In 25 B.C. Julius Caesar's once obscure nephew Octavian and his lowly born General Agrippa, defeated Rome's golden boy, Marcus Antonius and his lover Cleopatra. Augustus then set about 'restoring' the Republic, though in fact he institutionalized the 'Imperium', a term that refereed to his direct rule of a number of provinces (in particular the bread basket of the Mediterranean, Egypt). The term Imperium soon came to mean the absolute rule of Augustus over Rome and her provinces with a veneer of Republican democracy over it. This Roman Empire would last for over fifteen hundred years (in various forms), and it would bring peace and prosperity to Europe until the mid third century. The reason this Pax Romanum ended at all was that Augustus never found a proper method of succession, and luck alone kept civil war more or less at bay until the third century, when decades of uninterrupted civil war devastated the Empire. Strong Emperors like Diocletian and Constantine brought brief periods of peace, but nothing could stem the tide of decay and the predatory advances of Germanic Barbarians. By 400 A.D., the glory was gone, and by 476, the last pretenses of Empire in the West went with it. The Eastern Empire went on for another thousand years, but for most of Europe, the following centuries were ones of chaos and violence known as the Dark Ages.