Augustus: Wikis


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For other uses of Octavius, see Octavius (disambiguation). For other uses of Octavian, see Octavian (disambiguation). For other uses of Augustus, see Augustus (disambiguation).
Caesar Augustus
Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust of Caesar Augustus
Reign 16 January 27 BC – 19 August AD 14
Predecessor New creation
Successor Tiberius
Spouse 1) Clodia Pulchra 43–40 BC
2) Scribonia 40–38 BC
3) Livia Drusilla 38 BC–AD 14
Julia the Elder;
Gaius Caesar (adoptive);
Lucius Caesar (adoptive);
Tiberius (adoptive)
Full name
Gaius Octavius Thurinus (from birth to adoption by Julius Caesar in 44 BC);
Gaius Julius Caesar (from 44 to 27 BC);
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (from 27 BC until death)
Father Natural: Gaius Octavius;
Adoptive: Julius Caesar (In 44 BC)
Mother Atia Balba Caesonia
Born 23 September 63 BC (Roman calendar) (-0063-09)
Rome, Roman Republic
Died 19 August AD 14 (Julian calendar)(aged 75) (0014-08-20)
Nola, Italia, Roman Empire
Burial Mausoleum of Augustus, Rome
These articles cover Ancient Rome and the fall of the Republic
Roman Republic, Mark Antony, Cleopatra VII, Assassination of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Theatre of Pompey, Cicero, First Triumvirate

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was the first ruler of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from January 27 BC until his death in AD 14.[note 1] Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, he was adopted posthumously by his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BC, and between then and 31 BC was officially named Gaius Julius Caesar. In 27 BC the Senate awarded him the honorific Augustus ("the revered one"), and thus consequently he was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus.[note 2] Because of the various names he bore, it is common to call him Octavius when referring to events between 63 and 44 BC, Octavian (or Octavianus) when referring to events between 44 and 27 BC, and Augustus when referring to events after 27 BC. In Greek sources, Augustus is known as Ὀκτάβιος (Octavius), Καῖσαρ (Caesar), Αὔγουστος (Augustus), or Σεβαστός (Sebastos), depending on context.

The young Octavius came into his inheritance after Caesar's assassination in 44 BC. In 43 BC, Octavian joined forces with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in a military dictatorship known as the Second Triumvirate. As a triumvir, Octavian ruled Rome and many of its provinces[note 3] as an autocrat, seizing consular power after the deaths of the consuls Hirtius and Pansa and having himself perpetually re-elected. The triumvirate was eventually torn apart under the competing ambitions of its rulers: Lepidus was driven into exile, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by the fleet of Octavian commanded by Agrippa in 31 BC.

After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian restored the outward facade of the Roman Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, but in practice retained his autocratic power. It took several years to determine the exact framework by which a formally republican state could be led by a sole ruler; the result became known as the Roman Empire. The emperorship was never an office like the Roman dictatorship which Caesar and Sulla had held before him; indeed, he declined it when the Roman populace "entreated him to take on the dictatorship".[1] By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including those of tribune of the plebs and censor. He was consul until 23 BC.[2] His substantive power stemmed from financial success and resources gained in conquest, the building of patronage relationships throughout the Empire, the loyalty of many military soldiers and veterans, the authority of the many honors granted by the Senate,[3] and the respect of the people. Augustus' control over the majority of Rome's legions established an armed threat that could be used against the Senate, allowing him to coerce the Senate's decisions. With his ability to eliminate senatorial opposition by means of arms, the Senate became docile towards his paramount position. His rule through patronage, military power, and accumulation of the offices of the defunct Republic became the model for all later imperial governments.

The rule of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace. Despite continuous frontier wars, and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession, the Mediterranean world remained at peace for more than two centuries. Augustus expanded the Roman Empire, secured its boundaries with client states, and made peace with Parthia through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army (and a small navy), established the Praetorian Guard, and created official police and fire-fighting forces for Rome. Much of the city was rebuilt under Augustus; and he wrote a record of his own accomplishments, known as the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, which has survived. Upon his death in AD 14, Augustus was declared a god by the Senate, to be worshipped by the Romans.[4] His names Augustus and Caesar were adopted by every subsequent emperor, and the month of Sextilis was officially renamed August in his honour. He was succeeded by his stepson and son-in-law, Tiberius.

Early life

Roman imperial dynasties
Julio-Claudian dynasty
Augustus 27 BC14 AD
Tiberius 14 AD37 AD
Caligula 37 AD41 AD
Claudius 41 AD54 AD
Nero 54 AD68 AD
Gens Julia
Gens Claudia
Julio-Claudian family tree
Category:Julio-Claudian Dynasty
Preceded by
Roman Republic
Followed by
Year of the Four Emperors

While his paternal family was from the town of Velitrae, about 25 miles from Rome, Augustus was born in the city of Rome on 23 September 63 BC. He was born at Ox Heads, which was a small property on the Palatine Hill, very close to the Roman Forum. He was given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus, his cognomen possibly commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves.[5][6] Due to the crowded nature of Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to his father's home village at Velitrae to be raised. Octavius only mentions his father's equestrian family briefly in his memoirs. His paternal great-grandfather was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His grandfather had served in several local political offices. His father, also named Gaius Octavius, had been governor of Macedonia.[note 4][7] His mother Atia was the niece of Julius Caesar.

In 59 BC, when he was four years old, his father died.[8] His mother married a former governor of Syria, Lucius Marcius Philippus.[9] Philippus claimed descent from Alexander the Great, and was elected consul in 56 BC. Philippus never had much of an interest in young Octavius. Because of this, Octavius was raised by his grandmother (and Julius Caesar's sister), Julia Caesaris.

In 52 or 51 BC, Julia Caesaris died. Octavius delivered the funeral oration for his grandmother.[10] From this point, his mother and stepfather took a more active role in raising him. He donned the toga virilis four years later,[11] and was elected to the College of Pontiffs in 47 BC.[12][13] The following year he was put in charge of the Greek games that were staged in honor of the Temple of Venus Genetrix, built by Julius Caesar.[13] According to Nicolaus of Damascus, Octavius wished to join Caesar's staff for his campaign in Africa but gave way when his mother protested.[14] In 46 BC, she consented for him to join Caesar in Hispania, where he planned to fight the forces of Pompey, Caesar's late enemy, but Octavius fell ill and was unable to travel.

When he had recovered, he sailed to the front, but was shipwrecked; after coming ashore with a handful of companions, he crossed hostile territory to Caesar's camp, which impressed his great-uncle considerably.[11] Velleius Paterculus reports that Caesar afterwards allowed the young man to share his carriage.[15] When back in Rome, Caesar deposited a new will with the Vestal Virgins, naming Octavius as the prime beneficiary.[16]

Rise to power

Heir to Caesar

The Death of Caesar, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1867). On 15 March 44 BC, Octavius's adoptive father Julius Caesar was assassinated by a conspiracy led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

At the time Caesar was killed on the Ides of March (the 15th) 44 BC, Octavius was studying and undergoing military training in Apollonia, Illyria. Rejecting the advice of some army officers to take refuge with the troops in Macedonia, he sailed to Italia to ascertain if he had any potential political fortunes or security.[17] After landing at Lupiae near Brundisium, he learned the contents of Caesar's will, and only then did he decide to become Caesar's political heir as well as heir to two-thirds of his estate.[13][17][18] Having no living legitimate children,[19] Caesar had adopted his great-nephew Octavius as his son and main heir.[20] Upon his adoption, Octavius assumed his great-uncle's name, Gaius Julius Caesar. Although Romans who had been adopted into a new family usually retained their old nomen in cognomen form (e.g. Octavianus for one who had been an Octavius, Aemilianus for one who had been an Aemilius, etc.) there is no evidence that he ever bore the name Octavianus, as it would have made his modest origins too obvious.[21][22][23] However, despite the fact that he never officially bore the name Octavianus, to save confusing the dead dictator with his heir, historians often refer to the new Caesar—between his adoption and his assumption, in 27 BC, of the name Augustus—as Octavian.[24] Mark Antony later charged that Octavian had earned his adoption by Caesar through sexual favours, though Suetonius, in his work Lives of the Twelve Caesars, describes Antony's accusation as political slander.[25]

To make a successful entry into the echelons of the Roman political hierarchy, Octavian could not rely on his limited funds.[26] After a warm welcome by Caesar's soldiers at Brundisium,[27] Octavian demanded a portion of the funds that were allotted by Caesar for the intended war against Parthia in the Middle East.[26] This amounted to 700 million sesterces stored at Brundisium, the staging ground in Italy for military operations in the east.[28] A later senatorial investigation into the disappearance of the public funds made no action against Octavian, since he subsequently used that money to raise troops against the Senate's arch enemy, Mark Antony.[27] Octavian made another bold move in 44 BC when without official permission he appropriated the annual tribute that had been sent from Rome's Near Eastern province to Italy.[22][29] Octavian began to bolster his personal forces with Caesar's veteran legionaries and with troops designated for the Parthian war, gathering support by emphasizing his status as heir to Caesar.[17][30] On his march to Rome through Italy, Octavian's presence and newly-acquired funds attracted many, winning over Caesar's former veterans stationed in Campania.[22] By June he had gathered an army of 3,000 loyal veterans, paying each a salary of 500 denarii.[31][32][33]

A statue of Augustus as a younger Octavian, dated c. 30 BC

Arriving in Rome on 6 May 44 BC,[22] Octavian found the consul Mark Antony, Caesar's former colleague, in an uneasy truce with the dictator's assassins; they had been granted a general amnesty on 17 March, yet Antony succeeded in driving most of them out of Rome.[22] This was due to his "inflammatory" eulogy given at Caesar's funeral, mounting public opinion against the assassins.[22] Although Mark Antony was amassing political support, Octavian still had opportunity to rival him as the leading member of the faction supporting Caesar. Mark Antony had lost the support of many Romans and supporters of Caesar when he at first opposed the motion to elevate Caesar to divine status.[34] Octavian failed to persuade Antony to relinquish Caesar's money to him. However, during the summer he managed to win support from Caesarian sympathizers, who saw the younger heir as the lesser evil and hoped to manipulate him, or to bear with him during their efforts to get rid of Antonius.[35] In September, the Optimate orator Marcus Tullius Cicero began to attack Antony in a series of speeches, seeing Antony as the greatest threat to the order of the Senate.[36][37] With opinion in Rome turning against him and his year of consular power nearing its end, Antony attempted to pass laws which would lend him control over Cisalpine Gaul, which had been assigned as part of his province, from Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, one of Caesar's assassins.[38][39] Octavian meanwhile built up a private army in Italy by recruiting Caesarian veterans, and on 28 November won over two of Antony's legions with the enticing offer of monetary gain.[40][41][42] In the face of Octavian's large and capable force, Antony saw the danger of staying in Rome, and to the relief of the Senate he fled to Cisalpine Gaul, which was to be handed to him on 1 January.[42]

First conflict with Antony

Bust of Caesar Augustus from the Musei Capitolini, Rome

After Decimus Brutus refused to give up Cisalpine Gaul, Antony besieged him at Mutina.[43] The resolutions passed by the Senate to stop the violence were rejected by Antony, as the Senate had no army of its own to challenge him; this provided an opportunity for Octavian, who was already known to have armed forces.[41] Cicero also defended Octavian against Antony's taunts about Octavian's lack of noble lineage; he stated "we have no more brilliant example of traditional piety among our youth."[44] This was in part a rebuttal to Antony's opinion of Octavian, as Cicero quoted Antony saying to Octavian, "You, boy, owe everything to your name."[45][46] In this unlikely alliance orchestrated by the arch anti-Caesarian senator Cicero, the Senate inducted Octavian as senator on 1 January 43 BC, yet he was also given the power to vote alongside the former consuls.[41][42] In addition, Octavian was granted imperium (commanding power), which made his command of troops legal, sending him to relieve the siege along with Hirtius and Pansa (the consuls for 43 BC).[41][47] In April of 43 BC, Antony's forces were defeated at the battles of Forum Gallorum and Mutina, forcing Antony to retreat to Transalpine Gaul. However, both consuls were killed, leaving Octavian in sole command of their armies.[48][49]

After heaping many more rewards on Decimus Brutus than Octavian for defeating Antony, the Senate attempted to give command of the consular legions to Decimus Brutus, yet Octavian decided not to cooperate.[50] Instead, Octavian stayed in the Po Valley and refused to aid any further offensive against Antony.[51] In July, an embassy of centurions sent by Octavian entered Rome and demanded that he receive the consulship left vacant by Hirtius and Pansa.[52] Octavian also demanded that the decree declaring Antony a public enemy should be rescinded.[51] When this was refused, he marched on the city with eight legions.[51] He encountered no military opposition in Rome, and on 19 August 43 BC was elected consul with his relative Quintus Pedius as co-consul.[53][54] Meanwhile, Antony formed an alliance with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, another leading Caesarian.[55]

Second Triumvirate


Roman aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right), issued in 41 BC to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate by Octavian, Antony and Marcus Lepidus in 43 BC. Both sides bear the inscription "III VIR R P C", meaning "One of Three Men for the Regulation of the Republic".[56]

In a meeting near Bologna in October of 43 BC, Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus formed a junta called the Second Triumvirate.[57] This explicit arrogation of special powers lasting five years was then supported by law passed by the plebs, unlike the unofficial First Triumvirate formed by Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, Julius Caesar and Marcus Licinius Crassus.[57][58] The triumvirs then set in motion proscriptions in which allegedly 300 senators and 2,000 equites were branded as outlaws and deprived of their property and, for those who failed to escape, their lives.[59] The estimation that 300 senators were proscribed was presented by Appian, although his earlier contemporary Livy asserted that only 130 senators had been proscribed.[60] This decree issued by the triumvirate was motivated in part by a need to raise money to pay their troops' salaries for the upcoming conflict against Caesar's assassins, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.[61] Rewards for their arrest gave incentive for Romans to capture those proscribed, while the assets and properties of those arrested were seized by the triumvirs.[59]

