Rome in the mid-first century B. C. projected an unattractive image. The urban infrastructure had long been mismanaged. Even public temples showed the effects of neglect. Focusing on immediate solutions solvable in a single term in office, Republican magistrates could not deal effectively with problems of urban care. Rather than enforcing extant regulations, the state relied inefficiently on private efforts and civil suits to maintain and protect the built environment. As a result, legal restrictions only marginally curbed poor construction and speculation. At the end of the millennium, Augustus assumed the role of pater patriae. As benevolent father, he exerted control over the Roman people at every level. Using a skillful combination of carrot and stick, he intervened in all aspects of the urban environment, building and repairing structures and reshaping legal and administrative provisions for urban care. For maximum efficiency, he redefined existing offices and established a clear hierarchy of responsibility. Exploiting the office of curator, he made appointments for lengthy terms and created permanent bureaucratic staffs. He involved every class in the care of the capital and made sure that all officeholders owed their allegiance to him personally. His efforts coalesced in 7 B. C. with the establishment of fourteen new administrative regions. Seen in totality, Augustus's seemingly ad hoc provisions for fire fighting, water distribution, building maintenance, and urban safety reflect a consistent policy of social control. His efforts to create a functional, attractive, and enduring urban environment were both paternal and calculated.
- Copyright 1992 The Society of Architectural Historians