In what sense, if at all, was the Roman Republic "restored" in January 27 B.C.?

Essay by littlewoyUniversity, Bachelor'sB, February 2004

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After his victory at Actium in 31 BC, Octavian became the undisputed ruler of the Roman World. The troubled period of the triumvirs and endless civil war had finally come to an end. Octavian spent the next two years travelling around and organising Rome's Eastern provinces before finally returning to Rome in 29 BC. There he celebrated a magnificent triple triumph on the 13 - 15 of August. No one was to be in any doubt who was in charge. However, Octavian must have been conscious to avoid the fate of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar. His first priority was to ensure the stability and continuance of his rule, without adopting the outwards trappings of monarchy that would have been unacceptable to Rome's ruling classes. From 29 - 27 BC, therefore, he initiated a series of cleverly engineered measures to maintain the façade of restoring the institutions and traditions of the Republic while keeping all the real power to himself.

This he managed to achieve successfully, and what was produced was a somewhat strange combination of Augustus' undoubted and unchallenged supremacy superimposed on the institutions and language of the Republic.

Octavian was, essentially, a revolutionary leader who seized power through civil war. To stabilise his position he needed to ensure the support of the landed classes and the governing elite in Rome. Thus, as Syme puts it, he began a "painless and superficial transition" intended to ensure his supreme position whilst not too grievously offending the institutions of the Republic. This supposed transfer of power, as Augustus himself claims , was a gradual process over his sixth and seventh consulships. It is likely to have taken places in 2 stages, the first (in 28 BC), dealt mainly with domestic affairs. Here there were several issues and practices which were obviously not...