Contemporary Roman historians provide conflicting reports as to which triumvir was more responsible for the proscriptions and killing. However, the sources agree that enacting the proscriptions was a means by all three factions to eliminate political enemies.[62] Marcus Velleius Paterculus asserted that Octavian tried to avoid proscribing officials whereas Lepidus and Antony were to blame for initiating them.[63] Cassius Dio defended Augustus as trying to spare as many as possible, whereas Antony and Lepidus, being older and involved in politics longer, had many more enemies to deal with.[63] This claim was rejected by Appian, who maintained that Octavian shared an equal interest with Lepidus and Antony in eradicating his enemies.[64] Suetonius presents the case that Octavian, although reluctant at first to proscribe officials, nonetheless pursued his enemies with more rigor than the other triumvirs.[62] Plutarch describes the proscriptions as a ruthless and cutthroat swapping of friends and family between Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian. For example, Octavian allowed the proscription of his ally Cicero, Antony the proscription of his maternal uncle Lucius Julius Caesar IV, and Lepidus his brother Paulus.[63]

A denarius minted circa 18 BC. Obverse: CAESAR AVGVSTVS; reverse: DIVVSIVLIV[S] (DIVINE JULIUS)

Battle of Philippi and division of territory

On 1 January 42 BC, the Senate posthumously recognized Julius Caesar as a divinity of the Roman state, Divus Iulius. Octavian was able to further his cause by emphasizing the fact that he was Divi filius, "Son of God".[65] Antony and Octavian then sent 28 legions by sea to face the armies of Brutus and Cassius, who had built their base of power in Greece.[66] After two battles at Philippi in Macedonia in October of 42, the Caesarian army was victorious and Brutus and Cassius committed suicide. Mark Antony would later use the examples of these battles as a means to belittle Octavian, as both battles were decisively won with the use of Antony's forces.[67] In addition to claiming responsibility for both victories, Antony also branded Octavian as a coward for handing over his direct military control to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa instead.[67]

After Philippi, a new territorial arrangement was made among the members of the Second Triumvirate. While Antony placed Gaul, the provinces of Hispania, and Italia in the hands of Octavian, Antony traveled east to Egypt where he allied himself with Queen Cleopatra VII, the former lover of Julius Caesar and mother of Caesar's infant son, Caesarion. Lepidus was left with the province of Africa, stymied by Antony who conceded Hispania to Octavian instead.[68] Octavian was left to decide where in Italy to settle the tens of thousands of veterans of the Macedonian campaign whom the triumvirs had promised to discharge. The tens of thousands who had fought on the republican side with Brutus and Cassius, who could easily ally with a political opponent of Octavian if not appeased, also required land.[68] There was no more government-controlled land to allot as settlements for their soldiers, so Octavian had to choose one of two options: alienating many Roman citizens by confiscating their land, or alienating many Roman soldiers who could mount a considerable opposition against him in the Roman heartland; Octavian chose the former.[69] There were as many as eighteen Roman towns affected by the new settlements, with entire populations driven out or at least given partial evictions.[70]

Rebellion and marriage alliances

Widespread dissatisfaction with Octavian over his soldiers' settlements encouraged many to rally at the side of Lucius Antonius, who was brother of Mark Antony and supported by a majority in the Senate.[70] Meanwhile, Octavian asked for a divorce from Clodia Pulchra, the daughter of Fulvia and her first husband Publius Clodius Pulcher. Claiming that his marriage with Clodia had never been consummated, he returned her to her mother, Mark Antony's wife. Fulvia decided to take action. Together with Lucius Antonius she raised an army in Italy to fight for Antony's rights against Octavian. However, Lucius and Fulvia took a political and martial gamble in opposing Octavian, since the Roman army still depended on the triumvirs for their salaries.[70] Lucius and his allies ended up in a defensive siege at Perusia (modern Perugia), where Octavian forced them into surrender in early 40 BC.[70] Lucius and his army were spared due to his kinship with Antony, the strongman of the East, while Fulvia was exiled to Sicyon.[71] However, Octavian showed no mercy for the mass of allies loyal to Lucius; on 15 March, the anniversary of Julius Caesar's assassination, he had 300 Roman senators and equestrians executed for allying with Lucius.[72] Perusia was also pillaged and burned as a warning for others.[71] This bloody event somewhat sullied Octavian's career and was criticized by many, such as the Augustan poet Sextus Propertius.[72]

Sextus Pompeius, son of the First Triumvir Pompey and still a renegade general following Julius Caesar's victory over his father, was established in Sicily and Sardinia as part of an agreement reached with the Second Triumvirate in 39 BC.[73] Both Antony and Octavian were vying for an alliance with Pompeius, who was ironically a member of the republican party, not the Caesarian faction.[72] Octavian succeeded in a temporary alliance when in 40 BC he married Scribonia, a daughter of Lucius Scribonius Libo who was a follower of Pompeius as well as his father-in-law.[72] Scribonia conceived Octavian's only natural child, Julia, who was born the same day that he divorced Scribonia to marry Livia Drusilla, little more than a year after his marriage.[72]

While in Egypt, Antony had been engaged in an affair with Cleopatra and had fathered three children with her.[74] Aware of his deteriorating relationship with Octavian, Antony left Cleopatra; he sailed to Italy in 40 BC with a large force to oppose Octavian, laying siege to Brundisium. However, this new conflict proved untenable for both Octavian and Antony. Their centurions, who had become important figures politically, refused to fight due to their Caesarian cause, while the legions under their command followed suit.[75][76] Meanwhile in Sicyon, Antony's wife Fulvia died of a sudden illness while Antony was en route to meet her. Fulvia's death and the mutiny of their centurions allowed the two remaining triumvirs to effect a reconciliation.[75][76] In the autumn of 40, Octavian and Antony approved the Treaty of Brundisium, by which Lepidus would remain in Africa, Antony in the East, Octavian in the West. The Italian peninsula was left open to all for the recruitment of soldiers, but in reality, this provision was useless for Antony in the East.[75] To further cement relations of alliance with Mark Antony, Octavian gave his sister, Octavia Minor, in marriage to Antony in late 40 BC.[75] During their marriage, Octavia gave birth to two daughters (known as Antonia Major and Antonia Minor).

War with Pompeius

A denarius of Sextus Pompeius, minted for his victory over Octavian's fleet. On the obverse the Pharus of Messina, who defeated Octavian. On the reverse, the monster Scylla

Sextus Pompeius threatened Octavian in Italy by denying to the peninsula shipments of grain through the Mediterranean; Pompeius' own son was put in charge as naval commander in the effort to cause widespread famine in Italy.[76] Pompeius' control over the sea prompted him to take on the name Neptuni filius, "son of Neptune."[77] A temporary peace agreement was reached in 39 BC with the treaty of Misenum; the blockade on Italy was lifted once Octavian granted Pompeius Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and the Peloponnese, and ensured him a future position as consul for 35 BC.[76][77] The territorial agreement amongst the triumvirs and Sextus Pompeius began to crumble once Octavian divorced Scribonia and married Livia on 17 January 38 BC.[78] One of Pompeius' naval commanders betrayed him and handed over Corsica and Sardinia to Octavian. However Octavian needed Antony's additional support to attack Pompeius, so an agreement was reached with the Second Triumvirate's extension for another five-year period beginning in 37 BC.[79][80] In supporting Octavian, Antony expected to gain support for his own campaign against Parthia, desiring to avenge Rome's defeat at Carrhae in 53 BC.[80] In an agreement reached at Tarentum, Antony provided 120 ships for Octavian to use against Pompeius, while Octavian was to send 20,000 legionaries to Antony for use against Parthia.[81] However, Octavian sent only a tenth the number of those promised, which was viewed by Antony as an intentional provocation.[81]

Octavian and Lepidus launched a joint operation against Sextus in Sicily in 36 BC.[82] Despite setbacks for Octavian, the naval fleet of Sextus Pompeius was almost entirely destroyed on 3 September by general Agrippa at the naval battle of Naulochus.[83] Sextus fled with his remaining forces to the east, where he was captured and executed in Miletus by one of Antony's generals the following year.[83] Both Lepidus and Octavian gathered the surrendered troops of Pompeius, yet Lepidus felt empowered enough to claim Sicily for himself, ordering Octavian to leave.[83] However, Lepidus' troops deserted him and defected to Octavian since they were weary of fighting and found Octavian's promises of money to be enticing.[83] Lepidus surrendered to Octavian and was permitted to retain the office of pontifex maximus (head of the college of priests), but was ejected from the Triumvirate, his public career at an end, and was effectively exiled to a villa at Cape Circei in Italy.[83][84] The Roman dominions were now divided between Octavian in the West and Antony in the East. To maintain peace and stability in his portion of the Empire, Octavian ensured Rome's citizens of their rights to property. This time he settled his discharged soldiers outside of Italy while returning 30,000 slaves to former Roman owners that had previously fled to Pompeius to join his army and navy.[85] To ensure his own safety and that of Livia and Octavia once he returned to Rome, Octavian had the Senate grant him, his wife, and his sister tribunal immunity, or sacrosanctitas.[86]

War with Antony

Anthony and Cleopatra, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Meanwhile, Antony's campaign against Parthia turned disastrous, tarnishing his image as a leader, and the mere 2,000 legionaries sent by Octavian to Antony were hardly enough to replenish his forces.[87] On the other hand, Cleopatra could restore his army to full strength, and since he was already engaged in a romantic affair with her, he decided to send Octavia back to Rome.[88] Octavian used this to spread propaganda implying that Antony was becoming less than Roman because he rejected a legitimate Roman spouse for an "Oriental paramour".[89] In 36 BC, Octavian used a political ploy to make himself look less autocratic and Antony more the villain by proclaiming that the civil wars were coming to an end, and that he would step down as triumvir if only Antony would do the same; Antony refused.[90]

After Roman troops captured Armenia in 34 BC, Antony made his son Alexander Helios the ruler of Armenia; he also awarded the title "Queen of Kings" to Cleopatra, acts which Octavian used to convince the Roman Senate that Antony had ambitions to diminish the preeminence of Rome.[89] When Octavian became consul once again on 1 January 33 BC, he opened the following session in the Senate with a vehement attack on Antony's grants of titles and territories to his relatives and to his queen.[91] Defecting consuls and senators rushed over to the side of Antony in disbelief of the propaganda (which turned out to be true), yet so did able ministers desert Antony for Octavian in the autumn of 32 BC.[92] These defectors, Munatius Plancus and Marcus Titius, gave Octavian the information he needed to confirm with the Senate all the accusations he made against Antony.[93] By storming the sanctuary of the Vestal Virgins, Octavian forced their chief priestess to hand over Antony's secret will, which would have given away Roman-conquered territories as kingdoms for his sons to rule, alongside plans to build a tomb in Alexandria for him and his queen to reside upon their deaths.[94][95] In late 32 BC, the Senate officially revoked Antony's powers as consul and declared war on Cleopatra's regime in Egypt.[96][97]

The Battle of Actium, by Lorenzo Castro, painted 1672, National Maritime Museum, London

In early 31 BC, while Antony and Cleopatra were temporarily stationed in Greece, Octavian gained a preliminary victory when the navy under the command of Agrippa successfully ferried troops across the Adriatic Sea.[98] While Agrippa cut off Antony and Cleopatra's main force from their supply routes at sea, Octavian landed on the mainland opposite the island of Corcyra (modern Corfu) and marched south.[98] Trapped on land and sea, deserters of Antony's army fled to Octavian's side daily while Octavian's forces were comfortable enough to make preparations.[98] In a desperate attempt to break free of the naval blockade, Antony's fleet sailed through the bay of Actium on the western coast of Greece. It was there that Antony's fleet faced the much larger fleet of smaller, more maneuverable ships under commanders Agrippa and Gaius Sosius in the battle of Actium on 2 September 31 BC.[99] Antony and his remaining forces were only spared due to a last-ditch effort by Cleopatra's fleet that had been waiting nearby.[100] Octavian pursued them, and after another defeat in Alexandria on 1 August 30 BC, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide; Antony fell on his own sword and into Cleopatra's arms, while she let a poisonous snake bite her.[101] Having exploited his position as Caesar's heir to further his own political career, Octavian was only too well aware of the dangers in allowing another to do so and, reportedly commenting that "two Caesars are one too many", he ordered Caesarion — Julius Caesar's son by Cleopatra — to be killed, whilst sparing Cleopatra's children by Antony, with the exception of Antony's older son.[102][103]

Octavian had previously shown little mercy to military combatants and acted in ways that had proven unpopular with the Roman people, yet he was given credit for pardoning many of his opponents after the Battle of Actium.[104]

Octavian becomes Augustus

Aureus of Octavian, circa 30 BC. British Museum.

