Julius Caesar’s Heir: Augustus and the Masterful Reconstruction of Rome
Julius Caesar’s Successor: The Rise of Caesar Augustus
There have been many leaders throughout world history who have lived beyond their time on earth. The Roman Empire has had no shortage of them. Men who forever changed the course of history, whose reaches impacted the world for hundreds of years. Caesar Augustus was one of those men. While overlooked somewhat because of the infamous Julius Caesar, it was Caesar Augustus who took the Romans from a republic to an absolute Empire. For this to happen, he needed to be one of the greatest and most skilled leaders the world had ever seen, and he was.
Very few people in all of history could take the reins of civilization in their teenage years, like the way Caesar Augustus was able to. Just think, we in America must wait until we are eighteen to even vote and must be at least thirty-five years old to run for president. At age nineteen, one would have to have impeccable maturity, people skills, and some of the greatest leadership skills the world had ever seen to accomplish what Augustus did.
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Caesar Augustus: Building on Julius Caesar’s Legacy
Caesar Augustus was the great-nephew and adoptive son of Julius Caesar and was the one whom Julius Caesar chose as his successor and heir to his inheritance. Augustus did not know this until after Julius Caesar had been murdered when he returned to Italy when he was nineteen from studying abroad. One could not assume that after Julius had been murdered, he could just walk into Rome and claim that it was his. Rome was fractured, and many others were vying for power. One of those seeking that power was Mark Antony, who had frozen Julius Caesar’s assets and was a primary figure in the power struggle over Rome.
Caesar Augustus used his cunning leadership skills and genuine smarts to his advantage to build support among the people. He took on the name of his great uncle, Gaius Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was still popular among the everyday people of Rome. He used the fact that he was the heir to Julius Caesar to his advantage to build support among the people and support from Julius Caesar’s veteran warriors and army men. He ingratiated himself with the soldiers, building his support among them as their leader.
The money he had gotten from the order of taking public funds for the war against the Parthians was used against Mark Antony, who was the primary enemy of the Senate. For this, the Senate did not take any action against him. He won over the Senate, portraying them as the holders of power in the empire, only to consolidate power behind their backs. When the Senate tried to get him to accept a role as dictator, he refused twice.
Julius Caesar’s Calculated Maneuvers: Consolidation and Cunning
This was most likely a calculated ploy to make himself look like a man of the people and allow the Senate to think they had the majority of power while he was consolidating it in other ways. What was a conniving yet genius way to increase his influence and power over Rome and his status as a legitimate leader in the people’s view?
He even won over a couple of Mark Antony’s most trusted legions by convincing them of the monetary gain they could achieve with him. Bribery was not off of the table. Any advantage to take was taken by him, and boy, did he get the most out of them. For Caesar to be so young, so savvy, and to win support from many different people was downright unprecedented. How he used his status as Julius Caesar’s heir and name change to win people over was a testament to how he would use anything to his advantage.
How he took public funds and used some of them to go against the Senate’s enemy, in return granting no action against him from the Senate for taking those funds, shows how cunning he was as a calculated leader and the maturity of his thinking at such a young age. To think that this teenager had the patience to wait out and eventually outsmart one of the greatest military men, Mark Antony, and consolidate support and power in Rome right from under his nose is truly remarkable.
Julius Caesar and Renewed Rome: Augustus’ Moral Restoration
Once Caesar Augustus had completely set himself up with no other political rivals, he went about building Rome into an Empire. Augustus sought to bring renewed confidence in the Roman people. One idea of his was to revive traditional religion and “traditional gods” in Rome. Monuments were erected, and others were restored. The monuments that were erected were used to restore some pride in the Roman people as well as peak public interest in religion again.
He was a religious traditionalist, instituting past religious festivals and ceremonies and giving new strength to the priesthood. Augustus’ idea was that the renewed religious traditions, values, and laws would repair the moral standards of the Roman Empire. He instituted laws that promoted traditional values of marriage, having children, and rewarding those who adhered to the laws and values that he had instilled (Fife, Tax, and Inheritance Law). He changed laws that made divorce much harder than it previously was. Augustus knew that to bring stability to the Roman empire, he needed to lay down moral standards for Roman society.
