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From Augustus to Pax Romana
Rome as a world state
27 BCE to 180 CE
Caesar’s assassination and the 2nd Triumverate
• March 15, 44 BC
• Two of Caesar’s
most trusted
lieutenants- Mark
Antony and Lepidus
joined with Octavian
(Caesar’s adopted son) to
form the 2nd
Triumverate and
defeated the armies
of Brutus and
Cassius (two leading
assassins of Julius
• Both Mark Antony and Octavian wanted to be #1
so a compromise was reached: the Peace of Brundisium, 40 BCE
Antony &
• 40 BCE “Love at first
• Antony married
Cleopatra and had
3 children with her.
• Antony’s
acknowledgment of
Caesarion as legitimate
and heir to Caesar's
name was more than
Octavian could bare.
Octavian's base of power
was his link with Caesar
through adoption, which
granted him much-needed
popularity and loyalty of the
legions. To see this
convenient situation
attacked by a child borne
by the richest woman in the
world was something
Octavian could not accept.
End of the 2nd Triumverate…3rd Civil War
• The Treaty of
ended in 33 BCE
• The Battle of
Actium 31 BCE
• Cleopatra and
Antony fled to
Egypt where
they committed
Octavian was a political
genius: he held absolute power
without breaking the façade of a
Republic>magistrates were still elected,
>assemblies still met,
>the Senate still enjoyed many
of their privileges.
There was no talk of land reform
etc etc!
Peace had returned to Rome!
In 27BCE Octavian offered to
surrender his power but was
rejected by the Senate
He refused to be called dictator or
king – just “the princep.”
The Senate conferred on him the
title Augustus – Exalted One –
and he reigned until year 14
His policies laid the foundation for
200 years of peace and
prosperity-”the Pax Romana.”
Notable achievements of Augustus
> corrected tax abuses / ended corruption of judges and governors
> Created a bureaucracy of talented and dedicated civil servants
> Initiated public works projects/ aqueducts, baths, temples, roads
> Restored ancient monuments / built new ones
> Reduced price of grain/ distributed free to the needy
> Sponsored gladiatorial games and other festivals
> Established a fire brigade
> Did not interfere with customs and traditions of the provinces
> Promoted old-fashioned “family values”- laws against adultery; penalized
unmarried citiqens, widows required to remarry in trwo years; divorce almost impossible
The Pax Romana - “Time of Happiness”
27BCE-180 AD
200 years of peace allowed for the flourishing of culture
throughout Roman-controlled lands
> Greco-Roman life based on rational thought reached
everywhere in the Empire- an orderly world community
> Roman law was impartial and humane
> trade and commerce expanded
> Administration was efficient and beneficent
> arts and science thrived
> the Latin language became universal
>Architecture employed the arch, the dome and columns
> Literature- historical writing; science and engineering
> Conditions for women and slaves improved
Successors to Augustus:
Tiberius, r14-37
• His mother Livia, married Augustus
making him step son to the
• One of Rome’s greatest generals,
laying the foundation of the
northern frontier
• Came to be remembered as a
dark, reclusive & somber ruler who
never desired to be emperor
• At 26, he retired to the isle of
Capri, leaving Rome to be run by
the Praetorian guard.
Successors to Augustus:
Caligula, r 37-41
“Little boots”
• Irrational, unbalanced
megolomaniac who had
himself worshipped as a
living god
• Drained the treasury to
humor his whimsfighting in mock
gladatorial fights,
dressing up like a
• Campaigns in Syria,
Germania and Britain
were all failures
• The first Emperor to be
Successors to Augustus:
Claudius r 41-54
Propped up by Praetorian Guard
During his reign the Empire
conquered Thrace, Noricum,
Lycia and Judaea, completed
the conquest of Mauretania
and began the conquest of
Having a personal interest in
law, he presided at public
trials, and issued up to twenty
edicts a day.
Extensive public works
Poisoned by his wife and her
son, Nero
Successors to Augustus:
Nero, r 54-68
• 2 myths: The Great fire of
Rome? Burning Christians for
• Promoted athletic games, built
theatres and a huge palace with
artificial lake
• Killer: his mother (Agripinna II) &
his pregnant wife, Poppaea
• Lost support of the army;
committed suicide
The Julian-Claudian Dynasty: Poisoned; Stabbed; Poisoned; Suicide
r 14-37
r 37-41
r 41-54
r 54-68
Flavian Dynasty, 69-96
sons: Titus then Domitian
Emperor Nerva
r 96-98
• He initiated the
adoptive system
to provide for
competent rulers
The Five Good Emperors:
Nerva, 96-98
Trajan, 98-117
Hadrian, 117-138
Antoninus Pius, 131-161
Marcus Aurelius, 161-180
The Empire at its height, c 250
The Pax Romana - “Time of Happiness”
• Fullfillment of Rome's mission – the creation of a world state that
provided peace, security and ordered civilization through the rule of
– Smooth transition of power
– Spread of Greco-Roman civilization
– Built over 100 cities
– International commerce thrived
• Rid the seas of pirates
• Goods circulated freely
– Infrastructure accomplishments:
• 53,000 miles of roads
• Improved harbors
• Cleared forests
• Drained swamps
• Built aqueducts, bridges, sewage systems, bath houses, public toilets,
ampitheatres etc