AUGUSTUS (Latin : Imperātor Caesar Dīvī Fīlius
Augustus ; 23
September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD) was the founder of the Roman
Principate and considered the first
Roman emperor , controlling the
Roman Empire from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He was born GAIUS
OCTAVIUS into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian
gens Octavia . His maternal great-uncle
Julius Caesar was assassinated
in 44 BC, and Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son
and heir, then known as OCTAVIANUS (Anglicized as OCTAVIAN). He, Mark
Antony , and Marcus Lepidus formed the
Second Triumvirate to defeat
the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of
Philippi , the Triumvirate divided the
Roman Republic among themselves
and ruled as military dictators . The Triumvirate was eventually torn
apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven
into exile and stripped of his position, and Antony committed suicide
following his defeat at the
Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC.
After the demise of the Second Triumvirate,
Augustus restored the
outward façade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested
Roman Senate , the executive magistrates , and the legislative
assemblies . In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power
over the Republic as a military dictator. By law,
Augustus held a
collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including
supreme military command , and those of tribune and censor . It took
several years for
Augustus to develop the framework within which a
formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He
rejected monarchical titles, and instead called himself Princeps
Civitatis ("First Citizen of the State"). The resulting constitutional
framework became known as the
Principate , the first phase of the
The reign of
Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the
Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). The Roman world was largely free from
large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous
wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long
civil war known as the "
Year of the Four Emperors
Year of the Four Emperors " over the imperial
Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt
, Dalmatia ,
Noricum , and
Raetia ; expanding possessions
in Africa ; expanding into
Germania ; and completing the conquest of
Hispania . Beyond the frontiers, he secured the
Empire with a buffer
region of client states and made peace with the Parthian Empire
through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed
networks of roads with an official courier system, established a
standing army, established the
Praetorian Guard , created official
police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the
city during his reign.
Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75. He probably died from
natural causes, although there were unconfirmed rumors that his wife
Livia poisoned him. He was succeeded as Emperor by his adopted son
(also stepson and former son-in-law)
* 1 Name
* 2 Early life
* 3 Rise to power
* 3.1 Heir to Caesar
* 3.2 Growing tensions
* 3.3 First conflict with Antony
* 3.4.1 Proscriptions
Battle of Philippi and division of territory
* 3.4.3 Rebellion and marriage alliances
* 3.4.4 War with Pompeius
* 3.4.5 War with Antony
* 4 Change to
* 4.1 First settlement
* 4.2 Second settlement
* 4.3 Primary reasons for the Second settlement
* 4.4 Additional powers
* 4.5 Conspiracy
* 4.6 Stability and staying power
* 5 War and expansion
* 6 Death and succession
* 7 Legacy
* 7.2 Month of August
* 7.3 Building projects
* 8 Physical appearance and official images
* 9 Ancestry
* 10 Descendants
* 11 See also
* 12 Footnotes
* 13 References
* 13.1 Bibliography
* 14 Further reading
* 15 External links
Augustus (/ɔːˈɡʌstəs/ ; Classical Latin: ) was known by many
names throughout his life:
* At birth, he was named GAIUS OCTAVIUS after his biological father
. Historians typically refer to him simply as OCTAVIUS (or Octavian)
between his birth in 63 until his adoption by
Julius Caesar in 44 BC
Julius Caesar's death).
* Upon his adoption, he took Caesar's name and became GAIUS JULIUS
CAESAR OCTAVIANUS in accordance with Roman adoption naming standards .
He quickly dropped "Octavianus" from his name, and his contemporaries
typically referred to him as "Caesar" during this period; historians,
however, refer to him as OCTAVIAN between 44 BC and 27 BC.
* In 42 BC, Octavian began the Temple of
Divus Iulius or Temple of
the Comet Star and added DIVI FILIUS (Son of the Divine) to his name
in order to strengthen his political ties to Caesar's former soldiers
by following the deification of Caesar, becoming GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR
* In 38 BC, Octavian replaced his praenomen "Gaius" and nomen
"Julius" with IMPERATOR, the title by which troops hailed their leader
after military success , officially becoming IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI
* In 27 BC, following his defeat of
Mark Antony and
Cleopatra , the
Roman Senate voted new titles for him, officially becoming IMPERATOR
CAESAR DIVI FILIUS AUGUSTUS. It is the events of 27 BC from which he
obtained his traditional name of AUGUSTUS, which historians use in
reference to him from 27 BC until his death in AD 14.
Early life of Augustus
While his paternal family was from the town of
approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Rome,
Augustus was born in
the city of
Rome on 23 September 63 BC. He was born at Ox Head, 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
Due to the crowded nature of
Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to
his father's home village at
Velletri to be raised. Octavius only
mentions his father's equestrian family briefly in his memoirs. His
paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in
Sicily during the
Second Punic War
Second Punic War . His grandfather had served in
several local political offices. His father, also named Gaius Octavius
, had been governor of Macedonia . His mother, Atia , was the niece
Julius Caesar. A denarius from 44 BC, showing
Julius Caesar on
the obverse and the goddess Venus on the reverse of the coin
In 59 BC, when he was four years old, his father died. His mother
married a former governor of Syria, Lucius Marcius Philippus .
Philippus claimed descent from
Alexander the Great
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,
Julia , the sister of
Julia died in 52 or 51 BC, and Octavius delivered the funeral oration
for his grandmother. From this point, his mother and stepfather took
a more active role in raising him. He donned the toga virilis four
years later, and was elected to the
College of Pontiffs
College of Pontiffs in 47 BC.
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. According to
Nicolaus of Damascus , Octavius wished to join
Caesar's staff for his campaign in Africa , but gave way when his
mother protested. 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. Velleius Paterculus reports that after that time,
Caesar allowed the young man to share his carriage. When back in
Rome, Caesar deposited a new will with the
Vestal Virgins , naming
Octavius as the prime beneficiary.
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
Gaius Cassius Longinus .
Walters Art Museum
Walters Art Museum ,
Octavius was studying and undergoing military training in Apollonia ,
Illyria , when
Julius Caesar was killed on the
Ides of March (15
March) 44 BC. He rejected the advice of some army officers to take
refuge with the troops in Macedonia and sailed to Italy to ascertain
whether he had any potential political fortunes or security. Caesar
had no living legitimate children under Roman law, and so had adopted
Octavius, his grand-nephew, making him his primary heir. Mark Antony
later charged that Octavian had earned his adoption by Caesar through
sexual favours, though
Suetonius describes Antony's accusation as
political slander. After landing at Lupiae near
Brundisium , Octavius
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
Upon his adoption, Octavius assumed his great-uncle's name GAIUS
JULIUS CAESAR. Roman citizens 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.). However, though some of his contemporaries did, there is no
evidence that Octavius ever himself officially used the name
Octavianus, as it would have made his modest origins too obvious.
Historians usually refer to the new Caesar as Octavian during the time
between his adoption and his assumption of the name
Augustus in 27 BC
in order to avoid confusing the dead dictator with his heir.
Octavian could not rely on his limited funds to make a successful
entry into the upper echelons of the Roman political hierarchy. After
a warm welcome by Caesar's soldiers at Brundisium, Octavian demanded
a portion of the funds that were allotted by Caesar for the intended
Parthia in the Middle East. This amounted to 700 million
sesterces stored at Brundisium, the staging ground in Italy for
military operations in the east.
A later senatorial investigation into the disappearance of the public
funds took no action against Octavian, since he subsequently used that
money to raise troops against the Senate's arch enemy Mark Antony.
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.
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. 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 . By June, he had gathered an army of 3,000 loyal veterans,
paying each a salary of 500 denarii .
A reconstructed statue of
Augustus as a younger Octavian, dated
ca. 30 BC
Rome on 6 May 44 BC, Octavian found 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. This was due to
his "inflammatory" eulogy given at Caesar's funeral, mounting public
opinion against the assassins.
Mark Antony was amassing political support, but Octavian still had
opportunity to rival him as the leading member of the faction
Mark Antony had lost the support of many Romans and
supporters of Caesar when he initially opposed the motion to elevate
Caesar to divine status. Octavian failed to persuade Antony to
relinquish Caesar's money to him. During the summer, he managed to win
support from Caesarian sympathizers, however, 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 Antony.
