Augustus Returns to Rome: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 3

Gossip must have been at fever pitch in Rome in 27BC. Whenever somebody new takes over, there is always a lot of speculation ahead of their arrival. But there can't have been many situations where quite so many people had quite so little clue about what was going to happen next.

Augustus returned in victory to Rome after 20 years of civil war. With 44 legions behind him he could do whatever he chose. He could have declared himself a king, or a dictator or even a God. But publicly he was modest in his ambitions. An account has survived of his speech to the Senate. "He was now at liberty to satisfy his duty and his inclination. He solemnly restored the senate and people to all their ancient rights; and wished only to mingle with the crowd of his fellow-citizens, and to share the blessings which he had obtained for his country." He went on to explain that he was simply the unfortunate victim of circumstances. The grave situation had forced him to act out of character.

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