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Name: Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus
Ruled as: Imperator Caesar Augustus
Reign: 6 January 27 BCE – 19 August 14 CE
Born: 23 September 63 BCE
Died: 19 August 14 CE
Augustus was born as Gaius Octavianus (Gaius Octavius) on 23 September 63 BCE in Rome. He was the first Roman emperor grated the title princeps. His long and reasonable reign gave Rome stabilization and reforms.
He was born into old and wealthy family Octavia, the equites living in Velitrae. Octavian was a son of Gaius Octavius, former praetor and governor of Macedonia, and Atia Balba, niece of Julius Caesar. He had a stepsister, Octavia the Elder, daughter of Octavius and his first wife, Ancharia, and a blood sister, Octavia the Younger.
From the very beginning Octavian was provided with great care and education. He was taught Latin and Greek as well as being fluent in both languages. When he was four, his father died while going to Rome in aim to become a consul. His mother got married again with Lucius Martius Philip in 57 BCE when Octavian was six. Both parents treated the child in a more severe way, but they were still very supportive as they took care of his development by choosing only the best teachers for him.
When he was 12 his grandmother, Julia – Caesar’s sister, died. During her funeral he made a speech about her virtues and merits and impressed everybody with his oratory skills.
When the civil war between Caesar and Pompey broke out 49 BCE Octavian left Rome and went to Velitrae as they parents had suggested as there was a possibility of revenge on the members of Caesar’s family. He came back to Rome a few months later when Italy was in Caesar’s hands.
Right after coming back to the city, in the age of 15, on October 18, he donned white toga and thus became an adult. As Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, member of the College of Pontiffs, died in the battle of Pharsallos, young Octavian took his place in 47 BCE. In 46 BCE during Caesar’s triumph Octavian was given military decorations. Also then the commander noticed this relative and his potential.
Unexpectedly Caesar entrusted Octavian with the organisation of Greek games. Young boy devoted himself fully to do it perfectly. His devotion, however, led to weakening of his body and illness. Caesar took great care of the boy, he visited him and provided the best medical care for him. When Octavian was still ill Caesar set off to Hispania where he intended to fight with Pompey’s sons gathering troops against him. He wanted to take Octavian with him as he considered military service to be crucial in Roman career.
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was an outstanding Roman politician and military commander. Minister and friend of Augustus. Confirmation of his close relationship with Octavian was the fact that the emperor gave him his daughter, Julia.
Autor: Sergey Sosnovskiy (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Eventually Octavian joined Caesar in Hispania after he had recovered. He was accompanied by two servants and best friends, incl. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa whom he had known from their childhood. It turned out that the journey was not so pleasant and free from danger as their vessel sank on the shores of Hispania. When he happily hit Terracona he set off to meet his uncle who was near the city Culpina. Caesar was truly surprised that Octavian had managed to get through such dangerous lands full of bandits and enemies.
Then they both went to New Carthage where an 18 year old Octavian learned how to govern the province. They stayed on the Iberian Peninsula and went to Rome in June 45 BCE. Right after returning to the capital Caesar was supposed to decide about adopting Octavian and making him his heir. Octavian, when he came back home, was included into patricians by the Senate and continued his studies which he had previously interrupted when he had gone to Hispania. He studied under the supervision of two Greek scholars: philosopher Arejos from Alexandria and rhetor Apollodros from Pergamon.
In 45 BCE Caesar ordered Octavian and his friends, including Agrippa, to move to the Greek city Apppolonia and there to continue their studies, focusing mainly on military and political aspects.
In the meantime Caesar decided to appoint Octavian as magister equitum. When on 15 March 44 BCE Caesar was assassinated, Octavian left his studies and came to Rome to get to know what political and military support he had. He stayed in Lupiae, near Brundisium. When he was informed that he had been adopted by Caesar and recognized as his main heir (2/3 of the fortune) he took a new name Gaius Julius Caesar and addded Octavianus.. From then on Octavian became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus in political life, son of the great commander Julius Caesar.
