People - Ancient Rome: Augustus Caesar
Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, he became the first Roman Emperor ruling from 27 BC - 14 AD.
Augustus Caesar in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
The first Roman emperor, reigning at Christ's birth (Luke 2:1,
etc.). His decree that all the world should be taxed, each
going to his own city, was the divinely ordered (Micah 5:2)
occasion of Jesus' birth taking place at Bethlehem. Born 63
B.C. Also called Octavius and Octavianus from his father, who
died while he was young. Educated by his great uncle Julius
Caesar, triumvir with Antony and Lepidus. Dissension having
arisen, Octavianus overcame Antony, and gained supreme power
at the battle of Actium, 31 B.C.
Saluted emperor (imperator, military commander in
chief originally), and surnamed Augustus Caesar, "majestic."
Leaving the names and rights of the chief republican officers
unchanged, he united them all, one by one, in himself. Herod,
who had been on Antony's side, he not only pardoned, but even
increased in power; Herod thereby became attached to his
dynasty, and built him a temple of marble near the sources of
the Jordan. Augustus Caesar died at Nola in Campania, in his
76th year, A.D. 14. Some time before his death he associated
Tiberius with himself in the empire (Luke 3:1).
Augustus Caesar in Harpers Dictionary
The first Roman emperor, was born on the 23d of September, B.C. 63, and was the son of C. Octavius, by Atia, a daughter of Iulia,
the sister of C. Iulius Caesar. His original name was Octavius, and after his adoption by his great-uncle, C. Iulius Caesar
Octavianus, Augustus being only a title given him by the Senate and the people in B.C. 27 to express their veneration for him. He
was pursuing his studies at Apollonia when the news reached him of his uncle's murder at Rome, in March, 44. He forthwith set out
for Italy, and upon landing was received with enthusiasm by the troops. He first joined the republican party in order to crush
Antony, against whom he fought at Mutina in conjunction with the two consuls, C. Vibius Pansa and Hirtius. Antony was defeated, and
obliged to retreat across the Alps; and the death of the two consuls gave Augustus the command of all their troops. He now returned
to Rome, and compelled the Senate to elect him consul, and shortly afterwards he became reconciled to Antony. It was agreed that the
Roman world should be divided between Augustus, Antony, and Lepidus, under the title of triumviri rei publicae constituendae, and
that this arrangement should last for the next five years. They published a proscriptio, or list of all their enemies whose lives
were to be sacrificed and their property confiscated; upwards of 2000 equites and 300 senators were thus put to death, among them
Cicero. Soon afterwards, Augustus and Antony crossed over to Greece, and defeated Brutus and Cassius at the decisive battle of
Philippi, in B.C. 42, by which the hopes of the republican party were ruined.
Augustus returned to Italy, where a new war awaited him (B.C. 41), excited by Fulvia, the wife of Antony. She was supported by L.
Antonius, the consul and brother of the triumvir, who threw himself into the fortified town of Perusia, which Augustus succeeded in
taking in 40. Antony now made preparations for war, but the death of Fulvia led to a reconciliation between the triumvirs, who
concluded a peace at Brundusium. A new division of the provinces was again made: Augustus obtained all the parts of the Empire west
of the town of Scodra in Illyricum, Antony the east provinces, and Lepidus Africa. Antony married Octavia, the sister of Augustus,
in order to cement their alliance. In B.C. 36, Augustus conquered Sex. Pompey, who had held possession of Sicily for many years with
a powerful fleet. Lepidus, who had landed in Sicily to support Augustus, was degraded by him, stripped of his power, and sent to
Rome, where he resided for the remainder of his life, being allowed to retain the dignity of Pontifex Maximus. Meantime, Antony had
repudiated Octavia, on account of his love for Cleopatra , and had alienated the minds of the Roman people by his arbitrary conduct.
The Senate declared war against Cleopatra ; and in September, B.C. 31, the fleet of Augustus gained a brilliant victory over
Antony's near Actium in Acarnania. In the following year (30 B.C.), Augustus sailed to Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra , who had escaped
in safety from Actium, put an end to their lives. Augustus now became the undisputed master of the Roman world, but he declined all
honours and distinctions which were likely to remind the Romans of kingly power. On the death of Lepidus, in B.C. 12, he be
came pontifex maximus. On those state matters which he did not choose to be discussed in public he consulted his personal friends,
Maecenas, M. Agrippa, M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus, and Asinius Pollio. The wars of Augustus were chiefly undertaken to protect the
frontiers of the Roman dominions. Most of them were carried on by his relations and friends, but several he conducted in person, as
when, in 27, he attacked the warlike Cantabri and Astures in Spain. In 20, he went to Syria, where he received from Phraates, the
Parthian monarch, the standards and prisoners which had been taken from Crassus and Antony. He died at Nola, on the 19th of August,
A.D. 14, at the age of seventy-six. His last wife was Livia, who had been previously the wife of Tiberius Nero. He had no children
by Livia, and only a daughter, Iulia, by his former wife Scribonia. Iulia had married Agrippa, and her two sons, Gaius and Lucius
Caesar, were destined by Augustus as his successors. On the death of these two youths, Augustus was persuaded to adopt Tiberius, the
son of Livia by her former husband, and to make him his colleague and successor. See Tiberius.
