Assertionofpower - The Reforms of Augustus Caesar Amidst...

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The Reforms of Augustus Caesar Amidst the desperate power struggle following Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC, a young man, Julius Caesar’s adopted son Gaius Octavius, made an attempt to claim his rightful position as Caesar’s heir. Under encouragement from his close friend Agrippa Vispanius, Octavius traveled to Rome where he found Marc Antony assuming power. After asserting himself as the rightful successor to Julius Caesar, a triumvirate was formed with his two main contenders to power: Marc Antony and Lepidus. Soon the obstacles of Antony and Lepidus were removed (Antony in the battle of Actium and Lepidus forced into exile after being accused by Augustus of inciting revolt) and Augustus was bestowed with the honours of being the first Princep and being recognised as the Pater Patriae of Rome. It was from this platform as Princep and Pater Patriae of Rome (in conjunction with his masterful manipulation of the senate) 1 that Octavius gained his renowned auctoritas and could effectively rule the empire as he saw fit. Octavius was forced to make many significant changes to the Roman state and way of life in order to cement his place as leader of Rome and to ensure that his reign would not end similarly to that of his predecessor. Octavius, later to be known as Augustus Caesar, undertook a series of reform programmes designed to stabilise and strengthen the late Roman republic, and to cement his position as figurehead and representative leader of the Roman republic. These reforms were aimed primarily at the Roman military, the administration of the empire and the social and religious aspects of the Roman way of life. The aim of many of Augustus’s reforms was the stabilisation of the Roman State. His unification and regulation of the military was the foundation from which he could effectively reform and administer the Empire until his death in 14 AD. For decades prior to Augustus’s assertion of power, many of Rome’s legions were under the control of wealthy generals who were more than ready to defy the orders of the legal government for their own benefit. Throughout the early and middle republic soldiers had been drafted at the beginning of military campaigns and disbanded immediately afterwards. This often left tens of thousands of soldiers without a livelihood during peaceful times, resulting in unemployed soldiers being willing to take up arms for anyone who could pay them, “In the Republic soldiers served for no fixed term of years and had no recognised claim to land allotments or gratuities in cash on discharge . .. This was the chief reason why armies had been ready to follow their generals against the legal government.” 2 The military power which these volatile generals wielded created great instability in the Republic, especially when the state did not have a major military force for itself “. ..the generals became autonomous centers of power. The general who dominated the strongest army ruled the state. ..” 3 Augustus recognised that in order to ensure himself as the
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Assertionofpower - The Reforms of Augustus Caesar Amidst...

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