Death of Caesar
, Jean-Léon Gérôme
On 15 March 44 BCE Octavian’s step-father, Julius Caesar
, was assassinated by the conspirators commanded by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Casius Longinus.
War with the assassins
After killing Caesar two main initiators, Marcus Iunius Brutus and Gaius Casius Longinus he had to run away on East in aim to organize the troops against Mark Antony who endeared himself the favor of Caesar’s supporters.
In the meantime also Octavian appeared unexpectedly on the political scene as he gained the support of Caesars troops stationed in Brundisium – they had previously taken part in the war with Partia. He also required to give him some money gathered in the city for the time of war. With those means he was able to get favor of many other veterans from Caesar’s legions. During the march on Rome, in Campania, many other soldiers crossed the floor. Young and inexperienced Octavian had 3000 loyal veterans by his side, whom he paid 500 denarius.
This is how Suetonius presents Octavian’s decisions after the death of Caesar:
(…) he held that his foremost duty was to avenge the death of his great-uncle and protect his achievements. As soon as he returned from Apollonia, he decided to attack Brutus and Cassius first by force, hoping to catch them unawares, then, when they foresaw the danger and escaped, through the courts where they were declared guilty of murder in their absence. Moreover, he himself provided games to celebrate Caesar’s victories, since those who had been given responsibility for this had not dared to do it.
– Suetonius, The Deified Augustus, 10
Octavian came to Rome on 6 May 44 BCE and began struggles with Antony over the title of Caesar’s main successor. He was supported by Cicero who addressed against Mark Antony and thanks to him he got the position of praetor. In the begging Antony was against Octavian and made things difficult for him. Specter of civil war was more and more real. Octavian, forced into Rome pushed his choice for the consul and began to cooperate with Mark Antony.
With time Octavian began to get more and more Caesar’s supporters. Thanks to the inherited money and funds taken from Brundisium he managed to bribe two Antony’s legions. This way he built a huge private army ready to sacrifice. Antony, as he noticed a threat in Rome, left the capital and went to war to Cisalpine Gaul.
Augustus of Prima Porta (statue)
Autor: Till Niermann | Na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa - Na tych samych warunkach 3.0.
Antony besieged Brutus’s forces at Mutina and, despite the Senate’s call to resign from the siege, he did not change his mind. Senate, having no army, started to look for an ally. The choice fell on the young Octavian, who had been already commanding considerable forces. As a supporter of Caesar, he had good opinions among the senators, especially Cicero valued him. Senate decided to entrust Octavian with the country, which gave him legal right to command his soldiers and send them to Gaul, along with the consuls in 43 BCE: Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa, in order to stop the siege. In April 43 BCE Antony’s forces were defeated in the battles of Forum Gallorum and Mutina and forced to retreat to Gaul of Narbonne. Both consuls died during the clashes, and their armies came under the orders of Octavian.
Despite the victories and Senate’s requests of the for further offensive actions, Octavian abandoned the fight. In June he demanded from the Senate the position of consul in place of Hirtius and Pansa and the withdrawal of the decision concerning recognizing Antony as a public enemy. When he learned that the Senate had turned down his requests, the young commander at the head of eight legions entered Rome. There on 19 August 43 BCE he became a consul along with Quintus Pedius. In the meantime, Antony made an agreement with another Caesar supporter, Marcus Emilius Lepidus.
Strengthening the position
Common interests and good contacts between the three “caesars” led to the forming of the so-called II triumvirate on 27 November 43 BCE in Bononia. The difference between the first triumvirate (60 BCE) and the other was that the Octavian’s alliance was accepted by the Senate. The most important decision of the triumvirs was the one concerning dividing the empire. And so, Mark Antony got power over Cisalpine Gaul and Transalpine, Marcus Emilius Lepidus over Spain and Gaul of Narbonne, and Octavian over Africa, Sardinia and Sicily. Each of them also obtained power equal to the consular for 5 years. Octavian, in order to keep peace, resigned from the newly acquired consul office.
Moreover, a list of proscriptions was published, which included 300 senators and 2 000 equites. In return for cooperation with the triumvirs, the gratification was obtained by every citizen who managed to kill the person on the list, and then proved it to the office.
