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Two of the most destructive problems facing the late Roman Republic were the instability and disunity caused by incessant civil wars Romes rapid expansion after the Punic Wars resulted in socioeconomic changes that permanently divided the state Both aristocratic and plebeian parties sought total control of Rome and tried to destroy each other Civil war was the continuation of party politics by other means Consequently the power of the military became supreme Control of Romes armies steadily shifted away from the legitimate government to the generals because the soldiers began to give their allegiance to their generals rather than to the civil authorities On dismissal from military service the legionnaires had no farms to return to and they depended entirely on whatever land and money their generals could provide since the government was unwilling or unable to supply veterans with livelihoods Thus the generals became autonomous centers of power The general who dominated the strongest army ruled the state Repeated power struggles of these military strongmen ignited more civil wars that further undermined the stability and unity of the late Roman Republic Augustus saw how divisive to the Roman polity civil war was He understood that control of the legions by the civil government was necessary for the establishment of peace and order throughout the Roman Empire He wanted to reorganize and institute changes in the military to assure that it would not rise again in support of some triumphant general to challenge the legitimacy of the state Since warfare within the Empire was eliminated the role of the legions changed Its main objectives consisted in protecting the borders from foreign foes and pacifying conquered lands through the gradual introduction of the Roman language law administration and engineering Augustus priority was to reduce the number of the legions from 60 to 28 settling in the process more than 100000 veterans in colonies in Italy Africa Asia and Syria While proscription financed previous resettlement efforts the
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