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In the style of Hercules, o plebs, Caesar, who was just now said to have sought the bay-branch that can be purchased at the price of death, - Caesar is on his way back to his household gods, a victor from the shore of Spain.
Let his wife, rejoicing in the matchless husband who is all to her, come out sacrificing to the just gods, and the sister of our beloved leader, and, adorned with the ribbon of suppliants, mothers of girls (virgines) and of young men lately safe; you, o boys and girls who have now known a husband, refrain from ill-omened words.
(Horace Odes 3.14: my translation is indebted to G. Williams, R. G. M. Nisbet and D. West)
Horace in 24 B.C. calls on the Roman plebs (the common people) to welcome Augustus who has crushed its enemies in Spain, thus emulating the monster-slaying half-divine hero Hercules, who later became a god. Augustus had been ill and forced to stay at Tarragona the previous year, when his nephew Marcellus had come home to marry the emperor's daughter, his cousin Julia (born 39), and other young officers had been demobilised. The princeps' wife, Livia, and sister, Octavia (who, in accordance with republican convention in public speeches, are not named) will go out in procession to meet him.
Roman social patterns and life must be seen against the mosaic of the empire. Economic distinctions modify the pattern imposed by constitutional function or legal status. The most striking fact about society is the gap between rich and poor. The two themes of Romans who reflected on the twenty years after the murder of Caesar were social disruption and moral decay. Contemporary analysis of social problems focused on morality. Imperial liberti provide a striking illustration of the difference the Principate made to Roman society. The Principate brought improved roads, made safer from brigands, sea-lanes at risk from weather rather than pirates. Society changed between 44 BC and AD 69. Some developments, such as the improved right of succession given to women, seem to have happened because views of the family continued to move further away from patriarchy and emphasis on agnatic relationships. The social structure of the ruling elite survived the Julio-Claudian period, but its membership and tone were transformed.