Julius Caesar Essay

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How and why was Augustus able to found a stable and enduring monarchy when Julius Caesar had failed?

One of the most influential men in history is Julius Caesar. The transformation of the Roman republic into a Roman empire was made significant by Caesar. He became to be known as a military genius at his time. At present, he is widely known as one of the strongest leaders in the historic times.  Caesars political ambition started when he was inspired by the statue of Alexander the Great. He thought that he should also perform a memorable act. He joined forces with a war hero who was badly treated by the Senate, Pompey and with a multimillionaire, Crassus. They formed the first triumvirate. Crassus was then killed in a battle while Caesar and Pompey went their own ways. By this time, Caesar had many enemies and his life was in constant danger.

He thought that he can protect himself by gaining power. He became victorious and he was kind to his defeated opponents by giving them amnesties. Caesar can be remembered as the one who revised the Roman calendar, dealt with the local government, gave lands to the veterans in the new cities and granted foreigners citizenship (PBS, sec. 1-5). He became too powerful that he wanted to control the government only by himself. Thus, he became a dictator, resulting to some senators resistance. Due to this, Marcus Brutus along with some others plotted to assasinate the dictator on the Ides of March. This led to another civil war since there are still supporters of Caesar.

Caius Octavius (later Augustus), born on September 23, 63 BC (Garrett, par. 4) was the first emperor who succeeded in converting the Roman republic into a system of monarchy headed by emperors. His long reign in the Roman Empire brought peace and stability that was long gone during Caesars reign. Participation of C. Octavius in the Roman republic can be traced back from its relationship with Julius Caesar. The father of Octavius married Atia, daughter of Caesars sister, Julia (Garrett, par. 4) and this linked Octavius to Caesar. When Caesar was assassinated in 43 BC, he left a will stating the adoption of Octavius as his son and leaving him three quarters of the state.

From then on, Octavius was known as Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus meaning Caesar from the Octavius family (Lendering, sec. 4). He engaged in a battle of power over Roman Empire with Antony and succeeded in the naval battle of Actium in 31 BCE (McManus, par.1). He became the sole ruler of Rome in the same position that Caesar had been after winning the civil war. After some time, the senate named him Imperator Caesar Augustus, with a religious and social meaning but not suggestive of political dominance (Garrett, par. 34). The title meant authority over humanity and nature according to Roman religious beliefs.

The name change also served to symbolize the transformation from the terror Octavian to a benign Augustus (Anonymous, sec 3.1). Italy was in peace for forty years under Augustus reign. There was a steady increase in prosperity among Rome and its territories. The Romans became stabilized and properly defended. There had been possibility for professional careers in the army. The roads were improved and it helped troops to travel whenever they are needed as well as to keep in touch with other areas of Rome that are far (History World, sec. 3).

Augustus did not follow Caesars example in governing the empire instead he founded the principate, a monarchy headed by an emperor holding power for life (BBC, par. 3). In his time, Caesar led a dictatorial government, addressing little of the problems of the Republic. He was obsessed in defeating his opponents, hence the long series of civil wars. In contrast, during Augustus reign, civil wars had decreased in numbers making him loved by many. He became known for his caring and popular administration. Augustus was in complete control of everything not only because he wanted to but because everyone wanted him to be. Not only had he brought peace but also good governance.

The road that Caesar and Augustus took towards being the leader of Rome also differs. Caesar took the dirty path using wealth as a way to the top. At first, he made sure that everyone will remember his name and he will be able to control votes in the Peoples Assembly by being popular. His acts were often criminal in order to gain a position in the government (Lendering, sec. 2). Augustus has been very patient and careful in acquiring power over the state. At every step of the way, he would present himself as a passive partner. He expressed reluctance to accept offices and honors. He was unlike Caesar.

He managed to control the government with a Republican facade. His tactic was modesty in lifestyle, approachability, routine consultation with the senate and impressive work ethic (Garrett, par. 37). To avoid Caesars fate, Augustus charmed the Senate and the people by pretending to be reluctant for power. There was a series of panic that Romans became convinced that only Augustus could save them. As a result, the people begged the Senate to vote Augustus as absolute ruler. Augustus cleverly agreed to that. He convinced Romans that he was ruling in the best traditions of the republic, but actually was an absolute ruler creating a dynasty (PBS, par. 12).

Caesars constant disregarded of tradition and his arrogance and high-handedness made him king of Rome only by name. This made him different to Augustus. To address the civil problem left by Caesar, Augustus initiated the First Settlement in the Congress wherein the need to appease the sensibilities of the elite and to unite the loyalties of highly politicized armies were in focused. Augustus also inculcated the return of tradition by means of legislation as part of being guardian and protector of Roman tradition (Garrett, par. 33 & 50). During Augustus time, architecture, art and literature were at its peak, prompting his famous quote, I found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble (Garrett, par. 52).


Anonymous. Wikepedia. Nov. 2, 2006. Date Accessed: Nov. 3, 2006


BBC. Historic Figures. November 3, 2006. Date Accessed: Nov. 1, 2006.


Fagan, Garrett. De Imperatoribus Romanis. July 5, 2004. Date Accessed: Nov. 1, 2006.


History World. History of Augustus Caesar. Undated. Date Accessed: Nov. 2, 2006.


Lendering, Jona. Caesar. Undated. Date Accessed: Nov. 1, 2006.

McManus, Barbara. Augustus and Tiberius: Historical Background. October 2006. Date
Accessed: Nov. 1, 2006. http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/augustus.html

PBS. The Roman Empire. 2006. Date Accessed: Nov. 3, 2006.

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