Read and Highlight Octavian's political, social and economic legacy discussed in the following excerpt:

Octavian Rules as Emperor Augustus

Immediately after returning to Rome in 29 BCE, Octavian fortified support for himself by giving some of the wealth from Egypt to the troops who had fought for him. He gave them land in Italy and abroad, and some of Egypt's treasure he gave as prizes to the people of Rome. Thirty years had passed since Rome's republican government had functioned normally, and Octavian considered what the nature of his rule was to be. He theorized that a republic was better than a monarchy, that the sons of kings often became incompetent rulers. He believed that Rome's republican government had helped make Rome great, but he also believed that it had produced chaos. He decided that although the republic was suited to Rome when Rome was small, it was inadequate in meeting Rome's task as the leader of the world's greatest empire. He believed that democracy could not achieve the political stability that the Senate had failed to achieve, and therefore he remained opposed to giving more power to the Plebeian Assembly. He decided also that clinging to absolute power would appear evil. He did not wish to appear to be the autocrat that Caesar had appeared to be, and he recalled that after having won against Sextus Pompeius in 36 he had promised that he would restore the republic.

Octavian and his trusted aide, Agrippa, were the two consuls, and Octavian used his powers as a consul to make the Senate more to his liking. Building on the purge of 43, in which about three hundred senators had been eliminated, Octavian purged two hundred more, and in their place he added some whom he had elevated to the rank of nobility, and the Senate became a body of eight hundred.

In 27 BCE, Octavian began his seventh term as consul, and on the first day of that year he renounced his consulship and declared that he was surrendering all powers to the Senate and other bodies, including control of the army. It was a bogus withdrawal from power. As Octavian expected, the Senate, packed with his supporters, responded by returning much of his power, claiming that it was doing so for the sake of unity and relief from factionalism and civil strife. The Senate granted Octavian a ten-year governorship over those areas where the bulk of Rome's armies were stationed: Spain, Gaul and Syria. This gave Octavian control over foreign policy, and it left him with authority over Rome's military.

The Senate voted that Octavian be given the crown of oak leaves that signified service to Rome, and it made him consul again. From the period of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian still held the title of princeps, which could be translated as leader, or, in German, führer. In keeping with his great prestige, the Senate gave him a title that had the ring of his being divinely chosen, Augustus Caesar, and the Senate made it law that he be included in the prayers of Rome's priests. In appearance the Republic had been restored, but in fact ultimate power still lay with Octavian - Augustus Caesar.

Augustus and Pax Romana

From the years 27 through 24 BCE, Augustus continued as consul, and he spent those years outside Rome, administering and organizing, first in Gaul and then in Spain. In 26 BCE, to protect commerce, he allowed a military expedition to be sent against southern Arabs who were trying to maintain a monopoly of trade with India and the coast of Somalia. While Augustus toured Gaul and Spain, Romans were enthusiastic over rumors that he was planning an invasion of Britain. But Augustus had had his fill of war. He decided to leave Britain alone. Most of Britain's tribal chieftains were friendly toward Rome and wished to maintain and develop trade with the continent. Augustus saw them as no threat to Gaul, and he saw great and ambitious military undertakings as economically harmful.

The wars against Gallic tribes that had begun with Caesar were over. Gallic tribes had come down from their fortified towns in the hills and settled onto more fertile soil in the plains, where they established new towns. What Gaul needed was administration. But in Spain between the years 26 and 19 BCE, Augustus' commander, Agrippa, waged what was called pacification - a bitter but successful war in Spain's mountainous north. The warfare ended with defeated peoples being transferred to Spain's central plains and with colonies of Rome's veterans being established at what are now the cities of Merida in the southwest and Zaragoza in the northeast.

Meanwhile, Rome's main rival continued to be the Parthian Empire, on Rome's eastern frontier. Romans continued to hunger for revenge against the Parthian Empire. Instead, Augustus made a treaty with Parthia.  He promised that Rome had no more ambition against any area under Parthia control, and the Parthians in turn recognized Armenia as a Roman protectorate and returned to the Romans the banners that had been captured from Cassius' army more than thirty years before.

