Greatest Accomplishments of Augustus, the First Roman Emperor

Accomplishments of Emperor Augustus

Born around 63 BCE on the Palatine Hill in the city of Rome, Emperor Augustus is said to have hailed from a distinguished and wealthy family. His rise to the throne came when his great-uncle and adoptive Julius Caesar bequeathed his title, position and Roman legion of soldiers in 44 BCE.

Effectively reigning from around 31 BCE to 14 CE, Imperator Caesar Augustus accomplished numerous things for Roman Empire, including expanding the empire to include places in Hispania, Egypt, and Pannonia.

Augustus Greatest Accomplishments

Emperor Augustus (63 BCE -14 CE) was influential in so many regard, having established a strong set of pillars which Imperial Rome rested on for more than 1,500 years. Here are a few major achievements chalked during his four decade reign (31-year reign (27 BCE – 14 CE).

Formed the Second Triumvirate

Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE (by a faction led by Brutus and his ally Cassius), several power-hungry factions vied for ultimate control of Rome. Being the heir to Caesar, a 19-year-old Octavian had to tread carefully. He had to contend with the likes of Marcus Antonius (also known as Marc Antony) and Marcus Lepidus. Both men had taken advantage of the death of Julius Caesar to build a strong power base in Rome.

Amidst all that backstabbing in a very ruthless political environment, Octavian entered into the Second Triumvirate in 43 BCE. The triumvirate was a strategic alliance that saw Octavian make peace with Antony and Lepidus. Together with those allies, Octavian was able to hunt down (with Proscriptions) the people responsible for the assassination of his great-uncle Julius Caesar.

With his close to 30 legions, Augustus went on to steer the Second Triumvirate to victory over their enemies (Brutus and Cassius) at the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia in 42 BCE. Staring defeat in the face, Cassius and Brutus took their own lives.

Thereafter, the triumvirs divided the provinces in the Roman Republic among themselves, effectively ruling as dictators. Octavian took Gaul and the province of Hispania (present day Portugal and Spain). Antony went east, becoming the lover of Queen Cleopatra VII. The province of North Africa was taken by Lepidus.

Bologna, northern Italy, was the place were Octavian, Lepidus and Antony formed the Second Triumvirate. Considering the fact that it was legalized by law, the Second Triumvirate differed from the First Triumvirate made by Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius. | Image: Roman aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right), issued in 41 BC to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate by Octavian, Antony and Marcus Lepidus in 43 BCE

Augustus defeated Marc Antony at the Battle of Actium (31 BCE)

Battle of Actium

Competing needs and ambitions disintegrated the Second Triumvirate, resulting in the Battle of Actium between Marc Antony and Octavian | Image: The Battle of Actium, by Laureys a Castro, painted 1672, National Maritime Museum, London.

In the fifth year of the Second Triumvirate, it was alleged that Marc Antony, who had been blown away by the beauty of Egypt’s Cleopatra VII, was building a strong army in Egypt in order to cease power in Rome. Also, Octavian’s relationship with Antony hit an all-time low because the latter had abandoned his sister in favor of Egypt’s beautiful queen Cleopatra. The rift caused the Second Triumvirate to break down as Lepidus was exiled in 36 BCE.

The remaining two in the alliance – Octavian and Antony – waged war against each other. Octavian emerged the victor at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, destroying both Antony and Cleopatra’s Egyptian fleet. Cleopatra and Antony both committed suicide while Octavian returned to Rome to a hero’s welcome. The young general and dictator had successfully brought Egypt under the control of Rome. That same year, the Roman Senate declared Octavian supreme military commander and consul of Rome.

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