Augustus may have been the most important figure in Roman history. Through his long life (63 BC – AD 14) and his deeds, the failing Republic was converted to an Empire that endured for centuries.

After the great dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, there was a struggle for power among the second triumvirate. Through the struggle, Octavian, Julius Caesar’s grand nephew, would come out on top and establish himself as the ruler of Rome. He became a different leader than his uncle in that he did not take the name of emperor or king but as simply the first citizen. Octavian came to the name Augustus Caesar in 27 BC meaning “revered one”. He became one, if not the greatest, leader as he helped the Republic overcome civil war and turmoil and established a new Roman peace known as Pax Roman. Thus for over 200 years, the empire was not damaged by wars and grew to know prosperity and growth.

Pax Roman was achieved by the institution of a number of reforms. The empire’s economy prospered, through farming, manufacturing, and trade, and the Roman Army was strong enough to defend the frontier. First, Augustus brought the military under control. The number of troops was reduced and a fixed rate of pay was established in terms of service. He began to launch a series of military conquests that expanded the empire’s frontiers. When the empire reached its greatest size, Augustus had the troops serve to defend the current boundaries, and not conquer new areas. At the time of Augustus’ death, there was an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 soldiers that guarded the empire.

Next, there were many government reforms. Although Augustus let the Senate continue, it had little power and yet the Senators were happy to feel that they had a say in Augustus’ government. This new government maintained order, enforced the laws, and defended the frontiers. Provinces came to be honorably governed under the laws of Pax Roman. Roman law also came to unify the empire. The laws of the Twelve Tables established in the 400s BC, were modified and expanded to fit the needs of the new empire. Because of this, the Roman system of law later became the foundation for the laws of most European countries that had been part of the Roman Empire. If Augustus would never have come out as dictator or never been alive, the world’s government up to this day would be drastically different with a different foundation.

The Pax Roman era brought great prosperity in the form of trade, amusements and religion. Throughout this time, agriculture remained the primary occupation of people in the empire. New types of agricultural workers called colonus came to be in order to replace slaves in the empire. Comers greatly increased during this time because Alexandria and Rome became the Roman Empire’s greatest commercial center because they were the easiest trade route. Living conditions improved greatly for both the wealthy and the poor. Because of Augustus’s rule, the people came to know prosperity.
The arts came into even more light during this era as well. Romans enjoyed the theater, especially light comedies and satires. Most of the traditions of the Roman theater still exist in today’s theater, including staging and spectacle. Augustus encouraged the development of art and literature. A number of Romans produced works of great originality during this era, which are still studied up to this day. Without them, many of today’s ideals might be different. Such writers included Virgil, Ovid, and Tacitus. Along with the development of literature came the development of the Latin language. During the period of the Roman Empire, Latin was the language spoken by people in the West and Greek was spoken in the East. As the Romans expanded their territories they also expanded the Latin language. It has since acted as the basis of today’s vernacular languages including, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and other such languages. The language also contributed the system of the Roman numerals the alphabet.

The peace of Pax Roman brought the development of Christianity and the organization of the church that still exist today.

Augustus brought an era of prosperity and peace to the world of Rome. Without him, the Republic might have lasted longer and delayed the achievements of the Empire. He brought reform to government, military and the arts. Everything that came into the new Roman Empire under Augustus Caesar continues into the world today. Latin became the basis of all romantic languages, their government became the basis of many western civilizations, and the arts of theater and literature passed on to create new forms of art and personal expression. If Augustus had never been born or had never gained the leadership role he did, Rome would not have been the same at all, it could have in fact still been a broken Republic. In addition, without Augustus Caesar, the entire world would be different because it would not have the influence and basis of the great Roman Empire.