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What was the purpose of Augustus' building programme?

Firstly, it is clear that Augustus' building programme addressed the practical issue of a lack of public space. The Forum Augusti, for example, provided a public space open to everyone to go about their daily lives, and acted as an overflow from the existing Forum which was becoming overcrowded.

Nevertheless, the building programme was so much more than simply practical - it was a public statement of wealth, power and of Augustus' divine ancestry. The Temple of Mars Ultor, for example, housed three statues of Venus Genetrix, Mars and Divus Julius - an unmistakable claim to divine ancestry which trumped all other claims to power in Rome. 

The building programme was also a means of presenting Augustus as a generous benefactor, which in turn, would guarantee a wide base of support for him. His introduction of an aqueduct system, with the assistance of Marcus Agrippa, provided clean and plentiful water to all people in Rome. By positively impacting the daily lives of the Roman people, Augustus secured support and admiration which would help solidify his position as the Princeps.

Thus, it is important to look at the various motives Augustus may have had in introducing the building programme; looking beyond face value is crucial to identifying these factors. 

Issy W. GCSE History tutor, A Level History tutor, GCSE Classical Civ...

3 months ago

Answered by Issy, an A Level Classical Civilisation tutor with MyTutor


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Degree: History (Bachelors) - Bristol University

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