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4. The Second Settlement, 27-19 BC

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the adjustments made to Augustus’ formal powers [potestas] in the years 27-19 BC, focusing in particular on: (i) the difficulties faced by Augustus in the 20s BC, including the outbreak of war in Spain (26-25 BC), a major illness (23 BC), and the conspiracy of Murena and Caepio (22 BC); (ii) Augustus’ laying down of the consulship in 23 BC, which he had held continuously since 31 BC; (iii) the granting to Augustus of maius imperium, and the powers this gave him; (iv) the granting to Augustus of tribunician power in 23 BC, and this powers this gave him; (v) his refusal of the dictatorship in 22 BC, and his reasons for doing so; (vi) his adoption of consular powers in 19 BC; and (vii) the (surprising?) longevity of the constitutional arrangements set up by Augustus.


In this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Across twenty-one lectures, we consider a range of issues including: (i) the historical sources for reign of Augustus and their reliability; (ii) the events that led to the creation of the principate, particularly the Battle of Actium; (iii) the various constitutional settlements that formalised Augustus’ powers; (iv) his military achievements; (v) the importance of contemporary poetry (Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid) and coinage for understanding his reign; (vi) the significance of key figures around Augustus, such as Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Tiberius and Germanicus; (vii) the extent to which Augustus really ‘restored the republic’ as he claimed he did; (viii) Augustus’ involvement in religious life at Rome and in the provinces; (ix) his administrative changes in Rome and in the provinces; (x) his management of various different sections of Roman society – the senatorial elite, the equestrian order, the army, the people of Rome and the provincial elites; (xi) challenges to his rule; (xii) his management of the succession; and (xiii) the importance of his own record of his achievements, the Res Gestae.


Matthew Nicholls is a visiting professor of classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John's College, Oxford, specialising in the political and social history of the Romans, and the way the built environments of Rome and cities around the empire expressed their values and priorities. In 2014, Matthew was presented with a Guardian Teaching Award for his 'Virtual Rome' project, a digital model of the city of Rome, showing the city as it appeared in c. AD 315.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nicholls, M. (2023, May 23). Augustus - The Second Settlement, 27-19 BC [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Nicholls, M. "Augustus – The Second Settlement, 27-19 BC." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 May 2023,