In January 27 B.C. the title 'Augustus' was bestowed upon Octavian by the Roman Senate. Later in 27 B.C. he reformed the Praetorian Guard, once used to guard generals, in order to protect himself. The Praetorian Guard was made up of nine cohorts consisting each of 480 men. The entire guard was led by a Praetorian Prefect. In 30 B.C. Augustus was granted powers of a tribune which gave him power and control over assemblies. After the death of Lepidus he received the title Pontifex Maximus, (Chief Priest) which meant he had control over the state religion. During his reign he held the consulship 13 times, affirming his complete authority over the empire. Augustus's real power was unchallengeable, based solidly on three chief elements, his popularity with the people of Rome, his support among the non-political upper classes of the Italian towns, and the loyalty of the army to the name of Caesar*2*. Though he knew that the Roman Empire was now in fact a monarchy, he reassured Rome that through his governmental reforms he was in fact restoring the Roman Republic.
One of Augustus' first major reformations as head of the empire was the introduction of the Julian Law, which established strong laws on marriage and adultery. For example, if a father caught his adulterous daughter in his home or that of his son-in-law, he was in legal rights to kill the adulterer, and was even permitted to kill his own daughter. Of course, honour and shame played a prominent role here and could have serious repercussions for an entire family, Augustus' daughter Julia was found guilty of leading an adulterous life, and he had her exiled to the Island of Pandataria in 2 B.C. The laws also go into great detail about marriage involving slaves and freedmen, and people of various employment. The true essence of this law is difficult to examine under today's perceptions of such things. Many theories have been put forward to help to explain the reason in these laws and also Augustus's policy on getting Roman citizens to marry. Some suggest maintaining the Italian stock to supply Roman Emperors with soldiers and administrators was of much importance. Because of the stress of civil wars and political convulsions of the first century, the population of the country had suffered heavy losses, and with the general unsettlement of the period, consequent weakening of the old traditions of Italian family life appeared, and there was a notable increase in celibacy and sterile marriages*3*.
The Parthians in the east always posed problems for Augustus. The Parthians had over-run Armenia from 32-31 B.C. The installation of a pro-Parthian king, meant that the safety of Syria, which bordered Parthia and the final frontier, was under threat. Augustus's policy was to secure a pro-Roman occupant on the throne of Armenia and maintain calm on the borders of Syria and Parthia. A friendly Armenia safeguarded the north of Syria and confirmed in their allegiance to Rome the less important client-kingdoms of that area.*4* Augustus allied Rome with some of the states in the east trying to buy protection against the Scythian and Parthian peoples who threatened Asia Minor.
The reign of Augustus saw the boundaries of the empire extended in Spain, Asia, Pannonia, Dalmatia, and Gaul. Although Rome had an empire before an emperor, Rome was home of all things distinctly Roman. Was the city fit to rule an empire, was it built for an empire? Rome went through various transitions from the city of the early kings to Republic, and head of an empire. One of the most ambitious times for Rome was during the Augustan Age. This time also spawned great classical writers like, Virgil, Ovid, and Horace. One of the greatest achievements of Augustus was the introduction of the Pax Romana or the Roman Peace. This was to insure that the empire was a far safer place in which to live, and to make it more efficient as well. We can pretty much say that Augustus envisaged Rome to be the most powerful, beautiful, and richest, but moreover, a city strong enough to rule an empire as vast as his.
He did many things with the introduction of the Pax Romana. He created a civil service more honourable and honest than the greedy administrators who once taxed the provinces so harshly. Although he largely controlled the Senate, and the Army, he at least gave opportunities to men of worth to become senators, consuls, magistrates and administrators.*5* Public administration was not the only institution to be re-organised, Augustus also went on an intense beautification of Rome (and other cities). He made it cleaner, better organised, of course beautiful; with more temples, bigger theatres, new colonnades and statues, as well as a permanent fire brigade and police force. Many of the Augustan statues found around the empire had inscribed on them 'found Rome built of brick and left it built of marble.' This was quite literally true.*6*
A better run empire meant better job requirements, which meant that job prospects opened up that had never been available before, such as Architects, engineers, artists, writers, and sliver and gold smiths. These new job openings helped to achieve some of the greatest Roman engineering marvels in Roman history. Several enormous aqueducts like veins, fed Rome with water. They built strong arched bridges using stones and concrete. One of the true marvels is the immense network of Roman roads built by the Army, for the Army, but as time went on, trade and commerce benefited as well.
*2* Cassius, Dio, The Roman History, the Reign of Augustus. Penguin Classics (1987).
*3* M. Cary and H. H. Scullard, A History of Rome down to the reign of Constantine. (1974, London) Pp. 328-329.
*4* Cassius, Dio The Roman History, the Reign of Augustus. Penguin Classics (1987).
*5* Lewis, R, B. (1999) Micropedia: Great Civilisations. Bath, United Kingdom. Parragon Publishing. P. 249.
*6* Lewis, R, B. (1999) Micropedia: Great Civilisations. Bath, United Kingdom. Parragon Publishing. P. 249.