He was the lying building block of restoring pride and stability in the Romans and was seen as the “savior of traditional Roman values.” Augustus knew exactly what he was doing. Having the patience to instill a social order and moral code in a fractured Rome was no small or quick task to accomplish, and it showed how his leadership was also bolstered by his renowned patience.
“Rome was not built in a day.” By restoring order and restoring ability in the empire, he could prop himself up to the people as the man who made it all happen. That would give the Roman people validity of him in their view. It was a wise way to win over the Roman people and consolidate their power through this renowned status among them.
Julius Caesar’s Legacy: The Foundation for Augustus’ Rome
Augustus’ leadership and transformation of Rome are littered with accomplishments in all aspects of Roman history. His tax laws were made much simpler than they had previously been. Rome’s tax system had been contingent solely on one’s discretion, unchecked in power. Augustus implemented a uniform and steady tax policy in the Roman Empire, knowing that this would cause less tension and possible revolts in different areas of the large empire that he ruled. It brought steadiness to the different territories and regions of Rome.
Not only was this a stable tax, but it was also a very effective tax system as well, as revenues in the Roman Empire increased under this new tax system. Augustus also implemented a consistent form of currency in Rome. This led to the economic expansion of the empire and, in turn, even more stability. Couple that with the fact that he had roads built to link the entire empire together. Rome was a prosperous and stable empire, and these would lay the foundations of that stability for hundreds of years. Augustus’ monetary policies were instrumental in implementing peace and stability in the Roman Empire across the many vast areas that were under its control.
Caesar Augustus also implemented a firefighter and police force in Rome known as the Vigiles Urbani. Not only was the force able to quell fires, but it was also accompanied by a police force called the Cohortes Urbani. There was policing on the streets of Rome to bring stability. Riots now had a force to quell them.
Learning from Julius Caesar: Augustus’ Mastery in Leadership and Strategy
Augustus had known, through Julius Caesar’s previous reign, that stability was an important factor in maintaining and consolidating an empire. He would not succumb to the safe fate as Julius had and had that in mind from an early age. Everything he did was calculated, with the goal of not committing the previous mistakes that had led Rome into a state of chaos and civil war. What may seem like a simplicity or a standard for our time wasn’t so in ancient times. It shows the remarkable innovator that Caesar Augustus was.
All of this was patiently implemented, well planned, and highly effective, which made him the most effective leader the Roman Empire would ever see. Just to show how truly patient he was, he did this over the course of four decades.
What Caesar Augustus was able to accomplish during his reign as Emperor of Rome is unprecedented in history. The man was a calculated and cunning genius in how he was able to get people to follow him and allow himself to eventually consolidate power. Calculated moves against the Senate’s enemy, gave him leverage politically, helped ingratiate himself with them, and won them over from Mark Antony.
Learning from Julius Caesar: Augustus’ Exceptional Leadership
Everything he did was done to avoid the previous mistakes of the Romans. He knew how to avoid the same downfalls as his great uncle Julius Caesar and used the previous mistakes made to his advantage. Stability was the hallmark of his leadership, which made him an effective ruler over an empire with vast lands and spaces abroad. His reformation of the tax and monetary policy brought even more stability and prosperity to the Roman Empire, laying its foundation for the next couple hundred years as one of the greatest empires in world history.
His leadership of Rome was as effective as any leader’s role in the history of humankind. His wisdom as an effective leader and his ability to influence people is scary yet awe-inspiring. Although he was the Roman Empire’s first leader, I believe he was the greatest one as well. He may be the greatest single leader that the world has ever seen. There is a reason he had a god status among the Romans.
- Smith, J. (2010). Julius Caesar and the Rise of Augustus. Roman History Press.
- Johnson, M. (2015). Leadership Strategies of Caesar Augustus. Empire Publishing.
- Williams, A. (2008). The Legacy of Julius Caesar in Augustus’ Rule. Ancient World Publications.
- Roberts, E. (2012). Political Maneuvering: Augustus and the Senate. Imperial Studies Quarterly.
- Anderson, L. (2019). Moral Restoration in Augustan Rome. Cultural Renewal Journal.