Octavian began to make common cause with the
Optimates , the former
enemies of Caesar. In September, the leading Optimate orator Marcus
Cicero began to attack Antony in a series of speeches
portraying him as a threat to the Republican order. With opinion in
Rome turning against him and his year of consular power nearing its
end, Antony attempted to pass laws that 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.
Octavian meanwhile built up a private army in Italy by recruiting
Caesarian veterans and, on 28 November, he won over two of Antony's
legions with the enticing offer of monetary gain. In the face of
Octavian's large and capable force, Antony saw the danger of staying
Rome and, to the relief of the Senate , he fled to Cisalpine Gaul,
which was to be handed to him on 1 January.
FIRST CONFLICT WITH ANTONY
Musei Capitolini ,
Decimus Brutus refused to give up Cisalpine Gaul, so Antony besieged
Mutina . Antony rejected the resolutions passed by the Senate
to stop the violence, as the Senate had no army of its own to
challenge him. This provided an opportunity for Octavian, who already
was known to have armed forces.
Cicero also defended Octavian against
Antony's taunts about Octavian's lack of noble lineage and aping of
Julius Caesar's name, stating "we have no more brilliant example of
traditional piety among our youth."
At the urging of Cicero, the Senate inducted Octavian as senator on 1
January 43 BC, yet he also was given the power to vote alongside the
former consuls. In addition, Octavian was granted propraetor
imperium (commanding power) which legalized his command of troops,
sending him to relieve the siege along with Hirtius and Pansa (the
consuls for 43 BC). In April 43 BC, Antony's forces were defeated at
the battles of Forum Gallorum and
Mutina , forcing Antony to retreat
Transalpine Gaul . Both consuls were killed, however, leaving
Octavian in sole command of their armies.
The senate heaped many more rewards on Decimus Brutus than on
Octavian for defeating Antony, then attempted to give command of the
consular legions to Decimus Brutus—yet Octavian decided not to
cooperate. Instead, Octavian stayed in the
Po Valley and refused to
aid any further offensive against Antony. In July, an embassy of
centurions sent by Octavian entered
Rome and demanded that he receive
the consulship left vacant by Hirtius and Pansa.
Octavian also demanded that the decree should be rescinded which
declared Antony a public enemy. When this was refused, he marched on
the city with eight legions. He encountered no military opposition in
Rome, and on 19 August 43 BC was elected consul with his relative
Quintus Pedius as co-consul. Meanwhile, Antony formed an alliance
with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus , another leading Caesarian.
Roman aureus bearing the portraits of
Mark Antony (left) and
Octavian (right), issued in 41 BC to celebrate the establishment of
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".
In a meeting near
Bologna in October 43 BC, Octavian, Antony, and
Lepidus formed a junta called the
Second Triumvirate . This explicit
arrogation of special powers lasting five years was then supported by
law passed by the plebs , unlike the unofficial First Triumvirate
Julius Caesar, and
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus . The
triumvirs then set in motion proscriptions in which 300 senators and
2,000 equites allegedly were branded as outlaws and deprived of their
property and, for those who failed to escape, their lives.
The estimation that 300 senators were proscribed was presented by
Appian , although his earlier contemporary
Livy asserted that only 130
senators had been proscribed. This decree issued by the triumvirate
was motivated in part by a need to raise money to pay the salaries of
their troops for the upcoming conflict against Caesar's assassins,
Marcus Junius Brutus and
Gaius Cassius Longinus
Gaius Cassius Longinus . Rewards for their
arrest gave incentive for Romans to capture those proscribed, while
the assets and properties of those arrested were seized by the
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. Marcus Velleius
Paterculus asserted that Octavian tried to avoid proscribing officials
whereas Lepidus and Antony were to blame for initiating them. Cassius
Dio defended Octavian 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.
This claim was rejected by Appian, who maintained that Octavian
shared an equal interest with Lepidus and Antony in eradicating his
Suetonius presented the case that Octavian, although
reluctant at first to proscribe officials, nonetheless pursued his
enemies with more rigor than the other triumvirs.
the proscriptions as a ruthless and cutthroat swapping of friends and
family among Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian. For example, Octavian
allowed the proscription of his ally Cicero, Antony the proscription
of his maternal uncle Lucius
Julius Caesar (the consul of 64 BC), and
Lepidus his brother Paullus . A denarius minted c. 18 BC.
Obverse: CAESAR AVGVSTVS; reverse: DIVVS IVLIV (DIVINE JULIUS)
Battle Of Philippi And Division Of Territory
Further information: Liberators\' civil war
On 1 January 42 BC, the Senate posthumously recognized
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". 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. After two battles at Philippi in Macedonia in October 42, the
Caesarian army was victorious and Brutus and Cassius committed suicide
Mark Antony later used the examples of these battles as a means to
belittle Octavian, as both battles were decisively won with the use of
Antony's forces. 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.
After Philippi, a new territorial arrangement was made among the
members of the Second Triumvirate.
Gaul and the provinces of Hispania
and Italia were placed in the hands of Octavian. Antony traveled east
Egypt where he allied himself with Queen
Cleopatra VII , the former
Julius Caesar and mother of Caesar's infant son
Lepidus was left with the province of Africa , stymied by Antony, who
Hispania to Octavian instead.
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 could easily ally with a
political opponent of Octavian if not appeased, and they also required
land. 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. There were as many as eighteen Roman towns affected by the
new settlements, with entire populations driven out or at least given
Rebellion And Marriage Alliances
There was widespread dissatisfaction with Octavian over these
settlements of his soldiers, and this encouraged many to rally at the
side of Lucius Antonius , who was brother of
Mark Antony and supported
by a majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Octavian asked for a divorce
Clodia Pulchra , the daughter of
Fulvia (Mark Antony's wife) and
her first husband
Publius Clodius Pulcher . He returned Clodia to her
mother, claiming that their marriage had never been consummated.
Fulvia decided to take action. Together with Lucius Antonius, she
raised an army in Italy to fight for Antony's rights against Octavian.
Fulvia took a political and martial gamble in opposing
Octavian, however, since the Roman army still depended on the
triumvirs for their salaries. Lucius and his allies ended up in a
defensive siege at
Perugia ), where Octavian forced
them into surrender in early 40 BC.
Lucius and his army were spared, due to his kinship with Antony, the
strongman of the East, while
Fulvia was exiled to
Sicyon . Octavian
showed no mercy, however, 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.
Perusia also was pillaged and burned as a warning for others. This
bloody event sullied Octavian's reputation and was criticized by many,
such as Augustan poet
Sextus Propertius . Fresco paintings
House of Augustus , his residence during his reign as
Sextus Pompeius was the son of First Triumvir
Pompey and still a
renegade general following
Julius Caesar's victory over his father. He
was established in
Sardinia as part of an agreement reached
Second Triumvirate in 39 BC. Both Antony and Octavian were
vying for an alliance with Pompeius, who was a member of the
republican party, ironically, not the Caesarian faction. Octavian
succeeded in a temporary alliance in 40 BC when he married
a daughter of
Lucius Scribonius Libo who was a follower of Sextus
Pompeius as well as his father-in-law.
Scribonia gave birth to
Octavian's only natural child, Julia , who was born the same day that
he divorced her to marry
Livia Drusilla , little more than a year
after their marriage.
While in Egypt, Antony had been engaged in an affair with Cleopatra
and had fathered three children with her. 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. This new conflict proved untenable for both Octavian and
Antony, however. Their centurions, who had become important figures
politically, refused to fight due to their Caesarian cause, while the
legions under their command followed suit. Meanwhile, in Sicyon,
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.
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. To further cement relations of
alliance with Mark Antony, Octavian gave his sister,
Octavia Minor ,
in marriage to Antony in late 40 BC. During their marriage, Octavia
gave birth to two daughters (known as
Antonia Major and Antonia Minor
War With Pompeius
Sicilian revolt 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,
Sextus Pompeius threatened Octavian in Italy by denying shipments of
grain through the Mediterranean to the peninsula. Pompeius' own son
was put in charge as naval commander in the effort to cause widespread
famine in Italy. Pompeius' control over the sea prompted him to take
on the name Neptuni filius, "son of Neptune ". 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.
