Roman Empire’sinfluence has deeply permeated many aspects of Western civilization frompolitics to military organization and strategy.
Augustus was one of thewell-known emperors in his power of ending the chaos of civil war andstabilizing society afterwards. Augustus ushered in an unprecedented age ofpeace and prosperity; this famous period did not occur naturally. The fact thatAugustus was able to maintain control of both the common people and thegovernment is a testament to his sovereignty and expertise. His authority alsobenefitted his family’s status. Both of them are revealed in Augustus’sinscription, Res Gestae Divi Augusti, in which he portrayed himself in adifferent image. By portraying himself as a benevolent leader under therepublic constitution, Augustus utilized his appearance to consolidate andextend his sovereignty, influence which he transferred to his family.
Augustus enumerated his accomplishments in purpose toelevate him to a selfless and benign leader in the Res Gestate. Augustuswrites, “I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressedby the domination of a faction” (Augustus para. 1). The “set free the state”refers to his success in the civil war that military dictators divided theRoman Republic (McKay et al p.153). He especially emphasizes this achievementat the beginning of Res Gestae; this insinuates that his most significantachievement were terminating the political cleavage and restoring freedom and peacefor the people.
Augustus particularly emphasized the latter one; he writes, “Irebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey, each work at enormous cost,without any inscription of my name” (Para. 20). Augustus underlines the”without any inscription of my name” since he intends to present an image thathe concerns about social infrastructures, not for his fame. Furthermore, thetheater of Pompey was an important architecture built by former ruler of RomanRepublic.
Augustus portrayed an appearance of retrieving prosperity andtraditional values in the past, which conformed to his claim that he wouldrestore the Republic. Thus, Augustus retained the republic constitution for hisportrayal, even though he had already obtained a great power. He furtherfortified such image by rejecting the dictatorship and position as perpetualconsulate (Para. 5). Augustus rejected the offers because they violate thetraditional Roman values and the constitution, even though he arose as asovereign leader with comprehensive control of the government. The contraction betweenhis portrayal in Res Gestae and his actual ambition demonstrated theinscription was served as his propaganda to glorify his image and extend hisinfluence over the empire.
Augustus consolidated his positionas a sovereign leader through massive support. Augustus mentions he was offeredmany different positions by the Senate and people throughout the Res Gestae(Augustus para. 1, 5, 7, 8). Under the republicconstitution, he harnessed the regime by taking positions in extending areas;he was virtually an absolute monarch, despite an absent title of “dictator.”Augustus was also granted different honorable titles by the Senate.
The mostsignificant one among them is the “princeps”, which means the “first citizen ofthe state” (McKay et al p.156). More precisely, Augustus was recognized as thefirst priority over the equal citizens.
The title has no official power, but itrepresented Augustus’s ultimate status over the empire. The honor titles andvarious positions to Augustus proved that he maintained the highest power inthe empire, and his regimes arose from support of the Senate and the people.Despite his political control over the government, Augustus’s wealth alreadyimpacted the commonwealth.
Augustus reflects several times that he used his patrimonyto rebuild architectures and provide public gifts and grains to people (para.15). By doing so, Augustus further consolidated his popularity among citizens whenhe restored social stability. Therefore, he extent his influence throughwielding numerous governmental positions as well as enhancing prominence amongcitizens.
His tremendous influence would also transfer to his family, which sustainedtheir regime in future. Augustus’s extending sovereigntyalso permeated through his family, enhancing the legitimacy and prestige of hisfamily in the Empire. Augustus mentions many times that he hold events underhis relatives’ names (para. 22). By undertaking these games in honor of hisrelatives, Augustus heightened his family’s esteem while appearing benevolent. Thus,the prestige of his lineages would also be elevated under Augustus’s tactics.Furthermore, Augustus also sent his two sons to the Senate and the military(para.
14, 27). His heirs could heighten their esteem through various triumphsin wars and government. Meanwhile, Augustus intended to prepare his heirs asfuture governors of the emperor; his honor would be inherited in future. Augustus was a political expert that harnessed varioustactics in purpose to fortify his regime and glory in this mighty empire. His deedspermeated and deeply impact the Roman Empire and the future. Such influenceeven transferred to his family to preserve their power and honor.
Augustusdisguised his deeds and characters to portray an ideal image, but his Res Gestae,a propaganda, provided a solid basis from his accomplishments.