To strengthen the alliance, Octavian married Clodia Pulchra – the stepdaughter of Antonius – with whom he divorced two years later in 41 BCE. Octavian sent the girl to her mother, declaring that she remained a virgin, which was not too surprising given that she was barely 13 at the time of the divorce, and Octavian was known from his sensitivity.
Statua Via Labicana Augustus– sculpture of Augustus as Pontifex Maximus.
Na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa - Na tych samych warunkach 3.0.
Since 1 February 42 BCE when Caesar was deified and granted the title of Divus Iulius, the young Octavian could be called Divi filiis, or “Son of God.” At the beginning of the same year, Antony and Octavian sent 28 legions to Greece, the “fortress” of Brutus and Cassius. Also in Greece they won two battles of Philippi in Macedonia, in October of 42 BCE the combined armies of Antony and Octavian won the victory. Their rivals, as they did not see a chance to defeat their opponents in the war, decided to commit suicide. Their fate divided most of Caesar’s opponents; only a few managed to escape to Sicily, finding shelter at Sextus Pompey’s.
The unexpected news from Rome saying that Lepidus had made an alliance with Sextus led to the establishment of a new division of the empire, in aim to do Lepidus out of the power. Spain, taken from him, was assigned to Octavian, while he could retain Africa, as long as he could clear of charges concerning his treason, which he did.
After defeating Caesar’s assassins, Octavian returned to Italy, while Mark Antony went east and created an alliance with the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII. Octavian arrived in Italy at the beginning of the year 41 BCE, but things did not go his way. Constant attacks of Sextus, who prevented the supply of grain from Africa, only deepened society’s dissatisfaction. Antonius’ brother, Lucius, decided to seize the opportunity. He incited Octavian’s own troops against him, and armed bands were robbing and stealing.Bad news came also from Gaul, where the forces of 15 legions were stationed, whose commanders were obedient only to Antonius. Octavian, without waiting for further events, left Rome to prepare for the fight with Lucius. His absence did not last long, and hearing about Octavian’s approaching army, Lucius escaped to Perusia. The conflict ended in February in 40 BCE, when the inhabitants of the besieged Perusia decided to throw themselves on Octavian’s mercy. Only the city council was imprisoned and then beheaded at the altar of the divine Julius. Lucius became the governor of Spain. Of the many senators who were hiding behind the city walls, only a few were condemned to death, but the city was given to the victors.
As soon as Mark Antony found out about Octavian’s problems with Lucius, he hurried to Italy, where he besieged Brundisium. When it seemed that the civil war would start again, the leaders of adverse armies decided to talk again. After a few days, they ended up with an agreement that allowed Octavian to retain the western provinces, Antony the whole East, and Lepidus Africa. Italia got the status of a neutral province, from which both Octavian and Antonius could carry out recruitment to their armies. The alliance was cemented with the announcement of an engagement between Antony and Octavian’s blood sister, Octavia.
The problems in Italy concerning Sextus Pompey led to a meeting of Sextus, Octavian, and Antony at Cape Misenum in the Gulf of Naples in the summer of 39 BCE, in which the division of the state was once again made. Sextus was given Sicily, Corsica and Peloponnese for 5 years, but with the condition that, after this period, Sextus would be a consul and receive 70 million sesterces as a compensate for the property lost by his father. To strengthen the alliance, earlier in 40 BCE Octavian got married to Scribonia, with whom he had a daughter, Julia. Scribonia was a cousin of the ruler of Sicily, Pompey the Younger, and she was much older than Octavian (she had already been married twice). Octavian, thanks to this relationship, wanted to ensure the supply of grain to Rome. However, their relationship was disastrous. Scribonia was extremely jealous of Octavian, who had a tendency to entertainment. There is a famous story saying that Octavian had organized a sumptuous feast for his friends. There were supposed to be twelve feasters, like the gods of Olympus. Octavian himself took the form of Apollo, and the event echoed in Rome – let us add that it did negatively, because the city had suffered from underprovision.1.