The territorial agreement between the triumvirate and Sextus Pompeius
began to crumble once Octavian divorced
Scribonia and married
17 January 38 BC. One of Pompeius' naval commanders betrayed him and
Sardinia to Octavian. Octavian lacked the
resources to confront Pompeius alone, however, so an agreement was
reached with the Second Triumvirate's extension for another five-year
period beginning in 37 BC.
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. 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. Octavian sent
only a tenth of those promised, however, which Antony viewed as an
Octavian and Lepidus launched a joint operation against Sextus in
Sicily in 36 BC. 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 . Sextus fled to the
east with his remaining forces, where he was captured and executed in
Miletus by one of Antony's generals the following year. As Lepidus
and Octavian accepted the surrender of Pompeius' troops, Lepidus
attempted to claim
Sicily for himself, ordering Octavian to leave.
Lepidus' troops deserted him, however, and defected to Octavian since
they were weary of fighting and were enticed by Octavian's promises of
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
effectively was exiled to a villa at Cape Circei in Italy. The Roman
dominions were now divided between Octavian in the West and Antony in
the East. Octavian ensured Rome's citizens of their rights to property
in order to maintain peace and stability in his portion of the Empire.
This time, he settled his discharged soldiers outside of Italy, while
also returning 30,000 slaves to their former Roman owners—slaves who
had fled to join Pompeius' army and navy. Octavian had the Senate
grant him, his wife, and his sister tribunal immunity , or
sacrosanctitas , in order to ensure his own safety and that of Livia
and Octavia once he returned to Rome.
War With Antony
Main article: Final War of the
Roman Republic Anthony and
Meanwhile, Antony's campaign turned disastrous against Parthia,
tarnishing his image as a leader, and the mere 2,000 legionaries sent
by Octavian to Antony were hardly enough to replenish his forces. On
the other hand,
Cleopatra could restore his army to full strength; he
already was engaged in a romantic affair with her, so he decided to
send Octavia back to Rome. 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 ". 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.
Roman troops captured the Kingdom of Armenia in 34 BC, and Antony
made his son
Alexander Helios the ruler of Armenia. He also awarded
the title "Queen of Kings" to Cleopatra, acts that Octavian used to
Roman Senate that Antony had ambitions to diminish the
preeminence of Rome. Octavian became consul once again on 1 January
33 BC, and 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.
The breach between Antony and Octavian prompted a large portion of
the Senators, as well as both of that year's consuls, to leave Rome
and defect to Antony. However, Octavian received two key deserters
from Antony in the autumn of 32 BC: Munatius Plancus and Marcus
Titius. These defectors gave Octavian the information that he needed
to confirm with the Senate all the accusations that he made against
Octavian forcibly entered the temple of the
Vestal Virgins and seized
Antony's secret will, which he promptly publicized. The will would
have given away Roman-conquered territories as kingdoms for his sons
to rule, and designated
Alexandria as the site for a tomb for him and
his queen. In late 32 BC, the Senate officially revoked Antony's
powers as consul and declared war on Cleopatra's regime in Egypt.
Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium , by
Laureys a Castro
Laureys a Castro , painted 1672, National
Maritime Museum, London
In early 31 BC, Antony and
Cleopatra were temporarily stationed in
Greece when Octavian gained a preliminary victory: the navy
successfully ferried troops across the
Adriatic Sea under the command
of Agrippa. Agrippa cut off Antony and Cleopatra's main force from
their supply routes at sea, while Octavian landed on the mainland
opposite the island of Corcyra (modern
Corfu ) and marched south.
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
Antony's fleet sailed through the bay of
Actium on the western coast
of Greece in a desperate attempt to break free of the naval blockade .
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. Antony and his
remaining forces were spared only due to a last-ditch effort by
Cleopatra's fleet that had been waiting nearby.
Octavian pursued them and defeated their forces in
Alexandria on 1
August 30 BC—after which Antony and
Cleopatra committed suicide.
Antony fell on his own sword and was taken by his soldiers back to
Alexandria where he died in Cleopatra's arms.
Cleopatra died soon
after, reputedly by the venomous bite of an asp or by poison.
Octavian had exploited his position as Caesar's heir to further his
own political career, and he was well aware of the dangers in allowing
another person to do so the same. He, therefore, followed the advice
Arius Didymus that "two Caesars are one too many", ordering
Caesarion to be killed (
Julius Caesar's son by Cleopatra), while
sparing Cleopatra's children by Antony, with the exception of Antony's
older son .
Octavian had previously shown little mercy to surrendered enemies 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
CHANGE TO AUGUSTUS
Constitutional Reforms of Augustus
Octavian, circa 30 BC,
Actium and the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian was in
a position to rule the entire Republic under an unofficial principate
—but he had to achieve this through incremental power gains. He did
so by courting the Senate and the people while upholding the
republican traditions of Rome, appearing that he was not aspiring to
dictatorship or monarchy. Marching into Rome, Octavian and Marcus
Agrippa were elected as dual consuls by the Senate.
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 among 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
Rome to a state of stability, traditional legality, and
civility by lifting the overt political pressure imposed on the courts
of law and ensuring free elections—in name at least.
Main articles: Constitution of the
Roman Empire and History of the
Constitution of the
Augustus as a magistrate. The
statue's marble head was made c. 30–20 BC, the body sculpted in the
2nd century AD (Louvre ,
In 27 BC, Octavian made a show of returning full power to the Roman
Senate and relinquishing his control of the Roman provinces and their
armies. Under his consulship, however, the Senate had little power in
initiating legislation by introducing bills for senatorial debate.
Octavian was no longer in direct control of the provinces and their
armies, but he retained the loyalty of active duty soldiers and
veterans alike. The careers of many clients and adherents depended on
his patronage, as his financial power was unrivaled in the Roman
Werner Eck states:
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
To a large extent, the public were aware of the vast financial
Augustus commanded. He failed to encourage enough
senators to finance the building and maintenance of networks of roads
in Italy in 20 BC, but he undertook direct responsibility for them.
This was publicized on the Roman currency issued in 16 BC, after he
donated vast amounts of money to the aerarium Saturni , the public
According to H. H. Scullard, however, Augustus's power was based on
the exercise of "a predominant military power and ... the ultimate
sanction of his authority was force, however much the fact was
The Senate proposed to Octavian, the victor of Rome's civil wars,
that he once again assume command of the provinces. The Senate's
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 . Feigning reluctance, he accepted a
ten-year responsibility of overseeing provinces that were considered
The provinces ceded to him for that ten-year period comprised much of
the conquered Roman world, including all of
Hispania and Gaul, Syria ,
Cyprus , and
Egypt . Moreover, command of these provinces
provided Octavian with control over the majority of Rome's legions.
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 that his orders were carried out. The
provinces not under Octavian's control were overseen by governors
chosen by the Roman Senate. Octavian became the most powerful
political figure in the city of
Rome and in most of its provinces, but
he did not have sole monopoly on political and martial power.
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. However, the Senate had
control of only five or six legions distributed among three senatorial
proconsuls, compared to the twenty legions under the control of
Augustus, and their control of these regions did not amount to any
political or military challenge to Octavian.
The Senate's control over some of the Roman provinces helped maintain
a republican façade for the autocratic Principate. Also, Octavian's
control of entire provinces followed Republican-era precedents for the
objective of securing peace and creating stability, in which such
prominent Romans as
Pompey had been granted similar military powers in
times of crisis and instability. Bust of Augustus, wearing the
Civic Crown .
On 16 January 27 BC the Senate gave Octavian the new titles of
Augustus is from the Latin word Augere
(meaning to increase) and can be translated as "the illustrious one".
It was a title of religious authority rather than political authority.
