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A brief history of the political life of augustus caesar

His father, also Gaius Octavius, came from a respectable but undistinguished family of the equestrian order and was governor of Macedonia. Shortly after Octavius's birth, his father gave him the surname of Thurinus, possibly to commemorate the Macedonian victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves. He spent his early years in his grandfather's house near Veletrae modern Velletri. He spent most of his remaining childhood in the house of his stepfather, Lucius Marcius Philippus. He put on the toga virilis at fifteen, and was elected to the College of Pontiffs.

Caesar requested that Octavius join his staff for his campaign in Africa, but his mother protested that he was too young. The following year 46 B. When he had recovered, he sailed to the front, but was shipwrecked.

After coming ashore with a handful of companions, he made it across hostile territory to Caesar's camp, which impressed his great-uncle considerably. Caesar and Octavius returned home in the same carriage, and Caesar secretly changed his will. When Caesar's will was read it revealed that, having no legitimate children, he had adopted his great-nephew as his son a brief history of the political life of augustus caesar main heir.

By virtue of his adoption, Octavius assumed the name Gaius Julius Caesar. Roman tradition dictated that he also append the surname Octavianus Octavian to indicate his biological family; however, no evidence exists that he ever used that name. Mark Antony later charged that he had earned his adoption by Caesar through sexual favors, though Lives of the Twelve Caesars scribe, Suetonius, describes Antony's accusation as political slander.

Crossing over to Italia, he bolstered his personal forces with Caesar's veteran legionaries, gathering support by emphasizing his status as heir to Caesar. Only eighteen years old, he was consistently underestimated by his rivals for power. The three formed junta called the Second Triumvirate, an explicit grant of special powers lasting five years and supported by law, unlike the unofficial First Triumvirate of Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, Caesar, and Marcus Licinius Crassus.

  • His only evident advantage in life is that his grandmother is Julia, sister of Julius Caesar;
  • Antony occupied himself with military campaigns in the East and a romantic affair with Cleopatra; Octavian built a network of allies in Rome, consolidated his power, and spread propaganda implying that Antony was becoming less than Roman because of his preoccupation with Egyptian affairs and traditions;
  • The example of Julius Caesar's end makes Octavian cautious in pursuit of supreme power;
  • The two victors separate to secure control of the empire.

Going beyond a simple purge of those allied with the assassins, the triumvirs were probably motivated by a need to raise money to pay their troops. After two battles at Philippi in Macedoniathe Caesarian army was victorious and Brutus and Cassius committed suicide 42 B. After the battle, a new arrangement was made between the members of the Second Triumvirate: Lepidus, now clearly marked as an unequal partner, settled for the province of Africa. Antony later left Cleopatra to make a strategic marriage with Octavian's sister, Octavia Minor, in 40 B.

During their marriage Octavia gave birth to two daughters, both named Antonia. Antony occupied himself with military campaigns in the East and a romantic affair with Cleopatra; Octavian built a network of allies in Rome, consolidated his power, and spread propaganda implying that Antony was becoming less than Roman because of his preoccupation with Egyptian affairs and traditions. The situation grew more and more tense, and finally, in 32 B.

It was quickly decided. In the bay of Actium on the western coast of Greeceafter Antony's men began deserting, the fleets met in a great battle in which many ships burned and thousands on both sides lost their lives.

Augustus Biography

Octavian defeated his rivals, who then fled to Egypt. He pursued them, and following another defeat, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra also committed suicide after her upcoming role in Octavian's Triumph was "carefully explained to her," and Caesarion was "butchered without compunction.

The creation of the Principate Did you know? Augustus Caesar ended a century of civil wars and gave Rome an era of peace, prosperity, and imperial greatness, known as the Pax Romana, "Roman peace" Augustus as a magistrate.

Years of civil war had left Rome in a state of near-lawlessness, but the Republic was not prepared to accept the control of Octavian as a despot. At the same time, Octavian could not simply give up his authority without risking further civil wars amongst the Roman generals, and even if he desired no position of authority whatsoever, his position demanded that he look to the well-being of the city and provinces.

Disbanding his personal forces, Octavian held elections and took up the position of consul; as such, though he had given up his personal armies, he was now legally in command of the legions of Rome.