Livia Drusilla (sculpture in basalt). Wife of Augustus had enormous impact on the decisions in the country and on her partner.
However, in 39 BCE, Octavian requested a divorce as he needed political connections between Livius and Clodius family. That was why he married Livia. His choice turned out to be extremely successful – Livia was in her twenties and exceptionally pretty. Apparently, Octavian fell in love with her and highly appreciated her intelligence. Their marriage lasted over fifty years and was characterized by mutual loyalty and respect. But it was childless; their only child was born dead. It is worth mentioning that, despite the official principles of morality, Augustus did not always remain faithful to his wife. There were several names of his lovers, always from the best Roman families. Among them there was Terentia, the wife of the Maecenas himself – a friend and colleague of Octavian. Interestingly, she maintained intimate relationships with the consent of her husband. Antony once accused Octavian that he have relationships with several women at the same time, which was to prove his interest in group sex.
However, leaving behind the love aspects, let us go back to politics. The deal between Pompey the Younger and the triumvirs did not last long because of Octavian, who not only did not give Sextus Sardynia back, but he also appropriated it himself. This led to the resumption of military operations in summer 38 BCE. The first two battles of Cumae and the Strait of Messina ended with the defeat of Octavian. The defeats, however, did not devastate Octavian, who set up a new fleet. In 37 BCE the reinforcements of Marcus Vipsanius Agippa, summoned by Octavian, who had previously been in Gaul, appeared in Rome. At the same time Antony’s reinforcements arrived in Italy. Soon, Octavian met Antonius in Taranto, where they decided to dissolve the alliance with Sextus and ensured mutual help in their actions.
Octavian’s offensive began in July 36 BCE at Tauromenium, where he lost almost the entire fleet, and barely survived. The losses were soon completed and another battle was fought on September 3, 36 BCE. in the bay of Naulochus, it ended with the great defeat of Sextus, who escaped to Messana under the cover of night. Sicily came under the control of Lepidus and Octavian, but eventually came to Octavian’s hands.
In 36 BCE Octavian took over Lepidus’ army, who was deprived of all influence, and lost all offices except the position of the high priest (Pontifex Maximus). Only two triumvirs remained on the stage.
At the time, in the East, Mark Antony led an unsuccessful war with the Parthians. The unsuccessful struggles in the East were fully compensated, however, by the success of Octavian as he conquered Panonia n 35 BCE and successfully completed the mission in Dalmatia the following year. In addition, Antony married the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII, and divorced Octavian’s sister, Octavia. From then on, the triumvirs broke up with each other and began to lead an increasingly aggressive policy.
Octavian, having enormous influence in Rome, persuaded the Vestals to hand him Antony’s will, which said that Antony had written down some eastern provinces to his children with Cleopatra, including Caesarion, the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. In addition, the Senate at the end of 32 BCE officially deprived Antony of consular power and declared war with Cleopatra. These facts led to the outbreak of another civil war.
Octavian managed to collect about 250 vessels, as well as 8 legions and 12 000 riders. Antony’s forces were definitely impressive. Antony’s military fleet consisted of 500 ships, which were much larger than those of Octavian’s. In addition, he was the head of 30 legions, but for direct disposal in Greece, which had been chosen as his headquarters, he had only 19, which were complemented by 12 000 riders.
Battle of Actium, Lorenzo A. Castro
Octavian began to act first. He quickly took Korkyra and then landed on the shores of Epirus. Antony almost did not react at all. In addition, many Antony’s soldiers deserted and came to Octavian.
The decisive struggle between the leaders took place on 2 September 31 in the year of the naval battle of Actium. The forces of Octavian were directed by Marcus Agrippa. In the end, Octavian won, despite his enemy’s advantage. After winning the battle, he went to Athens, from where he was forced to return to Italy to appease the rebellions of Antony’s soldiers and then he set to Alexandria. Antony and Cleopatra immediately went to Alexandria, where they were planning to continue the war. However when Octavian’s army appeared there, Antony’s forces began to give up and Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide as they did not see any chance to escape.
