Two thousand years ago today, Caesar Augustus died, and his role as the emperor of Rome was handed on to his adopted son Tiberius, and the peace that Rome had enjoyed for twenty years (known as Pax Romanus) came to a crashing end.
Augustus’ reign was an interesting one for a number of reasons:
1) He defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra in battle, causing both of them to suicide.
2) He was the adopted son of Julius Caesar, one of the best military minds in history and for a while, one of the three men in the triumvirate that ruled Rome.
Augustus adopted Julius Caesar’s family name, but he turned the term “Caesar” into a noun: The emperor of Rome. Augustus became the first Caesar to rule the empire.
3) The period of peace during his reign came after decades of civil wars, international wars, revolutions, strife and hunger. He rebuilt most of Rome.
Yet history barely remembers Augustus. Julius Caesar, who came before him and did more than most Romans to build the empire, and Tiberius, who came after him and almost lost the empire through lack of interest, are far more sexy and interesting to read about. Peace, it seems, is of little value within the annals of history.
I’m sure the Romans of the day appreciated the peace, though.