  1. The term Augustan Age will come to represent the idea of cultural excellence, just as the name of Augustus's close friend Maecenas - enthusiastic supporter of both Virgil and Horace - is now synonymous with artistic patronage.
  2. But among the supporters of Caesar he has a natural opponent - Mark Antony , the dictator's trusted lieutenant, who did more than anyone to calm the situation after the Ides of March. A victory for the young and inexperienced Octavian gives him the prestige to negotiate on equal terms with Antony.
  3. Mark Antony later charged that he had earned his adoption by Caesar through sexual favors, though Lives of the Twelve Caesars scribe, Suetonius, describes Antony's accusation as political slander. These actions were highly abnormal from the Roman Senate, but this was not the same body of patricians that had murdered Caesar.
  4. On August 19, 14 B. With maius imperium, Augustus was the only individual able to receive a triumph as he was ostensibly the head of every Roman army.
  5. Going beyond a simple purge of those allied with the assassins, the triumvirs were probably motivated by a need to raise money to pay their troops.

The first settlement In 27 B. Reportedly, the suggestion of Octavian's stepping down as consul led to rioting amongst the Plebeians in Rome. A compromise was reached between the Senate and Octavian's supporters, known as the First Settlement. Octavian was given proconsular authority over the Western half and Syria. The provinces combined contained almost 70 percent of the Roman legions. The Senate also gave him the titles Augustus and Princeps.

Augustus was a title of religious rather than political authority. In the mindset of contemporary religious beliefs, it would have cleverly symbolized a stamp of authority over humanity that went beyond any constitutional definition of his status.

  • But it signals the end of any pretence of alliance between the two rivals for power;
  • Additionally, Augustus was granted imperium proconsulare maius, or "imperium over all the proconsuls," which translated to the right to interfere in any province and override the decisions of any governor;
  • Octavian returned to Rome in triumph.

Additionally, after the harsh methods employed in consolidating his control, the change in name would also serve to separate his benign reign as Augustus from his reign of terror as Octavian. Princeps translates to "first-citizen" or "first-leader. For example, Pompey had held the title. In addition, and perhaps the most dangerous innovation, the Roman Senate granted Augustus the right to wear the Civic Crown of laurel and oak. This crown was usually held above the head of a Roman general during a Roman Triumph, with the individual holding the crown charged to continually repeat, "Remember, thou art mortal," to the triumphant general.

The fact that not only was Augustus awarded this crown but awarded the right to actually wear it upon his head is perhaps the clearest indication of the creation of a monarchy. However, it must be noted that none of these titles, or the Civic Crown, granted Octavian any additional powers or authority. For all intents and purposes the new Augustus was simply a highly-honored Roman citizen, holding the consulship. These actions were highly abnormal from the Roman Senate, but this was not the same body of patricians that had murdered Caesar.

Both Antony and Octavian had purged the Senate of suspect elements and planted it with their loyal partisans. How free a hand the Senate had in these transactions, and what back room deals were made, remain unknown.

The second settlement In 23 B. Augustus was granted the power of a tribune tribunicia potestasthough not the title, which allowed him to convene the Senate and people at will and lay business before it, veto the actions of either the Assembly or the Senate, preside over elections, and the right to speak first at any meeting. Also included in Augustus' tribunician authority were powers usually reserved for the Roman censor. These included the right to supervise public morals and scrutinize laws to ensure they were in the public interest, as well as the ability to hold a census and determine the membership of the Senate.

No Tribune of Rome had held these a brief history of the political life of augustus caesar previously, and 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. Whether censorial powers were granted to Augustus as part of his tribunician authority, or he simply assumed these responsibilities, is still a matter of debate.

In addition to tribunician authority, Augustus was granted sole imperium within the city of Rome itself: All armed forces in the city, formerly under the control of the Praefects, were now under the sole authority of Augustus.

Additionally, Augustus was granted imperium proconsulare maius, or "imperium over all the proconsuls," which translated to the right to interfere in any province and override the decisions of any governor. With a brief history of the political life of augustus caesar imperium, Augustus was the only individual able to receive a triumph as he was ostensibly the head of every Roman army. Many of the political subtleties of the Second Settlement seem to have evaded the comprehension of the Plebeian class.

