Why is Augustus Caesar considered the greatest of the Roman emperors?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Augustus Caesar is often considered to be the greatest of the Roman emperors because he improved the circumstances of the empire to such a great degree.  When Augustus took power, the Roman Republic was falling apart.  There had been a great deal of strife for quite some time.  Augustus then proceeded to quell the strife and to create the Pax Romana. 

One of Augustus’s major accomplishments was to end the strife that had torn Rome apart.  There had been civil wars rather frequently in the time leading up to Augustus’s rise to power.  Among these was the war that brought Augustus to power.  Augustus managed to use both political and military means to end the civil wars.  This, in itself, made him very popular in his own time and causes us to see him as the greatest Roman emperor.

Another major accomplishment of Augustus was that he managed to renovate Rome physically.  It is said that Augustus claimed to have found Rome as a city of brick and transformed it to a city of marble.  If he said this, it was a fairly valid thing to have said.  Augustus presided over the improvement of Rome’s infrastructure and its buildings, making Rome look better and be more livable.

Augustus also increased the size of the empire.  While he did not try to expand the empire very aggressively, he did enlarge it in many areas.  Areas that were conquered during his reign included northern Iberia, areas of what is now Austria, Switzerland, and Slovenia, and areas in the Balkans.

Finally, Augustus’s reign is seen as a golden age of the arts in Rome.  This was the time when Virgil and Horace and Ovid wrote.  This meant that Roman culture also flourished under Augustus.

For all of these reasons, Augustus is often seen as the greatest Roman emperor.

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