Vol. 54 (2018)

Articles

Continuity through change: Augustus and a change without a break

Published July 12, 2020
Author
Alessandro Roncaglia
Università di Bologna
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Keywords
Augustus Roman Revolution Principate Continuity/rupture
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Selected stlye: APA
Roncaglia, A. (2020). Continuity through change: Augustus and a change without a break. Acta Classica Universitatis Scientiarum Debreceniensis, 54, 91–106. https://doi.org/10.22315/ACD/2018/5
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“Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same”: this sentence, overstepping the borders of its novel (the famous G. T. di Lampedusa’s “The Leopard”) and the context of the reaction of local nobles to Garibaldi’s Sicilian expedition, has entered in a sort of timeless dimension, becoming appropriate for several ages and events. It effectively depicts the case of the “Augustan Revolution” – recalling Ronald Syme – when the birth of the new regime brought with it a pivotal change and the need to hide it under the cloak of continuity. Augustus’ absolute preeminence was by itself the proof of a completely new situation; the will and the need to show continuity was instead evident in his flaunted adherence to republican laws, according to which he assumed only the powers prescribed by the Roman “constitution”, but exceeding them in virtue of his superior “auctoritas”. In this continuous dualism between persistence and rupture, I shall attempt to consider what in actual fact changed and what did not. I think that behind the idea of a complete transformation it is possible to see a politics that was still working in accordance with the same guide-lines and in the same ways.