Augustus Caesar of Rome was born with the given name Gaius Octavius on September 23, 63 B.C. He took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian) in 44 B.C. after the murder of his great uncle, Julius Caesar. In his will Caesar had adopted Octavian and made him his heir.
Octavian was a shrewd, brilliant and astute politician. Through cold, hard political calculation he was able to achieve ultimate power in Rome. At the time of Caesar’s assassination, Octavian held no official position. Only after he marched on Rome and forced the senate to name him consul, was he established as a power to be reckoned with.
In 43 B.C., Octavian, Marcus Antonius (Marc Antonyone of Julius Caesar’s top lieutenants) and another Roman General, Marcus Lepidus, formed the second Triumvirate to rule Rome. After taking power, the Triumvirate proscribed and slaughtered thousands of political enemies, firmly establishing their control of the Roman government.
In 40 B.C., Antony married Octavia, Octavian’s sister, and later deserted her for Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. When Antony gave Roman provinces to his children by Cleopatra, Octavian declared war on Antony. In 31 B.C. the Roman Navy under Agrippa defeated the combined fleets of Antony and Cleopatra, and within a year both had committed suicide.
In 27 B.C., the Roman Senate granted Octavian the name Augustus, meaning “the exalted.” They also gave him the legal power to rule Rome’s religious, civil and military affairs, with the Senate as an advisory body, effectively making him Emperor.
Rome achieved great glory under Octavian/Augustus. He restored peace after 100 years of civil war; maintained an honest government and a sound currency system; extended the highway system connecting Rome with its far-flung empire; developed an efficient postal service; fostered free trade among the provinces; and built many bridges, aqueducts and buildings adorned with beautiful works of art created in the classical style. Literature flourished with writers including Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Livy all living under the emperor’s patronage.
The empire expanded under Augustus with his generals subduing Spain, Gaul (now France), Panonia and Dalmatia (now parts of Hungary and Croatia). He annexed Egypt and most of southwestern Europe up to the Danube River. After his death, the people the Roman Empire worshipped Augustus as a god.
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Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor
by Anthony Everitt
Everitt tells of Augustus's rapid rise through Roman society, from the sickly grand-nephew of Julius Caesar to "first citizen" of Rome. He offers a new theory of Augustus's murder at the hands of his wife, Livia, presenting his death as an "assisted suicide" intended to secure the transition of imperial power to his stepson, Tiberius. Everitt keeps guesswork to a minimum, building his narrative on solid evidence.
by Pat Southern
A comprehensive biography of Augustus Caesar. Southern avoids complicated discussions of Roman politics and concentrates on the man himself.
The Age of Augustus
by Werner Eck
A clear, concise biography of Augustus.
Augustus Caesar's World
by Genevieve Foster
A slice of history measured by the lifetime of Augustus Caesar. Timelines, charts and illustrations enhance the text.
Livia: First Lady of Imperial Rome
by Anthony A. Barrett
Barrett reconstructs the life of a Livia, Emperor Augustus's wife.
I, Caesar: Ruling the Roman Empire
by Phil Grabsky
A survey of imperial history via biographical sketches of the most significant emperors.
Ancient Rome - the Glorious Empire
The Roman Empire's incredible civic buildings, temples and the ancient city provide fascinating echoes of a truly remarkable people. This program contains superb graphics and computer animation, detailed reconstructions of Roman life, paintings and images, location footage, and insightful interpretation and analysis.
Rome - Engineering an Empire
Abundant in exclusive location footage and cutting-edge CGI graphics, this multiple Emmy Award-winning History Channel program breathes new life into the incredible history and majesty of the epic Roman Empire.
Rome - The Complete First Season
In HBO's Rome series it is 52 B.C.. Dramatic shifts in the balance of power between former friends Pompey (Kenneth Cranham), the leader of the Senate, and Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds), returning to Rome after conquering the Gauls, has the ruling class up in arms.
Rome - The Complete Second Season
It is 44 B.C.. Julius Caesar has been assassinated and civil war threatens to destroy the Republic. HBO's Rome Season Two charts the power struggle between Mark Antony (James Purefoy) and Octavian (Simon Woods), who Caesar named his sole heir.
Bio of Augustus
At De Imperatoribus Romanis
The Deeds of the Divine Augustus
Written by Augustus in 14 C.E. at 76 years of age
Greek and Roman History
Comprehensive reference of links, documents and notes from Prof. John P. Adams,
University of California, Northridge