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Discuss Representations Of Augustan Power And The Ways In Which This Power Has Been Portrayed As Beneficial For Rome And The Roman Empire

1860 words - 8 pages

Throughout his rule Augustus, born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, the Emperor of Rome, actively promoted his achievements in inscriptions, works of art and literature. This essay outlines and analyses these representations of Augustan power and the ways in which this power has been portrayed as beneficial for Rome and the Roman Empire.Augustus was adopted by his famous uncle Julius Caesar in 44 BC, and was thenceforth known as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Subsequently, after Caesar's assassination, in 44 BC, Octavian united with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in a military autocracy branded the Second Triumvirate. The Triumvirate was ultimately torn asunder by the hostile ambitions of ...view middle of the document...

"Augustus renounced flaunting insignia of power such as holding a sceptre, wearing a diadem, or wearing the golden crown and purple toga of his predecessor Julius Caesar" (Eder 2005, 13) . Ultimately, under the rule of Augustus, Rome emerged with a far more effective and efficient government, underpinned by a stability that had previously been lacking due to the civil war. Linked with stability came an increase in security for the ordinary populace which in turn lead to unprecedented prosperity, a prosperity that played a vital role in forging the strength of the Roman Empire. These achievements, and indeed the Emperor's substantive power, stemmed from financial success and resources gained in conquests, the building of patronage relationships throughout the Empire, the loyalty of many military soldiers and veterans, the authority of the many honours granted by the Senate, and the respect of the people. Overall, the rule of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace. Despite incessant frontier wars, and the one year-long civil war over the imperial succession, the Mediterranean world stayed at peace for more than two centuries.Augustus was a luminous politician, who utilised the hesitant climate of the time to firmly entrench himself in office, yet at the same time make it appear that he was more than willing to give up all his powers - even going as far as resigning his consulship only for the Senate to grant him yet more extensive powers. Further, "by law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including those of tribune of the plebs and censor" (Dio 1987, 153). Importantly, as all successful politicians do, he actively promoted his achievements and successes. Examples abound, so much by that "by 14 AD, his presence dominated every corner of the city, forcefully linking the image of Rome with a single personality" (Favro 1984, 19). Turning to specifics, Augustus wrote a record of his own accomplishments, known as the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, which has survived to the present day. This account of his achievements was to be inscribed in bronze in front of his mausoleum. Copies of the text were inscribed throughout the Empire upon his death. Augustus used a variety of mediums to depict his majestic nature. Utilising such iconography as coins and the Prima Porta Statue, coupled with the Ara Pacis Augusatae - the Altar of Augustus - Augustus portrayed himself as the saviour of Rome. He also claimed that "I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction" (Augustus in Course Guide).As well as inscriptions, art and literature, religion was also utilised to augment Augustus' power. Of course, "the religious distinction of Augustus' position was already great. The emperor was the descendant of divine ancestors who would one day join his forbears in the apotheosis that was to come to him after death" (Taylor 1975,181)....

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