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Augustus, born Gaius Octavius, curated a specific image of himself and his purpose for the Roman people, starting with his rise to power following his victory at Actium in 31 B.C.E. and culminating in his later construction projects. Augustus was generally successful at crafting a Pax Romana in which the people were fed, the Empire’s borders expanded, and the armies at peace. However, Augustus was fallible. When promoting themes of fertility, he enacted laws to actualize his ideology, restricting marriage based on class, ordering a minimum number of children per couple, and condemning adulteresses. Never before had state law punished citizens for sexual deviance and so plainly distinguished the bottom of moral hierarchy. In creating a model of moral behavior through law, Augustus also necessitated the existence of its antithesis, the prostitute. Additionally, Augustus put himself at odds not only with the sexual desires of the aristocracy but also with his own ideology. He attempted to hold the past as a golden standard to which Rome ought to return. Yet, many of Rome’s ancestors would have been criminals under Augustus’s sex laws. Ultimately, Augustus’s laws did more to damage his own ideology than consolidate his power and control the aristocracy.

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