The Augustan place

Posted: November 28th, 2013





The Roman Empire is largely renowned for its wars, conquests and expansion strategies. Initiated by Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire constantly attempted to conquer the entire world. History indicates there was a time when almost a third of the entire world population was under the roman government. The empire stretched from northern Europe, Asia and part of northern Africa. This meant that the nation was constantly engaged in wars and battles. In fact, there reached a time when the Romans understood peace not as the lack of war but a situation where all the nations of the world were subdued to the extent where none could mount any opposition.

During these volatile times, there is a documented period where the Roman Empire is deemed to have reigned in relative peace. This peace is credited to the effective ruler ship of Augustus Caesar and is known to as the Pax Romana. In fact, there are various instances where this period is referred to as the Pax Augustus period. The Pax Romana is an epic two hundred year period that started with the ruler ship of Augustus Caesar and hailed on until the death of Marcus Aurelius.

During this time, the entire Roman Empire experienced many changes. This era marked a period of unity, peace and national stability. The peace also facilitated the thriving of various economic sectors of the vast empire. During this time, the roman culture became more complex, the dietary aspects of the Romans increased, and the people were able to enjoy a wide variety of foodstuffs. The society was also able to adopt a new system of currency made of metal coins that highly facilitated the nations’ trade.

In order to facilitate such a peaceful era, various quality and virtues had to be implemented. The first imperative was the abandonment of the expansionist strategies that mainly involved attacking neighboring nations with the aim of conquering and in the process expanding the land mass, recourses and areas of influence of the Roman Empire. The constant campaigns that the reigning roman generals engaged in pursuit of military growth meant the nation was constantly at war. Although this aspect may have consequently led to an increase in resources, in the form of pillaged commodities, slaves and forced war reparations, the growth was at the expense of other communities.

Engaging in constant warfare means that the warring communities halt or minimizing other economic activities and concentrating on warfare. However, Augustus brought about several reforms that curtailed this activity and thereby facilitating the era of peace; the Pax Romana. Augustus was of the belief that the empire was large enough to facilitate just governance and thus relinquished any conquest ambitions. Augustus shifted from the expansionist strategists to the objective of unifying the different communities comprising the Roman Empire and making them loyal to the roman government.

In order to accomplish this goal, the leader was faced by several issues. Augustus needed to secure and stabilize the northern frontiers of the Roman Empire’s border. The civil wars plaguing the Roman Empire that mainly involved the army, caused a weakening in the northern frontier. Another issue was the immense size of the roman army. This rendered the army too large and thus unmanageable. This mainly led to the army forming a state within a state. The increasing urban population and the small-scale farmers had to rely on assistance from the government.

The following reforms were therefore, employed and executed in order to sustain the Pax Romana. These reforms are still relevant and important today as they highly facilitate the existence of peace, political, social and economic stability in the current global environment. One of these qualities and virtues were in the realm of military reforms. The existence of the Pax Romana called upon the reduction in the immense size of the army. During this time, the number of roman legions was considerably reduced, and its increase halted. The war veterans were later resettled, as they were mainly unsupported after being retrenched and having nothing else to do for a living. This highly enhanced the building of loyalty and confidence as the remaining serving soldiers knew that would be well taken care of after retirement. The army soldiers were later well remunerated aimed at increasing their loyalty to the serving administration. The funds were mainly derived from the colonized nations such as Egypt and other recourse full nations. The Pax Romana was also facilitated by the institution of the ruler’s personal bodyguards.

The above virtues and qualities that highly facilitated the existence of the Pax Roman are still important in the current global environment as they can go along way in facilitating peace and stability in the nations of the world. The leaders of the world need to abandon expansionist strategies and concentrate in creating and enhancing unity within the nation’s borders. Expansionist mentalities will always lead to wars. This has been seen in Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  When nations have considerably large armies, they become unmanageable and become sources of conflicts. This brings about the need to minimize the size of the military to manageable levels. When the governments remunerate the armies considerable well and ensure their retirement benefits, wrangles within the armies are essentially non existent and thereby facilitating a twentieth century Pax Romana.

