The Dictatorship was offered to me by both senate and people”# , Augustus implies he never requested power, instead he left the people of the senate no choice but to offer it to him. However when Augustus was given the power, he declined it, “I refused it”#. In 22BC when the plebs had tried to force him to take the title of Dictatorship Augustus refused it. Augustus could not be seen to be violating the traditions of Rome, he had to make it appear that he was trying to restore Rome’s honour , culture and customs and that he did not want power for himself. Augustus did not want to posses , or appear to posses too much power as he did not want to be assassinated like his adopted father, Caesar. He did not want to assume solitary power as then the republic could turn against him as they had done with Caesar, so Augustus had to been much more devious about his possession of power. Many people believe that he knew if he refused the prolonged consulship, they would offer it to him again and he would therefore be able to accept it graciously, in the traditional way. “He created himself consul”#. He eventually did create himself consul, as he did indeed want the power, and wanted to be able to control...

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