Augustus' policy of conciliation was the mainstay of the relatively stable peace called Pax Romana. Only minor disturbances would continue, as in 17 BCE, when a Roman legion was overrun by Sugambri Germans. Rome countered with an invasion of Germany in order to keep Gaul secure from German attacks and to create a new frontier along the Elbe River. Peace was disturbed again when Gauls from Pannonia and the Alps made raids into Roman territory. Rome responded, securing Italy's northern plain by extending its authority into Pannonia, Raetia and Noricum (between Raetia and Pannonia).

More Power to Augustus

In Spain in the mid-20s Augustus became ill and returned to Rome, and in 24 BCE he became ill again and close to death. When recovering the following year, he resigned again as consul, which relieved him of the routine duties that had been wearing him down. In compensation for this loss of power, the Senate revised the constitution and made Augustus Tribune-for-Life, which gave him power in domestic affairs. And, he was made Proconsul for life, giving him authority to override governors and the power to conclude treaties with foreign powers without submitting the treaties to the Senate for ratification. Technically Augustus remained an elected official and subject to the laws of the land. Officially his positions were a gift of the Senate and the Roman people.

Augustus still had the power to convene the Senate, to present legislation and to have his motions discussed in the Senate prior to any other business. He favored free discussion in the Senate, and he gave into the Senate on minor points, but most senators viewed arguments against the major thrust of his proposals as a waste of time, and the Senate merely stamped its approval on measures that Augustus proposed. Then in 18 BCE the Senate was again purged of two hundred members - to a body of six hundred. Seeing themselves as having no real power, many senators would come late or not show up. And by 11 BCE so many senators would be absent that a new rule was passed permitting business to be conducted with less than four hundred members present.

Not only was the Senate officially a legislative body, it became for the first time in its history a court of law and was authorized to try cases of both political and ordinary crimes, including those in which senators were involved. But with many Roman citizens looking to Augustus for help - as was traditional with kings - Augustus acquired recognition as having the power to judge appeals, a power he accepted without enthusiasm.

Augustus Patronizes and Builds

Augustus believed that each class should have its own ideals and duties. He believed that his class, the aristocracy, gave to Rome skills in leadership. He had men of business - the equites - declared a hereditary class and second in rank to the aristocracy. The equites could serve as officers in the army, as governors of certain provinces, as financial agents for the government and as agents of the courts of law. As for common people, by now their assemblies had vanished. Advocating democracy remained a crime of treason. The only labor organizations that Augustus allowed were those that appeared harmless to the state - fraternal groups of men who met merely to socialize. But Augustus allowed common people to run for minor civic posts and to advance to a higher position if they proved themselves of exceptional ability.

Waging only minor wars allowed Augustus to reduce his legions from sixty to twenty-eight, leaving more money for public works. He had begun building soon after his return from his war against Cleopatra, his first project that of repairing dilapidated temples. In the years that followed he gave Romans bread, games and magnificent shows, paying for these with both public and his own money. He began to complete buildings that had been left unfinished after Caesar's death, and he encouraged Agrippa and Rome's highest ranking military officers to spend for public works and public parks some of the wealth they had received as war booty. In 19 BCE, the construction of a new aqueduct was completed. Splendid new public baths were built. A ministry of transport was begun that built and maintained roads. From a city of sun-dried brick, Rome under Augustus was to become a city of marble.

The new roads improved communications and helped trade. Mail service improved, and under Augustus, improvements were made in civil administration. Augustus upgraded the qualifications for civil service jobs. He created a degree of self-government for cities and provinces and curbed the rapacity of Rome's governors. He created urban fire departments. He created urban police forces to suppress disorders, petty crime and to preserve urban tranquility, and he created police for the countryside to protect people against brigandage.

At first, Augustus planned to check the influx of people into Rome from the countryside by cutting people off Rome's welfare, but he abandoned this and instead introduced a new system of control and distribution of food, and by around 5 BCE the dole increased to 200,000, roughly twenty percent of Rome's population. But while maintaining Rome's proletariat, Augustus moved to restore the small farmer, believing that the small farmer had contributed to making Rome the power that it was. Small family farms still flourished in the Po valley, in Campania, and in the southern part of Italy inhabited by those of Greek ancestry, and, to extend small-scale farming, Augustus purchased land and paid gratuities out of his own vast wealth.