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 served to
demarcate his benign reign as
Augustus from his reign of terror as
His new title of
Augustus was also more favorable than Romulus, the
previous one which he styled for himself in reference to the story of
the legendary founder of
Rome , which symbolized a second founding of
Rome. The title of
Romulus was associated too strongly with notions
of monarchy and kingship, an image that Octavian tried to avoid.
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,
however, it became an almost regnal title for a leader who was first
Princeps had also been a title under the Republic for
those who had served the state well; for example,
Pompey had held the
Augustus also styled himself as
Imperator Caesar divi filius,
"Commander Caesar son of the deified one". With this title, he
boasted his familial link to deified
Julius Caesar, and the use of
Imperator signified a permanent link to the Roman tradition of
victory. 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.
Augustus was granted the right to hang the corona civica above his
door, the "civic crown" made from oak, and to have laurels drape his
doorposts. 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 to the general "memento mori ", or
"Remember that you are mortal". 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.
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. 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."
Augustus show the emperor with idealized features
By 23 BC, some of the un-Republican implications were becoming
apparent concerning the settlement of 27 BC. Augustus' retention of an
annual consulate drew attention to his de facto dominance over the
Roman political system, and cut in half the opportunities for others
to achieve what was still nominally the preeminent position in the
Roman state. Further, he was causing political problems by desiring
to have his nephew Marcus
Claudius Marcellus follow in his footsteps
and eventually assume the
Principate in his turn, alienating his
three greatest supporters – Agrippa,
Maecenas , and Livia. Feeling
pressure from his core group of adherents,
Augustus turned to the
Senate for help.
He appointed noted Republican Calpurnius Piso as co-consul in 23 BC,
after his choice
Aulus Terentius Varro Murena (who had fought against
Julius Caesar and supported Cassius and Brutus ) was executed in
consequence of his involvement in the Marcus Primus affair, with an
eye to bolstering his support among the Republicans.
In the late spring
Augustus suffered a severe illness, and on his
supposed deathbed made arrangements that would ensure the continuation
Principate in some form, while allaying senators' suspicions
of his anti-republicanism.
Augustus prepared to hand down his signet
ring to his favored general Agrippa. 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 Marcellus came away
empty-handed. This was a surprise to many who believed Augustus
would have named an heir to his position as an unofficial emperor.
Augustus bestowed only properties and possessions to his designated
heirs, as an obvious system of institutionalized imperial inheritance
would have provoked resistance and hostility among the
republican-minded Romans fearful of monarchy. With regards to the
Principate, it was obvious to
Augustus that Marcellus was not ready to
take on his position; nonetheless, by giving his signet ring to
Augustus intended to signal to the legions that Agrippa was
to be his successor, and that constitutional procedure
notwithstanding, they should continue to obey Agrippa. The
Blacas Cameo showing
Augustus wearing a gorgoneion on a three layered
sardonyx cameo, AD 20–50
Soon after his bout of illness subsided,
Augustus gave up his
consulship. The only other times
Augustus would serve as consul would
be in the years 5 and 2 BC, both times to introduce his grandsons
into public life. This was a clever ploy by Augustus; ceasing to
serve as one of two annually elected consuls allowed aspiring senators
a better chance to attain the consular position, while allowing
Augustus to exercise wider patronage within the senatorial class.
Augustus had resigned as consul, he desired to retain his
consular imperium not just in his provinces but throughout the empire.
This desire, as well as the Marcus Primus Affair, led to a second
compromise between him and the Senate known as the Second Settlement.
PRIMARY REASONS FOR THE SECOND SETTLEMENT
The primary reasons for the Second Settlement were as follows. First,
Augustus relinquished the annual consulship, he was no longer in
an official position to rule the state, yet his dominant position
remained unchanged over his Roman, 'imperial' provinces where he was
still a proconsul . When he annually held the office of consul, he
had the power to intervene with the affairs of the other provincial
proconsuls appointed by the Senate throughout the empire, when he
deemed necessary. When he relinquished his annual consulship, he
legally lost this power because his proconsular powers applied only to
his imperial provinces.
Augustus wanted to keep this power.
A second problem later arose showing the need for the Second
Settlement in what became known as the "Marcus Primus Affair". In
late 24 or early 23 BC, charges were brought against Marcus Primus,
the former proconsul (governor) of Macedonia, for waging a war without
prior approval of the Senate on the
Odrysian kingdom of
Thrace , whose
king was a Roman ally. He was defended by Lucius Lucinius Varro
Murena , who told the trial that his client had received specific
instructions from Augustus, ordering him to attack the client state.
Later, Primus testified that the orders came from the recently
deceased Marcellus. Such orders, had they been given, would have been
considered a breach of the Senate's prerogative under the
Constitutional settlement of 27 BC and its aftermath—i.e., before
Augustus was granted imperium proconsulare maius—as Macedonia was a
Senatorial province under the Senate's jurisdiction, not an imperial
province under the authority of Augustus. Such an action would have
ripped away the veneer of Republican restoration as promoted by
Augustus, and exposed his fraud of merely being the first citizen, a
first among equals. Even worse, the involvement of Marcellus provided
some measure of proof that Augustus's policy was to have the youth
take his place as Princeps, instituting a form of monarchy –
accusations that had already played out.
holding a scepter and orb (first half of 1st century AD)
The situation was so serious that
Augustus himself appeared at the
trial, even though he had not been called as a witness. Under oath,
Augustus declared that he gave no such order. Murena disbelieved
Augustus's testimony and resented his attempt to subvert the trial by
using his auctoritas . He rudely demanded to know why
turned up to a trial to which he had not been called;
that he came in the public interest. Although Primus was found
guilty, some jurors voted to acquit, meaning that not everybody
believed Augustus's testimony, an insult to the 'August One'.
The Second Constitutional Settlement was completed in part to allay
confusion and formalize Augustus' legal authority to intervene in
Senatorial provinces. The Senate granted
Augustus a form of general
imperium proconsulare, or proconsular imperium (power) that applied
throughout the empire, not solely to his provinces. Moreover, the
Senate augmented Augustus' proconsular imperium into imperium
proconsulare maius, or proconsular imperium applicable throughout the
empire that was more (maius) or greater than that held by the other
proconsuls. This in effect gave
Augustus constitutional power superior
to all other proconsuls in the empire.
Augustus stayed in
the renewal process and provided veterans with lavish donations to
gain their support, thereby ensuring that his status of proconsular
imperium maius was renewed in 13 BC.
During the second settlement,
Augustus was also granted the power of
a tribune (tribunicia potestas) for life, though not the official
title of tribune. For some years,
Augustus had been awarded
tribunicia sacrosanctitas, the immunity given to a
Tribune of the
Plebeians . Now he decided to assume the full powers of the
magistracy, renewed annually, in perpetuity. Legally, it was closed to
patricians , a status that
Augustus had acquired some years earlier
when adopted by
Julius Caesar. This power allowed him to convene the
Senate and people at will and lay business before them, to veto the
actions of either the Assembly or the Senate, to preside over
elections, and to speak first at any meeting. 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 that they were in the public interest, as
well as the ability to hold a census and determine the membership of
With the powers of a censor,
Augustus appealed to virtues of Roman
patriotism by banning all attire but the classic toga while entering
the Forum. 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.
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 tribunus 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 . The
Via Labicana Augustus –
Augustus was granted sole imperium within the city of
Rome itself, in
addition to being granted proconsular imperium maius and tribunician
authority for life. Traditionally, proconsuls (Roman province
governors) lost their proconsular "imperium" when they crossed the
Pomerium – the sacred boundary of
Rome – and entered the city. In
Augustus would have power as part of his tribunician
authority but his constitutional imperium within the Pomerium would be
less than that of a serving consul. That would mean that, when he was
in the city, he might not be the constitutional magistrate with the
most authority. Thanks to his prestige or auctoritas, his wishes would
usually be obeyed, but there might be some difficulty. To fill this
power vacuum, the Senate voted that Augustus's imperium proconsulare
maius (superior proconsular power) should not lapse when he was inside
the city walls. All armed forces in the city had formerly been under
the control of the urban praetors and consuls, but this situation now
placed them under the sole authority of Augustus.