After Actium and the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian was in a position to rule the entire Republic under an unofficial principate.[105] However, Octavian would have to achieve this through incremental gaining of power, courting the Senate and people, while upholding republican traditions of Rome to appear that he was not aiming for dictatorship or monarchy.[106][107] Marching into Rome, Octavian and Marcus Agrippa were elected as dual consuls by the Senate.[108] Years of civil war had left Rome in a state of near lawlessness, but the Republic was not prepared to accept the control of Octavian as a despot. At the same time, Octavian could not simply give up his authority without risking further civil wars amongst the Roman generals, and even if he desired no position of authority whatsoever, his position demanded that he look to the well-being of the city of Rome and the Roman provinces. Octavian's aims from this point forward were to return Rome to a state of stability, traditional legality, and civility by lifting the overt political pressure imposed upon the courts of law and ensuring free elections, in name at least.[109]

First settlement

Augustus as a magistrate; the statue's marble head was made c. 30–20 BC, the body sculpted in the 2nd century AD (Louvre, Paris)

In 27 BC, Octavian formally returned full power to the Roman Senate and relinquished his control of the Roman provinces and their armies.[108] However, under the consulship of Octavian, the Senate had little power in initiating legislation by introducing bills for senatorial debate.[108] Although Octavian was no longer in direct control of the provinces and their armies, he retained the loyalty of active duty soldiers and veterans alike.[108] The careers of many clients and adherents depended on his patronage, as his financial power in the Roman Republic was unrivaled.[108] The historian Werner Eck states of Augustus:

The sum of his power derived first of all from various powers of office delegated to him by the Senate and people, secondly from his immense private fortune, and thirdly from numerous patron-client relationships he established with individuals and groups throughout the Empire. All of them taken together formed the basis of his auctoritas, which he himself emphasized as the foundation of his political actions.[110]

To a large extent, the public was aware of the vast financial resources Augustus commanded. When Augustus failed to encourage enough senators to finance the building and maintenance of networks of roads in Italy, he took over direct responsibility of building roads in 20 BC.[111] His construction of roads was publicized on the Roman currency issued in 16 BC, after he donated vast amounts of money to the aerarium Saturni, the public treasury.[111]

According to H.H. Scullard, however, Augustus' power was based on the exercise of "a predominant military power and that the ultimate sanction of his authority was force, however much the fact was disguised."[112]

The Senate proposed to Octavian, the cherished victor of Rome's civil wars, to once again assume command of the provinces. The senate proposal was a ratification of Octavian's extra-constitutional power. Through the senate, Octavian was able to continue the appearance of a still-functional constitution of the Roman Republic. Whilst putting on the appearance of reluctance he accepted a ten year responsibility of overseeing provinces that were considered to be in a somewhat chaotic state.[113][114] The provinces ceded to him to pacify within the promised ten year period comprised much of the conquered Roman world, including all of Hispania and Gaul, Syria, Cilicia, Cyprus, and Egypt.[113][115] Moreover, command over these provinces provided Octavian with control over the majority of Rome's legions.[115][116] While Octavian acted as consul in Rome, he dispatched senators to the provinces under his command as his representatives to manage provincial affairs and ensure his orders were carried out.[116] On the other hand, the provinces not under Octavian's control were overseen by governors chosen by the Roman Senate.[116] Octavian became the most powerful political figure in the city of Rome and in most of its provinces, yet he did not have a sole monopoly on political and martial power.[117] The Senate still controlled North Africa, an important regional producer of grain, as well as Illyria and Macedonia, two martially strategic regions with several legions.[117] However, with control of only five or six legions distributed amongst three senatorial proconsuls, compared to the 20 legions under the control of Augustus, the Senate's control of these regions did not amount to any political or martial challenge to Octavian.[106][112] The Senate's control over some of the Roman provinces helped maintain a republican façade for the autocratic Principate.[106] Also, Octavian's control of entire provinces for the objective of securing peace and creating stability followed Republican-era precedents, in which such prominent Romans as Pompey had been granted similar military powers in times of crisis and instability.[106]

Bust of Augustus, wearing the Civic Crown. Glyptothek, Munich.

In January of 27 BC, the Senate gave Octavian the new titles of Augustus and Princeps.[118] Augustus, from the Latin word Augere (meaning to increase), can be translated as "the illustrious one".[104] It was a title of religious rather than political authority.[104] According to Roman religious beliefs, the title symbolized a stamp of authority over humanity—and in fact nature—that went beyond any constitutional definition of his status. After the harsh methods employed in consolidating his control, the change in name would also serve to demarcate his benign reign as Augustus from his reign of terror as Octavian. His new title of Augustus was also more favorable than Romulus, the previous one he styled for himself in reference to the story of Romulus and Remus (founders of Rome), which would symbolize a second founding of Rome.[104] However, the title of Romulus was associated too strongly with notions of monarchy and kingship, an image Octavian tried to avoid.[119] Princeps, comes from the Latin phrase primum caput, "the first head", originally meaning the oldest or most distinguished senator whose name would appear first on the senatorial roster; in the case of Augustus it became an almost regnal title for a leader who was first in charge.[120] Princeps had also been a title under the Republic for those who had served the state well; for example, Pompey had held the title. Augustus also styled himself as Imperator Caesar divi filius, "Commander Caesar son of the deified one".[118] With this title he not only boasted his familial link to deified Julius Caesar, but the use of Imperator signified a permanent link to the Roman tradition of victory.[118] The word Caesar was merely a cognomen for one branch of the Julian family, yet Augustus transformed Caesar into a new family line that began with him.[118]

Augustus was granted the right to hang the corona civica, the "civic crown" made from oak, above his door and have laurels drape his doorposts.[117] This crown was usually held above the head of a Roman general during a triumph, with the individual holding the crown charged to continually repeat "memento mori", or, "Remember, you are mortal", to the triumphant general. Additionally, laurel wreaths were important in several state ceremonies, and crowns of laurel were rewarded to champions of athletic, racing, and dramatic contests. Thus, both the laurel and the oak were integral symbols of Roman religion and statecraft; placing them on Augustus' doorposts was tantamount to declaring his home the capital. However, Augustus renounced flaunting insignia of power such as holding a scepter, wearing a diadem, or wearing the golden crown and purple toga of his predecessor Julius Caesar.[121] If he refused to symbolize his power by donning and bearing these items on his person, the Senate nonetheless awarded him with a golden shield displayed in the meeting hall of the Curia, bearing the inscription virtus, pietas, clementia, iustitia—"valor, piety, clemency, and justice."[3][117]

Second settlement

In 23 BC, there was a political crisis that involved Augustus' co-consul Terentius Varro Murena, who was part of a conspiracy against Augustus. The exact details of the conspiracy are unknown, yet Murena did not serve a full term as consul before Calpurnius Piso was elected to replace him.[122][123] Piso was a well known member of the republican faction, and serving as co-consul with him was another means by Augustus to show his willingness to make concessions and cooperate with all political parties.[124] In the late spring Augustus suffered a severe illness, and on his supposed deathbed made arrangements that would put in doubt the senators' suspicions of his anti-republicanism.[122][125] Augustus prepared to hand down his signet ring to his favored general Agrippa.[122][125] However, Augustus handed over to his co-consul Piso all of his official documents, an account of public finances, and authority over listed troops in the provinces while Augustus' supposedly favored nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus came away empty-handed.[122][125] This was a surprise to many who believed Augustus would have named an heir to his position as an unofficial emperor.[126] Augustus bestowed only properties and possessions to his designated heirs, as a system of institutionalized imperial inheritance would have provoked resistance and hostility amongst the republican-minded Romans fearful of monarchy.[107]

Portrait of Augustus wearing a gorgoneion on a three layered sardonyx cameo, AD 14–20

Soon after his bout of illness subsided, Augustus gave up his permanent consulship.[125] The only other times Augustus would serve as consul would be in the years 5 and 2 BC.[125][127] Although he had resigned as consul, Augustus retained his consular imperium, leading to a second compromise between him and the Senate known as the Second Settlement.[128] This was a clever ploy by Augustus; by stepping down as one of two consuls, this allowed aspiring senators a better chance to fill that position, while at the same time Augustus could "exercise wider patronage within the senatorial class."[129] Augustus was no longer in an official position to rule the state, yet his dominant position over the Roman provinces remained unchanged as he became a proconsul.[125][130] Earlier as a consul he had the power to intervene, when he deemed necessary, with the affairs of provincial proconsuls appointed by the Senate.[131] As a proconsul Augustus did not want this authority of overriding provincial governors to be stripped from him, so imperium proconsulare maius, or "power over all the proconsuls" was granted to Augustus by the Senate.[128]

Augustus was also granted the power of a tribune (tribunicia potestas) for life, though not the official title of tribune.[128] Legally it was closed to patricians, a status that Augustus had acquired years ago when adopted by Julius Caesar.[129] This allowed him to convene the Senate and people at will and lay business before it, veto the actions of either the Assembly or the Senate, preside over elections, and the right to speak first at any meeting.[127][132] Also included in Augustus' tribunician authority were powers usually reserved for the Roman censor; these included the right to supervise public morals and scrutinize laws to ensure they were in the public interest, as well as the ability to hold a census and determine the membership of the Senate.[133] With the powers of a censor, Augustus appealed to virtues of Roman patriotism by banning all other attire besides the classic toga while entering the Forum.[134] There was no precedent within the Roman system for combining the powers of the tribune and the censor into a single position, nor was Augustus ever elected to the office of censor.[135] Julius Caesar had been granted similar powers, wherein he was charged with supervising the morals of the state, however this position did not extend to the censor's ability to hold a census and determine the Senate's roster. The office of the tribune plebis began to lose its prestige due to Augustus' amassing of tribunal powers, so he revived its importance by making it a mandatory appointment for any plebeian desiring the praetorship.[136]

In addition to tribunician authority, Augustus was granted sole imperium within the city of Rome itself: all armed forces in the city, formerly under the control of the prefects and consuls, were now under the sole authority of Augustus.[137] With maius imperium proconsulare, Augustus was the only individual able to receive a triumph as he was ostensibly the head of every Roman army.[138] In 19 BC, Lucius Cornelius Balbus, governor of Africa and conqueror of the Garamantes, was the first man of provincial origin to receive this award, as well as the last.[138] For every following Roman victory the credit was given to Augustus, due to the fact that Rome's armies were commanded by the legatus, who were deputies of the princeps in the provinces.[138] Augustus' eldest son by marriage to Livia, Tiberius, was the only exception to this rule when he received a triumph for victories in Germania in 7 BC.[139] Ensuring that his status of maius imperium proconsulare was renewed in 13 BC, Augustus stayed in Rome during the renewal process and provided veterans with lavish donations to gain their support.[127]

Many of the political subtleties of the Second Settlement seem to have evaded the comprehension of the Plebeian class. When Augustus failed to stand for election as consul in 22 BC, fears arose once again that Augustus was being forced from power by the aristocratic Senate. In 22, 21, and 19 BC, the people rioted in response, and only allowed a single consul to be elected for each of those years, ostensibly to leave the other position open for Augustus.[140] In 22 BC there was a food shortage in Rome which sparked panic, while many urban plebs called for Augustus to take on dictatorial powers to personally oversee the crisis.[127] After a theatrical display of refusal before the Senate, Augustus finally accepted authority over Rome's grain supply "by virtue of his proconsular imperium", and ended the crisis almost immediately.[127] It was not until AD 8 that a food crisis of this sort prompted Augustus to establish a praefectus annonae, a permanent prefect who was in charge of procuring food supplies for Rome.[141] In 19 BC, the Senate voted to allow Augustus to wear the consul's insignia in public and before the Senate,[137] as well as sit in the symbolic chair between the two consuls and hold the fasces, an emblem of consular authority.[142] Like his tribune authority, the granting of consular powers to him was another instance of holding power of offices he did not actually hold.[142] This seems to have assuaged the populace; regardless of whether or not Augustus was actually a consul, the importance was that he appeared as one before the people. On 6 March 12 BC, after the death of Lepidus, he additionally took up the position of pontifex maximus, the high priest of the collegium of the Pontifices, the most important position in Roman religion.[143][144] On 5 February 2 BC, Augustus was also given the title pater patriae, or "father of the country".[145][146]

Later Roman Emperors would generally be limited to the powers and titles originally granted to Augustus, though often, to display humility, newly-appointed Emperors would decline one or more of the honorifics given to Augustus. Just as often, as their reign progressed, Emperors would appropriate all of the titles, regardless of whether they had actually been granted them by the Senate. The civic crown, which later Emperors took to actually wearing, consular insignia, and later the purple robes of a Triumphant general (toga picta) became the imperial insignia well into the Byzantine era.

War and expansion

Extent of the Roman Empire under Augustus; the yellow legend represents the extent of the Empire in 31 BC, the shades of green represent gradually conquered territories under the reign of Augustus, and pink areas on the map represent client states; however, areas under Roman control shown here were subject to change even during Augustus' reign, especially in Germania.

Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus chose Imperator, "victorious commander" to be his first name, since he wanted to make the notion of victory associated with him emphatically clear.[147] By the year 13, Augustus boasted 21 occasions where his troops proclaimed "imperator" as his title after a successful battle.[147] Almost the entire fourth chapter in his publicly-released memoirs of achievements known as the Res Gestae was devoted to his military victories and honors.[147] Pandering to Roman patriots, Augustus promoted the ideal of a superior Roman civilization with a task of ruling the world (the extent to which the Romans knew it), embodied in the phrase tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento—"Roman, remember by your strength to rule the Earth's peoples!"[134] This fit well with the Roman elite and the wider public opinion of the day which favored expansionism, reflected in a statement by the famous Roman poet Virgil who said that the gods had granted Rome imperium sine fine, "sovereignty without limit".[148]

Bust of Tiberius, a successful military commander under Augustus before he was designated as his heir and successor

By the end of his reign, the armies of Augustus had conquered northern Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal),[149] the Alpine regions of Raetia and Noricum (modern Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria, Slovenia),[149] Illyricum and Pannonia (modern Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, etc.),[149] and extended the borders of the Africa Province to the east and south.[149] After the reign of the client king Herod the Great (73–4 BC), Judea was added to the province of Syria when Augustus deposed his successor Herod Archelaus.[149] Like Egypt which had been conquered after the defeat of Antony in 30 BC, Syria was governed not by a proconsul or legate of Augustus, but a high prefect of the equestrian class.[149] Again, no military effort was needed in 25 BC when Galatia (modern Turkey) was converted to a Roman province shortly after Amyntas of Galatia was killed by an avenging widow of a slain prince from Homonada.[149] When the rebellious tribes of Cantabria in modern-day Spain were finally quelled in 19 BC, the territory fell under the provinces of Hispania and Lusitania.[150] This region proved to be a major asset in funding Augustus' future military campaigns, as it was rich in mineral deposits that could be fostered in Roman mining projects, especially the very rich gold deposits at Las Medulas for example.[150]

Conquering the peoples of the Alps in 16 BC was another important victory for Rome since it provided a large territorial buffer between the Roman citizens of Italy and Rome's enemies in Germania to the north.[151] The poet Horace dedicated an ode to the victory, while the monument Trophy of Augustus near Monaco was built to honor the occasion.[152] The capture of the Alpine region also served the next offensive in 12 BC, when Tiberius began the offensive against the Pannonian tribes of Illyricum and his brother Nero Claudius Drusus against the Germanic tribes of the eastern Rhineland.[153] Both campaigns were successful, as Drusus' forces reached the Elbe River by 9 BC, yet he died shortly after by falling off his horse.[153] It was recorded that the pious Tiberius walked in front of his brother's body all the way back to Rome.[154]

To protect Rome's eastern territories from the Parthian Empire, Augustus relied on the client states of the east to act as territorial buffers and areas which could raise their own troops for defense.[155] To ensure security of the Empire's eastern flank, Augustus stationed a Roman army in Syria, while his skilled stepson Tiberius negotiated with the Parthians as Rome's diplomat to the East.[155] Tiberius was responsible for restoring Tigranes V to the throne of Armenia.[154] Yet arguably his greatest diplomatic achievement was negotiating with Phraates IV of Parthia (37-2 BC) in 20 BC for the return of the battle standards lost by Crassus in the Battle of Carrhae, a symbolic victory and great boost of morale for Rome.[154][155][156] Werner Eck claims that this was a great disappointment for Romans seeking to avenge Crassus' defeat by military means.[157] However, Maria Brosius explains that Augustus used the return of the standards as propaganda symbolizing the submission of Parthia to Rome. The event was celebrated in art such as the breastplate design on the statue Augustus of Prima Porta and in monuments such as the Temple of Mars Ultor ('Mars the Avenger') built to house the standards.[158]