Augustus is described as having been something below the middle size, but extremely well proportioned (Suet. Aug. 79). His hair was
inclined to curl, and of a yellowish-brown; his eyes were bright and lively; but the general expression of his countenance was
remarkably calm and mild. His health was throughout his life delicate, yet the constant attention which he paid to it, and his
strict temperance in eating and drinking, enabled him to reach the full age of man. As a seducer, adulterer, and sensualist, his
character was like that of his uncle (Suet. Aug. 69, 71). In his literary qualifications, without at all rivalling the attainments
of Iulius Caesar, he was on a level with most Romans of distinction of his time; and it is said that both in speaking and writing
his style was eminent for its perfect plainness and propriety (Suet. Aug. 68 foll.). His speeches on any public
Statue of Augustus. (Vatican.)
occasion were composed beforehand, and recited from memory; in fact, so careful was he not to commit himself by any inconsiderate
expression, that even when discussing any important subject with his own wife, he wrote down what he had to say, and read it before
her. Like his uncle, he was somewhat tinged with superstition. He was deficient in military talent; but in every species of artful
policy, in clearly seeing, and steadily and dispassionately following his own interest, and in turning to advantage all the
weaknesses of others, his ability has been rarely equalled. His deliberate cruelty, his repeated treachery, and his sacrifice of
every duty and every feeling to the purposes of his ambition, speak for themselves; and yet it would be unjust to ascribe to a
politic premeditation all the popular actions of his reign. Good is in itself so much more delightful than evil that he was
doubtless not insensible to the pleasure of kind and beneficent actions, and perhaps sincerely rejoiced that they were no longer
incompatible with his interests.
Among the various arts to which Augustus resorted to gain the good-will of his people, and perhaps to render them forgetful of their
former freedom, one of the most remarkable was the encouragement which he extended to learning, and the patronage which he so
liberally bestowed on all by whom it was cultivated. To this noble protection of literature he was prompted not less by taste and
inclination than by sound policy; and in his patronage of the learned, his usual artifice had probably a smaller share than in those
other parts of his conduct by which he acquired the favourable opinion of the world. Augustus was, in fact, himself an excellent
judge of composition, and a true critic in poetry; so that his patronage was never misplaced, or lavished on those whose writings
might have tended to corrupt the taste and learning of the age. The court of Augustus thus became a school of culture, where men of
genius acquired that delicacy of taste, elevation of sentiment, and purity of expression which characterize the writers of the age.
To Maecenas, the favourite minister of the emperor, the honour is due of having most successfully followed out the views of Augustus
for promoting the interests of literature; but it is wrong to give Maecenas the credit, as some have done, of first having turned
the attention of Augustus to the patronage of literature. On the contrary, he appears largely to have acted from the orders, or to
have followed the example, of his imperial master.
Augustus was buried in a mausoleum, whose remains are still to be seen at Rome on the Via de' Pontefici. It was a pyramidal tower,
328 feet in height, covered with white marble, surmounted by a statue of the emperor, and divided into three stories by receding
steps, each story being planted with cypress-trees. Before this structure was set the tablet of bronze containing the index rerum a
se gestarum, which he had had prepared (Suet. Aug. 101). A copy of this important inscription was found in modern times on the
inside of the antae of a temple at Ancyra (now Angora), in Galatia, and has been published in fac-simile by Prof. Mommsen, with a
commentary. It is reproduced in the illustration on page 171.
Augustus Caesar in Roman Biography
Augus'tus Cae'sar, called by Suetonius Octavius
Cae.sar Augustus, [Fr. Octave C6sar Auguste, ok'-
Sv' si'zSR' 6'giist'; It. Ottavio Cesare Augusto, otti've-
o chi'si-ri 6w-goos'to,] and subsequently named,
as the heir of Julius Caesar the dictator, Ca'ius Ju'lius
Cee'sar Octavia'nus, the first Roman emperor, was
born at Velitrae, not far from Rome, in 63 B.C. He was
the son of Caius Octavius and Atia, the daughter of
Julia, who was the sister of Julius Csesar. His father
died about the year 60, and his mother married L. Marcius
Philippus, who was consul in 56 B.C., and who
superintended the education of young Octavius. At the
age of twelve he pronounced a funeral oration in praise
of his grandmother Julia, and four years later he assumed
the toga virilis. He was adopted as a son by Julius
Caesar the dictator, whom he followed to Spain in 45 B.C.
