Roman Imperialism Checked at Teutoburger Wald in AD 9

Roman Imperialism Checked at Teutoburger Wald in AD 9

Gaius Stern

Paper given at: San Jose State University, November 4 (2009)


After one hundred years of on again, off again civil wars, the Roman Republic fell upon its own sword and destroyed itself and many of the leading families that had shared power in the past three hundred years. As Republican, plural rule of many devolved to the rule of the few and then to three and finally to one, the Roman martial spirit which had so successfully beaten back aggressors from Carthage, Macedon, Syria, Gaul and Germany, and Pontus turned upon itself and nearly tore the Empire asunder. The final civil war pitted the coalition of Caesar Octavian and Marcus Agrippa leading the forces of Italy and the Western provinces against Antony and Cleopatra, backed by the forces of the East at Actium on 2 Sept. 30 BC. The victory over Antony and Cleopatra overcame one challenge, but for the victors a greater challenge remained, a challenge that had bested Gracchus, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Julius: to prevent future challengers who would start a fresh spate of civil wars.

The new coalition government of Caesar Octavian — hereafter Augustus, Agrippa, Maecenas, Statilius Taurus, Cornelius Gallus, Messalla Corvinus, Arruntius, Sallust the Younger, and the rest first had to reassemble the pieces of a nearly shattered Empire. The provinces were reorganized, supporters were rewarded, surviving enemies were punished or pardoned, and the constitution required