Another quality and virtue that facilitated the establishment and continual existence of the Pax Romana was the political reform. The highly warring government was changed with a new government that mainly promoted confidence among the senatorial class in the aim of enhancing peaceful and coordinated ruler ship. The enormous administrative government that comprised of close to a thousand generals was minimized to eight hundred. These eight hundred were loyal to the reigning ruler. In fact, it is depicted that Augustus handpicked the eight hundred rulers himself. The administration structure was now centralized with Augustus assuming complete authority. Augustus brought about reforms in the political realm of the Roman Empire that highly facilitated peaceful and coordinated ruler ship within the kingdom.

The leader managed to merge the inherited traditions and brought about changes in the political, economic and social reality of the immense kingdom. The leader was able to merge the old systems and the new one in coming up with a more efficient and effective mode of leadership. Although he is deemed to have abolished the various independent institutions, Augustus simply merged all the institutions into one person. He embodied himself as the supreme ruler, the emperor, king and authority and his powers were absolute.

Although democracy is highly advocated in the current global leadership environment, the system of administration has some inherent inadequacies. The different political leaders create a laxity in the formation and implementation of policies. However, in the mode of administration employed by Augustus, coherence and union within the government was guaranteed in implementing the national policies. Current administrative structures include senates or ministers who constantly debate on what is best for the nation.

The various legislatures thereby end up creating conflicts and wrangles both in the administrative sector and the social structure as each tries to push for his or her interests or agenda. There are instances where the legislatures have turned to be ethnic or tribal leaders. With this respect, the leaders abuse this privilege and start civil wars and tribal conflicts in the process of pushing forward their interests. However, under Augustus system of government, conflicts were minimal of not any since every senate leader was loyal to him. Since August assumed all leadership authority, the establishment and execution was highly enhanced, as it did not involve constant debates. The supreme ruler also allowed the senate to continue administrating some of the provinces.

The development of communication and trade infrastructure is another quality and virtues required in the Pax Romana. Augustus embarked on an ambitious project of developing the empires’ infrastructure. This involved the building of road linkages to the various key towns, garrisons and other important regions. This had a dramatic effect in enhancing and improving the state of the kingdom’s trade and industry. These roads mainly linked the interior regions with the markets throughout the region. The roads also provided linkage between the ports and the major interior regions.

This progress highly facilitated economic gains, and the improvement of the people’s nutrition. Food produce was now capable of being redistributed from regions of excess production to areas that lacked. Areas that could not grow or produce certain foodstuffs were now able to acquire them. On the other hand, regions with surplus production of certain foodstuffs could now sell them to other regions with lack. The Pax Roman also led to the development and exposure of regions that were previously uninhabitable or explorative because of incessant wars and banditry. The road linkages facilitated the easy movement of security personnel and thereby ensuring safety in these warring or bandit prone regions.

The prevalence of peace in the entire Roman Empire facilitated the movement of people and goods with very few limitations other than those of the enforced tariffs. This led to the direct linking of the various provinces to Rome, Italy and many others. One aspect of this linking is the popularity of the Arretine Pottery (terra sigillata). This artistic design was widely renowned throughout the Roman Empire during the first century.

On the same note, the development of communication links such as road linkages is of optimal importance to the development of any region in the current global environment. Efficient transport network facilitates the easy movement of industrial equipment and domestic products from their sources to the areas of utilization. An example is the development of the interstate highway in the United States of America has immensely facilitated the movement of people and goods from state to state. Industries that are located in the interior regions are now able to access raw materials and in return export their finished products to markets throughout the United States of America and beyond. Another example is the construction of the German autobahns that have highly opened up all the regions within Germany and beyond (Putnam, 1995).

In conclusion, many qualities and virtues are evidenced in the Pax Romana and are still important in the current global environment. We find that the abandonment of the expansionist strategies and ways of thought highly facilitated the existence of peace and its containment for the next two hundred years. We find that the Roman Empire under Augustus relinquished expansionist strategies and focused on uniting the various communities making up the Roman Empire.

Similarly, when countries cease to expand and conquer other nations even in the current global environment then peace will cease to become an option but a way of life. Abandonment of the expansionist strategies also lead in the nation focusing in other economic activities and thereby enhancing on the overall development of the nation. Other aspects entail the streamlining of the administration or governing structure. The development of communication infrastructure also works a lot in facilitating the development of any nation today similarly to that of the Roman Empire in the Pax Romana era.


Works cited:

Putnam, Michael C. J. Virgil’s Aeneid: Interpretation and Influence. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Print.


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