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Princeps was an unofficial but important title that mean "First
Citizen" or "First Statesman."
During the Republican era the princeps was used to give honor to special leaders. Pompey the Great was called princeps out of recognition for his victories for the state and his position within Rome.
Others received the name, including Cicero for the Catiline Affair in 63 B.C. Julius Caesar won the title from Cicero in 49 B.C.
Julius Caesar had wanted to transform Roman society and Octavian wanted to re-establish it within a new order. For example Octavian forced men out of the Senate if they were not a direct descendant of the highest Roman nobility. He made a decree that no Roman citizen could marry a freeman, or anyone outside his own rank.
Octavian restored the old Republican Temples with marble and the old forms of the Republican government were to be observed. When Octavian acted it was only through the Senate and Assembly. In 27 B.C. he laid down all of his powers and it was the Senate who would grant them back to him through the people. Therefore by senatorial proclamation Octavian became:
Princeps – The head of the Senate and first citizen of the state
Augustus – Restorer and augmenter of the state (a title
bestowed on gods).
The Senate therefore recognized that the old order was gone and new times had come. After nearly a century of civil war the biggest desire of all Romans was peace and order and Augustus Caesar would give it to them.
Images and Busts of Augustus on romanemperors.com
Augustus Bibliography Resources
Augustus Caesar's World - By Foster, 347 Pages, Pub. 1947
Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor - By Everitt, 432 Pages, Pub. 2007