Rome under Augustus, the First Emperor36 year old Octavian finally won over Mark Anthony, who was 20 years older than him. He returned with his soldiers to Rome as undisputed leader: This brought an end to decades of civil war over Roman leadership disputes.
Instead of accepting the title of King (which the freedom-loving Romans hated), Octavian let the senate bestow the offices of military chief and people's tribune upon himself in 27 B.C. In the following years he also took the offices of highest judge, censor and highest priest.
With all important offices in the hands of one man, the Republic had ceased to exist but by name, and for the next 500 hundred years the Roman Empire remained a monarchy.
Octavian hated his common name and changed his name to Caesar, after his famous great uncle Julius Caesar. (Over time this proper name became the official title of Emperor). As a title for the most powerful man in the state the flattering senate came up with 'Augustus' ('the august man'). Since then Octavian was known as Caesar Augustus. In his honor the senate changed the name of the sixth month into August (the year began with March, and the seventh month is still called Sept-ember).
Emperor Augustus reigned in total peace over the Roman Empire, which was about 3.3 million square kilometers in size and in today's estimation was inhabited by over 50 million people. However, only about 4 million of them had the Roman citizenship and about 800,000 lived in the city of Rome. (The world population of that time is estimated at only 160 million people).
In the east the Euphrates created the border to the powerful Parthian Empire, with which the Romans had a peace agreement.
Otherwise the Roman rule ended wherever there was nothing to rule: To the south the northern African desert and to the west the Atlantic made up the borders of the Empire.
Only the northern border was a little unstable: The Rhine river and the Alps (later the Danube river) separated the Roman Empire from the Germanic tribes, who were the only ones daring enough to attack and plunder the Romans from time to time.
After the frightening times of the civil wars, this long lasting time of peace was seen as a golden age: The Emperor retired 120,000 of his soldiers. Commerce and Agriculture were blooming once again and a general wealth spread.
All of the known world paid taxes or tribute to Rome. With this money the remaining 25 Roman legions had to be paid, approximately 150,000 soldiers. It was much more expensive, however, to pay the 200,000 unemployed commoners in Rome. They had the right to demand free grain and they wanted to be entertained by circus acts. The Emperor used the remaining money to add beautiful buildings to Rome and to build roads, aqueducts and amphitheaters in the Provinces.
The Roman people had become used to the long state of martial law during the civil wars, so that few were bothered by the fact that there were no more public meetings and that one had to expect the death penalty for criticizing the Emperor.
During the civil war Octavian had many of his political enemies put to death and took their property for himself. But in his new role as august Emperor Augustus, he wanted to enforce decency, so he passed laws against luxury, immorality and adultery. (Augustus himself, however, was in love with a married woman, Livia, and he forced her husband to let her go, even though she was six months pregnant. He then married her. Her child, Drusus, by the way, later became the conqueror of Germania.)
The times of the area expansion were over and the Roman Empire was so spread out, that it was difficult to maintain. Now it had to be strengthened on the inside.
Just one more smaller war seemed necessary: Augustus wanted to shorten the north-eastern border to the warlike Germanic tribes. In 15 B.C. he ordered his adopted sons, Drusus and Tiberius to conquer the largest part of this barbaric land.
First the barbarians themselves will be described: The next entries contain all the important information about the Germanic tribes.
The entries 'The Roman conquest of Germania' and 'The Failing of Roman rule over Germania' will then describe the initial victories of Augustus' generals and finally after almost 25 years of attempting to turn Germania into a Roman province, the complete defeat of Augustus' governor Varus, embittering the 72-year old Emperor's latter part of life.