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

Christopher J. Fuhrmann

in Policing the Roman Empire

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199737840
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199928576 | DOI:
“I brought peace to the provinces”: Augustus and the Rhetoric of Imperial Peace

Show Summary Details


The rhetoric of security and stability was powerful among all levels of imperial society, focusing particularly on the emperor as a symbol of peace and order. This symbolism was crafted during the lengthy reign of the first emperor, Augustus, who also had a profound impact on the shaping of actual police institutions in Rome, Italy, and the provinces. Augustus’ extensive policing initiatives were somewhat influenced by earlier Republican precedents, but were shaped even more by the chaotic civil wars preceding the foundation of the Principate in 27 bc. Augustus’ greatest impact was in the city of Rome, where he instituted vigiles, urban cohorts, and praetorian cohorts (in addition to other specialized military bodyguards), along with commanders for each of these new institutions. This growth amounted to 100,000 men policing Rome around one per hundred inhabitants, a level of coverage well beyond what one finds in most modern cities. Augustus also established military posts throughout Italy to counter brigandage and disorder there; Augustus may also have expanded military policing in the provinces. Augustus’ provincial involvements were sometimes indirect, reactive, or performed through intermediaries, but the so-called cursus publicus strengthened Augustus’ hold on the provinces, as did loyalty ceremonies.

Keywords: The Roman Republic; Julius Caesar; Octavian Augustus; Rome; Italy; vigiles; urban cohorts; praetorian guard

Chapter.  15972 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.