« PreviousContinue »
quered Egypt. In 36 B. C., to go back five years farther, after his victory over Sextus Pompeius at Messana, he had rounded out his territory in the west by the addition of Sicily and Africa to Spain and Gaul, which he possessed already. While as early as 42 B. C., after the defeat of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, he had been the only one of the triumvirs— a board of dictators which had been invested by the senate and people in 43 B. C. with sovereign powers concurrent with their own- -to take up residence and exercise authority in Italy; in Italy, that is to say, in the land of the Romans, for now the citizens of Rome occupied the whole peninsula south of the Alps; in Italy, that is to say, among the people which had conquered all the rest of the world that was subject to Augustus in 27 B. C. For fifteen years prior to the creation of the principate, Augustus had been at work in Italy transforming agrarian conditions, establishing its commercial independence, defending its coasts and its privileges; to ignore his own activity there when he came to reorganize the state would have been not simply unnatural, it would have been impossible.
Let us see of what this activity had consisted? Augustus was eighteen years old when Julius Cæsar was assassinated (44 B. C.). Despite the entreaties of his guardian and his friends, he accepted the private legacy of his great uncle, in whose will he appeared as chief heir, and with it the political heritage inseparable from it. As yet he had no experience, either of politics or of war, and in the judgment of Cicero he was simply a lad to be praised, honored, and, when convenient, set aside. Yet within eighteen months he showed that he had the clearest head in Italy. The opportunity for political activity he found in the fact, ignored by Cæsar's murderers, that there were in the peninsula hundreds of thousands of men who had given their loyalty to Julius Cæsar, and owed their fortunes to him, and that of these a large number, sincerely desirous of avenging his death and suspicious of Mark Antony, Cæsar's master of horse, who had compromised the murder, looked to Augustus as their natural head. With their support, and that of Cicero, who was quick to see the danger to the murderers of such a colleague, but who was vain enough to imagine that he could break the instrument once he had used it, Augustus forced Antony by his victory at Mutina to recognize the fact that the Cæsarians had not one leader but two. Associating with themselves Lepidus, master for the moment of seven legions, Augustus and Antony formed the so-called second triumvirate and wrested from the Romans electoral and legislative powers coextensive with those of the comitia and administrative and deliberative powers equal to those of the senate. This done, Augustus outlawed the murderers of his "father," Antony and Lepidus, their private enemies, and all three, rich senators and knights from whose confiscated estates they filled their treasury. Thus striking terror into the hearts of the aristocracy, and assuring the peace in Italy, the two leaders of the Cæsarians followed up the "proscriptions" by rout
ing Brutus and Cassius and their forces at Philippi, and dividing the Roman provinces between themselves and their colleague in the triumvirate. Therewith was accomplished the mission to which Augustus had thus far devoted his entire energies—the exacting of vengeance for the foul murder of Julius Cæsar.
With his return to Italy in 42 B. C., a new chapter in his career was opened. His first act was to confiscate the lands of eighteen Italian cities, and settle on them the soldiers of Antony and himself whom he did not wish to keep on active service. Thenceforth the farmers of eighteen cities—all veterans-were bound to keep Augustus in power or risk their holdings. The disbanded army was no longer mobile, but it was more securely his. It had no longer any interest in Antony. His second step was to restore to Italy its control of the adjacent seas which it had lost to Sextus Pompeius, master of Sicily, as well as of three hundred ships. This was of vital importance to Rome, seeing that the food supply for its vast and turbulent population came mainly from abroadfrom Sicily, Sardinia and Africa. Starvation for the multitude, riot for the government, humiliation for all patriots were at the disposal of Sextus Pompeius, until after four years of anxiety and effort Augustus possessed the stronger fleet and crushed the son of Cæsar's rival at Messana. In this long war Augustus discovered his great general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who built and led the victorious fleet, and his great diplomat, Maecenas, who by skilful negotiations kept Antony from interfering while Augustus was in peril. The third step taken by Augustus was to restore to Italy its control over its Greek provinces, which, on his construction of events, it had lost. to Antony when Antony, instead of ruling the east and settling scores with the Parthians as a Roman triumvir became the idle and licentious paramour of Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, subordinated his course of action to the policy of Egypt, and after distributing his provinces as future kingdoms for Cleopatra's children, threatened even to add Italy and the west to their joint realm. Once again Augustus presented himself to the Italians as their champion, and called upon them to hold their proud position as the masters of the world. All the citizens and municipalities in Italy and the west responded by taking an oath to follow him as their commander-in-chief in the war with Egypt that ensued. It was what the Romans called a conjuratio, we a conspiracy; and as the head of a conspiracy, to which all the Romans were privy, Augustus, by the instrumentality of the faithful Agrippa, won the battle of Actium over Antony, and conquered Egypt.
