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Tonifranz

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  1. Tonifranz

    Augustus, good or bad emperor?

    What's the similarity between, say, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Peter the Great, Augustus, Kemal Ataturk, Henry VIII, Alexander the Great, Napoleon I, Oliver Cromwell, Seleucus I, Darius I, Philip II of Macedon, Pisastratus the Tyrant, Sulla, Ptolemy I, Antiochus IV, Caesar, and all others like them? They are dictators who used Mafia like techniques, as you may phrase it, to maintain absolute power. They killed, murdered, etc, etc... They had absolute control of their countries, or at least tried to. All those leaders, in their aim, and technique, are like mobsters in control of states. Whats the difference between them? Some are physically brave, like Alexander. Others are cowards in battle, like, as you say, Augustus. Some are great generals, like Alexander, and Philip, Napoleon, and Caesar. Some are great reformers, like Ataturk, Peter the Great, Darius, Cromwell and yes, even Augustus (if only for his reform of provincial government, if nothing else, and the empires finances), and Napoleon I. Some are great administrators, like Darius I, Philip II, Augustus, Ptolemy I. Some leave a great legacy to future generations for hundreds of years, like Peter the Great, Darius, Alexander, Caesar and Augustus. Some left their country in utter ruin, like Hitler and Napoleon, or civil war, like Caesar. Some made a decisive break with the past and changed their country's history, whether or not they want to or not, like Henry VIII, Caesar, Augustus, Peter the Great, Stalin, Sulla, and Cromwell. Some left their countries enlarged in area, like Caesar, Augustus, Sulla, Alexander, Philip, Stalin, Cyrus the Great. Some led their countries into a victorious war with a foreign enemy, like Philip II of Macedon, Alexander, Sulla, Stalin, Ataturk, Napoleon, while some led them into a foreign war only to be defeated, like Hitler, Henry VIII, Antiochus III and IV, and Napoleon Some presided over their country's cultural golden age, like Augustus, or Elizabeth I. Some presided over a long spell of internal peace and prosperity, like Augustus, or Antoninus Pius. Some founded important institutions that endured for a long long time, like Henry VIII, Augustus, Peter the Great, while others crumble at their death or even before their death, like Hitler, Napoleon, and Ahkenaton. This criteria is of course, arbitrary. However, it does underscore my point that the only way to fairly evaluate Augustus as an emperor is to compare him to his peers, the other emperors of Rome, and other leaders of history who wielded great if not absolute control. It is unfair that we levy standards, so perfect, so high, that no one can be judged favorably as a result. How does Augustus measure up to other emperors of the Roman Empire? How does he measure up to the task he set out to do with the tools he had as a disposal? To my mind, in absolute standards, he still accomplished great things, but has serious faults, but in comparison to other emperors and rulers, he truly was a great emperor.
  2. Tonifranz

    Augustus, good or bad emperor?

    Augustus constitution only produced two brief civil wars in a span of some 250 years from 31 BC to 235 BC, the Year of the Four Emperors, which lasted for only one year, and the struggle after the assassination of Pertinax to the triumph of Severus, about four years. All in all, about five years out of two hundred of open civil war between rival Roman armies. Other incidents, like the assassination of Caligula, only were coups like what happened in Thailand and Thaksin, and didn't lead to much disturbance of the peace. There is reason why Gibbon called the second century as one of the happiest of man. I'll concede the period of 235 to 284 AD as much much worst. But consider the 250 years before that, the same span of time from the adoption of the US Constitution to the present. After 284 BC, it could no longer be called the Augustan constitution, as it was changed much in character by Diocletian. As for the Police and fire protection, well, he did established the Vigiles, which did police work and fight fires, although large fires still threatened to engulf Rome, as it did for several times afterwards. As for Augustan Literature, I'll concede he was harsh on Ovid, but Ovid was not the greatest of the writers. To my mind, and certainly generation after generation of Romans and Westerners, Virgil was the greatest of all Latin Poets. And remember that Augustus and his friend Maecenas actively patronized Virgil and Horace. It was Augustus and Maecenas who patronized and subsidized the works of these two poets. And don't forget Livy, who also wrote during the Augustan era. Augustus has many faults. It is regretful he made the Republic a mere name, and tried to limit his office to his own family. He was cruel, capricious, ruthless and cold. His policy to annex Germany east of the Rhine to the Elbe was unsuccessful. His policy to promote the family was ludicrous. But he was successful in other things, which was already mentioned time and time again, that made him ultimately the greatest of Roman Emperors. But was there ever a Princeps that stood greater than Augustus? None that I know of. Of later Emperors, only Trajan would rival Augustus' reputation with the Roman people, as the saying, "May you be as great Trajan and as fortunate as Augustus," depicts. Among the vast majority of historians, there is even no contest. Most regard Augustus, among all the emperors, as the greatest of them all.
  3. Tonifranz

    Augustus, good or bad emperor?

    Actually, I'm not sure how one defines the comparable prosperity. If everyone was so prosperous during the principate, why the need for such massive grain doles and common monetary donatives? Extreme populism created a dependent population in the process of reducing political conflict. Was it really any different than the conditions immediately after the punic wars that led to massive prosperity for the elite but relative economic stagnation for the common people? Clearly there were many prosperous people in the Augustan era, but the greatest beneficiaries of this prosperity were the same classes it had always been. The "poor" may have received most of their state provided welfare without the political opposition of previous eras, but they still very much existed. Well, the fact that all the civil wars ended, that commerce flourished more than ever before, that the Provincials got better government than ever before, that Rome got a better police force, a better fire department, a better water supply and infrastructure, that the Golden Age of Latin Literature happened under his reign, that more people outside the closed senatorial order, especially the equestrians and the provincial elite, got more offices and improved their status, would imply that the lives of many people improved over that experienced before Actium, would indicate the fact that it generally improved life for almost all classes of people. The only class that loss ground was the senatorial elite who lost the power to decide the destiny of Rome to the Princeps. It is perfect? No. Was there mass poverty? Yes. But it is certainly better than what there was before.
  4. Tonifranz

    What Would You Be In Roman Society....

    A senator during the middle republic, basically just after the Phyrric Wars and before 133 B.C. During that time, its safe to be powerful in the Republic. That way, I could influence public policy and make myself a name without getting worried that I might get killed.
  5. Tonifranz

    In Perspective

    Hm, however, Cadrail, even with all the defects of the Roman Army, in spite of all the battles that they lost, they almost always won the war in the end. In the end, the Samnites, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Gauls, the Celts all ended under Roman Power, and not the other way around. If they really are that poor, then how then did they create an empire that spans the entire Mediterranean, and hold it for five centuries before succumbing? Their army would have to exceptional to create the empire, and make the empire last that long. Sure, there are a lot of defeats, but it is not fair to mention those defeats without mentioning all the victories they had. If you make a list of all the battles that the Romans won, and all their defeats, did they have more defeats than victories? And how about decisive battles? How many decisive defeats did the Romans suffer, as opposed to decisive victories? Pardon me, but your posts would make it seem that the Roman Army is a pathetic and weak collection of rabble that couldn't chew and spit gum at the same time. It's one thing to overestimate them, but another to severely underestimate them.
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