Western Civilization lesson 50

What was the Augustan Settlement? How did Augustus balance his perceived need for absolute power with his concern to lend the impression that the republic had been restored and the old ways?

Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, more commonly known as Augustus, knew that he could not obviously seize all the power of the Roman Empire but he knew deep down that all control by one man was desperately needed or the united nation of Rome would disintegrate. In 27 BC he made as if to return his powers to the Roman Senate. However, they rejected the powers because they knew that he would probably rule with greater care and kindness than other men who would take his place. Augustus insisted but so did the Senate. The council finally sealed the deal by throwing in the title of “Augustus” (revered one) and many other honors to complete the package. In his false modesty, he accepted but refused to be known as holy. Instead he was called Princeps (first citizen) during his life. The other honors included total military control, Imperium miaus (power to command), and tribunica protesta (ultimate veto power). By 23 BC he had become Tribune for life. He had played his cards right.

Use your reading and the video lesson to summarize important events in the life of Julius Caesar.

In ancient Rome, 100 BC, Julius Caesar was born to a wealthy patrician family. His rise to fame began when he took up the mantle of commander for an army in Gaul. Shortly afterwards, he veered off to a political path in life as military tribune. The sneaky politician (aren’t they all?) allied himself with Pompey, a fellow general, and the very wealthy Crassus in 60 BC to bring immense power to the three of them. Their secret alliance formed the first triumvirate. Eventually the club became public, but by then it was too late for anyone to do anything about it. To form steel bonds within this alliance, Julius Caesar bequeathed his daughter, Julia, in marriage to Pompey. But in 54-53 BC, Julia and Crassus both perished miserably, breaking the bonds between the remaining members of the alliance. Caesar and Pompey fought relentlessly and the Senate was forced to take a side. They saw Pompey as the lesser of the two evils and gave him their support by ordering Julius to stand down and return to Rome in defeat. Enraged by this command, Caesar wheeled his army about and marched on Rome. He won. His power skyrocketed and in 48-44 BC he became a dictator for life. However, unlike several of the people who would rule after his time, he was not a horribly violent or cruel ruler. He made many improvements to Roman society and the people loved him for it. In March of 44 BC, he was brutally assassinated by the fearful senate, who were still a bit pissed off that he had totally destroyed them in battle.

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