The Character and Achievements of Roman Emperor Augustus Essay

The Character and Achievements of Roman Emperor Augustus Essay

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Augustus was more concerned with self preservation than the advancement of the senate, the armies and his citizens. He rejected absolute power, but had an ulterior motive. With the fate of Julius Caesar in his mind, Augustus was well aware of the dangers of absolute power. So he saw dispersing power as a means to offset those potential threats to his lift. I have used the primary sources such as Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus by Augustus and The Divine Augustus by Suetonius for the examination of my hypothesis and to compare how each of them portrayed Augustus.

During his reign Augustus refused dictatorship and consulship on several occasions and instead created the Principate. In the Deeds of the Divine Augustus, he mentions many positions that he rejected and portrays himself as a modest leader that had little interest in dominating the state. Both Tacitus and Suetonius mention his rejection of dictatorship in their works. Suetonius also portrays Augustus as a modest leader and according to Suetonius, when offered dictatorship, Augustus bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused and not wishing to have the position. Tacitus on the other hand believed that the creation of a Principate and the Pax Romana were merely pretexts and that his real motive was lust for power.

As we all know, Augustus’s Uncle, Julius Caesar was murdered by his own senate. He held the position of dictatorship and consul for many years and his cunning fight for domination saw his end at only 56 years old. Dictatorship was always regarded a temporary position but in 44 BC, Caesar took it for life. Caesars domination alienated th...


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...bout him was a lot less praiseful than it appears to be. He explains some Augustus’ less dignified moments in his life and many of his cruel acts as emperor.

Tacitus, the Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus portrays a very different image of Augustus. He praises Augustus on occasion however, he also mentions his less dignified moments and insinuates that his motive was a lust for power rather than the progression of Rome.
Tacitus also gives reference to Augustus’ achievements and he also expresses that he was not always callous and had brilliant tactics in leading Rome.

Whether Augustus played an important role in the advancement of Rome or not, he was still very self-absorbed and the states elevation came after his own prosperity. On the other hand, that may have been the type of character one needed to survive as a leader in such a ruthless society.




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