A Bible for Religious Study, and Protecting the Race

As was traditional among the Romans, Augustus associated morality with the well-being of the state and pleasing the gods. To stay on the good side of the gods he began a crusade to revive temperance and morality. He tried setting an example by dressing without extravagance and by living in a modest house. He emphasized the worship of those gods he thought had given him victory in battle, among them the god Apollo. He claimed that Rome's gods had given him victory over Cleopatra and what he saw as the monstrous gods of Egypt. He forbade the worship of Isis, and he forbade Druidism and fortune telling. He collected the oracles of Sibyl - the woman believed to have prophetic power by way of Apollo - and he had her writings stored in a newly built temple for Apollo on the Palatine Hill.

Augustus tried to persuade one of the foremost writers of his time, the poet Horace, to create a work comparable to Homer's Iliad, that would inspire Romans to the worship of the state's traditional gods and give the Romans pride in their history and their race. Horace was not interested, but the poet Virgil was. Virgil wrote the Aeneid, a story about the gods and the founding of the Roman race, a myth about the Romans having descended from Trojans who had fled the flames of Troy. Aeneas was described as the son of the goddess Venus and the Trojan Anchises. According to Virgil, among the descendants of Aeneas was Rhea Silva, who married Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus. And Virgil described Julius Caesar as a more distant descendant of Aeneas.

Augustus decided to protect the Roman race. Between 2 BCE and CE 4 he had laws passed that he hoped would reduce inter-breeding between Romans and non-Romans. These laws prohibited an indiscriminate emancipation of slaves, prohibited freed slaves from marrying Latins, and prohibited Senators from marrying freed women.

Family Values

The Romans believed in the family, and they agreed that adultery should be illegal. They believed that the virtue of their women helped win their city favor from their gods, and they continued to be disgusted by criminality. Many Romans found pleasure in seeing criminals punished, which was done in the arena, Rome's entertainment center, where convicted criminals were forced to fight against each other or against ferocious animals. Occasionally, convicted criminals ran from the center of the arena, and men at the edge of the arena used hot branding irons to force the unwilling participant back to the contest, while the crowd expressed its disgust with the criminal's cowardice.

With wars having reduced Rome's population to a level lower than pleased him, Augustus saw having children as moral. He used his powers as tribune-for-life to initiate legislation that he hoped would encourage marriage. Infanticide remained legal and at a husband's discretion, but people who remained single or married without children after they were twenty were to be penalized through taxation. To further what he saw as morality, Augustus had prostitution taxed, and he made homosexuality a punishable offense. Adultery remained a crime, but it was no longer commonly punished by death. An adulterous wife and her lover could now be banished to different islands, with the woman obliged to wear the kind of short tunic worn by prostitutes.

Augustus' crusade for moral regeneration satisfied those who feared that evil would come with abandoned religious traditions. Many females continued to grow up patriotically and dutifully moral, and virginity before marriage continued to be seen as highly desirable and moral. But his moral crusade was hardly a success in changing behavior. Married men continued to look other than to their wives for sexual passion. With unmarried women endeavoring to remain virgins and married women constrained by the tough laws against adultery, males, married and otherwise, continued to seek sexual gratification and to some extent affection from prostitutes, and some from each other.

Augustus had his own daughter, Julia, punished for adultery. After Julia's two previous husbands had died (each of whom had been designated as heir to Augustus' power) Augustus arranged a marriage between Julia and his adopted son and heir apparent, Tiberius. This involved Tiberius leaving a happy marriage. The marriage between Tiberius and Julia turned out to be an unhappy match. Tiberius was often away, and Julia searched for love and sexual gratification outside her marriage. Augustus heard of her infidelities, and he threatened her with death. Instead, he sent her to an island prison from which she was never to return, and he spoke of her as a disease of his flesh.