Although Parthia always posed a threat to Rome in the east, the real battlefront was along the Rhine and Danube rivers.[155] Before the final fight with Antony, Octavian's campaigns against the tribes in Dalmatia was the first step in expanding Roman dominions to the Danube.[159] Victory in battle was not always a permanent success, as newly conquered territories were constantly retaken by Rome's enemies in Germania.[155] A prime example of Roman loss in battle was the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, where three entire legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus were destroyed with few survivors by Arminius, leader of the Cherusci, an apparent Roman ally.[160] Augustus retaliated by dispatching Tiberius and Drusus to the Rhineland to pacify it, which had some success although the battle of AD 9 brought the end to Roman expansion into Germany.[161] The Roman general Germanicus took advantage of a Cherusci civil war between Arminius and Segestes; they defeated Arminius, who fled that battle but was killed later in 19 due to treachery.[162]

Death and succession

Roman aureus struck under Augustus, c. AD 13–14. The reverse shows Tiberius riding on a quadriga, celebrating the fifteenth renewal of his tribunician power. At least six potential heirs, including Agrippa and his sons, had expired or proven incapable of succeeding Augustus, before he finally settled on Tiberius in AD 9

The illness of Augustus in 23 BC brought the problem of succession to the forefront of political issues and the public. To ensure stability, he needed to designate an heir to his unique position in Roman society and government. This was to be achieved in small, undramatic, and incremental ways that did not stir senatorial fears of monarchy.[163] If someone was to succeed his unofficial position of power, they were going to have to earn it through their own publicly-known merits.[163] Some Augustan historians argue that indications pointed toward his sister's son Marcellus, who had been quickly married to Augustus' daughter Julia the Elder.[164] Other historians dispute this due to Augustus' will read aloud to the Senate while he was seriously ill in 23 BC,[165] instead indicating a preference for Marcus Agrippa, who was Augustus' second in charge and arguably the only one of his associates who could have controlled the legions and held the Empire together.[166] After the death of Marcellus in 23 BC, Augustus married his daughter to Agrippa. This union produced five children, three sons and two daughters: Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Vipsania Julia, Agrippina the Elder, and Postumus Agrippa, so named because he was born after Marcus Agrippa died. Shortly after the Second Settlement, Agrippa was granted a five-year term of administering the eastern half of the Empire with the imperium of a proconsul and the same tribunicia potestas granted to Augustus (although not trumping Augustus' authority), his seat of governance stationed at Samos in the Cyclades.[166][167] Although this granting of power would have shown Augustus' favor for Agrippa, it was also a measure to please members of his Caesarian party by allowing one of their members to share a considerable amount of power with him.[167]

Augustus' intent to make Gaius and Lucius Caesar his heirs was apparent when he adopted them as his own children.[168] He took the consulship in 5 and 2 BC so he could personally usher them into their political careers,[169] and they were nominated for the consulships of AD 1 and 4.[170] Augustus also showed favor to his stepsons, Livia's children from her first marriage, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus and Tiberius Claudius, granting them military commands and public office, and seeming to favor Drusus. However, Drusus' marriage to Antonia, Augustus' niece, was a relationship far too embedded within the family to disturb over succession issues.[171] After Agrippa died in 12 BC, Livia's son Tiberius was ordered to divorce his own wife Vipsania and marry Agrippa's widow, Augustus' daughter Julia—as soon as a period of mourning for Agrippa had ended.[171] While Drusus' marriage to Antonia was considered an unbreakable affair, Vipsania was "only" the daughter of the late Agrippa from his first marriage.[171]

Tiberius shared in Augustus' tribune powers as of 6 BC, but shortly thereafter went into retirement, reportedly wanting no further role in politics while he exiled himself to Rhodes.[139][172] Although no specific reason is known for his departure, it could have been a combination of reasons, including a failing marriage with Julia.[139][172] It could very well have been from feelings of jealousy and being left out since Augustus' young grandchildren-turned-sons, Gaius and Lucius, joined the college of priests at an early age, were presented to spectators in a more favorable light, and were introduced to the army in Gaul.[173][174] After the early deaths of both Lucius and Gaius in AD 2 and 4 respectively, and the earlier death of his brother Drusus (9 BC), Tiberius was recalled to Rome in June AD 4, where he was adopted by Augustus on the condition that he, in turn, adopt his nephew Germanicus.[175] This continued the tradition of presenting at least two generations of heirs.[171] In that year, Tiberius was also granted the powers of a tribune and proconsul, emissaries from foreign kings had to pay their respects to him, and by 13 was awarded with his second triumph and equal level of imperium with that of Augustus.[176] The only other possible claimant as heir was Postumus Agrippa, who had been exiled by Augustus in AD 7, his banishment made permanent by senatorial decree, and Augustus officially disowned him.[177] He certainly fell out of Augustus' favor as an heir; historian Erich S. Gruen notes various contemporary sources that state Postumus Agrippa was a "vulgar young man, brutal and brutish, and of depraved character."[177]

On 19 August AD 14, Augustus died while visiting the place of his father's death at Nola, and Tiberius—who was present alongside Livia at Augustus' deathbed—was named his heir.[178] Augustus' famous last words were, "Have I played the part well? Then applaud as I exit"—referring to the play-acting and regal authority that he had put on as emperor. Publicly, though, his last words were, "Behold, I found Rome of clay, and leave her to you of marble." An enormous funerary procession of mourners traveled with Augustus' body from Nola to Rome, and on the day of his burial all public and private businesses closed for the day.[178] Tiberius and his son Drusus delivered the eulogy while standing atop two rostra.[4] Coffin-bound, Augustus' body was cremated on a pyre close to his mausoleum. It was proclaimed that Augustus joined the company of the gods as a member of the Roman pantheon.[4] In 410, during the Sack of Rome, the mausoleum was despoiled by the Goths and his ashes scattered.

Historian D.C.A. Shotter states that Augustus' policies of favoring the Julian family line over the Claudian should have been sufficient cause for Tiberius to show open disdain for Augustus after the latter's death; instead, Tiberius was always quick to rebuke those who criticized Augustus.[179] Shotter suggests that Augustus' deification, coupled with Tiberius' "extremely conservative" attitude towards religion forced Tiberius to hold back any open resentment he might have harbored.[180] Also, historian R. Shaw-Smith points to letters of Augustus to Tiberius which display affection towards Tiberius and high regard for his military merits.[181] Shotter states that Tiberius focused his anger and criticism on Gaius Asinius Gallus (for marrying Vipsania after Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce her) as well as the two young Caesars Gaius and Lucius, instead of Augustus, the real architect of his divorce and imperial demotion.[180]


Augustus' reign laid the foundations of a regime that lasted hundreds of years until the ultimate decline of the Roman Empire. Both his adoptive surname, Caesar, and his title Augustus became the permanent titles of the rulers of Roman Empire for fourteen centuries after his death, in use both at Old Rome and New Rome. In many languages, caesar became the word for emperor, as in the German Kaiser and in the Bulgarian and subsequently Russian Tsar. The cult of Divus Augustus continued until the state religion of the Empire was changed to Christianity in 391 by Theodosius I. Consequently, there are many excellent statues and busts of the first emperor. He had composed an account of his achievements, the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, to be inscribed in bronze in front of his mausoleum.[182] Copies of the text were inscribed throughout the Empire upon his death.[183] The inscriptions in Latin featured translations in Greek beside it, and were inscribed on many public edifices, such as the temple in Ankara dubbed the Monumentum Ancyranum, called the "queen of inscriptions" by historian Theodor Mommsen.[184] There are a few known written works by Augustus that have survived. This includes his poems Sicily, Epiphanus, and Ajax, an autobiography of 13 books, a philosophical treatise, and his written rebuttal to Brutus' Eulogy of Cato.[185] However, historians are able to analyze existing letters penned by Augustus to others for additional facts or clues about his personal life.[181][186]

Many consider Augustus to be Rome's greatest emperor; his policies certainly extended the Empire's life span and initiated the celebrated Pax Romana or Pax Augusta. He was intelligent, decisive, and a shrewd politician, but he was not perhaps as charismatic as Julius Caesar, and was influenced on occasion by his third wife, Livia (sometimes for the worse). Nevertheless, his legacy proved more enduring. The city of Rome was utterly transformed under Augustus, with Rome's first institutionalized police force, fire fighting force, and the establishment of the municipal prefect as a permanent office.[187] The police force was divided into cohorts of 500 men each, while the units of firemen ranged from 500 to 1,000 men each, with 7 units assigned to 14 divided city sectors.[187] A praefectus vigilum, or "Prefect of the Watch" was put in charge of the vigiles, Rome's fire brigade and police.[188] With Rome's civil wars at an end, Augustus was also able to create a standing army for the Roman Empire, fixed at a size of 28 legions of about 170,000 soldiers.[189] This was supported by numerous auxiliary units of 500 soldiers each, often recruited from recently conquered areas.[190] With his finances securing the maintenance of roads throughout Italy, Augustus also installed an official courier system of relay stations overseen by a military officer known as the praefectus vehiculorum.[191] Besides the advent of swifter communication amongst Italian polities, his extensive building of roads throughout Italy also allowed Rome's armies to march swiftly and at an unprecedented pace across the country.[192] In the year 6 Augustus established the aerarium militare, donating 170 million sesterces to the new military treasury that provided for both active and retired soldiers.[193] One of the most lasting institutions of Augustus was the establishment of the Praetorian Guard in 27 BC, originally a personal bodyguard unit on the battlefield that evolved into an imperial guard as well as an important political force in Rome.[194] They had the power to intimidate the Senate, install new emperors, and depose ones they disliked; the last emperor they served was Maxentius, as it was Constantine I who disbanded them in the early 4th century and destroyed their barracks, the Castra Praetoria.[195]

Augustus in an Egyptian-style depiction, a stone carving of the Kalabsha Temple in Nubia

Although the most powerful individual in the Roman Empire, Augustus wished to embody the spirit of Republican virtue and norms. He also wanted to relate to and connect with the concerns of the plebs and lay people. He achieved this through various means of generosity and a cutting back of lavish excess. In the year 29 BC, Augustus paid 400 sesterces each to 250,000 citizens, 1,000 sesterces each to 120,000 veterans in the colonies, and spent 700 million sesterces in purchasing land for his soldiers to settle upon.[196] He also restored 82 different temples to display his care for the Roman pantheon of deities.[196] In 28 BC, he melted down 80 silver statues erected in his likeness and in honor of him, an attempt of his to appear frugal and modest.[196]

The longevity of Augustus' reign and its legacy to the Roman world should not be overlooked as a key factor in its success. As Tacitus wrote, the younger generations alive in AD 14 had never known any form of government other than the Principate.[197] Had Augustus died earlier (in 23 BC, for instance), matters might have turned out differently. The attrition of the civil wars on the old Republican oligarchy and the longevity of Augustus, therefore, must be seen as major contributing factors in the transformation of the Roman state into a de facto monarchy in these years. Augustus' own experience, his patience, his tact, and his political acumen also played their parts. He directed the future of the Empire down many lasting paths, from the existence of a standing professional army stationed at or near the frontiers, to the dynastic principle so often employed in the imperial succession, to the embellishment of the capital at the emperor's expense. Augustus' ultimate legacy was the peace and prosperity the Empire enjoyed for the next two centuries under the system he initiated. His memory was enshrined in the political ethos of the Imperial age as a paradigm of the good emperor. Every emperor of Rome adopted his name, Caesar Augustus, which gradually lost its character as a name and eventually became a title.[4] The Augustan era poets Virgil and Horace praised Augustus as a defender of Rome, an upholder of moral justice, and an individual who bore the brunt of responsibility in maintaining the empire.[198] However, for his rule of Rome and establishing the principate, Augustus has also been subjected to criticism throughout the ages. The contemporary Roman jurist Marcus Antistius Labeo (d. 10 or 11 AD), fond of the days of pre-Augustan republican liberty in which he had been born, openly criticized the Augustan regime.[199] In the beginning of his Annals, the Roman historian Tacitus (c. 56–c.117) wrote that Augustus had cunningly subverted Republican Rome into a position of slavery.[199] He continued to say that, with Augustus' death and swearing of loyalty to Tiberius, the people of Rome simply traded one slaveholder for another.[199] Tacitus, however, records two contradictory but common views of Augustus:

Fragment of a bronze equestrian statue of Augustus, 1st century AD
Intelligent people praised or criticized him in varying ways. One opinion was as follows. Filial duty and a national emergency, in which there was no place for law-abiding conduct, had driven him to civil war--and this can neither be initiated nor maintained by decent methods. He had made many concessions to Anthony and to Lepidus for the sake of vengeance on his father's murderers. When Lepidus grew old and lazy, and Anthony's self-indulgence got the better of him, the only possible cure for the distracted country had been government by one man. However, Augustus had put the state in order not by making himself king or dictator, but by creating the Principate. The empire's frontiers were on the ocean, or distant rivers. Armies, provinces, fleets, the whole system was interrelated. Roman citizens were protected by the law. Provincials were decently treated. Rome itself had been lavishly beautified. Force had been sparingly used--merely to preserve peace for the majority.[200]

According to the second opposing opinion:

filial duty and national crisis had been merely pretexts. In actual fact, the motive of Octavian, the future Augustus, was lust for power...There had certainly been peace, but it was a blood-stained peace of disasters and assassinations.[201]

In a recent biography on Augustus, Anthony Everitt asserts that through the centuries, judgments on Augustus' reign have oscillated between these two extremes but stresses that:

"Opposites do not have to be mutually exclusive, and we are not obliged to choose one or the other. The story of his career shows that Augustus was indeed ruthless, cruel, and ambitious for himself. This was only in part a personal trait, for upper-class Romans were educated to compete with one another and to excel. However, he combined an overriding concern for his personal interests with a deep-seated patriotism, based on a nostalgia of Rome's antique virtues. In his capacity as princeps, selfishness and selflessness coexisted in his mind. While fighting for dominance, he paid little attention to legality or to the normal civilities of political life. He was devious, untrustworthy, and bloodthirsty. But once he had established his authority, he governed efficiently and justly, generally allowed freedom of speech, and promoted the rule of law. He was immensely hardworking and tried as hard as any democratic parliamentarian to treat his senatorial colleagues with respect and sensitivity. He suffered from no delusions of grandeur."[202]

Tacitus was of the belief that Nerva (r. 96–98) successfully "mingled two formerly alien ideas, principate and liberty."[203] The 3rd century historian Cassius Dio acknowledged Augustus as a benign, moderate ruler, yet like most other historians after the death of Augustus, Dio viewed Augustus as an autocrat.[199] The poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (39–65 AD) was of the opinion that Caesar's victory over Pompey and the fall of Cato the Younger (95 BC–46 BC) marked the end of traditional liberty in Rome; historian Chester G. Starr, Jr. writes of his avoidance of criticizing Augustus, "perhaps Augustus was too sacred a figure to accuse directly."[203]

The Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), in his Discourse on the Contests and Dissentions in Athens and Rome, criticized Augustus for installing tyranny over Rome, and likened what he believed Great Britain's virtuous constitutional monarchy to Rome's moral Republic of the 2nd century BC.[204] In his criticism of Augustus, the admiral and historian Thomas Gordon (1658–1741) compared Augustus to the puritanical tyrant Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658).[204] Thomas Gordon and the French political philosopher Montesquieu (1689–1755) both remarked that Augustus was a coward in battle.[205] In his Memoirs of the Court of Augustus, the Scottish scholar Thomas Blackwell (1701–1757) deemed Augustus a Machiavellian ruler, "a bloodthirsty vindicative usurper", "wicked and worthless", "a mean spirit", and a "tyrant".[205]

Revenue reforms

Coin of Augustus found at the Pudukottai hoard, from an ancient Tamil country, Pandyan Kingdom of present day Tamil Nadu in India. British Museum.
Indian imitation of a coin of Augustus. 1st century. British Museum.
Coin of the Himyarite Kingdom, southern coast of the Arabian peninsula. This is also an imitation of a coin of Augustus. 1st century.

Augustus' public revenue reforms had a great impact on the subsequent success of the Empire. Augustus brought a far greater portion of the Empire's expanded land base under consistent, direct taxation from Rome, instead of exacting varying, intermittent, and somewhat arbitrary tributes from each local province as Augustus' predecessors had done.[206] This reform greatly increased Rome's net revenue from its territorial acquisitions, stabilized its flow, and regularized the financial relationship between Rome and the provinces, rather than provoking fresh resentments with each new arbitrary exaction of tribute.[206] The measures of taxation in the reign of Augustus were determined by population census, with fixed quotas for each province.[207] Citizens of Rome and Italy paid indirect taxes, while direct taxes were exacted from the provinces.[207] Indirect taxes included a 4% tax on the price of slaves, a 1% tax on goods sold at auction, and a 5% tax on the inheritance of estates valued at over 100,000 sesterces by persons other than the next of kin.[207]

An equally important reform was the abolition of private tax farming, which was replaced by salaried civil service tax collectors. Private contractors that raised taxes had been the norm in the Republican era, and some had grown powerful enough to influence the amount of votes for politicians in Rome.[206] The tax farmers had gained great infamy for their depredations, as well as great private wealth, by winning the right to tax local areas.[206] Rome's revenue was the amount of the successful bids, and the tax farmers' profits consisted of any additional amounts they could forcibly wring from the populace with Rome's blessing. Lack of effective supervision, combined with tax farmers' desire to maximize their profits, had produced a system of arbitrary exactions that was often barbarously cruel to taxpayers, widely (and accurately) perceived as unfair, and very harmful to investment and the economy.

The use of Egypt's immense land rents to finance the Empire's operations resulted from Augustus' conquest of Egypt and the shift to a Roman form of government.[208] As it was effectively considered Augustus' private property rather than a province of the Empire, it became part of each succeeding emperor's patrimonium.[209] Instead of a legate or proconsul, Augustus installed a prefect from the equestrian class to administer Egypt and maintain its lucrative seaports; this position became the highest political achievement for any equestrian besides becoming Prefect of the Praetorian Guard.[210] The highly productive agricultural land of Egypt yielded enormous revenues that were available to Augustus and his successors to pay for public works and military expeditions,[208] as well as bread and circuses for the population of Rome.

Month of August

The month of August (Latin: Augustus) is named after Augustus; until his time it was called Sextilis (named so because it had been the sixth month of the original Roman calendar and the Latin word for six was sex). Commonly-repeated lore has it that August has 31 days because Augustus wanted his month to match the length of Julius Caesar's July, but this is an invention of the 13th century scholar Johannes de Sacrobosco. Sextilis in fact had 31 days before it was renamed, and it was not chosen for its length (see Julian calendar). According to a senatus consultum quoted by Macrobius, Sextilis was renamed to honor Augustus because several of the most significant events in his rise to power, culminating in the fall of Alexandria, fell in that month.[211](Note that it was not his birthday month.)

Building projects

Close up on the sculpted detail of the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace), 13 BC to 9 BC.

On his deathbed, Augustus boasted "I found Rome of bricks; I leave it to you of marble". Although there is some truth in the literal meaning of this, Cassius Dio asserts that it was a metaphor for the Empire's strength.[212] Marble could be found in buildings of Rome before Augustus, but it was not extensively used as a building material until the reign of Augustus.[213] Although this did not apply to the Subura slums, which were still as rickety and fire-prone as ever, he did leave a mark on the monumental topography of the centre and of the Campus Martius, with the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) and monumental sundial, whose central gnomon was an obelisk taken from Egypt.[214] The relief sculptures decorating the Ara Pacis visually augmented the written record of Augustus' triumphs in the Res Gestae.[215] Its reliefs depicted the imperial pageants of the praetorians, the Vestals, and the citizenry of Rome.[215] He also built the Temple of Caesar, the Baths of Agrippa, and the Forum of Augustus with its Temple of Mars Ultor. Other projects were either encouraged by him, such as the Theatre of Balbus, and Agrippa's construction of the Pantheon, or funded by him in the name of others, often relations (e.g. Portico of Octavia, Theatre of Marcellus). Even his Mausoleum of Augustus was built before his death to house members of his family.[216] To celebrate his victory at the Battle of Actium, the Arch of Augustus was built in 29 BC near the entrance of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, and widened in 19 BC to include a triple-arch design.[213] There are also many buildings outside of the city of Rome that bear Augustus' name and legacy, such as the Theatre of Merida in modern Spain, the Maison Carrée built at Nîmes in today's southern France, as well as the Trophy of Augustus at La Turbie, located near Monaco.

The Temple of Augustus and Livia in Vienne, late 1st century BC.

After the death of Agrippa in 12 BC, a solution had to be found in maintaining Rome's water supply system. This came about because it was overseen by Agrippa when he served as aedile, and was even funded by him afterwards when he was a private citizen paying at his own expense.[187] In that year, Augustus arranged a system where the Senate designated three of its members as prime commissioners in charge of the water supply and to ensure that Rome's aqueducts did not fall into disrepair.[187] In the late Augustan era, the commission of five senators called the curatores locorum publicorum iudicandorum (translated as "Supervisors of Public Property") was put in charge of maintaining public buildings and temples of the state cult.[187] Augustus created the senatorial group of the curatores viarum (translated as "Supervisors for Roads") for the upkeep of roads; this senatorial commission worked with local officials and contractors to organize regular repairs.[191]

The Corinthian order of architectural style originating from ancient Greece was the dominant architectural style in the age of Augustus and the imperial phase of Rome.[213] Suetonius once commented that Rome was unworthy of its status as an imperial capital, yet Augustus and Agrippa set out to dismantle this sentiment by transforming the appearance of Rome upon the classical Greek model.[213]

Physical appearance

The biographer Suetonius describes Augustus' outward appearance as follows: "He was unusually handsome ... He had clear, bright eyes ... His teeth were wide apart, small, and ill-kept; his hair was slightly curly and inclining to golden; his eyebrows met. His ears were of moderate size, and his nose projected a little at the top and then bent ever so slightly inward. His complexion was between dark and fair. He was short of stature ..."[217]



Augustus's only child was his daughter. Despite the large number of his descendants, the line was apparently extinct less than one hundred and seventy years after his death.

1. Julia the Elder, 39BC - AD14, had 5 children;
A. Gaius Caesar, 20BC - AD4, died without issue
B. Julia the Younger, 19BC - AD28, had 2 children;
I. Aemilia Lepida (fiancee of Claudius), 4BC - AD53, had 5 children;
a. Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus, 14 - 54, had 1 child;
i. Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus the younger, 50 - 66, died young
b. Junia Calvina, 15 - 79, died without issue
c. Decimus Junius Silanus Torquatus, d. 64 without issue
d. Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus the elder, d. 49 without issue
e. Junia Lepida, ca 18 - 65, had 2 children;
i. Cassia Longina, ca 35 - ?; had 2 children;
i. Domitia Corbula, had 1 child;
i. unknown son
ii. Domitia Longina, c. 53 - 130, wife of Domitian
ii. Cassius Lepidus, ca 55 - ?, 1 child;
i. Cassia Lepida, ca 80 - ?; had 1 child;
i. Julia Cassia Alexandria, had 1 child;
i. Gaius Avidius Cassius, ca 130 - 175; had 3 children;
i. Avidius Heliodorus
ii. Avidius Maecianus
iii. Avidia Alexandria
II. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (executed 39), 6 - 39, died without issue
C. Lucius Caesar, 17BC - AD2, died without issue
D. Agrippina the Elder, 14BC - AD33, had 6 children;
I. Nero Caesar, 6 - 30, died without issue
II. Drusus Caesar, 7 - 33, died without issue
III. Caligula, 12 - 41, had 1 child;
a. Julia Drusilla, 39 - 41, died young
IV. Agrippina the Younger, 15 - 59, had 1 child;
a. Nero, 37 - 68, had 1 child;
i. Claudia Augusta, Jan. 63 - April 63; died young
V. Drusilla (sister of Caligula), 16 - 38, died without issue
VI. Julia Livilla, 18 - 42, died without issue
E. Agrippa Postumus, 12BC - AD14, died without issue

See also


  1. ^ The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian after 45 BC. Due to departures from Julius Caesar's intentions, Augustus restored the Julian calendar in 8 BC, and the correspondence between the proleptic Julian calendar and the actual calendar observed in Rome is uncertain before 8 BC.(Blackburn & Holford-Strevens 2003: 670–1)
  2. ^ Formally Imperator Caesar, Divi filius, Augustus which means Imperator Caesar, Son of the Divus (Divus Julius), Augustus.
  3. ^ Some provinces were governed by the Senate.
  4. ^ Suetonius, Augustus The "Marcus Octavius" vetoing the agrarian law suggested by Tiberius Gracchus in 133 BC was possibly his ancestor. 1–4.