The question remained, what about the young son of Caesar – Caesarion. Octavian asked the philosopher Arejos if he had the right to kill Caesarion. The philosopher, paraphrasing Homer, said: “It’ is not good when there are too many Caesars in the world”. He ordered him to suffocate the boy at the end of August 30 BCE. The other children of Antony and Cleopatra were taken under Octavia’s care. In the same year Egypt became a Roman province, and Octavian took over all the power over the Roman Empire.
He returned to Rome along with Agrippa in 29 BCE, taking a great triumphal entry. As a winner of the civil war and the most powerful man in the country, he had now a difficult choice to make. He had to choose either maintain the republic and give his actual power to the Senate or take the power himself, which might nevertheless cause society’s opposition.So he decided to maintain all the appearances of the republic and in the same time he began to transform the state and conduct reforms, which gradually and silently passed on to him more and more power.
In the state everything functioned as in the time of the republic, the Senate was being convened and officials were being elected, with the only difference that all the candidates had to be accepted by Octavian. In 28 BCE Octavian received the title Princeps senatus, meaning “the main senator” and introduced a new political census sating that only his supporters might sat in the Senate. Octavian himself no longer had the rights to manage provinces and the army that was loyal to him. Nevertheless, the Senate entrusted him with the right to govern the provinces for 10 years, which were enveloped in chaos after the civil war, so Spain, Egypt, Gaul, Syria, Cyprus and Cilicia. In addition, he commanded the legions located in those places.
Also then the provinces were officially divided into:
- senatorial – internal provinces, united with Rome (Asia, Africa, Illylia, Macedonia). The army was not stationed in them (only one legion in Africa), they were managed by proconsul and propraetors.
- imperial – recently acquired (under Octavian’s supervison) requiring a permanent army. They were managed by legates and procuratores.
Temple of Augustus and Livia (Vienne, France, 1st century BCE).
Na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa - Na tych samych warunkach 3.0.
The groundbreaking moment came in 27 BCE, when the Senate for the first time in history, granted Octavian with the title Augustus and Princeps at the request of Plancus. Thus, he became the first Roman emperor, however, while maintaining all appearances of the republic, for example he held the post of consul repeatedly (in the years 31 – 23 BCE). Octavian, began to use the official title: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus, which combined him with both Julius Caesar and the tradition of victory.
The same year, Octavian officially gave the Senate back democratic power, which of course rested in his hands. Augustus received the right to wear a corona civica, which could be only on the heads of the victorious generals during the triumph. He already had full power and the year 27 is considered to be the end of the republic.
In 23 BCE Octavian got the so-called imperium maius proconsulare, or power over all proconsuls. In addition, he received the right of a tribune of the people (tribunicia potestas) for life, which guaranteed him inviolability and the ability to represent the will of the people. Officially, he was also recognized as a patrician and received an empire that gathered all legions, prefects and consuls in his hands. In addition, he was the only one who had the right for a triumph, even if he did not personally lead the army to battle.
He lacked the highest religious title in Rome, the highest priest – pontifex maximus. He obtained it after the death of Marcus Lepidus on 6 March 12 BCE.
This strange system could at first glance resemble the republic, because the Senate was still working. The only difference was the figure of the emperor who was the consul, the tribune of the people, which means, he was inviolable, he was the chief priest and, most importantly, he had authority over the army. To all honors of Augustus should also be added the one given to him by the Senate on 5 February when he was recognized as the father of the fatherland (pater patriae).
Tacitus, rather unfavorable towards Octavian, writes:
(…) but, when he had enticed the soldiery with gifts, the people with food, and everyone with the sweetness of inactivity, he rose up gradually and drew to himself the responsibilities of senate, magistrates, and laws—without a single adversary, since the most defiant had fallen in the battle line or by proscription (…)
– Tacitus, Annals
Octavian’s rule is also the time of expanding the borders of the Roman Empire and of so-called Pax Romana – the state of peace existing inside and outside the country after 100 years of continuous wars.
