Res Gestae Research Papers
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In the Res Gestae written by Augustus in 14 CE, he outlines a wide variety of his achievements such as the following:
- Restoring order to the Roman Empire
- Expanding its boundaries
- Instituting an era of relative peace that has become known as the Pax Romana.
In section 1, he claims that his position of authority of power was earned by his service to the state and was granted by directive of the Senate. He also boasts that “The dictatorship was offered to me by both senate and people in my absence and when I was at Rome in the consulship of Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius, but I refused it…. The senate and the people of Rome agreed that I should be appointed supervisor or laws and morals without colleague and with supreme power…”.
Augustus is accurate in this concise description of events that gave him plenary power over Rome and enabled him to functionally transform the system of government from Republic to Empire with centralized authority in the Emperor. From this perspective of legitimacy, the praise that he continues to heap upon himself in the remainder of the Res Gestae is well deserved. He did manage to restore order to the Roman Empire, which was could easily have fragmented as a result of the civil wars. He did manage not only to restore order, but also to initiate a period of relative peace for the citizens of Rome, during which the principal conflicts were relatively minor and confined to the distant fringes of the Empire. The city of Rome enjoyed a renewed era of prosperity under his rule, as the chaos and destruction of the civil war was gradually forgotten.