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A History of Rome to 565 A. D. by Boak

The Lares and the Genius Augusti


*The fleets.* For the policing of the coast of Italy and the adjacent seas Augustus created a permanent fleet with stations at Ravenna and Misenum. Conforming to the comparative unimportance of the Roman naval, in contrast to their military establishment, the personnel of this fleet was recruited in large measure from imperial freedmen and slaves. Only after Augustus were these squadrons and other similar ones in the provinces placed under equestrian prefects.

The military system of Augustus strongly emphasized and guaranteed the supremacy of Italy and the Italians over the provincials. Both the officers and the elite troops were drawn almost exclusively from Italy or the latinized parts of the western provinces. In like manner the reservation of the higher grades of the civil administration, the second prop of Roman rule, for Roman senators and equestrians, as well as the exclusion of the provincial imperial cult from Italian soil, marked clearly the distinction between the conquering and the subject races of the empire. Yet it was Augustus himself who pointed the way to the ultimate romanization of the provincials by the bestowal of citizenship as one of the rewards for military service and by the settlement of colonies of veterans in the provinces.

IV. THE REVIVAL OF RELIGION AND MORALITY

*The ideals of Augustus.* A counterpart to the governmental reorganization effected by Augustus was his attempt to revive the old time Roman virtues which had fallen into contempt during the last centuries of the republic. This moral regeneration of the Roman people he regarded as the absolutely essential basis for a new era of peace and prosperity. And the reawakening of morality was necessarily preceded by a revival of the religious rites and ceremonies that in recent times had passed into oblivion through the attraction of new cults, the growth of skepticism, or the general disorder into which the public administration had fallen as a result of civil strife.

*The revival of public religion.* One step in this direction was the reestablishment of the ancient priestly colleges devoted to the performance of particular rites or the cult of particular deities. To provide these colleges with the required number of patrician members Augustus created new patrician families. He himself was enrolled in each of these colleges and, at the death of Lepidus in 12 B. C., was elected chief pontiff, the head of the state religion. A second measure was the repair of temples and shrines which had lapsed into decay. The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, those of Quirinus and the Magna Mater, besides eighty-two other shrines of lesser fame, were repaired or restored by him. One of his generals, Munatius Plancus, renewed the temple of Saturn in the forum. A new temple was erected by Augustus to Mars the Avenger on the forum begun by Julius Caesar, another to the deified Julius himself on the old forum, and a third on the Palatine hill to Apollo, to whom he rendered thanks for the victory at Actium.

*The Lares and the Genius Augusti.* Among the divinities whose cult was thus quickened into life were the Lares, the guardian deities of the crossways, whose worship was especially practiced by the common folk. Between the years 12 and 7 B. C. each of the two hundred and sixty-five _vici_ into which the city of Rome was then divided was provided with a shrine dedicated to the Lares and the Genius of Augustus, that is, the divine spirit which watched over his fortunes. This worship was conducted by a committee of masters, annually elected by the inhabitants of these quarters. In this way the city plebs while not worshipping the princeps himself, were yet encouraged to look upon him as their protector and guardian.


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