  1. ^ Gruen (2005), 35.
  2. ^ Dio (1987), 153.
  3. ^ a b Eck (2003), 3.
  4. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 124.
  5. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 7
  6. ^ 5–6 on-line text.
  7. ^ Rowell (1962), 14.
  8. ^ Chisholm (1981), 23.
  9. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 4–8; Nicolaus of Damascus, Augustus 3.
  10. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 8.1; Quintilian, 12.6.1.
  11. ^ a b Suetonius, Augustus 8.1
  12. ^ Nicolaus of Damascus, Augustus 4.
  13. ^ a b c Rowell (1962), 16.
  14. ^ Nicolaus of Damascus, Augustus 6.
  15. ^ Velleius Paterculus 2.59.3.
  16. ^ Suetonius, Julius 83.
  17. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 9.
  18. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 3.9–11.
  19. ^ His daughter Julia had died in 54 BC.
  20. ^ Rowell (1962), 15.
  21. ^ Mackay (2004), 160.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Eck (2003), 10.
  23. ^ Southern, Augustus pp.20-21
  24. ^ Southern, Augustus pp.21
  25. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 68, 71.
  26. ^ a b Eck (2003), 9–10.
  27. ^ a b Rowell (1962), 19.
  28. ^ Rowell (1962), 18.
  29. ^ Eder (2005), 18.
  30. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 3.11–12.
  31. ^ Chisholm (1981), 24.
  32. ^ Chisholm (1981), 27.
  33. ^ Rowell (1962), 20.
  34. ^ Eck (2003), 11.
  35. ^ Syme (1939), 114–120.
  36. ^ Chisholm (1981), 26.
  37. ^ Rowell (1962), 30.
  38. ^ Eck (2003), 11–12.
  39. ^ Rowell (1962), 21.
  40. ^ Syme (1939), 123–126.
  41. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 12.
  42. ^ a b c Rowell (1962), 23.
  43. ^ Rowell (1962), 24.
  44. ^ Chisholm (1981), 29.
  45. ^ Chisholm (1981), 30.
  46. ^ Rowell (1962), 19–20.
  47. ^ Syme (1939), 167.
  48. ^ Syme (1939), 173–174
  49. ^ Scullard (1982), 157.
  50. ^ Rowell (1962), 26–27.
  51. ^ a b c Rowell (1962), 27.
  52. ^ Chisholm (1981), 32–33.
  53. ^ Eck (2003), 14.
  54. ^ Rowell (1962), 28.
  55. ^ Syme (1939), 176–186.
  56. ^ Sear, David R. "Common Legend Abbreviations On Roman Coins". Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  57. ^ a b Eck (2003), 15.
  58. ^ Scullard (1982), 163.
  59. ^ a b Eck (2003), 16.
  60. ^ Southern (1998), 52-53.
  61. ^ Scullard (1982), 164.
  62. ^ a b Scott (1933), 19-20.
  63. ^ a b c Scott (1933), 19.
  64. ^ Scott (1933), 20.
  65. ^ Syme (1939), 202.
  66. ^ Eck (2003), 17.
  67. ^ a b Eck (2003), 17–18.
  68. ^ a b Eck (2003), 18.
  69. ^ Eck (2003), 18–19.
  70. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 19.
  71. ^ a b Rowell (1962), 32.
  72. ^ a b c d e Eck (2003), 20.
  73. ^ Scullard (1982), 162
  74. ^ Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus
  75. ^ a b c d Eck (2003) 21.
  76. ^ a b c d Eder (2005), 19.
  77. ^ a b Eck (2003), 22.
  78. ^ Eck (2003), 23.
  79. ^ Scullard (1982), 163
  80. ^ a b Eck (2003), 24.
  81. ^ a b Eck (2003), 25.
  82. ^ Eck (2003), 25–26.
  83. ^ a b c d e Eck (2003), 26.
  84. ^ Scullard (1982), 164
  85. ^ Eck (2003), 26–27.
  86. ^ Eck (2003), 27–28.
  87. ^ Eck (2003), 29.
  88. ^ Eck (2003), 29–30.
  89. ^ a b Eck (2003), 30.
  90. ^ Eder (2005), 20.
  91. ^ Eck (2003), 31.
  92. ^ Eck (2003), 32–34.
  93. ^ Eck (2003), 34.
  94. ^ Eck (2003), 34–35
  95. ^ Eder (2005), 21–22.
  96. ^ Eck (2003), 35.
  97. ^ Eder (2005), 22.
  98. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 37.
  99. ^ Eck (2003), 38.
  100. ^ Eck (2003), 38–39.
  101. ^ Eck (2003), 39.
  102. ^ Green (1990), 697.
  103. ^ Scullard (1982), 171.
  104. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 49.
  105. ^ Gruen (2005), 34–35.
  106. ^ a b c d CCAA, 24–25.
  107. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 38–39.
  108. ^ a b c d e Eck (2003), 45.
  109. ^ Eck (2003), 44–45.
  110. ^ Eck (2003), 113.
  111. ^ a b Eck (2003), 80.
  112. ^ a b Scullard (1982), 211.
  113. ^ a b Eck (2003), 46.
  114. ^ Scullard (1982), 210.
  115. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 34.
  116. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 47.
  117. ^ a b c d Eder (2005), 24.
  118. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 50.
  119. ^ Eck (2003), 149
  120. ^ Eck (2003), 3, 149.
  121. ^ Eder (2005), 13.
  122. ^ a b c d Eder (2005), 25.
  123. ^ Eck (2003), 55.
  124. ^ Eck (2003), 55–56.
  125. ^ a b c d e f Eck (2003), 56.
  126. ^ Gruen (2005), 38.
  127. ^ a b c d e Eder (2005), 26.
  128. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 57.
  129. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 36.
  130. ^ Gruen (2005), 37.
  131. ^ Eck (2003), 56–57.
  132. ^ Eck (2003), 57–58.
  133. ^ Eck (2003), 59.
  134. ^ a b Eder (2005), 30.
  135. ^ Bunson (1994), 80.
  136. ^ Bunson (1994), 427.
  137. ^ a b Eck (2003), 60.
  138. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 61.
  139. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 117.
  140. ^ Dio 54.1, 6, 10.
  141. ^ Eck (2003), 78.
  142. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 43.
  143. ^ Bowersock (1990), p. 380. The date is provided by inscribed calendars; see also Augustus, Res Gestae 10.2. Dio 27.2 reports this under 13 BC, probably as the year in which Lepidus died (Bowersock (1990), p. 383).
  144. ^ Eder (2005), 28.
  145. ^ Mackay (2004), 186.
  146. ^ Eck (2003), 129.
  147. ^ a b c Eck (2003), 93.
  148. ^ Eck (2003), 95.
  149. ^ a b c d e f g Eck (2003), 94.
  150. ^ a b Eck (2003), 97.
  151. ^ Eck (2003), 98.
  152. ^ Eck (2003), 98–99.
  153. ^ a b Eck (2003), 99.
  154. ^ a b c Bunson (1994), 416.
  155. ^ a b c d e Eck (2003), 96.
  156. ^ Brosius (2006), 96-97, 136-138.
  157. ^ Eck (2003), 95–96.
  158. ^ Brosius (2006), 97.
  159. ^ Rowell (1962), 13.
  160. ^ Eck (2003), 101–102.
  161. ^ Bunson (1994), 417.
  162. ^ Bunson (1994), 31.
  163. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 50.
  164. ^ Eck (2003), 114–115.
  165. ^ Eck (2003), 115.
  166. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 44.
  167. ^ a b Eck (2003), 58.
  168. ^ Syme (1939), 416–417.
  169. ^ Scullard (1982), 217.
  170. ^ Syme (1939), 417.
  171. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 116.
  172. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 46.
  173. ^ Eck (2003), 117–118.
  174. ^ Gruen (2005), 46–47.
  175. ^ Eck (2003), 119.
  176. ^ Eck (2003), 119–120.
  177. ^ a b Gruen (2005), 49.
  178. ^ a b Eck (2003), 123.
  179. ^ Shotter (1966), 210–212.
  180. ^ a b Shotter (1966), 211.
  181. ^ a b Shaw-Smith (1971), 213.
  182. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 101.4.
  183. ^ Eck (2003), 1–2
  184. ^ Eck (2003), 2.
  185. ^ Bunson (1994), 47.
  186. ^ Bourne (1918), 53–66.
  187. ^ a b c d e Eck (2003), 79.
  188. ^ Bunson (1994), 345.
  189. ^ Eck (2003), 85–87.
  190. ^ Eck (2003), 86.
  191. ^ a b Eck (2003), 81.
  192. ^ Chisholm (1981), 122.
  193. ^ Bunson (1994), 6.
  194. ^ Bunson (1994), 341.
  195. ^ Bunson (1994), 341–342.
  196. ^ a b c Eder (2005), 23.
  197. ^ Tacitus, Annals I.3
  198. ^ Kelsall (1976), 120.
  199. ^ a b c d Starr (1952), 5.
  200. ^ Tacitus, The Annals, I 9
  201. ^ Tacitus, The Annals, I 10
  202. ^ Everitt (2006), 324–325.
  203. ^ a b Starr (1952), 6.
  204. ^ a b Kelsall (1976), 118.
  205. ^ a b Kelsall (1976), 119.
  206. ^ a b c d Eck (2003), 83–84.
  207. ^ a b c Bunson (1994), 404.
  208. ^ a b Bunson (1994), 144.
  209. ^ Bunson (1994), 144–145.
  210. ^ Bunson (1994), 145.
  211. ^ Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.12.35.
  212. ^ Dio 56.30.3
  213. ^ a b c d Bunson (1994), 34.
  214. ^ Eck (2003), 122.
  215. ^ a b Bunson (1994), 32.
  216. ^ Eck (2003), 118–121
  217. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 79, translated by J. C. Rolfe.


  • Blackburn, Bonnie & Holford-Strevens, Leofranc. (1999). The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford University Press. Reprinted with corrections 2003.
  • Bourne, Ella. "Augustus as a Letter-Writer," Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association (Volume 49, 1918): 53–66.
  • Bowersock, G. W. (1990). "The Pontificate of Augustus". in Kurt A. Raaflaub and Mark Toher (eds.). Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 380–394. ISBN 0-520-08447-0. 
  • Brosius, Maria. (2006). The Persians: An Introduction. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32089-5 (hbk).
  • Bunson, Matthew. (1994). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts on File Inc. ISBN 0-8160-3182-7
  • Chisholm, Kitty and John Ferguson. (1981). Rome: The Augustan Age; A Source Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press, in association with the Open University Press. ISBN 0198721080
  • Dio, Cassius. (1987) The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus. Translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044448-3.
  • Eck, Werner; translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider; new material by Sarolta A. Takács. (2003) The Age of Augustus. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing (hardcover, ISBN 0-631-22957-4; paperback, ISBN 0-631-22958-2).
  • Eder, Walter. (2005). "Augustus and the Power of Tradition," in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus (Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World), ed. Karl Galinsky, 13–32. Cambridge, MA; New York: Cambridge University Press (hardcover, ISBN 0-521-80796-4; paperback, ISBN 0-521-00393-8).
  • Everitt, Anthony (2006) Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor. Random House Books. ISBN 1400061288.
  • Green, Peter (1990). Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age. Hellenistic Culture and Society. Berkeley, CA; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05611-6 (hbk.); ISBN 0-520-08349-0 (pbk.). 
  • Gruen, Erich S. (2005). "Augustus and the Making of the Principate," in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus (Cambridge Companions to the Ancient World), ed. Karl Galinsky, 33–51. Cambridge, MA; New York: Cambridge University Press (hardcover, ISBN 0-521-80796-4; paperback, ISBN 0-521-00393-8).
  • Kelsall, Malcolm. "Augustus and Pope," The Huntington Library Quarterly (Volume 39, Number 2, 1976): 117–131.
  • Mackay, Christopher S. (2004). Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521809185. 
  • Scott, Kenneth. "The Political Propaganda of 44-30 B.C." Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, Vol. 11, (1933), pp. 7–49.
  • Scullard, H. H. (1982) [1959]. From the Gracchi to Nero: A History of Rome from 133 B.C. to A.D. 68 (5th ed.). London; New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415025273. 
  • Shaw-Smith, R. "A Letter from Augustus to Tiberius," Greece & Rome (Volume 18, Number 2, 1971): 213–214.
  • Shotter, D.C.A. "Tiberius and the Spirit of Augustus," Greece & Rome (Volume 13, Number 2, 1966): 207–212.
  • Southern, Pat. (1998). Augustus. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415166314.
  • Starr, Chester G., Jr. "The Perfect Democracy of the Roman Empire," The American Historical Review (Volume 58, Number 1, 1952): 1–16.
  • Syme, Ronald (1939). The Roman Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280320-4 (pbk.). 
  • Rowell, Henry Thompson. (1962). The Centers of Civilization Series: Volume 5; Rome in the Augustan Age. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-0956-4

Further reading

  • Bleicken, Jochen. (1998). Augustus. Eine Biographie. Berlin.
  • Galinsky, Karl. Augustan Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998 (paperback, ISBN 0-691-05890-3).
  • Lewis, P. R. and G. D. B. Jones, Roman gold-mining in north-west Spain, Journal of Roman Studies 60 (1970): 169–85
  • Jones, R. F. J. and Bird, D. G., Roman gold-mining in north-west Spain, II: Workings on the Rio Duerna, Journal of Roman Studies 62 (1972): 59–74.
  • Jones, A.H.M. "The Imperium of Augustus", The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 41, Parts 1 and 2. (1951), pp. 112–119.
  • Jones, A.H.M. Augustus. London: Chatto & Windus, 1970 (paperback, ISBN 0-7011-1626-9).
  • Osgood, Josiah. Caesar's Legacy: Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press (USA), 2006 (hardback, ISBN 0-521-85582-9; paperback, ISBN 0-521-67177-9).
  • Raaflaub, Kurt A. & Toher, Mark (eds.). Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and His Principate. Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993 (paperback, ISBN 0-520-08447-0).
  • Reinhold, Meyer. The Golden Age of Augustus (Aspects of Antiquity). Toronto, ON: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1978 (hardcover, ISBN 0-89522-007-5; paperback, ISBN 0-89522-008-3).
  • Roebuck, C. (1966). The World of Ancient Times. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Southern, Pat. Augustus (Roman Imperial Biographies). New York: Routledge, 1998 (hardcover, ISBN 0-415-16631-4); 2001 (paperback, ISBN 0-415-25855-3).
  • Zanker, Paul. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Thomas Spencer Jerome Lectures). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1989 (hardcover, ISBN 0-472-10101-3); 1990 (paperback, ISBN 0-472-08124-1).

External links

Primary sources
Secondary source material

Related information

Born: 23 September 63 BC Died: 19 August 14 AD
Political offices
Preceded by
Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus
Consul (Suffect.) of the Roman Republic
Quintus Pedius
43 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Lucius Munatius Plancus
Preceded by
Marcus Antonius and Lucius Scribonius Libo and Aemilius Lepidus Paullus (Suffect.)
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Volcatius Tullus
33 BC
Succeeded by
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Gaius Sosius
Preceded by
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Gaius Sosius
Consul of the Roman Empire
31 BC – 23 BC
Succeeded by
Marcus Claudius Marcellus Aeserninus and Lucius Arruntius
Preceded by
Decius Laelius Balbus and Gnaeus Antistius Vetus
Consul of the Roman Empire
5 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Calvisius Sabinus and Lucius Passienus Rufus
Preceded by
Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus
Consul of the Roman Empire
2 BC
Succeeded by
Cossus Cornelius Lentulus and Lucius Calpurnius Piso
Preceded by
Julius Caesar
Head of Julio-Claudian Family
44 BC – AD 14
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New creation
Roman Emperor
27 BC – AD 14
Preceded by
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
Pontifex Maximus
12 BC – AD 14


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon.
I declined to be made Pontifex Maximus in succession to a colleague still living, when the people tendered me that priesthood which my father had held. Several years later I accepted that sacred office when he at last was dead...

Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus (23 September 63 BC - 19 August 14), born Gaius Octavius, was the adopted son of Julius Caesar and the first Roman Emperor. He also became a pontiff and later Pontifex Maximus.



  • If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance; but since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.
  • If I have played my part well, clap your hands, and dismiss me with applause from the stage.
    • Statement made as he was dying, as quoted in The Fall of the Roman Empire (2007) by Rita J. Markel, p. 126
  • To seek to keep the established constitution unchanged argues a good citizen and a good man.
    • Of Cato, as quoted in An Examination of the Isis Cult with Preliminary Exploration into New Testament Studies (2008) by Elizabeth A. McCabe

Res Gestae Divi Augusti

Res Gestae Divi Augusti as translated in Loeb Library edition (1924)
  • At the age of nineteen, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army by means of which I restored liberty to the republic, which had been oppressed by the tyranny of a faction. For which service the senate, with complimentary resolutions, enrolled me in its order...
  • Those who slew my father I drove into exile, punishing their deed by due process of law, and afterwards when they waged war upon the republic I twice defeated them in battle.
  • Wars, both civil and foreign, I undertook throughout the world, on sea and land, and when victorious I spared all citizens who sued for pardon. The foreign nations which could with safety be pardoned I preferred to save rather than to destroy.
  • I declined to be made Pontifex Maximus in succession to a colleague still living, when the people tendered me that priesthood which my father had held. Several years later I accepted that sacred office when he at last was dead who, taking advantage of a time of civil disturbance, had seized it for himself, such a multitude from all Italy assembling for my election, in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius, as is never recorded to have been in Rome before.


  • Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young.
  • Practice, the master of all things.
  • Hasten deliberately.
    • Variant: Make haste slowly.
  • You cheer my heart, who build as if Rome would be eternal.
  • Two Caesars is one too many.
    • Said upon ordering the death of Caesarion, son of Cleopatra and (allegedly) Julius Caesar.
  • If Agrippa and Maecenas had been alive, they never would have allowed it.
    • Said after having lost his temper during a meeting of the Senate
  • The birds will soon settle that question
    • Said after a request was made by a father and son to have an honorable burial
  • May it be my privilege to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a firm and secure basis and thus enjoy the reward which I desire, but only if I may be called the author of the best possible government; and bear with me the hope when I die that the foundations which I have laid for its future government, will stand firm and stable.
  • Livia, keep our marriage alive, and farewell.
    • Said to Livia on his deathbed

About Augustus

  • He could boast that he inherited it brick and left it marble.
    • Suetonius, of Augustus and the city of Rome, in Lives of the Caesars
  • He [Julius Caesar] learned that Alexander, having completed nearly all his conquests by the time he was thirty-two years old, was at an utter loss to know what he should do during the rest of his life, whereat Augustus expressed his surprise that Alexander did not regard it as a greater task to set in order the empire which he had won than to win it.
  • The story of his career shows that Augustus was indeed ruthless, cruel, and ambitious for himself. This was only in part a personal trait, for upper-class Romans were educated to compete with one another and to excel. However, he combined an overriding concern for his personal interests with a deep-seated patriotism, based on a nostalgia of Rome's antique virtues. In his capacity as princeps, selfishness and selflessness coexisted in his mind. While fighting for dominance, he paid little attention to legality or to the normal civilities of political life. He was devious, untrustworthy, and bloodthirsty. But once he had established his authority, he governed efficiently and justly, generally allowed freedom of speech, and promoted the rule of law. He was immensely hardworking and tried as hard as any democratic parliamentarian to treat his senatorial colleagues with respect and sensitivity. He suffered from no delusions of grandeur.
    • Anthony Everitt in Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor (2006)

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AUGUSTUS (a name 1 derived from Lat. augeo, increase, i.e. venerable, majestic, Gr. E€(3aare), the title given by the Roman senate, on the 17th of January 27 B.C., to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (63 B.C.-A.D. 14), or as he was originally designated, Gaius Octavius, in recognition of his eminent services to the state (Mon. Anc. 34), and borne by him as the first of the Roman emperors. The title was adopted by all the succeeding Caesars or emperors of Rome long after they had ceased to be connected by blood with the first Augustus.

Gaius Octavius was born in Rome on the 23rd of September 63 B.C.,the year of Cicero's consulship and of Catiline's conspiracy. He came of a family of good standing, long settled at Velitrae (Velletri), but his father was the first of the family to obtain a curule magistracy at Rome and senatorial dignity. His mother, however, was Atia, daughter of Julia, the wife of M. Atius Balbus, and sister of Julius Caesar, and it was this connexion with the great dictator which determined his career. In his fifth year (58 B.C.) his father died; about a year later his mother ' On the name see Neumann, in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopadie f. cl. alterth., s.v., 2374.

remarried, and the young Octavius passed under her care to that of his stepfather, L. Marcius Philippus. At the age of twelve (51 B.C.) he delivered the customary funeral panegyric on his grandmother Julia, his first public appearance. On the r 8th of October 48 (or ? 47) B.C. he assumed the "toga virilis" and was elected into the pontifical college, an exceptional honour which he no doubt owed to his great-uncle, now dictator and master of Rome. In 46 B.C. he shared in the glory of Caesar's African triumph, and in 45 he was made a patrician by the senate, and designated as one of Caesar's "masters of the horse" for the next year. In the autumn of 45, Caesar, who was planning his Parthian campaign, sent his nephew to study quietly at the Greek colony of Apollonia, in Illyria. Here the news of Caesar's murder reached him and he crossed to Italy. On landing he learnt that Caesar had made him his heir and adopted him into the Julian gens, whereby he acquired the designation of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. The inheritance was a perilous one; his mother and others would have dissuaded him from accepting it, but he, confident in his abilities, declared at once that he would undertake its obligations, and discharge the sums bequeathed by the dictator to the Roman people. Mark Antony had possessed himself of Caesar's papers and effects, and made light of his young nephew's pretensions. Brutus and Cassius paid him little regard, and dispersed to their respective provinces. Cicero, much charmed at the attitude of Antonius, hoped to make use of him, and flattered him to the utmost, with the expectation, however, of getting rid of him as soon as he had served his purpose. Octavianus conducted himself with consummate adroitness, making use of all competitors for power, but assisting none. Considerable forces attached themselves to him. The senate, when it armed the consuls against Antonius, called upon him for assistance; and he took part in the campaign in which Antonius was defeated at Mutina (43 B.C.). The soldiers of Octavianus demanded the consulship for him, and the senate, though now much alarmed, could not prevent his election. He now effected a coalition with Antonius and Lepidus, and on the 27th of November 43 B.C. the three were formally appointed a triumvirate for the reconstitution of the commonwealth for five years. They divided the western provinces among them, the east being held for the republic by Brutus and Cassius. They drew up a list of proscribed citizens, and caused the assassination of three hundred senators and two thousand knights. They further confiscated the territories of many cities throughout Italy, and divided them among their soldiers. Cicero was murdered at the demand of Antonius. The remnant of the republican party took refuge either with Brutus and Cassius in the East, or with Sextus Pompeius, who had made himself master of the seas.

Octavianus and Antonius crossed the Adriatic in 42 B.C. to reduce the last defenders of the republic. Brutus and Cassius were defeated, and fell at the battle of Philippi. War soon broke out between the victors, the chief incident of which was the siege and capture by famine of Perusia, and the alleged sacrifice of three hundred of its defenders by the young Caesar at the altar of his uncle. But peace was again made between them (40 B.C.). Antonius married Octavia, his rival's sister, and took for himself the eastern half of the empire, leaving the west to Caesar. Lepidus was reduced to the single province of Africa. Meanwhile Sextus Pompeius made himself formidable by cutting off the supplies of grain from Rome. The triumvirs were obliged to concede to him the islands in the western Mediterranean. But Octavianus could not allow the capital to be kept in alarm for its daily sustenance. He picked a quarrel with Sextus, and when his colleagues failed to support him, undertook to attack him alone. Antonius, indeed, came at last to his aid, in return for military assistance in the campaign he meditated in the East. But Octavianus was well served by the commander of his fleet, M. Vipsanius Agrippa. Sextus was completely routed, and driven into Asia, where he perished soon afterwards (36 B.C.). Lepidus was an object of contempt to all parties, and Octavianus and Antonius remained to fight for supreme power.

The five years (36-31 B.C.) which preceded the decisive encounter between the two rivals were wasted by Antony in fruitless campaigns, and in a dalliance with Cleopatra which shocked Roman sentiment. By Octavian they were employed in strengthening his hold on the West, and his claim to be regarded as the one possible saviour of Rome and Roman civilization. His marriage with Livia (38 B.C.) placed by his side a sagacious counsellor and a loyal ally, whose services were probably as great as even those of his trusted friend Marcus Agrippa. With their help he set himself to win the confidence of a public still inclined to distrust the author of the proscriptions of 43 B.C. Brigandage was suppressed in Italy, and the safety of the Italian frontiers secured against the raids of Alpine tribes on the northwest and of Illyrians on the east, while Rome was purified and beautified, largely with the help of Agrippa (aedile in 33 B.C.). Meanwhile, indignation at Antony's un-Roman excesses, and alarm at Cleopatra's rumoured schemes of founding a GrecoOriental empire, were rapidly increasing. In 3 2 B.C. Antony's repudiation of his wife Octavia, sister of Octavian, and the discovery of his will, with its clear proofs of Cleopatra's dangerous ascendancy, brought matters to a climax, and war was declared, not indeed against Antony, but against Cleopatra.

The decisive battle was fought on the 2nd of September 31 B.C. at Actium on the Epirot coast, and resulted in the almost total destruction of Antony's fleet and the surrender of his land forces. Not quite a year later (Aug. i, 30 B.C.) followed the capture of Alexandria and the deaths by their own hands of Antony and Cleopatra. On the zith of January 29 B.C. the restoration of peace was marked by the closing of the temple of Janus for the first time for 200 years. In the summer Octavian returned to Italy, and in August celebrated a three days' triumph. He was welcomed, not as a successful combatant in a civil war, but as the man who had vindicated the sovereignty of Rome against its assailants, as the saviour of the republic and of his fellow-citizens, above all as the restorer of peace.

He was now, to quote his own words, "master of all things," and the Roman world looked to him for some permanent settlement of the distracted empire. His first task was the re-establishment of a regular and constitutional government, such as had not existed since Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon twenty years before. To this task he devoted the next eighteen months (Aug. 29 - Jan. 27 B.C.). In the article on Rome:History, his achievements are described in detail, and only a brief summary need be given here. The "principate," to give the new form of government its most appropriate name, was a compromise thoroughly characteristic of the combination of tenacity of purpose with cautious respect for forms and conventions which distinguished its author. The republic was restored; senate, magistrates and assembly resumed their ancient functions; and the public life of Rome began to run once more in the familiar grooves. The triumvirate with its irregularities and excesses was at an end. The controlling authority, which Octavian himself wielded, could not indeed be safely dispensed with. But henceforward he was to exercise it under constitutional forms and limitations, and with the express sanction of the senate and people. Octavian was legally invested for a period of ten years with the government of the important frontier provinces, with the sole command of the military and naval forces of the state, and the exclusive control of its foreign relations. At home it was understood that he would year by year be elected consul, and enjoy the powers and pre-eminence attached to the chief magistracy of the Roman state. Thus the republic was restored under the presidency and patronage of its "first citizen" (princeps civitatis). In acknowledgment of this happy settlement and of his other services further honours were conferred upon Octavian. On the r3th of January 27 B.C., the birthday of the restored republic, he was awarded the civic crown to be placed over the door of his house, in token that he had saved his fellow-citizens and restored the Republic. Four days later (Jan. 17) the senate conferred upon him the cognomen of Augustus.

But it was not only the machinery of government in Rome that needed repair. Twenty years of civil war and confusion had disorganized the empire, and the strong hand of Augustus, as he must now be called, could alone restore confidence and order. Towards the end of 27 B.C. he left Rome for Gaul, and from. that date until October 19 B.C. he was mainly occupied with the reorganization of the provinces and of the provincial administration, first of all in the West and then in the East. It was during his stay in Asia (20 B.C.) that the Parthian king Phraates voluntarily restored the Roman prisoners and standards taken at Carrhae (53 B.C.), a welcome tribute to the respect inspired by Augustus, and a happy augury for the future. In October 19 B.C. he returned to Rome, and the senate ordered that the day of his return (Oct. 12) should thenceforward be observed as a public holiday. The period of ten years for which his imperium had been granted him was nearly ended, and though much remained to be done, very much had been accomplished. The pacification of northern Spain by the subjugation of the Astures and Cantabri, the settlement of the wide territories added to the empire by Julius Caesar in Gaul - the "New Gaul," or the "long-haired Gaul" (Gallia Comata) as it was called by way of distinction from the old province of Gallia Narbonensis (see Gaul) - and the re-establishment of Roman authority over the kings and princes of the Near East, were achievements which fully justified the acclamations of senate and people.

In 18 B.C. Augustus's imperium was renewed for five years, and his tried friend Marcus Agrippa, now his son-in-law, was associated with him as a colleague. From October of 19 B.C. till the middle of 16 B.C. Augustus's main attention was given to Rome and to domestic reform, and to this period belong such measures as the Julian law "as to the marriage of the orders." In June of 17 B.C. the opening of the new and better age, which he had worked to bring about, was marked by the celebration in Rome of the Secular games. The chief actors in the ceremony were Augustus himself and his colleague Agrippa, - while, as the extant record tells us, the processional hymn, chanted by youths and maidens first before the new temple of Apollo on the Palatine and then before the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, was composed by Horace. The hymn, the well-known Carmen Saeculare, gives fervent expression to the prevalent emotions of joy and gratitude.

In the next year (16 B.C.), however, Augustus was suddenly called away from Rome to deal with a problem which engrossed much of his attention for the next twenty-five years. The defeat of Marcus Lollius, the legate commanding on the Rhine, by a horde of German invaders, seems to have determined Augustus to take in hand the whole question of the frontiers of the empire towards the north, and the effective protection of Gaul and Italy. The work was entrusted to Augustus's step-sons Tiberius and Drusus. The first step was the annexation of Noricum and Raetia (16-1 5 B.C.), which brought under Roman control the mountainous district through which the direct routes lay from North Italy to the upper waters of the Rhine and the Danube. East of Noricum Tiberius reduced to order for the time the restless tribes of Pannonia, and probably established a military post at Carnuntum on the Danube. To Drusus fell the more ambitious task of advancing the Roman frontier line from the Rhine to the Elbe, a work which occupied him until his death in Germany in 9 B.C. In 13 B.C. Augustus had returned to Rome; his return, and the conclusion of his second period of rule, were commemorated by the erection of one of the most beautiful monuments of the Augustan age, the Ara Pacis Augustae (see Roman Art, Pl. II, III). His imperium was renewed, again for five years, and in 12 B.C., on the death of his former fellow-triumvir Lepidus, he was elected Pontifex Maximus. But this third period of his imperium brought with it losses which Augustus must have keenly felt. Only a few months after his reappointment as Augustus's colleague, Marcus Agrippa, his trusted friend since boyhood, died. As was fully his due, his funeral oration was pronounced by Augustus, and he was buried in the mausoleum near the Tiber built by Augustus for himself and his family. Three years later his brilliant step-son Drusus died on his way back from a campaign in Germany, in which he had reached the Elbe. Finally in 8 B.C. he lost the comrade who next to Agrippa had been the most intimate friend and counsellor of his early manhood, Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, the patron of Virgil and Horace.

