Augustus and the provinces

  • Created by: Dominic
  • Created on: 14-02-15 20:22

Reasons for support for Augustus

The same sentiments found in lots of other inscriptions, across the Empire.
No reason to doubt their sincerity- large amount of building work suggests that the upper classes were a lot more prosperous under Augustus.
One of the main reasons for gratitude was that he brought an end to civil war.
Had badly affected the provinces- billeting of troops, requisitioning of supplies, financial extortion, as well as the devastation of war.

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Reasons for support for Augustus II

Augustus did wage wars nearly all his reign, but they were all beyond the frontiers, or in more remote provinces.

Most of the provinces (including the richest) spared from war after 9BC. Another very important point was that Augustus seems to have changed taxation system from being different throughout the empire to being fairly uniform. Unlikely that taxes were lower, but they were fairly distributed, and tax collectors (deeply unpopular- extortionate) were eliminated.

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Reasons for support for Augustus III

Increase in trade an communication around the Empire (especially Mediterranean)

Tax to Rome stimulates trade.
Most regions pretty much left to govern themselves, a lot of reliance on local elite.
Unity developed through gradual spread of citizenship and Roman law, and through the imperial cult.
Augustus made significant efforts to make the system fairer for provincials.

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Reforms to provincial administration

A minor, but very useful reform was giving fixed salaries to provincial governors.

Under the Republic, governors got annual grants from the Senate to cover expenses (like pay for army, cost of supplies, expense accounts of members of staff).  Travel- mules and tents supplied.  Governors could easily manipulate this annuus sumptus to make a profit.
Fixed salaries under Augustus, although very large, would still probably have been a saving.

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Reforms cont

Another minor but useful reform was introducing public post, to make it easier to communicate with Rome.

Under the Republic, governors were practically cut off from the Senate. Augustus at first stationed runners at intervals along the main roads, who passed letters hand to hand.  Slow. Later became carriages and teams- one messenger could carry it the whole way.  Verbal messages.

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More reforms

Augustus probably started the practice of trying extortion cases at the Senate rather than the very corrupt public courts.

Senators not incorruptible, lenient to other senators, but if Augustus was present he could ensure harsh verdict. Also new, simple procedure where provincials could sue a governor for repayment at little expense (if not capital case)

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Justice for provincials

Approach consul, praetor or tribune- they convene Senate.

Accuser appoints senator as advocate and draws by lot 4 consulars, 3 praetorians and 2 other senators.  Number reduced by rejections on each side to 5. These 5 to decide on charges and fix the damages to be paid within 30 days. Accuser could have 5/10 witnesses (himself/city), but only ones from Italy as too expensive otherwise.

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Yet more reforms

Formation of provincial consilia to administer worship of Rome and Augustus made for more effective prosecutions of extortion.

Main role consilium to elect provincial high priest and celebrate festivals and games. However natural that group of delegates from cities in a province would also discuss issues of common interest- e.g. complaints against an ex-governor

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Personal involvement of Augustus

Augustus used his maius imperium to intervene in cases of abuse of position.

In Cyrenaica 6 BC he intervened when groups of poor Roman citizens running court- persecuting Greeks- blackmail. Augustus advised raise property qualification to jury service, half Greek, half Roman on jury and also advised governor not to accept a Roman as an accuser against a Greek in murder cases. Another example- the Cyme inscription- returning sacred objects looted during civil wars.

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