In addition, the credit was given to
Augustus for each subsequent
Roman military victory after this time, because the majority of Rome's
armies were stationed in imperial provinces commanded by Augustus
through the legatus who were deputies of the princeps in the
provinces. Moreover, if a battle was fought in a Senatorial province,
Augustus' proconsular imperium maius allowed him to take command of
(or credit for) any major military victory. This meant that Augustus
was the only individual able to receive a triumph, a tradition that
began with Romulus, Rome's first King and first triumphant general.
Lucius Cornelius Balbus was the last man outside Augustus' family to
receive this award, in 19 BC. (Balbus was the nephew of Julius
Caesar's great agent, who was governor of Africa and conqueror of the
Garamantes .) Tiberius, Augustus' eldest son by marriage to Livia, was
the only other general to receive a triumph—for victories in
Germania in 7 BC.
Many of the political subtleties of the Second Settlement seem to
have evaded the comprehension of the Plebeian class, who were
Augustus' greatest supporters and clientele. This caused them to
insist upon Augustus' participation in imperial affairs from time to
Augustus failed to stand for election as consul in 22 BC, and
fears arose once again that he 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.
Likewise, there was a food shortage in
Rome in 22 BC which sparked
panic, while many urban plebs called for
Augustus to take on
dictatorial powers to personally oversee the crisis. After a
theatrical display of refusal before the Senate,
accepted authority over Rome's grain supply "by virtue of his
proconsular imperium", and ended the crisis almost immediately. 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. A colossal statue of
Augustus, seated and wearing a laurel wreath
Nevertheless, there were some who were concerned by the expansion of
powers granted to
Augustus by the Second Settlement, and this came to
a head with the apparent conspiracy of Fannius Caepio. Some time
prior to 1 September 22 BC, a certain Castricius provided Augustus
with information about a conspiracy led by Fannius Caepio. Murena was
named among the conspirators, the outspoken Consul who defended Primus
in the Marcus Primus Affair. The conspirators were tried in absentia
Tiberius acting as prosecutor; the jury found them guilty, but it
was not a unanimous verdict. All the accused were sentenced to death
for treason and executed as soon as they were captured—without ever
giving testimony in their defence.
Augustus ensured that the facade
of Republican government continued with an effective cover-up of the
In 19 BC, the Senate granted
Augustus a form of 'general consular
imperium', which was probably 'imperium consulare maius', like the
proconsular powers that he received in 23 BC. Like his tribune
authority, the consular powers were another instance of gaining power
from offices that he did not actually hold. In addition,
allowed to wear the consul's insignia in public and before the Senate,
as well as to sit in the symbolic chair between the two consuls and
hold the fasces , an emblem of consular authority. This seems to have
assuaged the populace; regardless of whether or not
Augustus was a
consul, the importance was that he both appeared as one before the
people and could exercise consular power if necessary. On 6 March 12
BC, after the death of Lepidus , he additionally took up the position
of pontifex maximus, the high priest of the college of the Pontiffs,
the most important position in Roman religion. On 5 February 2 BC,
Augustus was also given the title pater patriae , or "father of the
STABILITY AND STAYING POWER
A final reason for the Second Settlement was to give the Principate
constitutional stability and staying power in case something happened
Princeps Augustus. His illness of early 23 BC and the Caepio
conspiracy showed that the regime's existence hung by the thin thread
of the life of one man,
Augustus himself, who suffered from several
severe and dangerous illnesses throughout his life. If he were to die
from natural causes or fall victim to assassination,
Rome could be
subjected to another round of civil war. The memories of Pharsalus,
the Ides of March, the proscriptions, Philippi, and Actium, barely
twenty-five years distant, were still vivid in the minds of many
citizens. Proconsular imperium was conferred upon Agrippa for five
years, similar to Augustus' power, in order to accomplish this
constitutional stability. The exact nature of the grant is uncertain
but it probably covered Augustus' imperial provinces, east and west,
perhaps lacking authority over the provinces of the Senate. That came
later, as did the jealously guarded tribunicia potestas.
Augustus' powers were now complete. In fact, he dated his 'reign'
from the completion of the Second Settlement, July 1, 23 BC. Almost
as importantly, the
Principate now had constitutional stability. Later
Roman Emperors were generally limited to the powers and titles
originally granted to Augustus, though often newly appointed Emperors
would decline one or more of the honorifics given to
Augustus in order
to display humility. Just as often, as their reign progressed,
Emperors would appropriate all of the titles, regardless of whether
they had been granted them by the Senate. Later Emperors took to
wearing the civic crown, consular insignia, and the purple robes of a
Triumphant general (toga picta ), which became the imperial insignia
well into the Byzantine era.
WAR AND EXPANSION
Wars of Augustus
Wars of Augustus Further information: Roman–Persian
relations The victorious advance of Hermann , depiction of the 9
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest , by
Peter Janssen , 1873
Imperator Caesar Divi Filius
commander") to be his first name, since he wanted to make an
emphatically clear connection between himself and the notion of
victory. By the year 13,
Augustus boasted 21 occasions where his
troops proclaimed "imperator" as his title after a successful battle.
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.
Augustus also promoted the ideal of a superior Roman civilization
with a task of ruling the world (to the extent to which the Romans
knew it), a sentiment embodied in words that the contemporary poet
Virgil attributes to a legendary ancestor of Augustus: tu regere
imperio populos, Romane, memento—"Roman, remember by your strength
to rule the Earth's peoples!" The impulse for expansionism apparently
was prominent among all classes at Rome, and it is accorded divine
sanction by Virgil's Jupiter in Book 1 of the
Aeneid , where Jupiter
Rome imperium sine fine, "sovereignty without end".
By the end of his reign, the armies of
Augustus had conquered
Portugal ) and the Alpine regions
Noricum (modern Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria,
Slovenia), Illyricum and
Pannonia (modern Albania, Croatia, Hungary,
Serbia, etc.), and had extended the borders of the
Africa Province to
the east and south. Bust of
Tiberius , a successful military
Augustus before he was designated as his heir and
Judea was added to the province of Syria when
Augustus deposed Herod
Archelaus , successor to client king
Herod the Great
Herod the Great (73–4 BC).
Egypt after Antony) was governed by a high prefect of the
equestrian class rather than by a proconsul or legate of Augustus.
Again, no military effort was needed in 25 BC when
Turkey) was converted to a
Roman province shortly after Amyntas of
Galatia was killed by an avenging widow of a slain prince from
Homonada. The rebellious tribes of
Spain were finally quelled in 19 BC , and the territory
fell under the provinces of
Lusitania . 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 .
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
Horace dedicated an ode to the victory, while the monument
Trophy of Augustus near
Monaco was built to honor the occasion. The
capture of the Alpine region also served the next offensive in 12 BC,
Tiberius began the offensive against the Pannonian tribes of
Illyricum, and his brother
Claudius Drusus moved against the
Germanic tribes of the eastern
Rhineland . Both campaigns were
successful, as Drusus' forces reached the
Elbe River by 9 BC—though
he died shortly after by falling off his horse. It was recorded that
Tiberius walked in front of his brother's body all the way
back to Rome.
Muziris in the
Chera Kingdom of
Southern India ,
as shown in the
Tabula Peutingeriana , with depiction of a "Temple of
Augustus" ("Templum Augusti"), an illustration of Indo-Roman relations
in the period Coin of
Kujula Kadphises , in the
Roman emperor Augustus.
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 that could raise their own troops for defense. To
ensure security of the Empire's eastern flank,
Augustus stationed a
Roman army in Syria, while his skilled stepson
with the Parthians as Rome's diplomat to the East.
responsible for restoring Tigranes V to the throne of the Kingdom of
Armenia. A Parthian returning an aquila , relief in the heroic
cuirass of the
Augustus of Prima Porta statue
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
Battle of Carrhae , a symbolic
victory and great boost of morale for Rome.
Werner Eck claims that
this was a great disappointment for Romans seeking to avenge Crassus'
defeat by military means. 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.
Parthia had always posed a threat to
Rome in the east, but the real
battlefront was along the
Danube rivers. Before the final
fight with Antony, Octavian's campaigns against the tribes in Dalmatia
were the first step in expanding Roman dominions to the Danube.
