Augustus Biography

Augustus, also known as Octavian, was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor. He gained prominence at a young age and eventually became the adopted son and heir of his great-uncle Julius Caesar. After overcoming various challenges, he successfully claimed his inheritance and went on to establish a period of relative peace known as Pax Romana. Augustus also implemented numerous advancements, including a new taxation system, road networks, and official services such as the Praetorian Guard. He achieved military conquests and formed alliances with neighboring states, including a significant peace agreement with the Parthian Empire.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus
  • Died At Age: 76
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Livia (m. 38 BC–14 AD), Clodia Pulchra (m. 42 BC–40 BC), Scribonia (m. 40 BC–38 BC)
    • Father: Julius Caesar
    • Mother: Atia Balba Caesonias
    • Siblings: Octavia the Elder, Octavia the Younger
    • Children: Agrippa Postumus, Gaius Caesar, Julia the Elder, Lucius Caesar, Tiberius
  • Born Country: Roman Empire
  • Died on: August 19, 14
  • Place of death: Nola, Italy
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Praetorian Guard, Vigiles

Childhood & Early Life

Gaius Octavius was born on September 23, 63 B.C. in Velletri, Italy to Gaius Octavius and Atia Balba Caesonia. His father, a former governor of Macedonia, passed away when Octavius was four years old. His mother later married Lucius Marcius Philippus, who paid little attention to Octavius. As a result, Octavius was sent to live with his grandmother, Julia Caesaris, who passed away in 52 or 51 BC.

After donning the toga virilis, Octavius was elected to the College of Pontiffs in 47 BC and put in charge of the Greek games the following year. He was supposed to accompany Caesar to Hispania in 46 BC but fell ill. After recovering, he joined Caesar’s camp after travelling across hostile territories, impressing Caesar and becoming the primary beneficiary in his will.

In 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated, leaving Octavius as his political heir and heir to two-thirds of his estate. Octavius was in Illyria at the time and immediately sailed to Italia.

Ascension & Reign

Octavius faced opposition from Mark Antony, Caesar’s chief lieutenant, who had taken possession of Caesar’s assets and refused to hand over his funds to Octavius. Octavius arranged for funds on his own to honor Caesar’s bequests to the Roman people. Despite the senate’s opposition to Antony, they believed Octavius could be manipulated and he became a senate member before turning 20.

When Decimus Brutus refused to give up Cisalpine Gaul, Antony besieged him at Mutina. Octavius offered his help and relieved the siege. However, much of the credit was given to Brutus rather than Octavius, which led to Octavius playing no further part in the war. He marched into Rome and became a consul, while Antony made an alliance with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.

Octavius eventually reached an agreement with Antony and Lepidus, forming the Second Triumvirate and naming 300 senators and 2,000 equites as outlaws. They did this to eradicate their enemies. After winning two battles at Philippi, the Triumvirate’s forces defeated Brutus and Cassius. Antony took much of the credit for himself.

After the victory, Antony gave Gaul, Hispania, and Italia to Octavius, while he moved to Egypt in an alliance with Queen Cleopatra VII. Octavius divorced his first wife, Clodia Pulchra, and had her sent back home. This led to a war against Octavius by Clodia’s mother, Fulvia, and Lucius Antony. Fulvia was defeated and exiled.

In collaboration with Lepidus, Octavius launched a war against Sextus Pompeius in Sicily in 36 BC. Lepidus tried to claim the city for himself, but his troops sided with Octavius. This act led to Lepidus leaving the triumvirate.

Mark Antony, who had married Octavius’ sister, sent her back in 32 BC to ally with Cleopatra. This was viewed as desertion by Augustus, and the senate revoked Antony’s consul power. After several unsuccessful wars, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BC.

In 27 BC, Octavius was awarded the name “Augustus” by the senate. This new title, derived from the Latin word Augere, meaning “to increase,” can be translated as “the illustrious one.”

Augustus led successful conquests of Galatia, Cantabria, the people of the Alps, and the Pannonian tribes of Illyricum. He also retrieved the battle standards of Roman general Crassus from Parthia through diplomatic relations, symbolizing Parthia’s submission to Rome.

Major Works

Augustus is known as the founder of the Roman Empire. His greatest diplomatic achievement was the retrieval of the battle standards of Roman general Crassus after the Battle of Carrhae from the King Phraates IV of Parthia through diplomatic relations. This symbolized Parthia’s submission to Rome.

Personal Life & Legacy

Augustus married three times in his life and had one biological child, a daughter named Julia. He passed away on August 19, 14 AD in Nola after a long illness. His body was brought back to Rome and cremated near the Mausoleum of Augustus.

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