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Octavian's Rise to Power

Autor:   •  December 19, 2016  •  Essay  •  1,035 Words (5 Pages)  •  256 Views

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Octavian’s Rise to Power

        Born Gaius Octavius, Octavian was one of the most influential and powerful leader that Rome had ever seen. . He was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor. Octavian ushered in a new era and although he brought the Roman Empire much success and honor, most of his motives were purely for his personal accolades. Octavian wad dubbed Augustus, a religious name symbolizing his authority over humanity. Having a religious title, one would think that that man would be of good morals but Augustus was anything but. Many decisions and actions he made throughout his life and rise to power can be easily noted as unethical.

        Perhaps the most unethical actions that Augustus made were his overall treatment of Marc Antony. Augustus continually made life terrible for Antony. For example, Augustus was given Antony’s rule over Gaul, which made Antony look inadequate to govern a hostile area. Making Antony look weak was the start of what would be a very long feud between the two. Later on, Octavian needs help with fighting Sextus Pompey and asks Antony for a fleet of ships in exchange for 20,000 soldiers that he would give at a later date. In the end, Octavian received the ships but instead gave Antony about 2,000 soldiers and brought Antony’s wife with them. This, of course, breaks the moral code of does not cheat and keep your promise, as he does not hold up his end of the deal. As well, he brings Octavia, which is a metaphorical slap in the face because Antony is having an affair with Cleopatra while he is at war. Augustus isn’t done there. As he realizes he will be competing with Antony for potentially sole power over Rome, he begins to use propaganda and dirty politics to make him look better. He decides to read Antony’s will which reveals he wants to be buried in Alexandria with his queen, presumably Cleopatra. This ends Antony’s chance of ever being a ruler as his consulship is taken away and war is declared on Egypt. This morally wrong because it brings Antony pain and essentially disables him politically. Augustus consciously made the decisions to hurt Antony because he was so consumed by his need for power that he didn’t care who was in his way; he would make sure that whoever was in his way would get out of it. Antony’s days were numbered after the reveal of his will and he eventually commits suicide.

        Another set of unethical actions taken by Octavian was a lot if not all of his moves as the Second Triumvirate. Octavian implemented proscriptions again so that he could generate revenue. The killing or detaining of these senators and equestrians is very immoral for multiple reasons. The moral rules broken are plentiful such as: do not kill, do not disable, don’t cause pain, don’t deprive of pleasure, and don’t deprive of freedom. The proscriptions of these wealthy men either left them dead or dirt poor and with no respect. Octavian believed he was making this move to help out Rome because the money was to fuel his military campaign against Brutus and Cassius but that is not justification for hurting all of those men. There are many different ways that Octavian could have acquired the money needed. He could’ve asked all of the elite classes for donations or he could’ve dipped into the treasury if he really needed to. As well, during the Second Triumvirate, Octavian decided to attack Illyricum to provide booty for his soldiers and to increase his status as a military commander. This move is unnecessary and unethical because attacking and killing people in this area could have been completely avoidable. The moral rules he breaks with this aggressive move are clearly do not kill and do not deprive of freedom. His needless ravaging of this province probably slaughtered hundreds of people all so that Octavian could appear as a more superior general. Once again, the theme of his determination for personal gain shines through with a lack of justification for his immoral actions.


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