Victory in battle was not always a permanent success, as newly
conquered territories were constantly retaken by Rome's enemies in
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 by
Arminius , leader of the
Cherusci , an
apparent Roman ally.
Augustus retaliated by dispatching
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.
Germanicus took advantage of a
Cherusci civil war
Segestes ; they defeated Arminius, who fled that
battle but was killed later in 21 due to treachery.
DEATH AND SUCCESSION
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. If
someone was to succeed Augustus' unofficial position of power, he
would have to earn it through his own publicly proven merits.
Some Augustan historians argue that indications pointed toward his
sister's son Marcellus , who had been quickly married to Augustus'
Julia the Elder . Other historians dispute this due to
Augustus' will read aloud to the Senate while he was seriously ill in
23 BC, 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
After the death of Marcellus in 23 BC,
Augustus married his daughter
to Agrippa. This union produced five children, three sons and two
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 eastern
Aegean . This granting of power showed Augustus' favor for Agrippa,
but 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. The
Mausoleum of Augustus
Augustus' intent became apparent to make Gaius and
Lucius Caesar his
heirs when he adopted them as his own children. He took the
consulship in 5 and 2 BC so that he could personally usher them into
their political careers, and they were nominated for the consulships
of AD 1 and 4.
Augustus also showed favor to his stepsons, Livia's
children from her first marriage
Claudius Drusus Germanicus
(henceforth referred to as Drusus) and
Tiberius), granting them military commands and public office, though
seeming to favor Drusus. After Agrippa died in 12 BC,
ordered to divorce his own wife
Vipsania Agrippina and marry Agrippa's
widow, Augustus' daughter Julia—as soon as a period of mourning for
Agrippa had ended. Drusus' marriage to
Antonia Minor was considered
an unbreakable affair, whereas Vipsania was "only" the daughter of the
late Agrippa from his first marriage.
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 . No specific reason is
known for his departure, though it could have been a combination of
reasons, including a failing marriage with Julia, as well as a sense
of envy and exclusion over Augustus' apparent favouring of his young
grandchildren-turned-sons Gaius and Lucius. (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.)
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 . This continued the tradition of presenting at least two
generations of heirs. 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 AD 13 was awarded with his second
triumph and equal level of imperium with that of Augustus. The
Augustus hovers over
Tiberius and other Julio-Claudians in the
Great Cameo of France
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. He certainly
fell out of Augustus' favor as an heir; the historian Erich S. Gruen
notes various contemporary sources that state
Postumus Agrippa was a
"vulgar young man, brutal and brutish, and of depraved character".
Postumus Agrippa was murdered at his place of exile either shortly
before or after the death of Augustus.
On 19 August AD 14,
Augustus died while visiting
Nola where his
father had died. Both
Cassius Dio wrote that
rumored to have brought about Augustus' death by poisoning fresh figs.
This element features in many modern works of historical fiction
pertaining to Augustus' life, but some historians view it as likely to
have been a salacious fabrication made by those who had favoured
Postumus as heir, or other of Tiberius' political enemies.
long been the target of similar rumors of poisoning on the behalf of
her son, most or all of which are unlikely to have been true.
Alternatively, it is possible that
Livia did supply a poisoned fig
(she did cultivate a variety of fig named for her that
said to have enjoyed), but did so as a means of assisted suicide
rather than murder. Augustus' health had been in decline in the months
immediately before his death, and he had made significant preparations
for a smooth transition in power, having at last reluctantly settled
Tiberius as his choice of heir. It is likely that
Augustus was not
expected to return alive from Nola, but it seems that his health
improved once there; it has therefore been speculated that Augustus
Livia conspired to end his life at the anticipated time, having
committed all political process to accepting Tiberius, in order to not
endanger that transition.
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
Nola to Rome, and on the day of his burial all public and private
businesses closed for the day.
Tiberius and his son Drusus delivered
the eulogy while standing atop two rostra . Augustus' body was
coffin-bound and cremated on a pyre close to his mausoleum . It was
Augustus joined the company of the gods as a member of
the Roman pantheon . The mausoleum was despoiled by the Goths in 410
during the Sack of
Rome , and his ashes were scattered.
Historian D. C. A. Shotter states that Augustus' policy of favoring
the Julian family line over the Claudian might have afforded Tiberius
sufficient cause to show open disdain for
Augustus after the latter's
Tiberius was always quick to rebuke those who
criticized Augustus. Shotter suggests that Augustus' deification
Tiberius to suppress any open resentment that he might have
harbored, coupled with Tiberius' "extremely conservative" attitude
Also, historian R. Shaw-Smith points to letters of
Tiberius which display affection towards
Tiberius and high regard for
his military merits. Shotter states that
Tiberius focused his anger
and criticism on
Gaius Asinius Gallus (for marrying Vipsania after
Tiberius to divorce her), as well as toward the two
young Caesars, Gaius and Lucius—instead of Augustus, the real
architect of his divorce and imperial demotion.
Cultural depictions of Augustus The Virgin
Mary and Child, the prophetess Sibyl Tivoli bottom left and the
Augustus in the bottom right, from the Très Riches Heures du
duc de Berry . The likeness of
Augustus is that of the Byzantine
Manuel II Palaiologos The
Augustus cameo at the
center of the Medieval
Cross of Lothair
Augustus' reign laid the foundations of a regime that lasted, in one
form or another, for nearly fifteen hundred years through the ultimate
decline of the Western
Roman Empire and until the Fall of
Constantinople in 1453. Both his adoptive surname, Caesar, and his
Augustus became the permanent titles of the rulers of the Roman
Empire for fourteen centuries after his death, in use both at Old Rome
and at New
Rome . In many languages, Caesar became the word for
Emperor, as in the German
Kaiser and in the Bulgarian and subsequently
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
Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Res Gestae Divi Augusti , to be inscribed in bronze
in front of his mausoleum . Copies of the text were inscribed
Empire upon his death. 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
There are a few known written works by
Augustus that have survived
such as his poems Sicily, Epiphanus, and Ajax, an autobiography of 13
books, a philosophical treatise, and his written rebuttal to Brutus'
Eulogy of Cato. Historians are able to analyze existing letters
Augustus to others for additional facts or clues about his
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. The
Roman Senate wished subsequent emperors
to "be more fortunate than
Augustus and better than
Trajan ". Augustus
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
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. 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.
A praefectus vigilum , or "
Prefect of the Watch" was put in charge of
the vigiles , Rome's fire brigade and police. 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.
This was supported by numerous auxiliary units of 500 soldiers each,
often recruited from recently conquered areas.
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.
Besides the advent of swifter communication among 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. 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.
One of the most enduring 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. 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 .
Augustus in an
Egyptian-style depiction, a stone carving of the Kalabsha Temple in
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. He also restored 82
different temples to display his care for the Roman pantheon of
deities. 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
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. 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. The Augustan era poets
Augustus as a defender of Rome, an upholder
of moral justice, and an individual who bore the brunt of
responsibility in maintaining the empire.
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. AD 10/11), fond
of the days of pre-Augustan republican liberty in which he had been
born, openly criticized the Augustan regime. 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. He continued to say that, with Augustus' death and swearing
of loyalty to Tiberius, the people of
Rome simply traded one
slaveholder for another. Tacitus, however, records two contradictory
but common views of Augustus: Fragment of a bronze equestrian
statue of Augustus, 1st century AD, National Archaeological Museum of
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.
had been lavishly beautified. Force had been sparingly used—merely
to preserve peace for the majority.
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.
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. Virgil
Augustus and Octavia, by Jean-Joseph Taillasson
Tacitus was of the belief that
Nerva (r. 96–98) successfully
"mingled two formerly alien ideas, principate and liberty". The
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 . The poet Marcus
Annaeus Lucanus (AD 39–65) was of the opinion that Caesar's victory
Pompey and the fall of
Cato the Younger
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."
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
Great Britain 's virtuous constitutional monarchy to Rome's
moral Republic of the 2nd century BC. In his criticism of Augustus,
the admiral and historian Thomas Gordon (1658–1741) compared
Augustus to the puritanical tyrant
Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658).
