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Pax Romana

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Rome's Golden Age, better known as Pax Romana, was a time were peace flourished after ongoing battles and civil wars and commerce brought immense wealth to its citizens. The Roman Oration was written and delivered by Aelius Aristides, a popular Greek orator who lived during the Roman Empire, glowingly praising the Pax Romana (which literally means Roman Peace). In this oration, Aristides used hyperbole and exaggeration to describe the Roman Empire whilst managing to capture the universalism and cosmopolitanism that characterized it.

Pax Romana was not only the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire between 27 BC and 180 AD, but also a time where order, efficient administration, and prosperity arose. Augustus Caesar led Rome into this state of moderation after he defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra and thus becoming the first Roman Emperor. The reign of Augustus signified the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

Aelius Aristides made it perfectly clear in his oration that he truly admired what Augustus had accomplished. "Vast as it is, your empire is more remarkable for its thoroughness than its scope: there are no dissident or rebellious enclavesÐ'... The whole world prays in unison that your empire may endure forever." Even though the Roman Empire was incredibly large in size and in military power, Aristides chose to exemplify it not for its size but for its internal organization.

At the time Augustus took control of Roman forces, he knew that only a strong monarchy could rescue Rome from civil war and anarchy; but he was also aware that the republican ideals were still vividly held by many. How could he attain absolute power without removing republican thought? Augustus demonstrated his political genius in order to achieve such a feat. He cleverly reconciled his military monarchy with republican institutions and therefore held absolute power without hastily breaking with a republican past.

Another very important achievement by Augustus, which Aristides admired greatly, was the fact that everyone was a citizen and therefore equal. Even Augustus himself refused to be called king or dictator; instead he cunningly masked his autocratic rule by taking the inoffensive title princeps (first citizen). Aristides spoke with such pride and astonishment of such political structure which was very uncommon in those times. This was obviously what mostly impressed Aristides for he spoke mostly of it in his oration. This perfect balance between the Augustus and the people (and between the people themselves) contributed to Augustus success in creating reforms and improvements throughout the empire.

Augustus successors, although somewhat different in many ways, preserved the way of life Augustus had put into practice. The "Time of Happiness" (as the Romans called it) continued; Roads were built, aqueducts and bridges were constructed, and a stable currency was maintained without depreciation.



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