Date of Award
In 27 B.C., Octavian became Augustus. The chaos of the civil wars had ended and an emperor was at last in Rome. As the princeps states in his Res Gestae, he had obtained all things "per consensum universorum" and upon achieving victory over his enemies, the doors of the temple of Janus were closed, peace was restored and the governance of Rome had ostensibly been returned to the Senate and the Roman people. Then, "quo pro merito," Octavian received the title of Augustus and the doors of his temple were adorned with the corona civica. A gold shield was erected in the senate-house bearing a testament to the virtus, dementia, iustitia, and pietas of the princeps. Seemingly, the Republic was restored, the first citizen having lain down his exclusive power. But, however much Augustus may have projected the image of a first citizen who shared power equally in the government, the reality of the situation differed, for the princeps maintained exclusive imperium over Syria, Egypt, Spain, and Gaul. More than half the army was under his direct control, most of the citizens of the empire had sworn personal allegiance to him, and the Senate, remembering the recent proscriptions, did his bidding with little argument. And in the east he was already worshipped in connection with the cult of Roma. Despite Augustus' attempts to distance himself from the aura godlike omnipotence projected by his predecessor, Julius Caesar, he was, in fact, dangerously close to apotheosis. The very hand that restored the Republic guaranteed the long survival of the Roman Empire.
Davis, Scott D., "Augustus Deified or Denigrated: The Political Subtext of Anchises' Speech in Aeneid VI" (2007). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 666.
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Frances B. Titchener
Departmental Honors Advisor