There are two sports teams.  Each of them is run by a team leader, but each team used a different method to pick their team leader.  Team number one decided that the top few players would hold a vote.  The player who got the most votes became their team leader and now makes all of the important decisions for the entire team.  The other team didn't hold a vote.  Instead, they stood by and watched while all of the players fought until one of them won, and then the team allowed him to lead.  Which team do you think will have a better leader?  Which team would you rather be on?

Team number one trusted that together the top few players would make the best choice for the team.  The idea was that because all of the players know each other, they could choose the best candidate for their team leader by voting.  A republic is a state where the power is held by its people, who vote on important things, such as who will be their leader.  From the years 508 to 26 B.C., Rome was a republic, just like team number one.  Rome did not stay a republic though. 

The other team worked a little differently.  Well . . . a LOT differently.  On team two, all of the players did whatever they could to get to the top.  That, after all, is where all the power is.  An empire is a state where only one person at the top holds the power, making all of the important decisions for everyone.  Team number two's way of picking who should get the most power often leads to fighting.  One player has to show the others that they are the strongest and that they would be the best leader.  In Rome, winning wars was a great way to show that you were good at leading people.  In an empire, there is no one to stop the person on top from making choices that affect the lives of millions of people.  You might believe that choosing a leader based on how much they fight is a bad idea, but it didn't always have a bad ending. 

At the end of the Roman Republic, around 27 B.C., one man came to power over all the others.  His name was Augustus Caesar.  Instead of people voting for him to be leader, he rose to the top for other reasons.  First, he was the adopted son of the last leader of Rome.  This leader, named Caesar, was so loved that Romans saw him as one of the gods.  Second, when he got older, Augustus became friends with two other powerful people.  Third, as soon as he was well known among the people, he brought the empire together under his rule by defeating the other people who wanted to rule Rome.  Augustus Caesar was the first Roman emperor to make large changes that led to a long peace for Rome.  Like the leader in team number two, he did whatever he could to get to the top.  And the result . . . wasn't too bad, actually.  

Believe it or not, it worked out really, really well.  Augustus used his place as emperor to make some big changes in Rome.  He built roads and bridges, grew the army, and most importantly, made peace.  Pax Romana was a two hundred year period of peace for the Roman Empire that was started by Augustus.  This was not easy, because at this time, Rome was larger than it had ever been!  So what about the answer to our first question?  Which team has a better way of finding a team leader?  The answer?  It depends on the leader they get. 

The Romans were really lucky.  The people who fight their way to leadership positions so they can have control over what everyone does are not always good people.  Augustus Caesar was a great leader though.  His changes to Rome brought on two hundred years of peace.  Maybe that's why the last words Augustus spoke were "I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble."  No one argued with him then.  Few do now. 


Ducksters.  "Biography of Augustus"  Ducksters, 2014.  <>

History Lectures.  "Augustus Caesar and the Pax Romana", 2011.  <>  "Augustus", 2010.  <>