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The republic under Augustus

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Introduction

How true do you consider Augustus, claim that in 28-27 BC he transferred the republic from his power to the dominion of the senate and people? After the battle of Actium at 31 BC, Augustus was put into a dilemma. Originally, the Second Triumvirate had the mission to restore the republic but now after the death of Mark Antony only one man was left in charge, a position in disagreement with the Roman tradition. The hatred of kings was painfully fresh in all minds, ever since Caesar's assassination. Thus, Augustus had to find a way to prevent any future civil wars but without usurping the leadership. In 28 BC he symbolically retired, knowing that the senate and people of Rome would beg for his return, and all this with the aim to differentiate him from the previous tyrants. ...read more.

Middle

Moreover, the word 'respublica' continued to be used as proven by public inscriptions praising the 'restoration'. Thus, Augustus would keep an eye on things, to exercise what Romans called a tutela or cura, a role of guardian or protector. Having one man with as much power as Augustus was in controversy with foundation of democracy. However, Rome was not a democracy of an Athenian type where everyone has an equal voice. Money and heritage were leading factors when running for elections and in this sense Augustus might have only transformed the oligarchy into autocracy. Actually, the construction of a new voting hall on Campus Martius presents evidence that Augustus restored the most important civil right of all - the right to vote. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus, senate's decision to call him back was perfectly predictable. And it is true that Augustus did not hold all the responsibilities, but he had just enough to make himself almighty. The consular and subsequently the tribunician powers had the role to provide him with control within the city of Rome and the patronage over the legions gave him legal rights to govern the Empire. As seen in Res Gestae the soldiers had to swear an oath of allegiance not to Rome, as the tradition was, but to Augustus as he had 'imperium'. In this way Caesar's heir found a way to be a king outside the boundaries of the republican city of Rome. And because the First Settlement left a gap in this regime as seen from Marcus Primus' treachery, Augustus chose to add the word 'maius' towards his responsibilities and finally outwash the republican tradition. ...read more.

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