The socio-economic impact of the Pax Romana and Augustus' policy reforms on the Roman provinces

The socio-economic impact of the Pax Romana and Augustus’ policy reforms on the Roman provinces

By Michael James Coombes

Master’s Dissertation, University of Pretoria, 2007

Introduction: The reign of Augustus represents the most pivotal period of all Roman history. As such it also represents a unique period of peace and sustained economic growth throughout the Roman Empire and in particular the Roman provinces. Whilst Augustus’ reforms were rarely implemented with a view to their economic impact the results were profound.

Augustus’ primary motivation for instituting his various reforms were for the rationalisation and consolidation of his new Empire. He had begun his reign by conquering more territory than anyone before or after him, however, as Mommsen points outs, “a policy of conquest as such was not feasible under the Principate.” Thus, peace was never an end in itself so much as a by-product of Augustus’ inability to sustain a policy of conquest. The reforms that were then instituted over the new provinces were therefore implemented in order to consolidate these new territories into the Roman Empire. Added to this is the manner in which the Emperor then simplified the adminstration of his empire by standardising the new policies throughout all the provinces, both old and new (except Egypt) and then made all the provincial governors directly accountable to him. However, none of these reforms would have been as effective or in some cases even possible, if they had not been implemented in a time of peace.

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