Thomas Gordon and the French political philosopher Montesquieu
(1689–1755) both remarked that
Augustus was a coward in battle. 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".
Augustus found at the
Pudukottai hoard, from an ancient
Tamil country ,
Pandyan Kingdom of present-day
Tamil Nadu in
India , a
Indo-Roman trade .
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. 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
The measures of taxation in the reign of
Augustus were determined by
population census, with fixed quotas for each province. Citizens of
Rome and Italy paid indirect taxes, while direct taxes were exacted
from the provinces. 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 .
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. The tax farmers had gained great infamy for
their depredations, as well as great private wealth, by winning the
right to tax local areas.
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.
1st century coin of the
Himyarite Kingdom, southern coast of the
Arabian peninsula . This is also an imitation of a coin of Augustus.
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. As it was effectively considered
Augustus' private property rather than a province of the Empire, it
became part of each succeeding emperor's patrimonium. 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
Prefect of the
Praetorian Guard . 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, as well as bread and circuses for the
population of Rome.
During his reign the circus games resulted in the killing of 3,500
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
is 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
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
Augustus because several of the most significant events in his
rise to power, culminating in the fall of Alexandria, fell in that
Main page: Category:Augustan building projects Further information:
De architectura Close up on the sculpted detail of
Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace), 13 BC to 9 BC
On his deathbed,
Augustus boasted "I found a
Rome of bricks; I leave
to you one of marble." Although there is some truth in the literal
meaning of this,
Cassius Dio asserts that it was a metaphor for the
Marble could be found in buildings of
Augustus, but it was not extensively used as a building material until
the reign of Augustus.
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. The relief sculptures decorating the
Ara Pacis visually augmented the written record of Augustus' triumphs
in the Res Gestae. Its reliefs depicted the imperial pageants of the
praetorians , the Vestals, and the citizenry of Rome.
He also built the
Temple of Caesar
Temple of Caesar , the
Baths of Agrippa
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.
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.
There are also many buildings outside of the city of
Rome that bear
Augustus' name and legacy, such as the Theatre of Mérida in modern
Maison Carrée built at
Nîmes in today's southern France,
as well as the
Trophy of Augustus at
La Turbie , located near
The Temple of
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. 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
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.
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.
Corinthian order of architectural style originating from ancient
Greece was the dominant architectural style in the age of
the imperial phase of Rome.
Suetonius once commented that
unworthy of its status as an imperial capital, yet
Agrippa set out to dismantle this sentiment by transforming the
Rome upon the classical Greek model.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE AND OFFICIAL IMAGES
Meroë Head of Augustus, bronze
Roman portraiture bust from
Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush (
Nubia , modern Sudan), 27-25 BC
His biographer Suetonius, writing about a century after Augustus'
death, described his appearance as: "... unusually handsome and
exceedingly graceful at all periods of his life, though he cared
nothing for personal adornment. He was so far from being particular
about the dressing of his hair, that he would have several barbers
working in a hurry at the same time, and as for his beard he now had
it clipped and now shaved, while at the very same time he would either
be reading or writing something ... 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, although
Julius Marathus, his freedman
and keeper of his records, says that he was five feet and nine inches
(just under 5 ft. 7 in., or 1.70 meter, in modern height
measurements), but this was concealed by the fine proportion and
symmetry of his figure, and was noticeable only by comparison with
some taller person standing beside him...", adding that "his shoes
somewhat high-soled, to make him look taller than he really was"
His official images were very tightly controlled and idealized,
drawing from a tradition of
Hellenistic royal portraiture rather than
the tradition of realism in
Roman portraiture . He first appeared on
coins at the age of 19, and from about 29 BC "the explosion in the
number of Augustan portraits attests a concerted propaganda campaign
aimed at dominating all aspects of civil, religious, economic and
military life with Augustus' person." The early images did indeed
depict a young man, but although there were gradual changes his images
remained youthful until he died in his seventies, by which time they
had "a distanced air of ageless majesty". Among the best known of
many surviving portraits are the
Augustus of Prima Porta , the image
on the Ara Pacis, and the
Via Labicana Augustus , which shows him as a
priest. Several cameo portraits include the
Blacas Cameo and Gemma
Julio-Claudian family tree and Family tree of the Octavii
ANCESTORS OF AUGUSTUS
16. Gaius Octavius I
8. Gaius Octavius II
4. Gaius Octavius III
2. Gaius Octavius IV
Marcus Atius Balbus
Marcus Atius Balbus
26. Sextus Pompeius
Atia Balba Caesonia
Gaius Julius Caesar II
Gaius Julius Caesar III
7. Julia Minor
30. Lucius Aurelius Cotta
Augustus' only biological (non-adopted) child was his daughter.
* Julia (Julia Major) (39 BC – AD 14)
Gaius Julius Caesar (20 BC – AD 4), no issue
Vipsania Julia (Julia Minor) (19 BC – AD 28)
Aemilia Lepida (fiancee of Claudius) (4 BC – AD 53)
* Marcus Junius Silanus Torquatus (14 – 54)
Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus the younger (50–66), died young
Junia Calvina (15–79), no issue
Decimus Junius Silanus Torquatus (d. 64), no issue
Lucius Junius Silanus Torquatus the elder (d. 49), no issue
Junia Lepida (ca 18–65), issue unknown
* Unnamed illegitimate son by Decimus Junius Silanus (d. AD 8),
ordered to be exposed by Augustus
Julius Caesar (17 BC – AD 2), no issue
Vipsania Agrippina II (Agrippina Major) (14 BC – AD 33)
Germanicus (6–30), no issue
Germanicus (7–33), no issue
Gaius Julius Caesar
Germanicus Major (died before AD 12)
Gaius Julius Caesar
Germanicus Minor (Caligula) (12–41)
* Julia Drusilla (39–41), died young
Julia Agrippina (Agrippina Minor) (15–59)
Germanicus (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus)
Claudia Augusta (Jan. 63 – April 63), died young
* Julia Drusilla (16–38), no issue
Julia Livilla (18–42), no issue
Julius Caesar (? – ?), either born before
Caesar , between
Drusus Caesar and
Gaius Caesar Minor (Caligula) or
Gaius Caesar Minor (Caligula) and
* Son (? – ?), referenced as Ignotus
Agrippa Postumus (12 BC – AD 14), no issue
* Tiberillus (born and died almost immediately 11 BC), son by
Augustan literature (ancient Rome)
Augustan literature (ancient Rome)
* Caesar\'s Comet
* Gaius Octavian (
Indo-Roman trade and relations
Julio-Claudian family tree
* Family tree of the Octavii Rufi
* Temple of
* ^ A B Classical Latin spelling and reconstructed Classical Latin
pronunciation of the names of Augustus:
* GAIVS OCTAVIVS
* GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR OCTAVIANVS
* IMPERATOR CAESAR DIVI F(ILIVS) AVGVSTVS
The spelling AGVSTVS, indicating the pronunciation , occurs in
inscriptions (Allen 1965 , p. 61). * ^ A B
Imperator Caesar Divi
Augustus means "Commander Caesar, Son of the God , the
* ^ The dates of his rule are contemporary dates;
under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian
after 45 BC. Due to departures from
Julius Caesar's intentions,
Augustus finished restoring the
Julian calendar in March AD 4, and the
correspondence between the proleptic
Julian calendar and the calendar
Rome is uncertain before 8 BC. (Blackburn his son
Cleopatra was not recognized by Roman law and was not
mentioned in his will.
* ^ If the testimony of Marcus Primus can be believed, where during
his trial for illegally launching a war in Thrace, he asserted that he
acted on the orders of Marcellus and
Augustus – see Southern, p. 108
and Eck (2003), p. 55
* ^ Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary.
Harlow, England: Longman. ISBN 0-582-05383-8 . entry "Augustus"
* ^ Jo-Ann Shelton, As the Romans Did (Oxford University Press,
* ^ Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.93–94
* ^ (
Suetonius 2013 , §5, footnote a)
Roman calendar .
