[Illustration: STATUE OF AUGUSTUS AT THE VATICAN.]
He did not, however, take to himself any great show or state. He lived in his family abode, and dressed and walked about the streets like any other Roman gentleman of consular rank, and no special respect was paid to him in speech, for, warned by the fate of Julius, he was determined to prevent the Romans from being put in mind of kings and crowns. He was a wise and deep-thinking man, and he tried to carry out the plans of Julius for the benefit of the nation and of the whole Roman world. He had the survey finished of all the countries of the empire, which now formed a complete border round the Mediterranean Sea, reaching as far north as the British Channel, the Alps, and the Black Sea; as far south as the African desert, as far west as the Atlantic, and east as the borders of the Euphrates; and he also had a universal census made of the whole of the inhabitants. It was the first time such a thing had been possible, for all the world was at last at peace, so that the Temple of Janus was closed for the third and last time in Roman history. There was a feeling all over the world that a great Deliverer and peaceful Prince was to be expected at this time. One of the Sybils was believed to have so sung, and the Romans, in their relief at the good rule of Augustus, thought he was the promised one; but they little knew why God had brought about this great stillness from all wars, or why He moved the heart of Augustus to make the decree that all the world should be taxed—namely, that the true Prince of Peace, the real Deliverer, might be born in the home of His forefathers, Bethlehem, the city of David.
The purpose of Augustus’ taxing was to make a regular division of the empire into provinces for the proconsuls to govern, with lesser divisions for the propraetors, while many cities, especially Greek ones, were allowed their own magistrates, and some small tributary kingdoms still remained till the old royal family should either die out or offend the Romans. In these lands the people were governed by their own laws, unless they were made Roman citizens; and this freedom was more and more granted, and saved them from paying the tribute all the rest had to pay, and which went to support the armies and other public institutions at Rome, and to provide the corn which was regularly distributed to such citizens as claimed it at Rome. A Roman colony was a settlement, generally of old soldiers who had had lands granted to them, and kept their citizenship; and it was like another little Rome managing its own affairs, though subject to the mother city. There were many of these colonies, especially in Gaul on the north coast, to defend it from the Germans. Cologne was one, and still keeps its name. The tribute was carefully fixed, and Augustus did his best to prevent the governors from preying on the people.