ROME-THE FIRST CAESARS.
in the year 12, when the deposed triumvir, Lepidus, died, his office of
chief pontiff was transferred to the sovereign.
The great transformation thus accomplished in the structure of Roman
society was effected without noticeable agitations. The old institutions of
Rome still walked like well pleased shadows about the Forum and the Campus.
The Senate assembled on the stated days, freely debated the questions which
were presented, passed resolutions and bills, and flattered itself that it
was the same body of which Cato and Cicero had once been members, and
Augustus was careful not to dispel the illusion. The outsider in Rome
beheld the priest and the virgin ascending the hill of the Capitol as of
old. The municipal officers still bearing the ancient names went as usual
to the discharge of their daily duties.
Meanwhile Augustus drew between himself and the other dignitaries of the
state as little distinction in right and etiquette as possible. His life on
the Palatine was that of a wealthy senator. On election days he went into
the public assembly and voted as any other citizen. In the Senate House he
was careful not to assume an air of haughtiness and grandeur. His house was
not of the most splendid and his apparel was the garb of Roman citizenship,
undistinguished by badges or insignia. He went freely among the people,
walked the streets of the city and saluted his friends as would be expected
of any other person of distinction. His banquets were comparatively free
from ostentation, and his tables were never the scene of boisterous revelry
and drunkenness. He even insisted that the women of his household should
practice industry and economy after the manner of the matrons and maidens
of ancient Rome. This cold temperament and passionless character made self-
control as easy to the man Octavianus as it was necessary to the man
Augustus. The senses of all Rome were thus lulled into repose. The
truculent specters of the old aristocracy ceased to menace the established
order, and the Roman populace had its bread and its circus. It ate the one
and went to the other and was satisfied.
The noiseless pressure of the new regime was particularly felt in the
suppression of the hurtful distinctions hitherto existing in Roman