You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.


14. Administrative Changes

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this lecture we think about the administrative changes made by Augustus in Rome and across the empire, focusing in particular on: (i) the success with which Augustus got Rome ‘working’ again after decades of civil war, and the benefits of that for the Roman people; (ii) what Augustus (and his successors) actually did on a day-to-day basis, thinking in particular about Fergus Millar’s ‘Emperor in the Roman World’ (1977); (iii) Augustus’ religious reforms, including: his restoration of ancient cults; his own involvement in all four priestly colleges; his rebuilding of temples; his building of the Horologium; and his calendrical reforms; (iv) his municipal reforms, including: his division of the city into fourteen regions; his establishment of a city watch; his establishment of a commission to look after the water supply; his establishment of a board of five men to maintain public buildings; his establishment of the office of curator viarum; and his improvements to the public messenger system, the cursus publicus; (v) his reforms relating to the supply and distribution of grain, including: the establishment of the office of praefectus annonae and the use of private companies to ship grain from the provinces to Rome; (vi) the extent to which the supply of free (or heavily discounted) grain should be described as public welfare; (vii) his organisation of affairs in the provinces, with the particular goal of rendering the imposition and collection of taxes more accurate and efficient; (viii) his monetary reforms, including: the establishment of the denarius and the aureus as the basic coins of the empire; the unification of different monetary systems across the empire; his increased involvement in the supply of bullion; his establishment of the military treasury [aerarium militarium] for the purpose of paying soldiers’ discharge bonuses; his changes to the administration of the main treasury in Rome, the aerarium Saturni; and the importance of the fiscus and the patrinomium; (ix) the growth of the Roman economy in this period, and the way this is measured; (x) the administration of the provinces in this period, including: the use of proconculs (in senatorial provinces) and legates (in imperial provinces); the size of the Roman ‘civil service’; the role of the provincial governor as both military commander and judge; the spread of Roman culture and practices among the locals – and vice versa; the involvement of local elites in the administration.


In this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls (University of Oxford) explores the reign of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Across twenty-one lectures, we consider a range of issues including: (i) the historical sources for reign of Augustus and their reliability; (ii) the events that led to the creation of the principate, particularly the Battle of Actium; (iii) the various constitutional settlements that formalised Augustus’ powers; (iv) his military achievements; (v) the importance of contemporary poetry (Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Ovid) and coinage for understanding his reign; (vi) the significance of key figures around Augustus, such as Livia, Marcus Agrippa, Tiberius and Germanicus; (vii) the extent to which Augustus really ‘restored the republic’ as he claimed he did; (viii) Augustus’ involvement in religious life at Rome and in the provinces; (ix) his administrative changes in Rome and in the provinces; (x) his management of various different sections of Roman society – the senatorial elite, the equestrian order, the army, the people of Rome and the provincial elites; (xi) challenges to his rule; (xii) his management of the succession; and (xiii) the importance of his own record of his achievements, the Res Gestae.


Matthew Nicholls is a visiting professor of classics at the University of Reading and Senior Tutor at St John's College, Oxford, specialising in the political and social history of the Romans, and the way the built environments of Rome and cities around the empire expressed their values and priorities. In 2014, Matthew was presented with a Guardian Teaching Award for his 'Virtual Rome' project, a digital model of the city of Rome, showing the city as it appeared in c. AD 315.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Nicholls, M. (2023, May 23). Augustus - Administrative Changes [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Nicholls, M. "Augustus – Administrative Changes." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 May 2023,