Foremost among the conditions created by the activity of these fifteen years, at the end of which Augustus, now rid of all rivals, gave himself undisturbed to the great problem of settling affairs definitely for the future, was the national feeling in Italy which he had conjured up. No solution could be satisfactory which did violence to it. Now this feeling was not only imperial-intolerant of any invasion of Roman privileges on the part of the subjects in the conquered provinces-but it was also republican. In this respect it had been violated often in the past, cynically by Sulla, thoughtlessly by Pompey, flagrantly and on principle by Julius Cæsar. But it had persisted despite all outrages. How strong it really was no one could perhaps say. Augustus, himself, estimated it highly. That is proved by his autobiography,1 in which he tried to show that all his public actions were in strict accordance with republican practice and precedents. The powers of the triumvirate were legally conferred, but perhaps they could not be exercised legally by one alone of the triumvirs. Hence, between 42 and 32 B. C., while Antony was absent from Italy, it may have been necessary, as well as expedient, that while the consuls were really determined by Augustus and Antony, and the laws really initiated by one or both of them, the elections were held in the comitia, and legislation was there validated. The point has been argued by Mommsen and others that, though the term set to the triumvirate ended with the year 32 B. C., the triumvirs prolonged it automatically in virtue of the absolute power which they possessed, and that it was this office thus continued which Augustus resigned formally on January 13, 27 B. C., when, according to his own statement he transferred the republic from his own keeping to the hands of the senate and people of Rome-rem publicam ex mea potestate__in senatus populique Romani arbitrium transtuli. But the conclusion is not admitted and probably is not admissible. For it seems reasonable that an authority to which a definite limit of years had been assigned should lapse on its expiry if it was not formally renewed; yet it is incredible that it could have been renewed at the mere volition of any one triumvir or in the circumstances that existed in 32 B. C. by agreement between Augustus and Antony. On the other hand, it has been argued more plausibly by Kromayer and others that the republic which was transferred to the senate and people in 27 B. C. had been consigned to the safekeeping of Augustus by the military oath of obedience to him taken by all the citizens in 31 B. C., when on ceasing through the lapse of triumviral power to be the head of the state he became the head of a universal conspiracy—a conspiracy of which the universality is adduced in Augustus's apology for his life as proof of its legality. In either case, the position of Augustus between 32 B. C. and 27 B. C. was anomalous. If he was triumvir it depended upon his good-will alone that elec
1 Translated with text and commentary by Fairley, Pennsylvania Reprints," Vol. V, 1, and by Shuckburgh, op. cit., above B, pp. 293 ff.
tions were held, consuls were elected (he, himself, among them every year,) and laws passed. If he was imperator autocrator he had power of life and death over every citizen, and was entitled to unquestioning obedience from senators and magistrates, as well as from all persons in private capacity. Hence it must be taken as evidence of his republicanism, or at least of his desire to conciliate republican feeling, that after his return from Egypt, during 29 and 28 B. C., he refused extraordinary honors tendered to him, and took the measures he deemed necessary for putting the soldiery back into civil occupations, ridding the senate of illegal and unworthy senators, and, in general, administering Rome, as consul and the equal of his colleague in the consulship, with whom, accordance with old republican practice, he changed the fasces, emblematic of power, every month. Then in 27 B. C. the republic was restored.
