Augustus was more concerned with self preservation than the advancement of the senate, the armies and his citizens. He rejected absolute power, but had an ulterior motive. With the fate of Julius Caesar in his mind, Augustus was well aware of the dangers of absolute power. So he saw dispersing power as a means to offset those potential threats to his lift. I have used the primary sources such as Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus by Augustus and The Divine Augustus by Suetonius for the examination of my hypothesis and to compare how each of them portrayed Augustus.
During his reign Augustus refused dictatorship and consulship on several occasions and instead created the Principate. In the Deeds of the Divine Augustus, he mentions many positions that he rejected and portrays himself as a modest leader that had little interest in dominating the state. Both Tacitus and Suetonius mention his rejection of dictatorship in their works. Suetonius also portrays Augustus as a modest leader and according to Suetonius, when offered dictatorship, Augustus bent down on one knee, with his toga thrown over his shoulders, and his breast exposed to view, begging to be excused and not wishing to have the position. Tacitus on the other hand believed that the creation of a Principate and the Pax Romana were merely pretexts and that his real motive was lust for power.
As we all know, Augustus’s Uncle, Julius Caesar was murdered by his own senate. He held the position of dictatorship and consul for many years and his cunning fight for domination saw his end at only 56 years old. Dictatorship was always regarded a temporary position but in 44 BC, Caesar took it for life. Caesars domination alienated the highly republican senators. With this in mind, Augustus was determined to escape this fate, by disseminating power, thereby appeasing the senate.
Augustus was a knowledgeable leader that had tactics to keep his power close to him. He elevated family members and close friends in society creating blood ties and support to safeguard his own domination. According to Tacitus he appointed his nephew Marcellus a priest and Curule Aedile and suggested that his adopted sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar be entitled Princes of Youth and have consulship reserved for them. Tacitus also reveals that the appointment of Tiberius as Augustus’ successor was neither due to personal affection nor for the states interests. He was conscious of Tiberius’ cruelty and arrogance,...