p.p1 public works, he effectively expanded Roman territory to

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After Julius Caesar’s unfortunate assassination in 44 BC, Octavian, later known as Augustus, emerged as his next heir that would soon change the Roman empire unimaginably. Following the formation of the Second Triumvirate that included Marc Antony, Lepidus, and Augustus, tension heightened greatly between these three men. Soon after, Lepidus was eliminated from this partnership and Augustus initiated a war with Antony to obtain sole control of Rome, known as the Battle of Actium. Augustus’ victory marked the end of the destructive civil war and the beginning of his new reign as sole leader of Rome (McKay et al. 155). Although Augustus can be seen as a rather manipulative and arrogant leader in The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, despite his questionable motives, he endorsed public works, successfully expanded Roman territory and control, and managed to be one of the most favorable leaders for the people of Rome. Through Augustus’ smart political actions, he led the empire out of its devastating civil war to a time of peace and prosperity.  

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Augustus proved to be a considerate leader as he used his personal fortunes and power for public works. For instance, he greatly valued the people’s religion and built many places of worship like the temples of “Mars, of Jupiter Subduer and Thunderer, of Apollo”, and much more throughout the empire. Not only that, but he also endorsed the rebuilding of waterways and the “Flaminian road” to enhance the people’s lifestyle (Augustus). By building such important public works, Augustus shows how attentive he was to the people’s personal needs. Though these works may not have been directly essential to the benefit of the empire as a whole, it was essential for the good of the people. Augustus seemed to recognize this and continued to embark on public construction projects to please the people of the empire which contributed the betterment of their everyday lives. 

In addition to the public works, he effectively expanded Roman territory to other regions that strengthened the power of the empire. He asserts proudly in The Deeds of the Divine Augustus that he “extended the borders of all the provinces” and “added Egypt to the rule of the Roman people” (Augustus). As they continued to conquer and expand their territory, their empire was bolstered in multitudes of ways as commerce improved greatly (McKay et al. 159). Such success of the empire’s expansion was made possible by Augustus’ patriotism– he constantly yearned for a bigger army and urged society to serve in the Roman army to which many people complied to (Smarr). Because of Augustus’ successful army, they were able to extend their land, which then allowed the growing empire to flourish economically and socially for as long as 200 years –also known as the Pax Romana (McKay et al. 159). 

Lastly, Augustus was an impressive leader as he managed to be one of the most favorable leaders of the Roman empire. To be a successful chief, public support is essential though it is not always easy to sustain it. Augustus’ reign was notable because he successfully preserved his popularity with the people for 45 years. He was able to do so by handing a substantial amount of his power to “the Senate and the Roman people” (Augustus). Throughout Augustus’ writing, he emphasizes the theme of equalized power as he reassures in many parts of his inscription that “he had no greater power than the others who were colleagues with him in each magistracy” (Augustus). Thus, by avoiding absolute power, Augustus was able to preserve his popularity which allowed him to continue his great works.     

However, despite his accomplishments, many may argue that Augustus was a manipulative and arrogant leader who only shared his power to preserve his throne. One might interpret The Deeds of the Divine Augustus as a list of selfish acts that he took to protect his status, as his tone throughout his writing can be construed as haughty. For instance, Augustus may have only refused dictatorship to evade suspicions of absolute power and to avoid the same fate as his uncle Caesar (Augustus). However, despite Augustus’ motives, he still successfully led the empire out of its civil war and met the peoples’ and empire’s needs to flourish. We may never know Augustus’ true reasons behind his actions, but we do know the lasting legacy of peace and prosperity he left behind.

Augustus was a smart leader who exploited his position as Caesar’s heir to further his own political career. After his victory over Antony, who may have plunged the empire into chaos, he endowed tremendous economic and social success to the Roman empire. Through his well-thought-out political actions that included the endorsement of public works, the expansion of Roman territory and control, and the ways he maintained his popularity, he became the new paradigm of a good leader for Rome.