Augustus' Legacy for Roman Empire

The contribution of Augustus to the consolidation and stabilization of the 'Empire' from a governing and military perspective was immense, but the legacy of the man is perhaps best exemplified in his contribution to public works and infrastructure. While Augustus was a necessity to the success of the new imperial government, veiled as a continuation of Republican ideals, without his other contributions, its continuing success may have been in jeopardy. His reinstitution of conservative policy and wide scale public improvements helped to not only bring Rome out of the ashes of a century of civil war, but established Augustus as the unassailable and unchallenged ruler of the Roman world for nearly half a century.

 

Legislation was introduced under Augustus that (according to his own words in the Res Gestae) "restored many traditions of the ancestors, which were falling into disuse in our age, and I handed on precedents of many things to be imitated in later generations." Among these traditions 'restored' were laws limiting public displays of extravagance. This not only helped secure his own position by limiting the political popularity of potential demagogues, but brought a semblance of refined dignity back to the Senatorial order. Reinforcing this dignity, the qualifications for entry into the upper social orders was also clearly defined. Minimum property and monetary qualifications were re-established along with identifiable symbols of public status. Slave laws were also instituted, for the main purpose of limiting the number of slaves who could be freed. This went hand in hand with limiting the afore-mentioned displays of extravagance and also helped to maintain a social status quo. Marriage laws, established to encourage the growth of the citizen population, brought back a more conservative moral foundation. While his own family, most noticeably the escapades of his daughter Julia, fell short of some of Augustus' conservative policies, his marriage to Livia for over 50 years, ending only with his death, provided a shining example for the Roman people to emulate.

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