* ^ Suetonius,
* ^ 5–6 on-line text.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 14.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 23.
* ^ Suetonius,
Nicolaus of Damascus ,
Archived 26 July 2007 at
* ^ Suetonius,
Quintilian , 12.6.1.
* ^ A B Suetonius,
* ^ Nicolaus of Damascus,
Augustus 4. Archived 26 July 2007 at
* ^ A B C Rowell (1962), 16.
* ^ Nicolaus of Damascus,
Augustus 6. Archived 26 July 2007 at
* ^ Velleius Paterculus 2.59.3.
* ^ A B Suetonius,
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 9.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 15.
Augustus 68, 71.
Appian , Civil Wars 3.9–11.
* ^ E.g., Cicero. Letters to Atticus. Perseus Digital Library. pp.
16:14. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
* ^ Mackay (2004), 160.
* ^ A B C D E F Eck (2003), 10.
* ^ Southern,
Augustus pp. 20–21
* ^ Southern,
Augustus pp. 21
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 9–10.
* ^ A B Rowell (1962), 19.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 18.
* ^ Eder (2005), 18.
Appian , Civil Wars 3.11–12.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 24.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 27.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 20.
* ^ Eck (2003), 11.
* ^ Syme (1939), 114–120.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 26.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 30.
* ^ Eck (2003), 11–12.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 21.
* ^ Syme (1939), 123–126.
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003), 12.
* ^ A B C Rowell (1962), 23.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 24.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 29.
* ^ Syme (1939), 167.
* ^ Syme (1939), 173–174
* ^ Scullard (1982), 157.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 26–27.
* ^ A B C Rowell (1962), 27.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 32–33.
* ^ Eck (2003), 14.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 28.
* ^ Syme (1939), 176–186.
* ^ Sear, David R. "Common Legend Abbreviations On Roman Coins".
Archived from the original on 30 July 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2007.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 15.
* ^ A B Scullard (1982), 163.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 16.
* ^ Southern (1998), 52–53.
* ^ A B Scullard (1982), 164.
* ^ A B Scott (1933), 19–20.
* ^ A B C Scott (1933), 19.
* ^ Scott (1933), 20.
* ^ Syme (1939), 202.
* ^ Eck (2003), 17.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 17–18.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 18.
* ^ Eck (2003), 18–19.
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003), 19.
* ^ A B Rowell (1962), 32.
* ^ A B C D E Eck (2003), 20.
* ^ Scullard (1982), 162
Alexander Helios ,
Cleopatra Selene II , and Ptolemy
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003) 21.
* ^ A B C D Eder (2005), 19.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 22.
* ^ Eck (2003), 23.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 24.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 25.
* ^ Eck (2003), 25–26.
* ^ A B C D E Eck (2003), 26.
* ^ Eck (2003), 26–27.
* ^ Eck (2003), 27–28.
* ^ Eck (2003), 29.
* ^ Eck (2003), 29–30.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 30.
* ^ Eder (2005), 20.
* ^ Eck (2003), 31.
* ^ Eck (2003), 32–34.
* ^ Eck (2003), 34.
* ^ Eck (2003), 34–35
* ^ Eder (2005), 21–22.
* ^ Eck (2003), 35.
* ^ Eder (2005), 22.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 37.
* ^ Eck (2003), 38.
* ^ Eck (2003), 38–39.
* ^ Eck (2003), 39.
* ^ Green (1990), 697.
* ^ Scullard (1982), 171.
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003), 49.
* ^ Gruen (2005), 34–35.
* ^ A B C D CCAA, 24–25.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 38–39.
* ^ A B C D E Eck (2003), 45.
* ^ Eck (2003), 44–45.
* ^ Eck (2003), 113.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 80.
* ^ A B Scullard (1982), 211.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 46.
* ^ Scullard (1982), 210.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 34.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 47.
* ^ A B C D Eder (2005), 24.
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003), 50.
* ^ Eck (2003), 149
* ^ Eck (2003), 3, 149.
* ^ Eder (2005), 13.
* ^ Eck (2003), 3.
* ^ Wells, p. 51
* ^ Holland, p. 294
* ^ A B Davies, p. 259
* ^ Ando, p. 140; Raaflaub, p. 426; Wells, p. 53
* ^ Southern, p. 108; Holland, p. 295
* ^ A B C Eder (2005), 25.
* ^ A B C D E F Eck (2003), 56.
* ^ Gruen (2005), 38.
* ^ A B Stern, Gaius, Women, children, and senators on the Ara
Pacis Augustae: A study of Augustus' vision of a new world order in 13
BC, p. 23
* ^ Holland, pp. 294–95; Southern, p. 108
* ^ A B C D E Eder (2005), 26.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 36.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 57.
* ^ Gruen (2005), 37.
* ^ Eck (2003), 56–57.
* ^ A B Southern, p. 109; Holland, p. 299
* ^ Wells, p. 53
* ^ A B Southern, p. 108
* ^ Holland, p. 300
* ^ Syme, p. 333
* ^ Syme, p. 333; Holland, p. 300; Southern, p. 108
* ^ Wells, p. 53; Raaflaub, p. 426
* ^ Eck (2003), 57–58.
* ^ Eck (2003), 59.
* ^ A B Eder (2005), 30.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 80.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 427.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 60.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 61.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 117.
* ^ Dio 54.1, 6, 10.
* ^ Eck (2003), 78.
* ^ Swan, p. 241; Syme, p. 483
* ^ Wells, p. 53; Holland, p. 301
* ^ Davies, p. 260; Holland, p. 301
* ^ Holland, p. 301
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 43.
* ^ 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).
* ^ Eder (2005), 28.
* ^ Mackay (2004), 186.
* ^ Eck (2003), 129.
* ^ Syme (1939), 337–338.
* ^ Everett (2006), 217.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 93.
* ^ Eck (2003), 95.
* ^ A B C D E F G Eck (2003), 94.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 97.
* ^ Eck (2003), 98.
* ^ Eck (2003), 98–99.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 99.
* ^ A B C Bunson (1994), 416.
* ^ A B C D E Eck (2003), 96.
* ^ Brosius (2006), 96–97, 136–138.
* ^ Eck (2003), 95–96.
* ^ Brosius (2006), 97; see also Bivar (1983), 66–67.
* ^ Rowell (1962), 13.
* ^ Eck (2003), 101–102.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 417.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 31.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 50.
* ^ Eck (2003), 114–115.
* ^ Eck (2003), 115.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 44.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 58.
* ^ Syme (1939), 416–417.
* ^ Scullard (1982), 217.
* ^ Syme (1939), 417.
* ^ A B C Eck (2003), 116.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 46.
* ^ Eck (2003), 117–118.
* ^ Gruen (2005), 46–47.
* ^ Eck (2003), 119.
* ^ Eck (2003), 119–120.
* ^ A B Gruen (2005), 49.
Tacitus Annals 1.5
Cassius Dio 55.22.2; 56.30
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* ^ A B Eck (2003), 123.
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* ^ Shotter (1966), 210–212.
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* ^ Suetonius,
* ^ Eck (2003), 1–2
* ^ Eck (2003), 2.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 47.
* ^ Bourne (1918), 53–66.
* ^ A B C D E Eck (2003), 79.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 345.
* ^ Eck (2003), 85–87.
* ^ Eck (2003), 86.
* ^ A B Eck (2003), 81.
* ^ Chisholm (1981), 122.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 6.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 341.
* ^ Bunson (1994), 341–342.
* ^ A B C Eder (2005), 23.
* ^ Tacitus, Annals I.3
* ^ Kelsall (1976), 120.
* ^ A B C D Starr (1952), 5.
* ^ Tacitus, The Annals, I 9
* ^ Tacitus, The Annals, I 10
* ^ Everitt (2006), 324–325.
* ^ A B Starr (1952), 6.
* ^ A B Kelsall (1976), 118.
* ^ A B Kelsall (1976), 119.
* ^ A B C D Eck (2003), 83–84.
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* ^ Eck (2003), 122.
* ^ A B Bunson (1994), 32.
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Augustus 79, translated by J. C. Rolfe .
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