Augustus was the first emperor of the Roman Empire. He was appointed emperor in 27 B.C.E. and ruled until 14 C.E. Augustus was instrumental in helping Rome move from a Republic to Empire.
He reigned over a time in the Roman Empire known as Pax Romana or Roman Peace, which lasted for 40 years. Augustus also created the first standing Roman army and navy to protect the borders of the Roman Empire.
Augustus was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus in 63 B.C.E. within the city of Rome. He was originally known as Octavian. His father was the governor of Macedonia and named Gaius Octavius. Octavian’s mother was named Atia. She was the niece of Julius Caesar.
Octavian spent his childhood years in a village named Velletri outside of Rome. When his father died in 59 B.C.E., Atia remarried. Octavian was then sent to his grandmother Julia who was the sister of Julius Caesar, to be raised.
Joining the army
When Octavian became of age, he joined the Roman army. He followed his uncle Julius Caesar to Hispania or modern-day Spain. Octavian was a good soldier that caught the attention of his uncle. After performing well in battle, Julius Caesar adopted Octavian and made him his heir to the Caesar estate and name. During his time with Julius Caesar, he helped defeat Pompey the Great.
Rise to power
With the defeat of Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar was made dictator of Rome. Although there had been other dictators like Sulla and Cincinnatus, most people felt this was the end of the Roman Republic. But during the Ides of March, Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C.E.
At the time of the assassination, Octavian was away. He returned to Rome and found out he had been adopted by Julius Caesar, making him the heir of Caesar. Octavian began to find support from the Roman Senate and the people of Rome. He also wanted support from the Roman legions under Julius Caesar. Octavian was able to find sufficient support in Rome to become consul.
The Second Triumvirate
While Octavian was gathering power, other people in Rome wanted to rule. One man, in particular, wanted to be a dictator named Marc Antony. Antony was a general under Julius Caesar and a relative. Octavian and Antony began to fight until they were able to form Peace between them. During this time, they formed the Second Triumvirate with Lepidus, another powerful Roman. Together the three men shared mutual power in ruling Rome.
Over time the Second Triumvirate fell apart. There were numerous battles between the three men and their Roman legions. The first to fall was Lepidus, who promised his troops to Octavian. Then Marc Antony formed an alliance with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. The two remaining sides met at the Battle of Actium, where Octavian was victorious. The defeat forced Marc Antony and Cleopatra to commit suicide.
In 27 B.C.E., Octavian was given the title of Augustus by the Roman Senate. This met he was the supreme ruler and emperor of Rome. The Roman Republic had come to an end. The emperor of Rome wielded power even though the Senate and other government officials were still active.
Now known as Augustus, he would rule for 40 years. He brought Peace to Rome after decades of civil wars. This Peace was known as Pax Romana or the Roman Peace. Augustus constructed roads, bridges, buildings, and monuments like the Augustus’ Altar of Peace. He also conquered many of the territories around the Mediterranean Sea, which allowed Romans to become very wealthy again during a time of Peace.
Augustus died in 14 C.E. after 40 years of ruling Rome. He was succeeded by his step-son Tiberius.
Important facts about Augustus
- Born in 63 B.C.E., he was known as Octavian for the majority of his life. He earned the title of Augustus from the Roman Senate in 27 B.C.E.
- His father, named Gaius Octavius Thurinus, was the governor of Macedonia. He died when Octavian was four years old. Octavian’s mother was the niece of Julius Caesar. He was later raised by his grandmother, who was Julius Caesar’s sister.
- Octavian was adopted by Julius Caesar while being a soldier in one of Caesar’s Roman legions.
- Octavian was helpful in defeating Pompey the Great. He returned to Rome upon the news of the assassination of Julius Caesar. At this time, Octavian learned that he had been adopted by the Roman dictator.
- He was able to grow support from the Roman people, and the Senate and Octavian were elected consul.
- Octavian was part of the Second Triumvirate with Marc Antony and Lepidus. Eventually, he was victorious over Lepidus, and Marc Antony then formed an alliance with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt.
- After Octavian defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra, he was named the first Roman Emperor in 27 B.C.E. The Roman Senate gave him the title of Augustus.
- Augustus is responsible for the Pax Romana or Roman Peace, which lasted for 200 years. He was a fair ruler of the people and constructed many bridges, roads, buildings, and monuments like the Augustus Altar of Peace.
What was the birth name of Augustus?
What three men formed the Second Triumvirate?
Marc Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian
Who adopted Octavian during a military campaign?
What famous structure in Rome did Augustus build?
Augustus’ Altar of Peace
What was the Latin name for the Roman Peace?