Caesar Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE) was the first emperor of the Roman Empire. He was born with the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus on 23 September, 63 BCE and adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Consequently, he took the name, Gaius Julius Caesar. Later on, in 27 BCE, the Senate proclaimed him the honorific Augustus, which means “the illustrious one,” so he became known as Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus.
Despite the fact of owing many names, he is commonly known as Octavius in the period of events between 63 and 44 BCE, Octavian between 44 and 27 BCE and Augustus between 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE
After the assassination of the step-father of Augustus, Julius Caesar, in March of 44 BCE, the first emperor created an alliance with Caesar’s close friend and relative, Mark Antony. Also, another supporter of Caesar, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, joined them, and it became the reason for the formation of the Second Triumvirate in October of 43 BCE. The first objective of the new alliance was to kill all the political rivals and supporters of Caesar’s assassins. It is not clear who was the main responsible among them three for the killings; where some writers and historians call Augustus innocent, while others consider him the most bloodshed. After completing their first aim, the Triumvirate focused on Caesar’s assassins. At the battle of Phillipi in 42 BCE, the army of Brutus and Cassius was attacked by the forces of the Triumvirate, which forced both assassins to make suicide.
Octavian and Lepidus attacked Sextus Pompeius (son of Pompey, main rival of Caesar) for the leadership of Rome with the help of Antony from Egypt
Undoubtedly, the Second Triumvirate was successful in the battle over Pompeius, so Lepidus pushed Octavian to leave Sicily, the theatre of operations, with his army. However, Octavian proposed a huge amount of money to the troops of Lepidus, so they defected to him. Consequently, Lepidus lost all his titles, except of Pontifex Maximus, and the Second Triumvirate came to an end.
When the Second Triumvirate came to an end, relations between Octavian and Mark Antony became much worse. Later, in 40 BCE, Octavian tried to save their alliance and gave his sister, Octavia Minor, in marriage to Antony. However, Antony acquired strong relationships with Cleopatra VII of Egypt, who was the former lover of Caesar and mother of his son Caesarion, but with time became a lover of Antony. This romance led to the conflict between Octavian and Antony, where Octavian accused him in use of his sister. As a result, Octavia and Antony became divorced.
Octavian started to consider Antony inappropriate leader in political, private and military spheres
The adopted son of Caesar made the priestesses of the temple of Vesta surrender the will of Antony, which he read in the Senate. Consequently, the will passed Roman territories to the sons of Antony and included instructions for a grand mausoleum to be constructed in Alexandria for Antony and his love Cleopatra.
Octavian called his ex-supporter a renegade. At the same time, the worst declaration of Antony was about Caesarion’s true heir, Julius Caesar. However, the Senate rejected Antony’s consulship and started the war on Cleopatra VII. Later on, at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, the army of Octavian with General Agrippa destructed forces of Antony and Cleopatra and pursued them until 30 BCE. Consequently, Antony and Cleopatra lost Alexandria and committed suicide. Moreover, Octavian strangled Caesarion claiming that “two Caesars are one too many,” while Antony’s eldest son was killed because Octavian considered him as a threat to Rome.
These events led Octavian to the absolute leadership over Rome
Octavian decided to get rid of the same situation as his father had and immediately after coming to power, he characterized his political strategies to the population, thus, making people believe that he wanted to make Rome better. In 27 BCE, Octavian denied his powers, knowing that he would receive them back from the Senate, who also gave him “Augustus.” He preferred to call himself in public as “Princeps” or the “First Citizen.” People trusted him and Augustus managed to gain absolute control over Rome and its colonies.
Being already known as Augustus, the month of August was named in honor of the first Emperor. In 19 BC, Augustus received supreme power over each province of the Roman Empire and started to rule supremely.
By 2 BCE Augustus was proclaimed Pater Patriae, the father of the country
Undoubtedly, the period of his reign was positive for the Empire since he managed to support peace among citizens and raise the economy, arts and agriculture. In addition, during the leadership of the first emperor, many new buildings were created, where Augustus implemented the plans made by Caesar and developed many of his own designs. For instance, he restored 82 buildings in one year, including the public baths of Rome, with his main supporter Agrippa. Moreover, Augustus was an art lover and inspired many artists who composed poems about him. For example, poet Virgil composed the Aeneid. Many reforms and new laws were created during the reign of Augustus. His aim was to support stability in marriages and to increase the birth rate. Thus, there were penalties for childless marriages and reduced taxes for families with more than three children.
Fix price transfer from the Fiumicino Airport to Rome
Augustus died in 14 CE. His last words became famous: “I found Rome a city of clay, but left it a city of marble.” However, his wife Livia and adopted son Tiberius, who became the second emperor in the history of the Roman Empire, his last words were: “Have I played the part well? They applaud as I exit.” The body of the emperor was buried in Rome.
During his reign, the emperor expanded Roman Forum and today, you can visit remainings of Forum of Augustus in the center of Rome
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Author: Kate Zusmann
For the last 10 years, I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, and shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is sharing my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)
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