A Roman by any Other Name

So in 28 BC, Octavian has returned triumphant and decides it’s time he and Agrippa settled down and became consuls. The first thing he decided to do was take a census so he knew exactly how many people he could now lord it over. The second thing was to revise the Senate so they wouldn’t dare oppose him again. While the Senate had originally been composed of 600 members, under Caesar it had risen to 1000 members. Octavian decided to whittle it down to 800 in order to win the support of senatorial families. Mysteriously, those who did not support him did not seem to make the cut.

Unfortunately, when Octavian stepped back and looked at the results of his meddling, he decided it hadn’t been drastic enough. The problem wasn’t the Senators—it was the entire damn republic. Let’s face it, power was not meant to be in the hands of the people because the people just want to do what they’d been doing. It takes real leadership to do daft things with elephants. Noticeably because elephants are so much bigger (as are provinces, but the elephants are easier to handle). In order to become a true leader, Octavian decided he had to restore the republic to its glory days.

He began by reducing the number of just about everything. With fewer Senators, there were fewer people to oppose him. With fewer legions there were fewer men to attempt a coup. With fewer magistrates and officials there were fewer people to bribe, but longer queues (proving that every great plan has a downside).

Along with the restoration of the republic, Octavian decided it was time to refurbish his own image. He adopted the name Augustus, or “the revered one”—modesty had never been one of his strong suits.  Originally he had been considering taking on the name of Romulus (aka wolf-boy) but decided against it at the last minute as Romulus had gone on to become a king. Octavian/Augustus/whatever didn’t want people to think he would ever stoop so low. Incidentally, in less than ten years he would be named emperor. Just sayin’.

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