Augustus Caesar – Biography, Accomplishments, & Facts
A savvy politician, Octavian was used his might and power to win over the Senate, making them honor him with a number of titles, including the name “Augustus”.
His defining moment came on 16 January, 17 BCE, when he removed every remnant of the structures that made up the republic, ushering in the Roman Empire. At the helm of the empire was Octavian, who had taken the title Imperator Caesar Augustus.
He would then spend the remainder of his very peaceful reign (from 17 BCE to 14 CE) building the very pillars that sustained the Roman Empire for about 1,500 years. Known as the first Roman Empire, Augustus’ reign marked the beginning of 200 years of Pax Romana, the Roman Peace, as Rome absolutely dominated the Mediterranean region. Compared to his great-uncle Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus had a longer and more successful reign.
Fast Facts: Augustus Caesar
Known For: The first Roman Emperor
Also Called: Octavian
Born: 23 September, 63 BCE
Name at birth: Gaius Octavius
Full name: Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian)
Died: 14 CE
Mother: Atia (daughter of Julius Caesar’s sister Julia the Younger)
Father: Gaius Octavius
Ruled: 27 BCE-14 CE
Regnal name: Imperator Caesar Augustus
Education: Several tutors, including
Spouses: Claudia (42-40 BCE), Scribonia (40-38 BCE), Livia (37 BCE – 14 CE)
Children: Julia the Elder
Adopted children: Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Agrippa Postmus, Tiberius
Legacy: Founder of the Roman Empire (the Roman Principate – the first phase of the Roman Empire)
Full name and meaning
From 63 BCE, the year he was born in, to 44 BCE, his full name was Gaius Octavius. Following his fallout with Mark Antony, Augustus was referred to by Antony as “Thurinus”, Augustus’ surname. This was Antony’s way of belittling Augustus. However, Augustus is said to have not taken offense at Antony’s usage of his old name.
Between 44 BCE and 27 BCE, he was known as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian). The name “Octavianus” was the adjectival form of “Octavius”. “Octavian” is the Anglicized version of “Octavianus”. After succeeding Julius Caesar, Augustus sometimes called himself “Gaius Caesar” for short.
After his great-uncle Caesar was deified in 42 BCE, Augustus took to calling himself “divine son” or “son of the divine Julius” (divi fillus).
From the year 38 BCE upwards, he was referred to as Imperator Caesar. “Imperator” stands for commander or “victorious commander”. The latter explanation was used to his name to victory.
Between 27 BCE and 14 CE, he was called with the title “Augustus”, a name that came from his adoptive father’s name (Julius Caesar). The Roman Senate bestowed upon him the name “Augustus” on 16 January, 27 BC.
More Emperor Augustus Facts
- Rocked by a debilitating illness, a son-less Augustus tapped his close friend and trusted general Agrippa as his successor. Upon his recovery, as well as the prevailing dynamics at the time, Augustus adopted his third wife’s son Tiberius, tapping him as his successor. Tiberius was appointed proconsular and given an almost co-regent role.
- To consolidate power within his family, Augustus gave out his daughter’s (Julia) hand in marriage to Tiberius. In the final few years as emperor, Augustus allowed his successor to have imperial power. This co-regency was often used in order to allow for a smooth transition of power to the incoming emperor.
- The immediate emperors that came after Emperor Augustus are often termed as Julio-Claudians. The name stems from the fact that those men – Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero – either came from Augustus’ family or his wife’s family (Claudian).
- Owing to the immense impact he had on the empire, Augustus’ successors were well received by the people. They did not have to deal with too many conflicts over succession.
- Marc Antony accused Octavian of using sexual favors in exchange for the honor bestowed upon him by Julius Caesar. Those forms of slanderous statements were common phenomenon in Rome.
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