"I found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble" (Augustus, Res Gestae) To what extent does Augustus' public building programme explain his success as emperor?

Essay by HamilcarCollege, Undergraduate May 2006

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There are many reasons for which Augustus was successful emperor amongst which his building programme plays a vital role. Besides his building programme Augustus also used other means to become successful and the main ones are his avoidance of being seen as an arrogant leader or dictator, keeping his promises, claimed to act in the ways and will of their ancestors, he was selfless, he put on games and also his victories at war. The period immediately before Augustus became emperor was one of turmoil in Rome with civil wars, the murdering of Julius Caesar, discontent in the population and a loss of traditional values. These were the problems Augustus faced as he came to power and the problems also faced by Julius Caesar but Augustus had learned from his adoptive father and dealt with matters in a different way. His building programme was part of his way of dealing with the issues at the time and did contribute to his success but in order to make a fair analysis we must look at all methods used by Augustus.

To begin with, it is only appropriate that we look at Augustus' building programme first. Almost all of Augustus' initiatives have a reason behind them and his building programme is no different, each type of building relates to a policy adopted by Augustus at the time. As mentioned before, Rome was in turmoil and these troubles were associated with the anger of the gods and Augustus knew that this was a contributing factor in Julius Caesar's death. Augustus used religion in his building programme to restore order and stability. This would restore stability, as the population would feel obliged to respect the gods and authority. In the Res Gestae he mentions the fact that he had restored 82 temples and this...