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Policing the Roman EmpireSoldiers, Administration, and Public Order$
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Christopher Fuhrmann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199737840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737840.001.0001

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

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

(p.88) (p.89) 4 “I brought peace to the provinces”: Augustus and the Rhetoric of Imperial Peace
Policing the Roman Empire

Christopher J. Fuhrmann

Oxford University Press

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

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