Augustus' Plans for Succession

Augustus' Preoccupation with Succession

There are five reasons for Augustus' preoccupation with his succession. 

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1. Augustus' Ill-Health

Augustus' ill-health had scared him into planning his succession. 

On a number of his campaigns, Augustus had fallen ill and in 23 BC he had been dangerously close to death as a result of his ill-health.

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2. Adoption

Augustus had no natural sons and only one daughter called Julia. To ensure that he had an heir, he would have to adopt. 

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3. Death of his Potential Successors

Augustus' preoccupation with succession was also provoked by the fact that his extremely long life meant that he had outlived some of his potential successors, including his nephew Marcellus (Octavia's son) who died in 23 BC. 

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4. Maintanence of Family Power

The inheritance of power was important among the upper classes. Indeed, it was important for sons to surpass the success of their fathers and this probably pressured Augustus into finding an heir to maintain the prestige of his family name.  

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5. The Inheritance of the Principate

In past years, the principate could not be inherited. However, individuals had found ways for Augustus to potentially transfer the power of the principate onto an heir. Essentially, by doing this, Augustus would be contradicting his beliefs which he had emphasised in his regime that ambitious individuals would need to gain positions within the senate through open competition and merit. Despite this, by directly transferring the principate onto an heir, Augustus would be preventing the same situation of political rivalry which had occured on the death of Julius Caesar.

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