After the battle of Actium, Egypt became the personal kingdom of Augustus, which was incorporated into the Empire. Augustus chose the following governors: Cornelius Gallus, Elius Gallus and Gaius Petronius, and the region was treated as the private domain of the emperor.
In North Africa, the ruler of Mauritania (today’s Morocco) Juba II recognized himself as the vassal of the Romans, and the territory of Carthage was widened to the east and south.
Mausoleum of Augustus
was built by him in 29 BCE. on the Fields of Mars in Rome, as the burial place of the emperor and his family.
In Spain, the Asturias were fought with a failure, which is why they bribed their leader – Korokotta. In the years 26 – 24 BCE Augustus fought with these tribes, but Agrippa smashed them all. At the end of Octavian’s reign, Northern Spain was conquered, thus subordinating the entire peninsula to Rome.
In 15 BCE the provinces of Noricum and Recia were created in today’s southern Germany and Austria, Then Tiberius conquered the area, but was forced to interrupt because of the outbreak of the Iliro-Panonian uprising. After suppression, the authorities in west Germania received Varus, who was ambushed in 9 CE, and his legions were completely destroyed. He committed suicide and as a result Rome had to give up the areas near Elbe. In Gaul, Druzus conquered in the areas as far as the Elbe river, expanding the Empire’s borders in the north.
In the east, in the battle of Moesia (today’s Serbia and Bulgaria), Crassus, grandson of the former triumvir, marked out for annexing its western part to the Empire, and eastern to Thrace, which was a vassal of Rome. In addition, Dalmatia and Panonia were conquered.
In Asia Minor, Octavian conquered central Galatia, forcing Cappadocia and partly Armenia into the vassalage. Cilicia, Syria were annexed to Rome, and Palestine became a vassal under the rule of Herod the Great.
Augustus was supported by trusted advisor in his reign. The most important person next to Octavian was his childhood friend and faithful companion during the civil war – Marcus Agrippa, who was the actual co-emperor. Gaius Maecenas, an excellent diplomat and an unofficial minister of culture, also had a high position. Augustus with their help and the help of many others led a wise policy.
Octavian, during his reign, carried out a thorough modernization of the state. Princeps sorted out internal affairs, created an efficient administration consisting of qualified officials, reorganized finances (separation of the imperial treasury called fiscus). The financial reform also included the creation of targeted funds, such as:
- Aerarium – public treasury
- Aerarium militare – military treasury
- Patrimonium Caesaris – Emperor’s fortune
In addition, tithe was replaced by the direct taxation – stipendium.. The emperor also decided to remove the Councils. He devoted himself to improving Roman Empire until his death.
In the army Augustus carried out the following reforms:
- Legions– professional army (20 years of service), counting 150 000 soldiers (at the end of August’s life), with permanent equipment of veterans, to which people from the provinces were rarely recruited.
- Auxilia – provincial troops, auxiliary units, mainly based on the riders. After the service, the soldiers received Roman citizenship. The officers were the equites.
- Praetorians – imperial guard with praefecti praetorio as commanders (only equites), who occupied the highest position in the state.
- Cohortes urbanae – city cohorts, paramilitary units of a police character in Rome, headed by the city prefect (praefectus urbi)
Octavian also did a lot for culture. During his reign, he strengthened the role of family in the state. Senators and equites were being punished for not marrying and childlessness with taking away the right of inheritance. Many privileges were granted to large families. In addition, laws against adultery, dissoluteness and luxury were introduced.
He was the protector of fine arts and surrounded himself with people of art (Maecenas, Virgil, Horace). In Roman literature, the period of Octavian’s reign is called the “golden age”. In 17 BCE Octavian organized a wonderful celebration of the century (Ludi Saeculares).
Virgil reaging Aeneid to Augustus, Octavia and Livia (Jean-Baptiste Wicar)
He also proved his talent in the field of rhetoric and literature, creating numerous texts, which, unfortunately, did not survive to our times.
