This is the essay for the 10th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. In the blog post, I will be covering how Augustus was able to maintain balance in Rome and a summary of the life of Julius Caesar.
- 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 were being observed?
- Use your reading and the video lesson to summarize important events in the life of Julius Caesar.
What was the Augustan Settlement?
The Augustan Settlement was the steps that Augustus took to solve a problem he had on his hands when he came to power in 31 BC. The problem was that, if Augustus exercised his full power too aggressively, then it would be a repeat of what happened to Julius Caesar. On the other hand, if Augustus stopped being a dictator and retired to his private life, then new and upcoming men would cause another civil war in Rome, which Augustus wanted to avoid. Augustus’s solution to the problem was to maintain a balance between both sides and fool the public into thinking, that the republic was back, while in reality Augustus still held absolute power.
How did Augustus maintain the balance between both sides of the problem?
At first, Augustus was going to seem like he wanted to give up his absolute power, but because the Senate found him such a great leader they gave the power back to him. This went back and forth for a little while. One crucial difference between what Augustus and Julius Caesar did was that Julius Caesar exercised powers that no other position in the Senate could exercise, while Augustus only used powers that positions in the Senate could use. The difference between Augustus and the average Senate position holder was that Augustus held all of these positions for his entire life and he held multiple at once. He would take these positions, without actually taking them from the Senate, so the public didn’t know anything about it. Before he became emperor Augustus was called Octavian, but the Senate gave him a new name, which was Augustus. Augustus in Latin means exalted and venerable.
A Summary of the life of Julius Caesar:
Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC, to the Julian family. As Caesar started growing older two other powerful military leaders came into view. These two were Crassus and Pompey. Pompey was the better leader of the two, while Crassus was mostly known for his amount of wealth. When the slave rebellion of Spartacus happened both of these men proved the military power to Rome. There were checks in the Roman republic to prevent one person from becoming a dictator. To bypass this Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus created the first Triumvirate. This relationship was only strengthened more when Pompey married Caesar’s daughter Julia. They all benefited each other. Caesar become consul and was allowed to conquer Gaul, Pompey was allowed to conquer Hispania and lastly, Crassus was allowed to conquer Syria. The Triumvirate soon reached some tough times. Caesar’s daughter Julia died and Crassus also died fighting in Syria.
This caused Caesar and Pompey to build increasing tension between each other. After Caesar had conquered Gaul, then the Senate told him that he had to disband his army before returning to Rome. Caesar asked if Pompey could do the same, but the Senate rejected this idea. This was because the Senate was more and more suspicious that a dictatorship would be created by Caesar and they decided Pompey to be the lesser threat of the two. Caesar ignored the Senate’s orders and marched into Rome with his army. He was able to defeat and kill Pompey. After that Caesar took control of Rome. The Optimates was a group who wanted for the Senate to stay the way it was and to upkeep old Roman traditions. The Populares were the opposite of this. Several members of the Optimates, including Caesar’s close friend Brutus, wouldn’t let this stand and they killed Caesar.