Augustan Social Policy

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Regulating Marriage

Problem: Amongst the upper classes of Rome, marriage avoidance and sexual promiscuity had become rife. A body of legislation was introduced to encourage marriage.
18 BC- Julian Law of Adultery made public adultery a crime as well as a private offence. A husband could prosecute his ex-wife and her new lover, in cases exiling the wife or even killing the lover. Julian Law of marriage was also passed.
AD 9- Julian Law of Marriage amended allowing freedman and freeborns to marry with the exception of senators and their sons. It was the duty of men aged between 25 and 60 to marry and have children, and the same for women between 20 and 50. Disabilities were imposed one those who did not comply, or who were married but remained childless including an inability to inherit. The number of children a man had was considered when he stood for office, and he could stand for office an amount of years before the minimum age as he had children. Opposition meant that the amount of time a widowed or divorced women before remarrying was increased and a distinction was made between the unmarried and childless.
Success? Census figures of AD 13 were a million higher than those of 28 BC 

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Reducing foreign influence

Problem: High levels of manumission were increasing the foreign element in Roman blood. In order to escape the manumission tax many owners had freed their slaves only partially making them become a Junian Latin as of opposed to a full Latin. This meant they had certain restrictions such as not being able to make a will. Solution: 
2 BC – A piece of legislation limited the number of slaves that could be set free by their master. 
AD 4- Imposed age limits on manumission(master had to be 20 and the slave thirty).
Freedmen, even those who had gained Roman citizenship, were banned from holding office in Rome or in Italy and from serving in the legions. However, other domestic jobs were created for them such as admin in the imperial family. Young freedmen would join together to do physical exercise in the Iunvenes. This was organised by Augustus to provide an outlet for their patriotism which was then shown at the Trojan Games. The emperor’s support for this was seen in the way he named Gaius and Lucius Princeps Iuventutis. Adult males were made responsible for the cult of Augustus and some local entertainments


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Suetonius

‘the existing laws that Augustus revised, and the new ones that he enacted, dealt, among others, extravagance, adultery, unchastity, bribery, and the encouragement of marriage in the senatorial and equestrian orders’.
He was ‘unable to make I[his marriage law] effective because of an open revolt against several of its clauses’.  Made to withdraw penalties for not marrying and had to leave a widow three years’ grace before having to marry again. He shortened the time between betrothal and marriage to stop bachelors being engaged to young girls and not marrying them. 

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