The republic under Augustus

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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. In Suetonius 28 we read that Augustus was afraid that dividing the power would jeopardize the national security. Truly, with 500 000 soldiers Rome had too many ambitious generals with too little wars to fight and each of them could become the next Sulla or Marius. Hence is the decision of Augustus to reduce the troops to 300,000 (Res Gestae 3) and therefore get rid of people with ambiguous loyalty.

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The First Settlement from 27 BC gave Augustus more powers than he was supposed to hold – proconsular power in an extended province and 10 years of consulship.  This did not mean that he had the power or responsibility to do everything, but that he must do everything to save the state. 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 ...

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