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AUGUSTAN SOCIETY

Roman society in the Early Empire was characterized by a system of social stratification,
inherited from the Republic, in which Roamn citixen were divide into three basic classes:

 Senatorial
 Equestrian
 Lower classes

Senatorial order

o One needed to possess property worth 1,000,000 sesterces to belong to the


senatorial order.
o Ruling class for the empire
o Filled the chief magistracies of the Roman government
o held the most important military posts
o governed the provinces

It has 1,000 members, but Augustus revised the senatorial list and reduced its size to 600,
but also added new men from wealthy families throughout Italy.

Equestrian order

o It is open to all Roman citizen of good standing who possesses property valued at
400,000 sesterces.

o They hold military and government offices, too. But the positions open to them
where lass important than those held in the senatorial order.

Lower class

o Constituted the overwhelming majority of the free citizens.

o The people were provided free grain and public spectacles to keep them from
creating disturbances.

Nevertheless, by gaining wealth and serving as lower officers in the Roman, it was
sometimes possible for them to advance to the equestrian.

Religion- one area of the great concern of Augustus. He considered that the Religion is the
cornerstone of the strong state.

Therefore:

o He restored traditional priesthoods that had fallen into disuse in the Late Republic
o Rebuilt many ruined temples and shrines
o Constructed new ones to honor the Roman gods.
o Insisted upon the careful observance of traditional festivals

Imperial cult – it is a new religious cult instituted by Augustus that would serve to strengthen the
empire. It also served as a unifying instrument for the Roman world.
Augustus permits the construction of temples to his deified adoptive father, Julius Caesar.
He also permitted the building of Temples and Roma, the personification of Roman state.

Augustus’s belief that the Roman morals had been corrupted during the late Republic led him to
initiate social legislation to arrest the decline.

He thought that increased luxury had undermined traditional Roman frugality (thrift) and
simplicity and caused a decline in morals, evidenced by:

o Easy divorce
o A falling birthrate among the upper classes
o Lax behavior manifested in hedonistic (pleasure-seeker) parties.
o Love affairs of prominent Romans with fashionable women and elegant boys.

Augustus also limit the expenditures for feasts, made adultery a criminal offense, revised tax
laws to penalize bachelors, widowers, and married persons who had fewer than three children.

A GOLDEN AGE OF LATIN LITERATURE

Traditionally, Roman aristocrats had attempted to gain prestige and enhance their own
reputations by providing financial support for artists and poets.
Augustus perceived the publicity value of literature and art and became the most
important patron of the arts during his principate.

Virgil (70-19 B.C) – The most distinguished poet of the Augustan age.

Eclogues- Virgil’s first poems, a series of pastoral poems inspired by the


Hellenistic poet, Theocritus of Cos.The pastoral images in these poems are a combination of
natural observation and imaginary, idealized landscapes.
Georgics- his second major work, was a didactic poem on farming modeled after
the Greek Hesoid’s Works and Days.
- It showed Virgil’s love of the country, but not without pointing two
realities- the potential harshness of nature and the destruction wrought by humans, especially in
wartime.
- He also extolled Augustus for restoring peace and promised to write an
even greater work in his honor.
Aeneid- Epic poems, Virgil’s masterpiece. The character of Aeneas- the son of
Anchises of Troy is portrayed in terms that remind us of the ideal Roman- his virtues are duty,
piety and faithfulness.
Horace (65-8 B.C) - another prominent poet, a friend of Vigil.

- He was very sophisticated writer whose overriding concern seems to have


been to point out to his contemporaries the “follies and vices of his age”.
Satires- a medley poem on a variety of subjects
- He directed his attacks against movements, not living people and took on
such subjects as a sexual immorality, greed and job dissatisfaction.
Epistles- Horace final work, he use imaginary letter in verse- to provide a portrait
of his friends and society and those things he held most dear: a simple life, good friends and his
beloved countryside.

Ovid (43 B.C- A.D 18) – was the last of the great poetsa of the golden age. He belonged to a
privileged group of Roman youths who liked to ridicule old Romans values. In keeping with
the spirit of this group, Ovid wrote a frivolous series of love poems known as AMORES.

Metamorphoses- a series of fifteen complex mythological tales involving


transformation of shapes, such as change of chaos into order. it inspired many Western painters,
sculptors and writers, including Shakespeare.
The art of love- this was essentially a takeoff on didactic poems. It is a handbook
on the seduction of women. The art of love appeared to applaud the loose sexual morals of the
Roman upper classes at a time when Augustus was trying to clean up the sexual scene in upper
class Rome.
Ovid chooses to ignore the wishes of Augustus and pais the price for it. he was
implicated in a sexual scandal, possibly involving the emperor’s daughter Julia. he was banished
to a small town on the coast of the Black Sea. Despite appeals, he was never permitted to return
Rome and died in exile.

Livy (59 B.C- A.D 17) - he wrote the most famous Latin prose work of the golden age.
History of Rome- Livy’s masterpiece, from the foundation of of the city to 9 B.C.,
written in 142 books. He perceived history in terms of moral lessons. He stated in the preface that

the study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite
variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find yourself and your
country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through,
to avoid.

- he build scene to scene that not only revealed the character of the chief
figures but also demonstrated the virtues that had made Rome great.

Reported by: Ms. Marichelle R. Montenegro III-BSN-3