For a brief moment the senate and people were free to dispose of it as they pleased. What they pleased, however, was this: to assign to him as consul for the year a province of extraordinary dimensions, including Hither Spain, Gaul, and Syria, all the districts, in fact, in which unsettled conditions or frontier position made the presence of an army desirable. The grant, moreover, was made for a term of ten years, and, as a matter of fact, it was renewed at five or ten year intervals to the end of his life.
D. THE ANTECEDENTS AND ESSENTIALS OF THE PRINCIPATE.
Pelham, "The Imperium of Augustus and His Successors," in "Essays," edited by Haverfield, 1911, pp. 60 ff.; Abbott, "Roman Political Institutions," 1901, pp. 266 ff.; Greenidge," Roman Public Life," 1901, pp. 341 ff.; Willems, "Le droit public romain," 7th edition, 1910, pp. 375 ff.
An extraordinary command such as this the senate alone under the Sullan regime (81-70 B. C.) had had the power to create and fill. Thereafter, for a time at least, the people exercised the right of deciding when such a command was necessary, and the senate merely designated the person to whom it should be assigned. The idea of Sulla seems to have been that the senate should be able to meet a great military crisis by selecting the best general wherever he should be found, among the consuls or praetors, the proconsuls or propraetors, even among private citizens, and by giving him a free field and a free hand for a term ordinarily of five years.2 The chief beneficiary of this system had been Pompey, for many years the first citizen of the republic, or, as Cicero calls him, the princeps. As a private citizen he had been sent against Sertorius in Spain, as an ex-consul he had commanded against the pirates and Mithradates, as sole consul in the year 52 B. C. he had been
2 Pelham, "Outline of Roman History," 4th edition, 1907, p. 238, n. 3, as against the view of Sulla's reform of the magistracies stated by Mommsen, "History of Rome," III, p. 442; cf. Arnold, op. cit., below I, p. 50, n. 1. It is commonly claimed that the appointment of a private citizen was illegal. Heitland, "The Roman Republic," 1909, Vol. III, p. 7.
at the same time governor of the two Spains, which he administered by means of two deputies (legati) of his own choosing, and commissioner of the corn supply of the capital with fifteen deputies to execute his orders and authority over the entire Mediterranean and its coasts for thirty miles inland.
To this idea the senate and people seem to have reverted in 27 B. C. To Augustus, as already stated, they assigned Spain, Gaul, and Syria, and authorized him to select for the government of the several provinces deputies with praetorian authority (legati pro praetore). Of all the soldiers given to the legati Augustus was commander-in-chief and it was he and not they to whom the men swore obedience, and to him alone the legati themselves were responsible. The essential difference between the new regime and any that had existed previously was that in the entire Roman world there were thenceforth no other generals in command of armies; and no soldiers, except those who gave their loyalty to Augustus, and took their orders from him. Possessed of this irresistible backing, Augustus was consul for year after year between 27 and 23 B. C. in a very different sense from his colleague on each occasion. As such, his imperium, nominally equal to that of his colleague, was in fact infinitely superior, while it was both actually and nominally superior to that of the praetors who administered justice in Rome, and to that of the proconsuls who governed the provinces not assigned to him, and left as of old under the supervision of the senate. There was, in fact, no corner of the Roman world to which the authority of Augustus could not and did not reach. Yet it was officially proclaimed that the republic was restored, and the senate, purged and strengthened, re-established in its ancient prerogatives. To bring the facts into better accord with the theory, Augustus threw up the consulship in 23 B. C., and refused to accept it thereafter. But at the same time and shortly afterwards, that the world might not be divided into two halves, the civil half, including Rome, Italy and the senatorial provinces, into which he dared not enter, and the military half in which he had sole jurisdiction; that is to say, that the world might not again be divided between the senate and the commander-inchief of its forces, as it had been divided with resultant civil war during the latter years of Julius Cæsar's proconsulship in Gaul, Augustus was empowered by special enactment of the senate and people to enter the pomerium without surrendering his military imperium, to convoke the senate and place the first proposal before it, and to rank on ceremonial occasions as the equal in respect of insignia and fasces of the two consuls duly elected. His imperium, for which a definition was necessary now that he had ceased to be consul, was defined as superior to that of the proconsuls in the senatorial provinces. In other words, though later on, in popular parlance, it was described, with reference to the domain in which it was exercised, as proconsular, it was in reality consular.