For the moment Augustus turned, almost of necessity, to his surviving step-son. Tiberius was associated with him as Agrippa had been in the tribunician power, was married against his will to Julia, and sent to complete his brother Drusus's work in Germany (7-6 B.C.). But Tiberius was only his step-son, and, with all his great qualities, was never a very lovable man. On the other hand, the two sons of Agrippa and Julia, Gaius and Lucius, were of his own blood and evidently dear to him. Both had been adopted by Augustus (1 7 B.C.). In 6 B.C. Tiberius, who had just received the tribunician power, was transferred from Germany to the East, where the situation in Armenia demanded attention. His sudden withdrawal to Rhodes has been variously explained, but, in part at least, it was probably due to the plain indications which Augustus now gave of his wish that the young Caesars should be regarded as his heirs. The elder, Gaius, now fifteen years old (5 B.C.), was formally introduced to the people as consul-designate by Augustus himself, who for this purpose resumed the consulship (12th) which he had dropped since 23 B.C., and was authorized to take part in the deliberations of the senate. Three years later (2 B.C.) Augustus, now consul for the 13th and last time, paid a similar compliment to the younger brother Lucius. In 1 B.C. Gaius was given proconsular imperium, and sent to re-establish order in Armenia, and a few years afterwards (A.D. 2) Lucius was sent to Spain, apparently to take command of the legions there. But the fates were unkind; Lucius fell sick and died at Marseilles on his way out, and in the next year (A.D. 3) Gaius, wounded by an obscure hand in Armenia, started reluctantly for home, only to die in Lycia. Tiberius alone was left, and Augustus, at once accepting facts, formally and finally declared him to be his colleague and destined successor (A.D. 4) and adopted him as his son.

The interest of the last ten years of Augustus's life centres in the events occurring on the northern frontier. The difficult task of bringing the German tribes between the Rhine and the Elbe under Roman rule, commenced by Drusus in 13 B.C., had on his death been continued by Tiberius (9-6 B.C.). During Tiberius's retirement in Rhodes no decisive progress was made, but in A.D. 4 operations on a large scale were resumed. From Velleius Paterculus, who himself served in the war, we learn that in the first campaign Roman authority was restored over the tribes between the Rhine and the Weser, and that the Roman forces, instead of returning as usual to their headquarters on the Rhine, went into winter-quarters near the source of the Lippe. In the next year (A.D. 5) the Elbe was reached by the troops, while the fleet, after a hazardous voyage, arrived at the mouth of the same river and sailed some way up it. Both feats are deservedly commemorated by Augustus himself in the Ancyran monument. To complete the conquest of Germany and to connect the frontier with the line of the Danube, it seemed that only one thing remained to be done, to break the power of the Marcomanni and their king Maroboduus. In the spring of A.D. 6 preparations were made for this final achievement; the territory of the Marcomanni (now Bohemia) was to be invaded simultaneously by two columns. One, starting apparently from the headquarters of the army of Upper Germany at Mainz, was to advance by way of the Black Forest and attack Maroboduus on the west; the other, led by Tiberius himself, was to start from the new military base at Carnuntum on the Danube and operate from the south-east.

But the attack was never delivered, for at this moment, in the rear of Tiberius, the whole of Pannonia and Dalmatia burst into a blaze of insurrection. The crisis is pronounced by Suetonius to have been more serious than any which had confronted Rome since the Hannibalic war, for it was not merely the loss of a province but the invasion of Italy that was threatened, and Augustus openly declared in the senate that the insurgents might be before Rome in ten days. He himself moved to Ariminum to be nearer the seat of war, recruiting was vigorously carried on in Rome and Italy, and legions were summoned from Moesia, and even from Asia. In the end, and not including the Thracian cavalry of King Rhoemetalces, a force of 15 legions with an equal number of auxiliaries was employed. Even so the task of putting down the insurrection was difficult enough, and it was not until late in the summer of A.D. 9, after three years of fighting, that Germanicus, who had been sent to assist Tiberius, ended the war by the capture of Andetrium in Dalmatia.

Five days later the news reached Rome of the disaster to Varus and his legions, in the heart of what was to have been the new province of Germany beyond the Rhine. The disaster was avowedly due entirely to Varus's incapacity and vanity, and might no doubt have been repaired by leaders of the calibre of Tiberius and Germanicus. Augustus, however, was now seventytwo, the Dalmatian outbreak had severely tried his nerve, and now for the second time in three years the fates seemed to pronounce clearly against a further prosecution of his long-cherished scheme of a Roman Germany reaching to the Elbe.

All that was immediately necessary was done. Recruiting was pressed forward in Rome, and first Tiberius and then Germanicus were despatched to the Rhine. But the German leaders were too prudent to risk defeat, and the Roman generals devoted their attention mainly to strengthening the line of the Rhine.

The defeat of Varus, and the tacit abandonment of the plans of expansion begun twenty-five years before, are almost the last events of importance in the long principate of Augustus. The last five years of his life (A.D. 10-14) were untroubled by war or disaster. Augustus was ageing fast, and was more and more disinclined to appear personally in the senate or in public. Yet in A.D. 13 he consented, reluctantly we are told, to yet one more renewal of his imperium for ten years, stipulating, however, that his step-son Tiberius, himself now over fifty, should be associated with himself on equal terms in the administration of the empire. Early in the same year (January 16, A.D. 13) the last triumph of his principate was celebrated. Tiberius was now in Rome, the command on the Rhine having been given to Germanicus, who went out to it immediately after his consulship (A.D. 12), and the time had come to celebrate the Dalmatian and Pannonian triumph, which the defeat of Varus had postponed. Augustus witnessed the triumphal procession, and Tiberius, as it turned from the Forum to ascend the Capitol, halted, descended from his triumphal car, and did reverence to his adopted father.

One last public appearance Augustus made in Rome. During A.D. 13 he and Tiberius conducted a census of Roman citizens, the third taken by his orders; the first having been in 28 B.C. at the very outset of his rule. The business of the census lasted over into the next year, but on the 11th of May, A.D. 14, before a great crowd in the Campus Martius, Augustus took part in the solemn concluding ceremony of burying away out of sight the old age and inaugurating the new. The ceremony had been full of significance in 28 B.C., and now more than forty years later it was given a pathetic interest by Augustus himself. When the tablets containing the vows to be offered for the welfare of the state during the next lustrum were handed to him, he left the duty of reciting them to Tiberius, saying that he would not take vows which he was never destined to perform.

It was apparently at the end of June or early in July that Augustus left Rome on his last journey. Travelling by road to Astura (Torre Astura) at the southern point of the little bay of Antium, he sailed thence to Capri and to Naples. On his way at Puteoli, the passengers and crew of a ship just come from Alexandria cheered the old man by their spontaneous homage, declaring, as they poured libations, that to him they owed life, safe passage on the seas, freedom and fortune.

At Naples, in spite of increasing disease, he bravely sat out a gymnastic contest held in his honour, and then accompanied Tiberius as far as Beneventum on his way to Brundusium and Illyricum. On his return he was forced by illness to stop at Nola, his father's old home. Tiberius was hastily recalled and had a last confidential talk on affairs of state. Thenceforward, says Suetonius, he gave no more thought to such great affairs. He bade farewell to his friends, inquired after the health of Drusus's daughter who was ill, and then quietly expired in the arms of the wife who for more than fifty years had been his most intimate and trusted guide and counsellor, and to whom his last words were an exhortation to "live mindful of our wedded life." He died on the 29th of August, A.D. 14, in the same room in which his father had died before him, and on the anniversary of his entrance upon his first consulship fifty-seven years before (43 B.C.). The corpse was carried to Rome in slow procession along the Appian Way. On the day of the funeral it was borne to the Campus Martius on the shoulders of senators and there burnt. The ashes were reverently collected by Livia, and placed in the mausoleum by the Tiber which her husband had built for himself and his family. The last act was the formal decree of the senate by which Augustus, like his father Julius before him, was added to the number of the gods recognized by the Roman state.

If we except writers like Voltaire who could see in Augustus only the man who had destroyed the old republic and extinguished political liberty, the verdict of posterity on Augustus has varied just in proportion as his critics have fixed their attention, mainly, on the means by which he rose to power, or the use which he made of the power when acquired. The lines of argument followed respectively by friendly and hostile contemporaries immediately after his death (Tac. Ann. i. 9, io) have been followed by later writers with little change. But of late years, our increasing mistrust of the current gossip about him, and our increased knowledge of the magnitude of what he actually accomplished, have conspicuously influenced the judgments passed upon him. We allow the faults and crimes of his early manhood, his cruelties and deceptions, his readiness to sacrifice everything that came between him and the end he had in view. On the other hand, a careful study of what he achieved between the years 38 B.C., when he married Livia, and his death in A.D. 14, is now held to give him a claim to rank, not merely as an astute and successful intriguer, or an accomplished political actor, but as one of the world's great men, a statesman who conceived and carried through a scheme of political reconstruction which kept the empire together, secured peace and tranquillity, and preserved civilization for more than two centuries.


The most comprehensive work on Augustus and his age is that of V. Gardthausen, Augustus and seine Zeit (2 vols., Leipzig, 1891-1904), which deals with all aspects of Augustus's life, vol. ii. consisting of elaborate critical and bibliographical notes. See also histories of Rome generally, and among special works: - E. S. Shuckburgh, Augustus (London, 1903; reviewed by F. T. Richards in Class. Rev. vol. xviii.), containing the text of the Monumentum Ancyranum (see also Gardthausen, book xiii.); J. B. Firth, Augustus Caesar (London, 1903), in "Heroes of the Nations" series; O. Seeck, "Kaiser Augustus" (Monographien zur Weltgeschichte, xvii., 1902), nine essays on special problems, e.g. the campaigns of Mutina, Perusia and against Sextus Pompeius, "das Augustische Zeitalter"; A. Dumeril, "Auguste et la fondation de l'empire romain," in the Annales de la Fac. des lett. de Bordeaux (1890); a suggestive monograph on the reforms of Augustus in relation to the decrease of population is Jules Ferlet's L'Abaissement de la natalite a Rome (Paris, 1902). (H. F. P.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also augustus




From Latin augustus, majestic


  • enPR: ô-gŭsʹtəs, IPA: /ɔːˈgʌstəs/, SAMPA: /O:"gVst@s/
  • Hyphenation: Au‧gus‧tus

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:





  1. The Roman emperor Augustus, also called Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (63 BC - AD 14); heir to Julius Caesar
  2. A male given name taken to use in the 18th century.



  • (Emperor Augustus): Octavian

Derived terms




From augustus (majestic).


  • IPA: /auˈgus.tus/

Proper noun

Augustus (genitive Augustī); m, second declension

  1. Augustus; a Roman agnomen, or "nickname"
  2. Augustus, the Roman emperor

Related terms

See also

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the cognomen of the first Roman emperor, C. Julius Caesar Octavianus, during whose reign Christ was born (Lk 2:1). His decree that "all the world should be taxed" was the divinely ordered occasion of Jesus' being born, according to prophecy (Mic 5:2), in Bethlehem. This name being simply a title meaning "majesty" or "venerable," first given to him by the senate (B.C. 27), was borne by succeeding emperors. Before his death (A.D. 14) he associated Tiberius with him in the empire (Lk 3:1), by whom he was succeeded.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus
Emperor of the Roman Empire

Reign 16 January 27 BC – 19 August 14 AD
Successor Tiberius
Spouse 1) Clodia Pulchra 43 – 40 BC
2) Scribonia 40 – 38 BC
3) Livia Drusilla 38 BC – 14 AD
Julia the Elder;
Gaius Caesar (adoptive);
Lucius Caesar (adoptive);
Tiberius (adoptive)
Full name
Gaius Octavius Thurinus (from birth to adoption by Julius Caesar in 44 BC);
Gaius Julius Caesar (from 44 to 27 BC);
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (from 27 BC until death in 14 AD)
Father Natural: Gaius Octavius;
Adoptive: Julius Caesar (in 44 BC)
Mother Atia Balba Caesonia
Born 23 September 63 BC (Roman calendar)
Rome, Roman Republic
Died 19 August 14 AD (Julian calendar) (aged 75)
Nola, Italy, Roman Empire
Burial Mausoleum of Augustus, Rome
These articles cover Ancient Rome and the fall of the Republic

Roman Republic, Mark Antony, Cleopatra VII, Assassination of Julius Caesar, Pompey,

Cicero, First Triumvirate

Augustus (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, 23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was the first and one of the most important Roman Emperors. He led Rome in its transition from a Republic to a great Empire.

Octavian, as he was originally called, was the adopted son of the dictator of the Roman Republic, Gaius Julius Caesar. Octavian came into power in the Second Triumvirate. This was three men ruling over the Roman Republic. The other triumvirs were Mark Antony and Lepidus.

All three were loyal to Julius Caesar, the assassinated dictator, killed in 44 BC. Following his death a civil war broke out across Rome, between those loyal to Caesar, and the conspirators, led by two of Caesar's killers, Brutus and Cassius.

At first, Octavian was the junior partner in the triumvirate. Lepidus was more experienced in government, and Mark Antony was a fine military leader. The triumvirate defeated Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi, 42 BC, largely due to Antony's leadership. Then they split the leadership of the Republic three ways. Antony took the east, Lepidus took Spain and part of North Africa, and Octavian took Italy.

Antony followed in Caesar's footsteps by going to Egypt and becoming Cleopatra's lover. They had three children together. His absence from Rome allowed the intelligent Octavian to build up support.

The triumvirate broke up in 33 BC, and disagreement turned to civil war in 31 BC. Antony was defeated by Octavian at the naval Battle of Actium and then at Alexandria. He committed suicide, as did his lover, Cleopatra VII of Egypt, in 30 BC.

After winning this bloody power struggle, Octavian was voted as Emperor by the Senate following the battle of Actium in 31 BC. He took the name "Augustus" (which meant 'exalted'). He ruled until AD 14,[1] when his stepson and son-in-law Tiberius became Emperor in his place.

During his reign, some of those who were against his government were murdered (especially those senators who wanted to keep the Roman Republic). He promised to make Rome a Republic again, but instead proclaimed himself High Priest (Pontifex Maximus). Many temples in the provinces set up statues of him as one of their gods. The name of the month "August" in English (and most other European languages) comes from him.

His main accomplishment was the creation of the Roman Empire, a political structure that lasted for nearly five centuries more. He first recruited and set up the Praetorian Guard.


  1. Robinson Jr., C. A. (May 1964). "Introduction". Selections from Greek and Roman historians. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. pp. xxix. 
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