Classical Literature: The Golden Age of Augustan Rome >> Content Detail

Study Materials

Study Materials

Some Pointers for Writing Papers in Literature Courses (PDF)

Selective Chronology of Events

753 BCEUrbs Condita. Rome founded by Romulus (Quirinus) under the rule of kings.
507Res Publica. Roman Republic proclaimed: rule of kings overthrown.
264-241First Punic War. Doors of the Temple of Janus are opened.
218-201Second Punic War. First Macedonian War (215-205).
200-197Second Macedonian War.
172-168Third Macedonian War.
149-146Third Punic War. Destruction of Carthage. Roman Provinces established: Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Spain (Lusitania and Tarraconensis), France (Transalpine Gaul), Libya (Africa), and Greece (Macedonia).
133Tiberius Gracchus, political reformer, murdered at instigation of the Senate. Asia Minor becomes a Roman province.
121Gaius Gracchus, tribune and political reformer, murdered in a riot.
106Birth of Marcus Tullius Cicero.
105Marius, the uncle of Julius Caesar, and Sulla together defeat Jugurtha, king of Numidia, in North Africa.
88-84First War with Mithridates.
83Civil War between Marius and Sulla; Marius defeated.
83-79Sulla appointed dictator. Second War with Mithridates (83-81).
74-64Third War with Mithridates.
Late Republic
71Slave revolt led by Spartacus suppressed by the consuls Pompey the Great and Crassus.
70Birth of Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil) near Mantua. Birth of Maecenas.
66Consulship of Cicero; Conspiracy of Catiline suppressed.
65Birth of Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) at Venusia in Apulia.
64Pompey the Great defeats Mithridates and consolidates Asia Minor under Roman rule.
63Birth of Octavian (Augustus). Pompey completes the Conquest of Palestine.
60Formation of the First Triumvirate: Crassus, Pompey, Julius Caesar (60-53).
59Julius Caesar conquers Gaul. Birth of Titus Livius (Livy) in Padua.
54Julius Caesar invades Britain.
50Birth of Propertius. Birth of Tibullus.
49Civil War between Pompey and Julius Caesar (49-48).
48Battle of Pharsalus (Pompey defeated, later murdered in Egypt by order of Cleopatra).
46Cicero composes the Brutus.
45Julius Caesar appointed dictator. He adopts his nephew Octavian as his heir.
44Julius Caesar assassinated. Cicero delivers The Philippics against Mark Antony.
43Formation of the Second Triumvirate: Octavian, Mark Antony, Lepidus (43-32 BCE).

Cicero executed. Birth of Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid) at Sulmo.
42Battle of Philippi (Brutus and Cassius defeated).
37Virgil publishes Eclogues.
33Horace receives a Sabine farm from Maecenas.
31Battle of Actium (Mark Antony and Cleopatra defeated). Horace publishes his first book of Satires.
29Livy begins composing The Early History of Rome (29-24). Virgil publishes the Georgics. The doors of the Temple of Janus are officially shut.
Imperial Rome
27Octavian renamed Augustus. "Res Publica restituta." Augustus awarded the clupeus virtutis.
23Horace publishes his first three books of Odes.
19Death of Virgil; Aeneid published posthumously.
18Augustus establishes strict marriage legislation with the Lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus.
17Secular games held.
13Horace publishes his fourth book of Odes.
12Augustus becomes pontifex maximus.
12-9Military campaign in Germany under Drusus and Tiberius, Augustus' stepsons.
9Ara pacis Augustae dedicated.
8Death of Horace. Death of Maecenas.
1Ovid publishes his Ars amatoria.
8 CEOvid publishes his Metamorphoses. Ovid banished to Tomis on the black sea.
14Death of Augustus.
17Death of Livy. Death of Ovid.

Roman Officials and their Duties


As a safeguard against despotism, the former administrative duties of the king-the conduct of military campaigns, the management of public finance, and the control of legislation-were distributed at the beginning of each year between two men, usually elected by the Senate from the patrician class, who served on an annual, rotating basis. In time of emergency, one of the consuls might be named "Dictator" with unlimited powers (known as "imperium") and no accountability either to the Senate or the People.


In the year following his term of consulship, the proconsul held imperial authority outside of Rome in whichever province he was assigned to govern.


To counter-balance the consular powers of the Patricians, the Plebians created the office of tribune, elected by the popular assembly from among the tribes to protect the people from perceived abuses of authority by the Senate and the consuls. Tribunes enjoyed sancrosanct status and were personally above the law.


The local official responsible for administering justice and arbitrating disputes was called praetor urbanus when he was assigned in Rome and praetor peregrinus when outside of Rome.


An office of high rank, entrusted only to men who had previously served as consuls, the censorship encompassed financial and accounting responsibilities related to taxation and population management.


The quaestor served in the ministry of finance.


The curial aedile was responsible for local police protection, the oversight of public markets, the production of theatrical performances, and for the care and upkeep of the temples.


The title of "magistrate" referred generally to any public official, who served on an annual basis, from the consul all the way down to the position of quaestor. The magistracy was usually considered a necessary precondition for entry into the Roman Senate.

Classifications of Roman Society


The legislative body, composed of the highest ranking members of Roman society, passed laws, elected consuls, and oversaw the operations of public administration. Usually the Senate was limited to 300 members, but at various times, dictators were able to swell the numbers up to 600 with their personal supporters.


The Roman populace was divided, for the purpose of taxation and public administration, into hereditary tribus or tribes according to residential district, 4 tribes being drawn from locations within the city, 17 from the outlying areas.

Comitia Centuriata

The Assembly of the Centuries organized the Roman populace for military purposes into groups of 100 fighting-men (called "centuriae") in each of 5 different categories (called "classes") for a total of 193 centuries altogether: 18 equestrian centuries, 80 heavy infantry, 90 light infantry, 4 artisans and musicians, and 1 of unpropertied soldiers. Half of the centuries consisted of men up to the age of 46 who fought in the field while the other half was composed of men between 47 and 60 who remained behind to defend the City.


The established nobility consisted of a select number of old Roman families, most of whose ancestors had held consular authority in former times. The majority of Senators continued to be Patricians.


Anyone who was not a member of the Patrician class, including many of the recent nobility, the wealthy and the influential, was considered to be a commoner.


Any person who had been freed from slavery or whose family had been freed from slavery was permitted to participate in public life.


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