Policing the Roman Empire: Soldiers, Administration, and Public Order

By Christopher J. Fuhrmann | Go to book overview

4
“I brought peace to the provinces”:
Augustus and the Rhetoric of
Imperial Peace

WE MOVE NOW to the emperor’s role in creating peaceful and stable conditions within the empire, starting here with a particular focus on Augustus, then on Rome and Italy under his successors (chapter 5), and finally on the provinces (chapter 6). Emperors’ involvement in public order was real and direct; they routinely became involved in all sorts of problems and conflicts and used soldiers as police to enforce their will. Before immersing ourselves in the numerous details of policing and public order, we must first acknowledge the importance of rhetoric and symbolism. Diverse voices produced arhetoric of imperial peace, and anyone who handled a coin stamped pax or Concordia was exposed to it.1 Many invested their hope and faith in the emperor’s just power and revered his image throughout every province.2 Note, for example, the address of an unknown orator to an unknown emperor:

Now every continent is at peace, both land and sea crown their ruler,
Greeks and barbarians alike now extol him! Your rule, just like some
ship or protective wall, has been restored and fortified, and has firmly
reaped its benefits; what could surpass this valor? Or what condition
could be better and more advantageous than this? Is there not com-
plete security for anyone to travel wherever he wishes? Are not all the
harbors everywhere bustling; the mountains just as safe for wayfarers

1. On concordia and pax, see Weinstock, Divus Julius, 260–69; Levick, “Concordia”; Osgood, Caesar’s Legacy, 189–91 (with fig. 4.8 of RRC 529.4b; cf. 480.24). Also note Roberts, “A Study of Concordia,” 8–43; and Lobur, Consensus, esp. 38–58.

2. On the emperor as symbol, note Lendon, Empire of Honour, 174–75. On images of the emperor, Ando, Imperial Ideology, 206–316; Revell, Roman Imperialism, 80–109; and Boatwright, “Antonine Rome.”

-89-

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