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By the time of Octavian’s victory over Antony in 30 B.C.E., the Republic lay in ruins.
The nobility and upper classes had been decimated by the wars. The senate, packed
and repacked by Caesar andthe triumvirs (Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus, discussed
in Chapter 7, “Let’s Conquer … Ourselves! The Roman Revolution and the End of the
Republic”), was too large to be effective and anyway lackedmen of both character and
experience to be effective. Besides, the “constitution” had now been changed, circumvented,
or completely ignored for so long and in so many ways that it would be hardto know which Republic to return to. The economy was in ruins, the food supply was
in jeopardy, and hundreds of thousands of people were homeless and dislocated.
Moreover, the armies of thetriumvirs, ostensibly Caesar’s army, was now a restless and
dangerous giant—homeless, unpaid, and without a settlement plan.
In short, the drive to be preeminent in prestige, power, and authority haddestroyed
the state that Romans like Caesar wanted to preside over. But it had also shown that
the structure of the old Republic was incapable of governing both itself and its empire
Part 3 ! EmpireWithout End: Roman Imperial History
174
without strong centralized control. So long as politicians had the means to develop
sufficient military power to threaten the state or could use violence athome to
achieve political ends, there would be no order. And yet, the essence of the Republic
was against centralized power and functioned, in the main, because it allowed for participation
andcompetition; moreover, as the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C.E. had
shown, the Romans were unwilling to submit to anyone who appeared to be a king.
Something new was needed, and in the aftermath ofOctavian’s victory over Antony
at Actium, Rome needed it now.
In this chapter, we’ll see how Octavian and the Romans transformed the Republic
into an Empire, and transformed Octavian from...
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