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Three men attempted to reform the Roman political system:

Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and Diocletian. Contrast their


efforts and relative success or failure.
Julius Caesar was an able administrator and a famous general. He
wrote new laws and changed and improved how to rule provinces of
the empire. During his early career, he had seen how chaotic and
dysfunctional the Roman Republic had become. He wanted change and
was going to make it happen.
Julius Caesar can be considered a defender of the rights of the
common man in a state controlled by the elite. He understood their
interests, concerns and problems and his administration of Rome
shows he tried to better their plight.
The common Soldier loved him because he was a good commander
that shared their hardships. He made positive contributions to Rome,
particularly through military victories that added the provinces of Italy
to the Roman Republic. He pardoned his enemies, improved housing
for the poor, and allowed outsiders to become Roman citizens. He
increased the number of members in the Roman Senate so that it more
accurately reflected the Roman population.
Julius Caesar has a great importance in Rome's history because he was
the one who started the transition of Rome from a Republic in which
the Senate had the true power to an Empire where the dominant
political figure was the Emperor.
He realized that the old Republic was unable to rule an Empire so
great. Of course he wanted the power for himself and was killed by
some senators who feared the Republic's fall.
When he was killed, he had too many enemies in and outside Rome:
the Senate, composed by the members of the oldest and richest
families of Rome, who didn't want to lose power, the aristocracy, who
feared to see their country conquered by the Romans, the friends of
Pompey, which was defeated by Caesar in a bloody civil war. The year
he was murdered, the Roman Senate had named Julius Caesar dictator
for life.
If you look to the importance and influence of Caesar's life for Rome,
we have to agree that he was a great leader; otherwise, if you look to
the reforms he wanted for Rome, the birth of an absolute monarchy in
which one man had power of life and death on millions, we could say
that he wasn't a great leader.

Augustus Caesar was Julius Caesars great-nephew. Augustus was a


good Roman leader. He was the first Emperor. He knew how to control
the Romans well so he was respected. When Augustus became
emperor, Rome had experienced many years of civil war. He brought
peace to the land and began to rebuild much of the city and the
empire. He built many roads, buildings, bridges, and government
buildings. He also strengthened the army and conquered much of the
land around the Mediterranean Sea. Under Augustus' rule, Rome once
again experienced peace and prosperity. The next 200 years were
years of peace for the Roman Empire. This period is often called the
Pax Romana, which means "peace of Rome". Augustus is often given
credit for establishing the infrastructure that led to such a long period
of peace.
Augustus was remarkable because unlike the other politicians that
came before once he gained power he was able to keep it. Augustus
was a masterful politician in that he shared just enough power with the
senate that assassination attempts were few and far between; he also
created a public figure that was humble and generous to the people.
He always denied that he was a king or dictator; instead he called
himself, "first citizen" or Princeps.
The end result is that peace did follow. Rome was still an aggressive
power but no major campaigns for additional territory were
undertaken. There was no civil war again for 100 years from between
his victory over Antony in 30 BC until 69 AD when Nero died. Naturally
peace improved trade and economy for Rome and it's provinces. He
implemented several reforms for the better treatment of provincials,
reduced corruption and made many improvements to the city of Rome
itself.
But Augustus had a dark side too. He kept close watch over his friends
and enemies, not hesitating to murder those he saw as threats. He
killed Caesars 10-year-old son. He banished his daughter to an island
prison for the later portion of her life. He was no doubt the aggressor in
his civil war with Antony.
Diocletian issued his famous Edict on Prices. Inflation was a major
problem for the Roman economy, so he had a list made of all goods
and the maximum price that could be charged for each product. The
penalty for overcharging was steep, and could even be death. The idea
was that this would force merchants to keep their prices down. Its
effect, however, wasn't that great because merchants really have no
control over inflation and so it simply made people do business under
the table.

Diocletian also instituted the capita, or head tax, taxing towns based
on the number of people in them, instead of based on production. This
allowed the government to back long-term budgets, but it also crippled
towns economically when famines hit which brought down production.
He also started major reforms of the military. Before Diocletian, the
legions were stationed statically on the borders to stop invasion, but if
enemies got passed them into the empire, there was no one to stop
them. So instead of stationing all the troops on the border, he
organized the troops in defensive layers, with mobile field armies to
respond quickly to threats and large amounts of cavalry to increase
mobility.
Diocletian established the tetrachy system; the Roman Empire was
split into four, each with its own Emperor. The Empire was very large,
and during this period it was under attack on all fronts. So the idea was
to have Emperors with smaller jurisdictions that could quickly respond
to a crisis, instead of having to simultaneously deal with problems on
several faraway fronts. It was also supposed to make succession of
Emperors smoother, but the system fell apart after his death, yet its
legacy lived on in the divide between Eastern and Western halves of
the Empire.
Diocletian passed a series of reforms to try to curb the decline.
However he is best remembered for dividing the empire into the
tetrarcy and his persecution of the Christians.