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The Story of Rome by  Mary Macgregor

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THE EMPEROR AUGUSTUS

[425] THE Roman Republic came to an end after the Battle of Actium.

Henceforth until his death Cæsar ruled over the great Roman Empire, and he was now known as the Emperor Augustus. His reign began in 30 B.C., and ended in 14 A.D.

If he did not add much to his great dominions, he saw to it that, during his long reign of forty-four years, those within his realm were able to live at peace with each other and with foreign peoples. Once again, and for the third time since Romulus built the city of Rome, the gates of the temple of Janus were closed.

The Emperor came to be adored by the people of Rome, because his rule was kind and just. His magistrates were not allowed to oppress or rob the poor, while his merchants' ships were able to ply their trade without fear of pirates.

At one time Augustus was away from Italy for three years. His people longed for his return. Here are the very words in which the poet Horace expressed their desire.

"O best guardian of the race of Romulus," he wrote, "return . . . your country calls for you with vows and prayers . . . for when you are here the ox plods up and down the fields in safety; Ceres and bounteous blessing cheers our farms; our sailors speed o'er seas infested by no pirate; credit is kept unspotted; crime is checked, family life purified, none fears the invasion of the Parthian or German . . . each man closes a peaceful day on his native hills, trains his vines to the widowed trees, and home [426] returning, light of heart, quaffs his wine and blesses you as his god."

When Augustus knew that the people really believed what the poet said in language more beautiful than they could frame, he must surely have felt rewarded for all the labours which he had undertaken for the sake of his country.

The Emperor died in 14 A.D. His wife Livia was with him to the end, and as he kissed her for the last time he said, "Good-bye, never forget our married life." Nor was she likely to do so, for Cæsar had ever loved her well, and treated her with respect. His adopted son, Tiberius, succeeded him.

Thus from the single city founded by Romulus in the Palatine Hill in 753 B.C. there grew up through struggle and victory, the mighty Empire, over which Augustus first ruled as Emperor. And this mighty Empire held within its bounds the whole of Europe south of Germany and the Danube, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, as well as a large part of the northern district of Africa.

"Thine, Roman, be the task to rule the nations with thy sway. These shall be thine arts—to impose the laws of peace, to spare the humbled and to crush in war the proud."


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