Augustus Caesar Reforms

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The fall of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE and the following political unrest and eventual civil war sparked fear and anguish in the hearts of the senatorial order and the patrician class. The following political instability, power vacuum, civil war, and social unrest provided a advantageous backdrop for reform of the state. Octavian, having won the civil war, won the state and the senate as well, and he consolidated his power by maintaining the image of himself as a Republican leader while also reforming and restructuring certain aspects within the existing system to ensure his both position as the head of the Roman state and the future stability of the imperial form of government. The maintenance of the image of the Roman Republic was crucial…show more content…
Augustus ensured that he would stay head of the Roman state by reforming several threatening aspects of the government and military. Besides the reorganization of the senate, which provided a stable, semi-hereditary legislative, administrative, and bureaucratic body for future emperors, Augustus restructured the military, created prefectures, and made himself divine. The military reforms were the most important for Augustus’ hold on the empire. Augustus demobilized the civil war armies, in a move that was both practical and symbolic. He then undertook a complete reorganization of the army, stationing them along the border of Rome’s empire and stationing several thousand troops in Rome, firmly under his power, which were the Praetorian Guard(Suetonius, Life of Augustus, XIX. 1-2 [L&R I.199]). This accomplished several things, the foremost of which was that the troops placed in the command of other generals were now very far away, and that it would have been very hard to form a force that could effectively attack or siege Rome. Augustus effectively created a professional, standing army with soldiers that would serve for long amounts of time, and who were rewarded with coin instead of land after six C.E. With the frightening possibility of a general seizing power out of the way, Augustus could focus on social reforms as well. The most important social reform was the reinvigoration of religion Augustus pursued(Suetonius, Life of Augustus, XXI 1-4 [L&R 206]) . By reviving a Roman custom, Augustus not only conjured up images of the Republic, but encouraged a more cohesive culture. He also cleverly invoked the Roman sense of filial duty and piety, by establishing a “ruler cult”, worshipping the emperor as father of the Roman people(Cassius Dio, Roman History, LI.20.6-8 [L&R I.207]).

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