Improvements Under the Empire - Some things stayed the same; some things changed Illustration

under the Empire

When the Roman Republic failed, the Senate no longer had power. The people no longer had a voice in government. Rome was no longer a republic. The government of ancient Rome became a dictatorship. Julius Caesar's adopted son became the first head of the new government. Augustus knewthe people would never accept a king. He did not want to call himself a consul. So, he called himself an emperor. That was the beginning of the Roman Empire. Under the dictatorship of the first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus Caesar, things changed.

First, the Senate lost all power.  That's what happens in a dictatorship. The only person with power is the dictator. The Senate still met and argued but they could no longer pass laws or collect taxes.  The Emperor made all the laws and his army enforced them.

Second, the new emperor, Augustus, established programs to help the poor, including public or free health programs and more free food for the poor.

Third, the new emperor, Augustus, reduced crime in Rome.  The emperor had Roman Legionnaires started to patrol Rome and acted as the police.  Criminals did not want to face a couple of legionnaires, with their swords and shields.

Fourth, under Augustus, rights for women expanded.  It became legal for women to own property, inherit, and even get a paid job.  They were still not citizens, but they were certainly better off.

Fifth, free entertainment was expanded, under Augustus and other emperors who followed him.  The government built large theatres for free plays.  They built huge stadiums for sports contests, gladiatorial contests and chariot racing.

Some things stayed the same; those things that were part of Roman culture did not change.  The center of town was still the forum with its marketplace and temples.  Everyone worshipped the gods and honored old age.  Families still lived all in one house.  The rich stayed rich and the poor stayed poor.

Not all of the 140 emperors that came to power in ancient Rome, during the 500 years Rome was a dictatorship, were benevolent. Some emperors were good, but some were bad, and some were just plain crazy.

Government in ancient Rome

Roman Emperors

The Roman Empire