• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

According to the Res Gestae and Suetonius' Life of Augustus, how effective were Augustus' reforms to the Roman army and senate?

Extracts from this document...


According to the Res Gestae and Suetonius' Life of Augustus, how effective were Augustus' reforms to the Roman army and senate? Augusts (born Gaius Octavius Thurinus), claimed by some to be the first Roman emperor, made many reforms to the Roman army and senate which strengthened his rule and increased the power, influence and control of the empire. Augustus' reforms redrew and secured the frontiers of the empire and made the army far more efficient and manageable. Other reforms restored the respect and credibility of the senate and made it more efficient at the same time, just as he did with the army. A lot of the information about these reforms comes from two major historical sources, the first being the Res Gestae Divi Augusti - written by Augustus himself. It is an account of his achievements, similar to an autobiography but more factual rather than opinionated in nature. As it was written by Augustus, it creates the problem of neutrality, bias and a vested interest to lie to improve the way that he is viewed by those reading it - much like a piece of propaganda. Undeniably, the Res Gestae provides many facts that are true and it is implausible that Augustus could've made up facts that were wholly untrue but many things such as assassinations and battles are glossed over and mention only in passing or indirectly. ...read more.


the embarrassing loss caused by the general Varus in which 3 troops were massacred when recklessly led into a forest leading to them being ambushed. Augustus' reforms to the senate were no less significant, and the reason and drive behind the reforms was to make the Senate more effective as a government, making them more respectable in his eyes and in the eyes of the Roman citizens. Suetonius described this situation by claiming that "The sight of this sad and ill-assorted rabble decided Augustus to restore the Order to its former size and repute by two new acts of enrolment." (Suetonius, Life of Augustus) Augustus was clearly not satisfied with the members of the senate and wanted to restore the Senate's former glory and reputation in the eyes of the Roman people as they had become "popularly known as the 'Orcus Men'". Orcus was God of the underworld, so it could be interpreted as men of the underworld or servants of the god of the underworld, which is a clear indicator that the senators weren't particularly highly regarded and were, to some extent, ridiculed by the people of Rome, which would no doubt motivate Augustus to restore the senate to its former glory. ...read more.


However, it can also be deduced that the senatorial reforms were definitely suited to strengthen the personal power desired by Augustus as he could now control the topics and speakers to suit his own preference. This meant that the reforms were effective in both ways - to strengthen his rule and to make the Empire more powerful and prosperous. His military reforms were intended to keep the Empire at peace, and expand to the critical amount, which were both done effectively, according to Suetonius. Allegedly, a testament of Augustus warned against expanding the empire which would imply that Augustus military reforms were not especially expansive as much as aimed at making the army more effective and well-led, as he did with the Senate. Suetonius documents the reforms introduced well but seems to focus more individual reforms to the senate and more general reforms to the army, which are also fewer in number. It is far less biased than the Res Gestae, which doesn't document very many reforms at all concentrating, understandably, on the personal achievements of Augustus as it was written by the man himself resulting in less emphasis on the specific changes made as much as their successes. The two sources document the reforms in detail, and according to them, they were effective and introduced with the best intentions. - 4 - ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. To what extent did the Roman emperor Augustus restore the republic?

    In 27BC Augustus also offers the Senate all of his powers would also suggest that Augustus was a true republican but like the powers he rejected can realistically be concluded to be a political charade and propaganda stunt. I therefore believe that whilst the powers that Augustus held acted within

  2. Political success depended upon military success. To what extent do the sources support the ...

    It was important for him to cultivate valuable friendships by 'glad handling' the voters and keeping himself constantly in public life in order to overcome 'the political newness of his name by his reputation as a speaker' through campaign promises which appealed to as many voters as possible.

  1. To what extent does the architecture of Rome highlight the aims of the emperors?

    building also displayed a number of scenes linking Augustus and his family to Aeneas and the founders of Rome to once again present himself as a figure worthy of praise and glory. These would remain as lasting evidence of the greatness of Augustus and hint towards his divinity even after his death.

  2. Were coins used in the Roman Empire more for propaganda purposes or as a ...

    An early coin of the period of Nero depicts only his head and little on the back, only showing brief pieces of information about him. One of the coins that I have found shows just this, where only his head and the initials of S C with a wreath around are shown.

  1. To what extent did Augustus use the building programme to beautify Rome.

    As shown in the Prima Porta, the concept of piety and divinity is one frequently reinforced. Augustus' own divinity is alluded to through the inclusion of Cupid which gives Augustus ties with Venus the ancestor of the Julii family which are built upon due to her inclusion on the breastplate;

  2. Was Julius Caesar an effective leader?

    Does some of this interpretation by historians that he was a tyrant lead him to be viewed as an ineffective leader? There is a clear two-sided argument to this debate, and Caesar is noteworthy but not exceptional. Caesar's military service was exceptional and he had a great number of successes with minimal failures.

  1. To what extent did the military reforms of Marius contribute to the collapse ...

    It also gave personal armies a chance to destroy the established order just as easily as it was to maintain it.

  2. To what extent does the evidence support the view that Roman emperors paid very ...

    This was due to the fact there was a large food shortage in Italy but a lucrative store of wine; too many people possessed vineyards and too few grew grain so Domitian?s actions displayed clear attention to the administration of the city in this case.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work