When, in 22 B. In 22, 21, and 20 B. Finally, in 19 B. This seems to have assuaged the populace; regardless of whether or not Augustus was actually a consul, the importance was that he appeared as one before the people.

With these powers in mind, it must be understood that all forms of permanent and legal power within Rome officially lay with the Senate and the people; Augustus was given extraordinary powers, but only as a pronconsul and magistrate under the authority of the Senate. Augustus never presented himself as a king or autocrat, once again only allowing himself to be addressed by the title princeps. After the death of Lepidus in 13 B. Later Roman Emperors would generally be limited to the powers and titles originally granted to Augustus, though often, in order to display humility, newly appointed Emperors would often decline one or more of the honorifics given to Augustus.

Augustus Caesar

Just as often, as their reign progressed, Emperors would appropriate all of the titles, regardless of whether they had actually been granted by the Senate.

The Civic Crown, consular insignia, and later the purple robes of a Triumphant general toga picta became the imperial insignia well into the Byzantine eraand were even adopted by many Germanic tribes invading the former Western empire as insignia of their right to rule.

Death and Succession Augustus' control of power throughout the Empire was so absolute that it allowed him to name his successor, a custom that had been abandoned and derided in Rome since the foundation of the Republic. At first, indications pointed toward his sister's son, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who had been married to Augustus' daughter Julia the Elder. However, Marcellus died of food poisoning in 23 B. Reports of later historians that this poisoning, and other later deaths, were caused by Augustus' wife, Livia Drusilla, are inconclusive at best.

After the death of Marcellus, Augustus married his daughter to his right hand man, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. This union produced five children, three sons and two daughters: Augustus' intent to make the first two children his heirs was apparent when he adopted them as his own children.

Augustus also showed favor to his stepsons, Livia's children from her first marriage, Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus and Tiberius Claudius, after they had conquered a large portion of Germany.

  1. The fact that not only was Augustus awarded this crown but awarded the right to actually wear it upon his head is perhaps the clearest indication of the creation of a monarchy. The three men, who called themselves the Second Triumvirate a group of three officials or government leaders in ancient Rome , defeated their opponents in 42 B.
  2. In many languages, caesar became the word for "emperor," as in German Kaiser , in Dutch keizer , and in Russian Tsar.
  3. Unlike Caesar, one of Rome's military heroes, Augustus was sickly as a young boy. 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 thirteenth century scholar Johannes de Sacrobosco.
  4. The first settlement In 27 B. However, Marcellus died of food poisoning in 23 B.
  5. The following year 46 B.

After Agrippa died in 12 B. Tiberius shared in Augustus' tribune powers, but shortly thereafter went into retirement. After the early deaths of both Gaius and Lucius in 4 and 2 C. On August 19, 14 B. Postumus Agrippa and Tiberius had been named co-heirs. However, Postumus had been banished, and was put to death around the same time. The one who ordered his death is unknown, but the way was clear for Tiberius to assume the same powers that his stepfather had.

Augustus' famous last words to his friends were, "Since well I've played my part, all clap your hands, and from the stage dismiss me with applause"—a common Greek ending to comedies, referring to the play-acting and regal authority that he had put on as emperor. He died kissing his wife Livia, uttering these last words: In many languages, caesar became the word for "emperor," as in German Kaiserin Dutch keizerand in Russian Tsar. The cult of the Divine Augustus continued until the state religion of the Empire was changed to Christianity in the fourth century.

Consequently, there are many excellent statues and busts of the first, and in some ways the greatest, of the emperors. Augustus' mausoleum originally contained bronze pillars inscribed with a record of his life, the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, which had also been disseminated throughout the empire during his lifetime. Many consider Augustus to be Rome's greatest emperor; his policies certainly extended the empire's life span and initiated the celebrated Pax Romana or Pax Augusta.

  • Finally, in 19 B;
  • Lepidus, now clearly marked as an unequal partner, settled for the province of Africa;
  • 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;
  • During the years after his victorious return to Rome he seems to sidle, sometimes almost reluctantly, into the role which he will fill with such skill - that of emperor.

He was handsome, intelligent, decisive, and a shrewd politician, but he was not perhaps as charismatic as Julius Caesar or Mark Antony. Nevertheless, his legacy proved more enduring.