Although the Senate met and argued, and had advisory power, the real
power was now in the hands of an all-powerful emperor. The Roman
people would never have accepted a king. However, the people seemed to have
no problem accepting the leadership of a dictator, who called himself
an emperor. Under Augustus, the first Roman emperor, the people got
used to being ruled by one leader.
Other changes included:
Public Health Programs: The
government created new public health programs. One program
distributed free bread to workmen on their way to work in the
Crime: Under the empire,
the Roman legionnaires policed Rome's streets. They worked in small
groups. They could quickly band together in large groups as
necessary. Their hob-nailed sandals made quite a loud sound on
Rome's cobblestone streets. When criminals heard the legionaries
approaching, they typically scattered. The legionaries were armed
and well trained.
Women: Life was very
different for women during the Empire than it was under the
Republic. During the Empire, it was legal for women to own land, run
businesses, free slaves, make wills, inherit wealth, and get a paid
job. Women could even use the public baths. There were separate
hours for men and women, but women were allowed inside. These were
all new privileges.
Free Live Theatre:
Under the empire, Rome
built huge theatres. Plays
were no longer performed only in the Forum. Admission was free.
constructed other huge public buildings and improved open-air
facilities. These were used to host events called spectacles.
Chariot racing was held in the Circus
Maximus. The Colosseum
hosted the gladiator games. Admission to spectacles was free.