Augustus The Roman Road Analysis

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The Roman road network was, in itself, a symbol of the unity and progress of the Roman Republic at its height. Augustus used that imagery and symbolism to further his own career as the leader of the new Roman Empire by erecting the Miliarium Aureum, a marker from which all roads were said to originate, in the central Forum of Rome, thereby strengthening his connection to the glory of old.

One of the first mentions of roman roads in history is a section of the Law of the Twelve Tables from 450 BCE, stating that a road must be 8 feet wide where straight and 16 feet wide where curved, as well as dictating that citizens had a right to use public roads, even ones built on private land, to get to where they needed to go. This shows, right from the
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Firstly, Augustus made himself permanent commissioner of roads in 20 BCE, taking up the position the Consuls had held in the early Republic. He also created a new position of road-makers for two men of a praetorian level, and made the position of curator for each of the roads a permanent position, as opposed to a temporary commission as it had formerly been. This was a blatant move by Augustus to reinvent himself as upholding Republican values by showing that he cared for their systems and would go so far as to create permanent magistracies to see the roads (and with them, all their military and nationalistic symbolism) upheld and placed in a position of high regard and importance. It was, in fact, his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, who did much the same thing in the republican days, making himself curator of the Via Appia and spending his own money on its maintenance, making Augustus’s actions all the more significant in terms of connections to the …show more content…
As mentioned beforehand, the Miliarium was placed in front of the Temple of Saturn, which doubled as the treasury for the vast wealth of the empire, and in view of the entire public area. The monument focused attention on rome in that it made Rome a true center, a culmination of the expanses of the soon-to-be empire. It was such a success in its meaning, in fact, that in the fourth century A.D. the Emperor Constantine I erected a similar monument of identical purpose in Byzantium, in direct imitation of Augustus.

Augustus’s contributions and addition to the system of the old Republican roads served both to revitalize them for their practical needs and the expansion the empire and to renew their meaning as a tribute to the unity and organization of the Republic through symbolic and sometimes insinuated actions, culminating in the grand gesture that was the Miliarium

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