‘MY AFRICAN DREAM’: ASSESSING THE POSSIBILITIES FOR AN AUGUSTAN REVOLUTION IN AILING DEMOCRACIES IN AFRICA
AbstractIn the years that ran up to Actium, many in the Roman world became convinced that there was a desperate need for change. The interventions of Sulla and, later, Julius Caesar, had left an indelible mark on the nature of the Roman state. While men like Cicero believed in a return to a strict interpretation of the Roman constitution (or at least the traditions, mos maiorum, which constituted it) and the old Republican laws governing offices and officers, Augustus and his allies saw the only way forward as to reinvent that constitution. In his efforts to reshape and remodel Rome’s operational politics, Augustus could be ruthless. He brooked no opposition and no rival. He used the Senate, army, and other organs of state to achieve the purposes he judged best for the political, social, and economic growth of the res publica. In this, Augustus was what modern economists call a ‘benevolent dictator’. In this essay, I shall appraise the role of Augustus as such a dictator and then consider the scope for such an Augustan office as a solution or a transitional state of affairs for weak democracies or full-blown autocracies in Africa.
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