3 Pelham, in his "Essays," pp. 60 ff., had established this point against Mommsen. "Staatsrecht," II, pp. 840 ff.
Accordingly, what Augustus gave away with the one hand in 23 B. C., when he resigned the consulship, he took back with the other; with this difference, however, that whereas prior to 23 B. C. he had the right to check when he willed his colleague in the consulship and coerce when he willed all the other magistrates who had power in Rome and Italy, after 23 B. C. he lacked this right. But the defect thus occasioned he remedied by another means. As early as 36 B. C. the inviolability of the tribunes had been conferred upon him for life, and with it probably the right of assistance (ius auxilii). Seven years later this grant was perhaps modified, in that the area of its activity was enlarged to include in addition to the city within the pomerium a circuit three miles wide without it. But until 23 B. C. the rights thus obtained had been passive or latent. Then Augustus energized, and, perhaps, extended them. Thereafter, he appears in possession of the tribunicia potestas; that is to say, the power not of the individual tribunes, who are on the contrary his inferiors, but of all the tribunes combined. In other words, he could not only veto their acts and those of the urban magistrates, but they could not veto his; so that he could exercise without restraint all the extraordinary powers of obstruction over the civil executive traditional in the tribunate, and could also convoke the comitia and lay bills before it as no tribune in the past had ever been free to do.
Therewith was completed what in Augustus's view seemed desirable, the defense of the senate against the two elements by which its authority had been assailed during the hundred years of revolution that preceded the battle of Actium-the urban mob headed by a rebellious tribune, and the provincial soldiery headed by a rebellious proconsul. The question now was, what was there to defend the senate against a protector armed with such formidable weapons?
E. THE THEORY OF THE PRINCIPATE.
Meyer, op. cit., above B; Heinen, "Zur Begründung des römischen Kaiserkultes," "Klio," 1911, pp. 129 ff.; Ferguson, "Greek Imperialism," 1913.
The classification of the government thus constituted, from the point of view of political theory, has given rise to much controversy. We call it the principate, and intimate thereby that it was sui generis. Augustus called it a republic, and incurred therefor the charge, endorsed by historians from Tacitus to Mommsen, of hypocrisy. The question of politics, in the Aristotelian sense of the term, has accordingly become contaminated with the question as to the sincerity of the founder. It was long customary to view Augustus's creation as a monarchy masquerading in republican clothes-as a remodelling on a deceptive pattern of Julius Cæsar's despotism.
