After the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and the ascendancy of Octavian Augustus as the sovereign of the Roman Empire, Athens became part of the Province of Achaia, obeying the Roman administrative organization but maintaining its title as a “free city.”
Emperor Augustus was the first to begin a systematic building program to restore the city, respecting the past while introducing new building techniques and expanding the urban plan.
In the years that followed, Athens attracted famous and wealthy Romans as well as philosophers, writers and poets who admired its spiritual energy. The city received many visitors because of its famous philosophical schools, and others visited as officials or merchants.
Among the Philhellenic emperors, Hadrian (117-138 CE) stands out for the favor he gave to the city with a new building program and with a generous social policy.
From the end of the 2nd century CE, the city gradually went into decline until 267 CE when the final blow came during a raid of the Herulians who almost completely destroyed the city and plundered its wealth.