AP World HistoryMilo Romney Caesar Augustus10/27/12 What happens when a man tries to take over a republic? Well most of the time that man gets stabbed several times by his friends and colleagues. This is at least what happened to the famous Julius Caesar. Later on his adopted son Octavian would try the same thing; however, he used very different tactics that led to a much happier ending, transforming Rome into a very strong and influential empire. It was the mid-1st century B. C. E. , Rome was ever-growing and the republic that once ran very smoothly was encountering many problems within itself.
Wealthy land owners or patricians were gaining too much power and land and since Roman law read that only land owners could serve in the military much of the military power was reduced. Some people tried to change this, for example Tiberius, but his ideas were seen as controversial and he was assassinated in 133 B. C. E. One man named General Marius instituted a law stating that men didn’t have to own land to serve in the military. Soldiers still wanted land in return for their service though, and the general gave them land but this made soldiers more loyal to army officials rather than to the senate.
After Marius retired Rome experienced a brief time of peace only to be broken by the Social War. The Social War was caused by the revolting of lower class Italians that were not entitled to full-citizenship and voting rights. This caused General Marius to come back. He ended the war and seized power of Rome. Marius died of old age and Rome started to become restless. In all of the turmoil there arose a powerful politician, Julius Caesar. Caesar created the First Triumvirate (three men) consisting of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey (also known as Magnus).
The Triumvirate really only made these men more powerful though and really didn’t help Rome overall. The Triumvirate disappeared when Crassus died and Caesar and Pompey started to fight. Caesar invaded Rome in 49 B. C. E. and became a dictator there. Then later Pompey was murdered in Egypt in 48 B. C. E. Julius increased the senate from 600 to 900 members to give himself more supporters. In five years Caesar held many powerful offices and almost succeeded in transforming Rome into an empire but was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 B. C. E. Many wars took place after the assassination of Julius Caesar.
His adopted son, Octavian, and his friend both formed the Second Triumvirate and defeated Caesars assassins in the Battle of Philippi. Many senators were killed during this time and it was not a good time for the republic. Eventually the Second Triumvirate dissipated and Octavian and Mark Antony turned on one another. Mark Antony married Cleopatra of Egypt and they committed suicide when Octavian invaded Egypt. Octavian became Augustus (exalted one) and now unofficially ruled Rome. Augustus knew that in order to successfully transform Rome into an empire he had to succeed where his father hadn’t.
He supported the arts and technology. He rebuilt temples and created road systems. He pleased his people with holidays and special events. Augustus would even give free bread and wine to all of Rome’s citizens. The senate just had to sit and watch as Caesar Augustus became the total dictator of Rome. Literature grew exceedingly during this time. Under Augustus’ rule Rome entered the Pax Romana, the peaceful and golden age of Rome. So in the end Augustus obviously succeeded in the areas where Julius didn’t. Julius didn’t utilize his resources as well and didn’t realize that he needed to take away the senate’s power not enhance it.
Augustus extended Rome to a great power and eventually fully ended the once-renowned republic. In a completely unnecessary comparison this story totally reminded me of the movie Star Wars, the fall of the republic and the birth of an empire. Anyways in conclusion, Augustus transformed Rome into an empire by gaining the loyalty of the citizens and soldiers while the senate lost its power. This man was so dominant that he even named the month of August after himself! Not many could have accomplished what Caesar Augustus did and many still marvel at his feats to this day.
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