An out and out absolutism the principate certainly For of this the external forms had been established long before Augustus's time in the GraecoRoman world. They included certain insignia, which Augustus never used, and, above all, the worship of the autocrat as a god. This is not the place to discuss
the origin and character of deification of rulers. was in substance a device by which, in a constitutional state, a man was elevated above the laws to which otherwise he would have been subject, for the infraction of which he would otherwise have deserved punishment—a device, grounded in irreligion, by means of which an autocrat obtained the right to issue orders to cities and individuals and they in turn incurred the obligation to obey them. On being accepted as a god and every state chose its own gods; Rome had been introducing new gods from time immemorial- -a man ceased to be a citizen, and in ancient thinking he could live in a state and cease to be a citizen of it, except by degradation, in no other way. Hence we secure a touchstone of the limits of Augustus's absolutism by observing to what extent he permitted people to worship him. He did not allow the Romans to number him among the gods of their state, or to accord to him divine worship, while from freedmen or emancipated slaves, whom he deprived of citizenship, such homage was required. On the other hand, he arranged that every province subject to Rome should recognize Roma et Augustus as its deities,. erect a temple or altar in their honor, offer them sacrifices, and choose priests to minister to their cult. This requirement was not imposed upon all the provinces at once. In fact, in the Greek east Augustus had simply to recognize a worship which arose there spontaneously; for only by deifying Rome and its prince were the Greeks able to accept the commands which came from Rome without political abasement and loss of self-respect. In the north and west, however, the worship of Roma et Augustus was imposed as the barbarian districts were successively organcized; upon the three provinces of Spain at unknown The dates; upon the three provinces of Gallia Comata as a single whole in 12 B. C.; upon the Danubian provinces at about 2 B. C., and upon Germany in or about 9 A. D. The distinctions thus drawn tell a clear tale. The absolutism of Augustus was ordinate and co-extensive with that of the senate and people of Rome; it was valid only in the subject world. There, however, a division of authority, of provinces, and, later, of revenues was made between st the commander-in-chief and the republic. In view ha of this fact, the principate has been designated correctly by Mommsen a dyarchy, or rule of two, only if we have regard simply to conditions outside of for Italy; for among Romans, that is to say, Italians, Augustus was simply a citizen, the chief citizen to be sure (princeps civitatis), the senior senator (princeps senatus), the chief magistrate. To the Roman world, as a whole, he was simply Augustus—a name without definite significance, a title without office or powers, an intimation of rank that had no equal among men. As regards Italy, if Italy be imagined for purpose of argument as shorn of all its provinces, the principate was in fact the republic restored; and, indeed, if Italy had suddenly lost its dependencies the first citizen would probably have fallen back into a position
♦ Heinen, op. cit., above E; cf. Ferguson, “Amer. Hist. Rev., 1912-13, pp. 29 ff., and the literature there cited.
consistent with republicanism. In other words, the elevation of the princeps civitatis to despotic power was a sacrifice demanded by imperial necessities. The principate is simply one among many proofs that an ancient city-state was unfitted to govern an empire.
F. AUGUSTUS'S MAXIMS OF STATECRAFT. Pelham, "The Domestic Policy of Augustus," in " Essays," pp. 89 ff.
By the definition of my subject, I am precluded from considering the way in which Augustus, acting in conjunction with the senate or an allotted committee of the senate, and in collaboration with Agrippa and Tiberius, for whom in turn he secured the right to share in his own extraordinary honors and burdens, dealt with situation after situation as it arose during the forty-one years of his long principate. The art of government must not be confused with the instruments of government, or statecraft with its maxims. But if ever there is an excuse for
explaining a system by showing how it worked it is
The maxims of statecraft formulated by Augustus as a result of his long experience may be inferred in part from his actions, and in part from his deathbed injunctions to his successor. They are statable in the following terms: (1) The prince shall be chosen by the senate and people with the concurrence of the army; but in order to prevent a disputed succession he shall be designated in advance by becoming the colleague of the ruling prince of whom he shall be the personal or private heir. (2) The senate must 5 Suetonius," Cæsar Augustus," in Lives of the Twelve Cæsars," translated by Thompson-Forester, 1896.
