He steered Rome from a time of civil war and anarchy to a period of civility and prosperity. He took the title: Princeps, or first amongst equals (i.e. The Benevolent Dictator.) It’s hard in the end to judge what he did. These were such different times that they cannot be judged from 2010. Women were given away by men like commodities. People were executed. Children were executed. It’s so hard to process what it must have been like in 44 BC. Despite his participation in the debauchery and the executions and the battles where blood was spilled by many, there was an overwhelming reverence for Augustus which is what the title Augustus means: the revered one. Some people, in fact, believe that the Pax Romana brought to the people of Rome is the basis for the Anno Domini and is an allegory to Augustus. Perhaps this is because of his brilliant image campaign. Perhaps public opinion would have been different for Augustus if the common folks knew of what he did behind closed doors. Lord Acton once gave us a famous quote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Augustus achieved absolute power.
Timeline Part 4 – Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus 63 BC – AD 14
He considered nothing more incumbent on him then to avenge his uncle’s death and maintain the validity of his enactments. – Suetonius
When Julius Caesar was killed there was a vacuum in the heart of the Empire. There was much uncertainty and there was unrest in the streets. Immediately, political jockeying was underway to see who would or could take over the Republic. Most held their ambitions close to the vest as no one could be trusted and confidence in the wrong soul would be met swiftly with murder.