THE UNEASY TRUCE 25-16 B.C.: Conspicuous State, Rome; Conspicuous Rival, Parthia.
THE PERIOD FROM 133 TO 31 B.C. in Roman history is known in most textbooks as the century of revolution. It was a period of civil and slave wars, of class against class; but at the same time it was a period of imperialistic expansion throughout the Mediterranean. The terminal date of 31 B.C. is set by the Battle of Actium, the battle in which Octavian (later, known as Augustus) defeated Antony and Cleopatra. After Actium the civil strife in the Roman state gradually subsided, and at the same time there was an attempt to come to terms with the enemies outside of the Empire.
The decade under study, 25 to 16 B.C., followed the battle of Actium. Octavian was still in the process of establishing his position as the most powerful political figure in the Roman state, a dictator in fact if not in name albeit a benevolent one. There was still a great deal of unrest and both potential and actual revolts against Octavian's rule; but gradually the opposition died down. Internally Octavian did a patchwork job on the republic so that it still seemed to function, although in fact the republic was a partnership between Octavian and the Senate with Octavian holding all real power.
Externally Octavian adopted a moderate, defensive stance. During the previous century Roman power had rapidly expanded and in the process had come to irritate, anger, and even threaten new border peoples and countries. In general, Octavian attempted to establish frontiers along natural barriers but at the same time shorten the lines of communication; it was in his reign that the