The Death of Augustus Caesar

Augustus Caesar | Index

His Death

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In his later years, Augustus withdrew more and more from the public eye, although he continued to transact public business. He was getting older and Tiberius had been installed as his successor and by 13 A.D. he was virtually emperor already. He had already received grants of both proconsular and tribunician power and Tiberius's imperium had been made co-extensive with that of Augustus.

While traveling in Campania, Augustus died peacefully at Nola on August 19, 14 A.D. Tiberius, who was en route to Illyricum, hurried to the scene and, either, depending on the source, arrived too late or spent a day discussing his rule with the dying emperor.

The tradition that Livia poisoned her husband is scandalous and probably not true. Whatever the case about these details, Imperator Caesar Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar, called "Father of his Country," the man who had ruled the Roman world alone for almost half a century, was dead.

He was given a magnificent funeral, buried in the mausoleum he had built in Rome, and entered the Roman pantheon as Divus Augustus.

In his will, he left 1,000 sesterces to each of the men of the Praetorian guard, 500 to the urban cohorts, and 300 to each of the legionaries. In death, as in life, Augustus acknowledged what he considered the true source of his power.

The inscription entitled "The Achievements of the Divine Augustus" (Res Gestae Divi Augustae; usually abbreviated RG) remains a remarkable piece of evidence deriving from Augustus's reign. The fullest copy of it is the bilingual Greek and Latin version carved into the walls of the Temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra in Galatia (for this reason the RG used to be commonly referred to as the Monumentum Ancyranum). Other evidence, however, demonstrates that the original was inscribed on two bronze pillars that flanked the entrance to the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome. The inscription remains the only first-person summary of any Roman emperor's political career and, as such, offers invaluable insights into the Augustan era as it was publicly presented. 

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Augustus Caesar

Images and Busts of Augustus on romanemperors.com


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Augustus Bibliography Resources

Augustus Caesar's World - By Foster, 347 Pages, Pub. 1947

Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor - By Everitt, 432 Pages, Pub. 2007

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