Assess the Success of Augustus as a General and a Politician During This Period
Assess the success of Augustus as a general and a politician during this period. (2007)
Many consider Augustus to be Romes greatest emperor; his policies extended the Empires life span and initiated the celebrated Pax Romana. As a politician, he was intelligent, decisive and shrewd, and had a positive impact on the Roman government with his successful political reforms, such as his increase in the role and responsibility of the senate and his judicial changes. In addition, his reforms of the armed forces, changes to administration of the provinces and successful frontier policy helped him create a permanent, standing, professional army and thus achieve the reputation as a successful military general. Augustus??™ success as a politician and general left a long-term legacy of Roman peace and prosperity that the Empire enjoyed for the next two centuries under the system he initiated.
Augustus??™ political reforms regarding the senate and magistrates were successful in establishing new order and contentment amongst members of the government. The administration of the Empire was an enormous task, thus Augustus needed to share the workload with the senators, and they co-operated in running the empire, dividing legislative, executive and judicial functions between them. Augustus improved the functions of the senate and magistrate through various reforms, such as the removal of unsuitable members and the restoration of dignity and responsibility by increasing the fines of non-attendance and forbidding senators to leave Italy without permission. However, Augustus kept in his own control the sanction of the army by remaining responsible for those provinces needing a military presence, thus there was still an unbalance in power. However, according to Scullard, the Senate as a whole was restored to a position of considerable prestige and influence. Augustus??™ reforms regarding the senate and magistrates were not exactly egalitarian, however the Senate enjoyed a new sense of responsibility, which enhanced the overall functioning of the government, as Suetonius states, ???He achieved success, having taken great trouble to prevent his political system from causing any individual distress.??? Therefore, Augustus success as a politician resulted in stability and peace within the government.
Augustus also made beneficial changes to the Roman judicial system. He added a court for dealing with cases of adultery, increased the number of jurymen available and paid great attention to those selected on the panels. Trial procedures were improved, and to increase the speed at which justice was dispensed he increased the number of days on which cases would be heard. In addition, Augustus added two new high courts, the senatorial court and the imperial court. Suetonius states ???Augustus proved assiduous in his administration of justices???. His judicial reforms proved successful in effectively minimising corruption, increasing the efficiency of justice and reversing defective past decisions. The results of these judicial reforms were the lasting peace and stability that the Roman Empire enjoyed for years to come. Therefore, as a politician, Augustus succeeded in restoring the Senate to a position of prestige and influence and improving the poorly organised judicial system.
As a general, Augustus was also extremely successful, making positive changes in the armed forces, the administration of the provinces and the frontier policy. Under Augustus, the Roman Army increased in strength, loyalty and morale. His immediate task was to reduce the army to an effective size to increase stability and loyalty. In addition, soldiers were guaranteed regular pay, as Augustus states in the Res Gestae, ???I transferred out of my own patrimony 170 000 000 sesterces to the soldiers??™ bonus funds.??? This would have again increased stability and loyalty towards Augustus. According to Scullard, Augustus created a professional standing force, loyal to the State and Princeps. Therefore, his changes to the Roman Army benefited the soldiers and the Roman state by increasing loyalty and contentment amongst the armed forces.
His changes to the administration of the provinces also succeeded in maintaining peace and stability. Successful changes in provincial administration under Augustus included the division of the empire to avoid civil war, the introduction of a more equitable taxation system, greater care in the selection and control of governors and greater responsibility given to local communities. The frequent provincial inscriptions evoking gratitude to Augustus suggests that the principate had been enormously successful, ?????¦the most perfect good, bringing to us Augustus, whom it has filled with virtue for the benefit of mankind??¦??? Jones points out that the proconsuls of the provinces were still grossly extravagant and looked to their provinces to pay their debts and re-establish their fortune. However, Augustus paid great attention to the problems of the provinces and made major attempts to improve their running. Therefore, as a general, Augustus was extremely successful in managing the provinces and thus can be held responsible for the establishment of peace, stability and security within the Roman Empire.
In addition, Augustus??™ frontier policies were largely successful. Under Augusuts, the army was becoming a frontier army, which, according to Shotter, ???sought the protection of Rome and Italy by the establishment of a buffer of provinces and pro-Roman territory, secure with visible frontiers.??? Augustus??™ key aims regarding frontier policy included consolidating the territory Rome had already conquered, an end to unsystematic expansion and the pursuit of defensible frontiers. Scullard believes that Augustus??™ frontier policy was greatly effective, and he concludes ???Augustus had, in general, achieved a lasing success.??? Augustus??™ success as a general is reflected in the Prima Porta statue, which celebrates Augustus as a mighty conqueror. It depicts Augustus dressed as a victorious general holding a spear and wearing a breastplate and footwear associated with religious heroes, linking Augustus to the divinity of the gods. Not only does the statue celebrate the victory over the Parthians, but also the perfect world order brought by Augustus. The rich symbolic imagery of the statue reveals the extent to which Augustus was a successful politician and general.
Augustus was an extremely successful leader who made beneficial changes to almost every aspect of Roman life. As a political and general, he made innumerable positive changes through his reorganization of the senate and magistrates, improved judicial system, reforms of the army, administration of the provinces and effective frontier policy. Many consider Augustus to be Romes greatest emperor; his policies extended the Empires life span and initiated the celebrated Pax Romana. Augustus??™ success as a politician and general left a long-term legacy of Roman peace and prosperity that the Empire enjoyed for the next two centuries under the system he initiated.