In his memoir, the Roman Emperor Augustus claimed ‘I found a city made of sun-dried brick, I left her clothed in marble’. Above all, Augustus brought the gift of peace, after the protracted civil war that saw his emergence. In his long reign (31 BCE–14 CE) he went on to tackle the prosaic issues of urban renewal and maintenance that benefited the whole population. He established fire and police services, built new aqueducts (Julia and Virgo), created senatorial commissions to oversee maintenance of public buildings and roads, and organized regular dredging of the Tiber. His right-hand man in these projects was the aedile (magistrate) Marcus Agrippa, who also commissioned the Pantheon, public baths, gardens and numerous temples (82 in the first year alone of Augustan rule). He revamped the Circus Maximus, and completed the citizens’ voting enclosure conceived by Julius Caesar, the Saepta Julia. In a populist touch, Augustus had his new forum redesigned to minimize destruction of citizens’ homes.
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