6 For a different interpretation of this condition, see Westermann, "Amer. Hist. Rev.," 1911-12, pp. 1 ff.
be treated as the source of authority, its members as the social equals of the prince and his family. (3) The ancient order of society, with its sharp distinctions of class, privileges and responsibilities between senators, knights, plebeians, and freedmen, must be recognized and supported by the state. (4) Between citizens and non-citizens, between Romans and Rome's subjects the old line must continue to be drawn in respect of military service, taxation, land tenure, marriage, law, and justice; the old road to citizenship, somewhat lengthened and narrowed, however, must be left open for deserving slaves, and by the status of Latins the old half-way house must be kept up for deserving subjects. (5) The Roman power can endure only in so far as the Romans, high and low, remain true to the customs which they have inherited from their ancestors (mos maiorum); the state shall, therefore, be vigilant in upholding all established religious observances and in keeping out foreign cults; it shall have poets and all who are capable of influencing public sentiment sing praises of the pious, frugal, agricultural life of olden times; it shall endeavor by encouraging marriage and the rearing of children to replenish the Roman stock, and make it equal in numbers and character for its high mission of ruling the world. (6) The ancient government of Rome shall be preserved intact, but the citizens assembled in Rome, being but a small fraction of the whole number, and by no means its most worthy part, shall cease to elect the Roman magistrates and to monopolize the right of reaching political decisions. (7) The magistrates and promagistrates of Rome shall be administrators only in their relations with Roman citizens; in other spects their duties shall be simply to supervise administration, which shall be left so far as possible to municipal authorities to be constituted as needed where they are lacking. On the other hand, such agencies as are necessary to make supervision efficient, or to put an end to gross misgovernment, shall be created from time to time. (8) Egypt in the east and Gallia Comata in the west shall be regarded as praedia, the one of the prince, the other of the Roman people, and shall be denied local autonomy. (9) Conscription shall be abandoned, and a standing army sufficient for defense maintained. Soldiers shall enlist for twenty years, and while on service shall be unable to contract marriages. They shall receive a living wage during service, and on honorable discharge shall receive a pension of land and money. None but
Roman citizens shall be admitted to the Roman army, but subjects shall be admitted in nearly equal numbers to auxiliary forces. When citizens by birth do not volunteer in sufficient strength to fill the gaps in the legions, subjects may be accepted, but they must be naturalized before being enrolled. To insure the payment of pensions a special military treasury shall be established, and kept filled by the proceeds of a one per cent. tax on sales in Italy and of a five per cent. succession tax levied on Roman citizens. (10)
7 Hirschfeld, "Klio," 1908, pp. 464 ff.; Ferrero, op. cit., above B, Vol. V, ch. 5; Reid, op. cit., below I, pp. 177 ff.
At the death of Augustus, says Tacitus, apud prudentes vita eius varie entollebatur arguebaturve. The judgments passed by recent historians upon his policy seem also curiously divergent. Domaszewski finds that “he was always conscious of the conditions imposed by reality, and, like Nature with her creations, discovered what branches in the structure of the Roman state, when tested subsequently by the long trial of empire, had the sap of life in them, and were capable of further growth, what withered and died. Consequently, a duration uncommon in human affairs was vouchsafed to his work, and his ideas dominated for centuries and perished only with his own people." On the other hand, Hirschfeld," quoted and endorsed by H. Stuart Jones,10 says of him: "Though fully recognizing his endeavors, we cannot acquit Augustus of having cherished aims impossible of attainment, and created a system incapable of permanence; for he seriously overrated the capacity of the two pillars of the constitution, the princeps and the senate. He had hoped for the salvation of the state from the harmonious co-operation of these two factors, and as the senate refused its aid and the emperors proved incapable of fulfilling their duties and respecting the limits laid down for the imperial power, the transformation of the constitutional principate into a naked military despotism was bound to follow." Divergent as these two verdicts seem, they are, however, rather complementary than contradictory; for Domaszewski has in mind mainly the social reforms of Augustus, Hirschfeld the political. political. When we regard his policy as a whole, we are bound to listen to the most catholic of ancient historians, Eduard Meyer, when he declares: 11 "The constitution which he gave to the empire continued in name, with many modifications in detail, for three hundred years; but its content became at once a very different thing from what its author planned, and the development of the empire ran ultimately in the courses which he wished to avoid and block. Thus we see in the case of Augustus's handiwork the conflict of individual and general tendencies which dominates all history; each of the two influenced and modified the other, and that precisely it is that makes the event historical; thereby it acquires its specific and historical individuality." peculiar character-its With this German generalization agrees in the main
8 Op. cit., above B, Vol. I, p. 248. Op. cit., below J, p. 467.
10 Op. cit., below H, p. 41. 11 Op. cit., above C, p. 444.