- at least a dozen or so orations, including several funeral;
- philosophical treatise “Encouragement for philosophy” (Hortationes ad philosophiam);
- philosophical treatise “Encouragement for philosophy” (Hortationes ad philosophiam);
- a polemical letter “A response for Brutus about Cato” (Rescripta Bruto de Catone);
- biography of Druzus (Drusi vita);
- collections of letters to family, friends, senate, cities;
- dozens of imperial edicts;
- 13 books of diaries titled Commentarii de vita sua;
- state status report (Breviarium totius imperii);
- a shortened list of own achievements (Index rerum a se gestarum), also known as the “achievements of divine August” (Res gestae divi Augusti);
- a collection of epigrams;
- the hexametric poem ‘(Sicilia);
- the tragedy (Aiax)
Almost none of these survived, we only know some fragments, especially correspondence and diaries.
Only one letter survived from all Augustus’ works mentioned above, but almost in its original form. This is the Index rerum a se gestarum, its text (along with the Greek translation) was found engraved on the outer wall of the temple of Augustus and Roma in Ancara. It is known as the so-called Monumentum Ancyranum.
As for the tragedy of “Ajax, we know its fate thanks to Augustus’ bon mot given by Suetonius. As you know, the Greek hero named Ajax ended his life by throwing himself on his own sword; on the other hand, the pages used in ancient papyrus cards could not be torn, because they were too strong, so unsuccessful texts were washed with a wet sponge. It was known that Augustus began working on the tragedy with great enthusiasm, so after some time someone asked how was Ajax. Augustus replied: “My Ajax threw himself on the sponge”.
It is also worth mentioning his reforms in construction. Rome was divided into 14 regions. He organized a fire service (vigles) and introduced new aqueducts. He raised two theaters and one amphitheater. He rebuilt the temples, erected the sanctuaries of the deities “protectors of the Julian family” and himself, including the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar, Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus, Victoria, Apollo in the Palatine, Romulus – the founder of Rome and Aeneas – the ancestor of Julian family. He removed eastern deities and forbade their worship.
During his reign, there were created the first large public bath and the first open library. A huge mausoleum, the tomb of the emperor and the family, was erected on the Field of Mars. At that time, Pantheon, the temple of all the gods, was finished.
August, having no male offspring, began to consider various candidates. At first he thought about Marcus Marcellus, his nephew who died unexpectedly two years after his wedding with Octavian’s daughter, Julia. Another candidate was Marcus Agrippa, who also died. Finally, the choice fell on Livia’s son from her first marriage, Tiberius. Emperor and appointed him as successor on 26 June 4 CE.
In the year 14, CE 77-year-old Augustus suddenly felt bad. As a result of the weakening of the body, he had to interrupt the journey through Italy. He stayed in the city of Nola in Campania. His condition deteriorated day by day. The body finally did not survive the fight. Suetonius describes his death:
(…) he slipped away, as he was kissing Livia, with these words: ‘Live mindful of our marriage, Livia, and farewell.’ Thus did he have the good fortune to die easily and as he had always wished. For whenever he heard that anyone had died quickly and without suffering, he would pray that he himself and his dear ones would have a similar ‘euthanasia’
– Suetonius, The Deified Augustus, 99
He died on 19 August 14 CE, without pain, as a man who took the state out of the political and economic crisis and rebuilt and introduced the Roman Empire into new times. He was deified and granted the title Divus Augustus
Marriage and offspring
- 43 – 41 BCE – Clodia Pulchra (divorce);
- 40 – 39 BCE – Scribonia (divorce);
- 39 BCE – 14 CE – Livia Drusilla (until Octavian’s death).
Koper Sławomir, Życie prywatne i erotyczne w starożytnej Grecji i Rzymie, Warszawa 1998, s. 200.
Bringmann Klaus, Historia Republiki Rzymskiej: Od początków do czasów Augusta, 2010
Chełminiak Wiesław, Polityk prawie doskonały, "Rzeczpospolita", 19-20 July 2014
Krawczuk Aleksander, Cesarz August, Warszawa 1973
Krawczuk Aleksander, Poczet cesarzy rzymskich, Warszawa 2004
Southern Pat, Oktawian August, Warszawa 2003