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From Augustus to Constantine (Essay Sample)


Describe the period from Augustus to Constantine.

From Augustus to Constantine
Augustus Caesar or Gaius Octavius was born on September 23, 63 B.C. He took power after the murder of his great uncle, Julius Caesar. Soon after Caesar’s death (Julius), Augustus formed an alliance with Mark Anthony, one of Julius Caesar’s closest aides. Together they were able to defeat Caesar’s enemies and expand the Roman Empire to Gaul (now France) and other western European territories. This alliance, however deteriorated when Mark Anthony, after marrying Octavia (Augustus’ sister), went on to marry Cleopatra of Egypt which was against Roman laws. The name "Augustus" which means "the exalted" was granted to him in 27 B.C., by the Roman Senate. This title, he received after defeating Mark Anthony in a battle to claim absolute power over the Roman Empire.
Augustus’ main fear was the greed and jealousy that led to his uncle’s assassination. Through his policies therefore, he aimed to transform his image and Rome in general to reflect good moral values so that the people may learn to love and trust him. Rome achieved great honor and glory under Augustus. Through his policies, He restored peace after 100 years of civil war; expanded the empire of Rome more than any roman emperor could ever dream of; maintained an honest government which had been previously crippled by corruption and greed. He also managed to maintain a sound currency system; developed an efficient postal service; extended the highway system connecting Rome with its far-flung empire; fostered free trade among the provinces and built many bridges.
One of the hardest problems that confronted Augustus was the rivalry between him and Mark Anthony. Mark Anthony had for long wanted the Caesar’s chair but it was not to be as Augustus was the rightful heir to Julius Caesar. This rivalry was however concealed through a false alliance which surprisingly flourished and helped to crush the enemies of Julius Caesar and expand the empire of Rome as well. The question of his own succession also poses yet another problem to Augustus. His attempts towards a solution were often blunt and authoritarian, but they were innocent compared to the connivances and actions of his family in the decades after his passing in AD 14.
Next in line was Emperor Tiberius, who had won his place through a murder in the family. Tiberius was the son of the wife of Augustus. After declaring him heir to the throne, Augustus was supposedly poisoned by his wife so as to speed up Tiberius’ inheritance. Unlike his father, Tiberius become so disinterested with politics and governance and built himself a hilltop palace where he would indulge himself without restriction. He neglected official affairs and became so unpopular. Just like the emperors that would follow him Tiberius would indulge in extravagant feasts, and palatial orgies. He would go on to build many personal villas and palaces for example; Hadrian’s palace had over ten dining rooms just for the purpose of amazing the guests. Tiberius went even further to even decorate his palace with all kinds of pornography. This unsupervised and uncontrolled spending was a sign of political insecurity which cost the Roman Empire greatly and further slowed down the expansion and development of the empire.
Tiberius gradually became bitter and cruel. Rivals were murdered. Finally after becoming so widely hated, Tiberius died under his own guards’ hands. His adopted grandson took over from him. After taking over from his grandfather, Caligula was ushered in delight by the masses but this was short-lived. He had suffered greatly as a young man, witnessing Tiberius kill his mother and two brothers. Soon his own cruel streak emerged fulfilling Tiberius’s prophecy that he was raising a viper for the roman people. When Caligula’s spending bankrupted Rome, he started to raise money by establishing brothels in his palace. The people had enough of him when he denounced the gods. He was stabbed 30 times and died. He did not benefit the empire of Rome in any way.
Emperor Nero’s reign marked one of the worst times in Roman Empire history. Having acquired power in a more or less similar way as Tiberius, Nero became emperor at the age of 16. Among other allegations, Nero is said to have killed his first and second wives. At first, Nero was a popular and competent leader, but then family pressures and ego began to weigh upon him. This led him to kill his own mother who had sought to control the Roman Empire through him. It is even alleged that Nero himself started the great fire of Rome and played a fiddle while it burned. Nero became so unpopular that he had to look for a scapegoat for the fire. Christians would fit this bill. Many were tortured and murdered. Despite this, his popularity still fell. His poor spending habits became a major part of his undoing that at the end he was unable to pay the army and other people. Of course the army revolted. The m...
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