In his submissions, Augustus terms himself a young unification factor of the Roman Empire, who helped in liberating its populace and strengthened the army. He asserts that that power was accorded to him by the senate, which saw him fit to be feted with the status of consul then Emperor (Talbert 22). This he achieved through raising a strong and motivated army of more than 500,000 men (Ferguson 111). Tacitus on the other hand highlights the manipulative schema of Emperor Augustus. He indicates that Augustus lured the army and civilians with pay bonuses and food subsidies respectively. This way he quelled resistance from within and solidified his grip on the realms of leadership. He could therefore never qualify as an objective ruler.
Augustus boasts of his humanity towards prisoners of his conquests. He equivocally indicated how humanely he treated them and how he spared their lives and livelihood as long as they pledged their allegiance. Tacitus opens the Pandora box on Augustus’ rule using the Caledonians’ plight. He shares that Caledonian children were separated from their parents; their female folk was severely violated and abused by the Roman armies, and their men were castrated or killed.
Augustus demonstrates how he declined to the numerous authorities and powers awarded to him by the consuls and the senates. He indicates he declined to these portfolios just to show that he had no reasons to usurp power. However, he accepted an appointment to being elder of septemvir epulonum, pontifex Maximus, augur and quindecimvir sacrisfaciundis (Costa 30). Tacitus’ perception of Augustus as a manipulator is vivified by his strategic targeting of invaluable sectors of political leadership including; ensuring military control; food supplies; handsome rewards for sycophants; elimination of non-conformists from the consul and lining the consul with his cronies to propagate his agenda even in his absence.
Differences in the two Portrayals
During Augustus’ rule, there was the need for amalgamation of power in order to forestall attacks from other empires including the Persian Empire, etc. Augustus was a shrewd ruler and understood what the Romans desired most. He inspired imperialism in the Romans who believed that their culture was superior to that of the areas they conquered. They mated violence to those areas that resisted their invasion and culture. Augustus settled more than half of his army in the satellite colonies to facilitate administration as well as ensure the spread of Roman culture and language. Retired army personnel were rewarded with land and solver. Tacitus on the other hand failed to understand why a leader should subjugate neighboring protectorates and force an alien culture on them. This, I allude to his surviving four regimes of emperors of Rome. He witnessed the mishaps that were brought forth by totalitarian rule including violence etc. His period as consul saw the successful prosecution of Marius Priscus from North Africa for the plundering of resources (Ferguson 113). Totalitarian rule by the emperors ended in the civil war and the collapse of the Roman Empire after the death of Nero.
Augustus’ submissions highlight a steadfast and citizen-centered leadership in Rome. Leaders would always want to be remembered for the heroics and justices they secured for their people. The filth of their leadership will always be strategically be edited out or obliterated. His strategy revolved around intentionally stealing from the poor to enrich the rich and mighty in society, the consuls, and the army. Augustus is the embodiment of populist leadership built around imperialism while Tacitus injects realism and objectivity in leadership. Through his discourse, Tacitus insists on socio-political justice and equality in leadership. He also underscores the value of equity in society. The social classes he identified with influenced Tacitus’ perspectives. While Augustus was Royalty throughout his life, Tacitus rose through the class hierarchy from quaestorship, knighthood, and finally consul (Costa 32). His opinions of the emperor were influenced by hatred, envy, and jealousy at the influence and strategy employed by the latter in management of the vast areas conquered.
Costa , C D.N. “The ‘Dialogus.” Dorey , T. T Tacitus. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969. 19-34.
Ferguson, R James . “Tacitus and the Roman Empire: The Master of Ironic History.” Essays in History, Politics and Culture. R. James Ferguson, 1995.
Talbert, J A. The Senate of Imperial Rome. New Jersey,: Princeton University Press, 1984.