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Who is Octavian and how does he come to power? What are some of the things Octavian does once he is in power? What is the importance of the Augustus of Primaporta? Why is Octavian so important for Roman history and Roman culture?

Octavian is the most reputable ancient Roman rulers who was Caesar’s adopted heir and great-nephew. Octavian’s leading role came into effect after Julius Caesar’s death resulting from an army advancement led by Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus. Consequently, Octavian joined forces with Mark Anthony to destroy Gaius and Marcus’s forces and reclaim Rome. Octavian was Rome’s outright ruler between 27 BCE-14 CE after several years of serving as consul. He was later given the divine Augustus title, making him the first Roman emperor.

Once in power, Octavian divided power in the Roman republic with Lepidus, an ex-consul, in an agreement popularly known as the Second Triumvirate. However, the growing tension by 36 BCE led to the dissolution of this triumvirate. Consequently, Octavian led a successful advancement on the Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra and Anthony in a battle called Actium. The defeat was unbearable for Antony and Cleopatra, which caused them to commit suicide. Octavian’s successful advancement made him the sole ruler of Rome by 29 B.C.E. However, Octavian learnt from the failures of Caesar of threats he would likely face as the sole ruler of Rome. As a result, he restored political institutions to cement his role as the outright ruler (Class notes: Imperial Rome Overview). Being the first Roman emperor, Octavian commissioned outstanding artworks and literature works that promoted the Roman culture. Moreover, Octavian passed laws which promoted renewed cultural practices and marital stability. Furthermore, he designed a census and taxation system that aided in the economic developments and expansion of the Roman empire. Furthermore, Octavian oversaw the expansion of road networks, the establishment of a police force and fire brigade, and the introduction of post services which promoted livelihoods and impacted the influence of Rome in the region.

The Augustus Primaporta is one of the ancient art forms used to express the Role of Augustus in the Roman empire. The Primaporta shows Augustus standing with an outstretched hand, often depicted in the military context (Class notes: The Collapse of the Roman Republic and the Rise of the Roman Empire). Primaporta’s posture shows the leadership qualities of Augustus in battle. Moreover, the Primaporta shows Augustus wearing a military breast piece to signify a reputable defeat of the Parthians and his strong command of the Roman army. Furthermore, the sculpture consists of a cupid riding on a dolphin, often linked to the goddess Venus. This symbolism is essential in creating a link between religious, historical and political power, thus showing that Augustus was a predestined Roman leader. Venus was also the mother to Aeneas, believed to be the ultimate patriarch of Rome.

Octavian is important in Roman culture and history as he led the military, founded the Roman Empire and became its first emperor. In addition, Augustus restored stability in the empire by ending civil wars often witnessed in the Roman republic. The peace that lasted centuries, commonly referred to as Pax Romana, was essential in ensuring Rome’s prosperity. Moreover, Augustus reformed the art and architecture industry by overseeing great construction projects, which played a significant role in Rome’s culture and history. Furthermore, Octavian established a police and firefighting force to maintain order throughout the empire, thus promoting Rome’s stability. In addition, he oversaw the construction of roads and courier services to ease communication which immensely boosted Rome’s economic development. Besides, he was responsible for reviewing tax and monetary reforms that were instrumental in promoting trade, thus developing Rome. Moreover, Octavian led successful army conquests on neighboring governments, which led to the fall of some empires and the Roman empire’s expansion. Finally, Octavian reawakened worshipping of traditional gods by building temples and initiating religious reforms, thus restoring the Roman belief system.



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