Augustus Caesar, the Augustan Settlement, and his autobiography

 

When Augustus Caesar came to power, he had a problem. If he retired and left power, Rome would return to it’s previous state of civil war. On the other hand, if he exercised absolute power, he would arouse hatred from the senate and their adherents. What he wanted most of all was a unified military command in his hands.

Caesar thought that there needed to be absolute power under one person, namely him, to retain peace and stability in Rome. But, he also thought that there needed to be a pretense of the restoration of the old ways of the republic. He returned back to Rome for his triumph in the battle of Actium, and he spends the wealth of Egypt on the Romans. he also forgave the property owners their debts, and decentralized his military from 60 to 28 legions. In January of 27 BC, Augustus then told the senate that the republic is safe, and he handed back his powers to the senate. The senate gave his powers back to him, in effect, mainly because they were afraid that someone else more ambitious might take power. He continued to be consul, and he received power in many other areas as well. He brought about many social reforms, and he made laws making marriage mandatory, and he discouraged childlessness. Celibates were punished for not marrying, and adultery was made a crime.

In the autobiography of Augustus Caesar, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, he tells of his accomplishments and of all the temples and works he built, the censuses he ordered, and of the things he did for the Roman people. Among the works he spoke of, there were his aqueducts, roads, and bridges. He also spoke of all the emissaries sent from other nations who wished to befriend Rome, among other things. He did not tell a sequential story, but jumped from time to time when he had done some great deed for either himself or the people of Rome.

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