Pax Romana

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The Pax Romana

The term "Pax Romana," which literally means "Roman peace," refers to the time period from 27 B.C.E. to 180 C.E. in the Roman Empire. This 200-year period saw unprecedented peace and economic prosperity throughout the Empire, which spanned from England in the north to Morocco in the south and Iraq in the east. During the Pax Romana, the Roman Empire reached its peak in terms of land area, and its population swelled to an estimated 70 million people. Nevertheless, Rome's citizens were relatively secure, and the government generally maintained law, order, and stability. The Pax Romana began when Octavian became the leader of the Roman Empire.

Civil War and More

After the murder of Julius Caesar, a period of civil war erupted in Rome. Out of this turmoil emerged the Second Triumvirate, consisting of Lepidus, Antony, and Octavian, who was Julius Caesar's nephew. This new triumvirate ruled Rome for a decade, but as happened with the First Triumverate, differences among the leaders eventually emerged. Octavian defeated Lepidus in battle, and then turned his armies against the more powerful Mark Antony. Antony had fallen in love with and married the spellbinding queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. At the Battle of Actium off the coast of Greece in 31 B.C.E., Octavian's navy defeated the navy of Antony and Cleopatra, who later both committed suicide. Octavian returned to Rome triumphant and gave himself the title of princeps or "first citizen." Octavian was careful not to upset the Senate by declaring himself dictator as his uncle Julius Caesar had done. Even though Octavian ruled as a de facto dictator, he maintained the Senate and other institutions of the republican government. In 27 B.C.E., the Senate bestowed the holy title of Augustus upon Octavian. Augustus, as he became known, ruled for 41 years, and the policies he enacted lay the groundwork for the peace and stability of the Pax Romana.

All Roads Lead to Rome

The 200 years of the Pax...
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