Cicero was one of the most influential politicians of the Roman period and greatly influenced Octavian who was later to become the Emperor Augustus. Cicero was a legend in the Senate and was a republican. This meant that his democratic ideals were always at the forefront of his thoughts.
Octavian later adopted these democratic principles under his leadership and introduced more legislation and policies for the Roman Senate, the most complex governmental organisation in civilisation. Membership in the senate was only sought for mere prestige and social standing, rather than actual authority. Yet Cicero’s ideas of democracy had some effect as several legislative, judicial, and electoral powers were all transferred from the Roman assemblies to the Senate.
Democracy in Greek means rule of the people but it was only an elite band of people chosen from Rome’s wealthiest families who belonged to extensive and highly regarded clans.
Octavian when assuming power labelled himself as princeps or first chief distinguishing himself from the rest of the Roman Senate. However, since the emperor held control over the Senate, he used this as a simple vehicle in which to implement his autocratic powers.
No senator could also stand for election to office without the emperor's consent and, in most cases, senators usually did not vote against bills that had been presented by the emperor.
The legislative powers of the Senate were principally of a financial and administrative nature. The Senate were able to hold jurisdiction over criminal trials where a Consul presided over them. A verdict was given in the form of a decree (senatus consultum) and, while a verdict could not be appealed against, the emperor had the last say by pardoning a convicted individual through the power of veto. Hence, Cicero’s ideas did influence the young Octavian of democratic rule but they only were introduced with minimum effect to the Senate.