According to some writers, he was present at the battle
of Munda. He was pursuing his studies at ApoUonia
when he learned that Caesar was killed, in 44 B.C., and
that he had been appointed the heir of liis uncle. In company
with his friend Vipsanius Agrippa, he went to Rome
to claim his inheritance. He found a dangerous rival in
Mark Antony, who had possession of the money and
papers of the dictator and refused to give them up.
Octavius pursued an artful and temporizing course, by
which he gained the support of Cicero and other senators,
and showed himself an equal match for old and
experienced players in the game of political intrigue.
In January, 43, the senate gave him command of an
army, and sent him with the consuls Hirtius and Pansa
to fight against Antony, who was in Cisalpine Gaul. The
army of the senate defeated Antony near Mutina, (M6-
dena,) but Hirtius and Pansa were killed in the battle.
Soon after this event the command of the army was
transferred to D. Brutus by the senate, which had resolved
to check the growing power and ambitious efforts
of Octavius. In defiance of the authority of the senate,
he marched with an army to Rome, was elected consul
in August, 43 B.C., (before he had reached the legal age,)
and formed a coalition or triumvirate with Antony and
Lepidus against M. Brutus and the other republicans.
Antony and Octavius, commanding in person, gained a
decisive victory over Brutus and Cassius at Philippi,
42 B.C. According to Suetonius, he treated the vanquished
with merciless cruelty. Thousands of persons
perished as victims of the proscription which the triumvirs
ordered. Octavius and Antony soon quarrelled, but
postponed hostilities by a feigned reconciliation, and
combined their forces against Sextus Pompey, who was
master of Sicily and Sardinia. Octavius gained a decisive
victory over Pompey in 36 B.C., and, while Antony
was engaged in Eastern campaigns or in dalliance with
Cleopatra, established his power in Italy. He becime
consul for the second time in 33 and for the third time
in 31 B.C. At length, owing in part to Antony's infatuation
for Cleopatra, and his neglect of Octavia, (the sister
of Augustus,) whom he had recently married, the breach
became irreconcilable. Octavius gained a decisive victory
at the naval battle of Actium, (31 B.C.,) which rendered
him sole master of the Roman empire. He entertained or
professed a design to restore the republic ; but he allowed
himself to be persuaded to usurp imperial power, partly
disguised under the form of a republican government.
He was elected consul several times after the year 30, and
received the title of Augustus from the senate in 27 B.C.
His chief ministers or advisers were Agrippa, Maeceitas,
and Asinius Pollio. He accepted in the year 23 the
tribunitia potestas (tribunitian power) for life.
Augustus was a liberal patron of the poets Virgil and
Horace, whose genius rendered the Augustan age the
most illustrious in the history of Roman literature. He
greatly increased the architectural splendour of Rome,
and boasted that he left that a city of marble which he
had found a city of brick. Under his rule the people
enjoyed such a share of peace and prosperity as reconciled
them to the loss of their liberty. He married
several wives, namely, Clodia, Scribonia, and Livia Drusilla.
Scribonia bore him a daughter Julia, his only
child. In his domestic relations he was not happy. He
was temperate or abstemious in his diet, and lived in a
comparatively simple style.
He applied himself with great diligence to the study
of eloquence from his early youth. Although he could
speak very well extemporaneously, he never addressed
the senate, the soldiers, or the people, unless he had carefully
prepared himself beforehand. He was partial to
the study of Greek literature and philosophy, but he never
wrote in that language, and did not speak it fluently. According
to Suetonius, Augustus composed many works in
prose on various subjects, including a history of his own
life, which extended only to the Cantabrian war. He
also wrote some epigrams and other verses. Having
adopted Tiberius (his step-son) as his successor, he died
in August, 14 A.D.
See Suetonius, " Life of Augustus," ("Vita Aupusti ;") Nicolas
Damascenus, "DeVita Augusti;" Tacitus, "Anna'les;" Drumann,
"Geschichte Roms;" Plutarch's "Life of INIarcus Antonius;"
NouGARfeoE, "Histoire du Siecle d'Auguste," 1840; Larrey, "Vie
Augustus Caesar in Wikipedia
Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August
AD 14) was the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he
ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.[note 1]
Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, he was adopted posthumously by
his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BC via his last
will and testament, and between then and 27 BC was
officially named Gaius Julius Caesar. In 27 BC the Senate
awarded him the honorific Augustus ("the revered one"), and
thus consequently he was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus.[note
2] Because of the various names he bore, it is common to
call him Octavius when referring to events between 63 and 44
BC, Octavian (or Octavianus) when referring to events
between 44 and 27 BC, and Augustus when referring to events
after 27 BC. In Greek sources, Augustus is known as Ὀκτάβιος
(Octavius), Καῖσαρ (Caesar), Αὔγουστος (Augustus), or
Σεβαστός (Sebastos), depending on context.
The young Octavius came into his inheritance after Caesar's
assassination in 44 BC. In 43 BC, Octavian joined forces
with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in a military
dictatorship known as the Second Triumvirate. As a triumvir,
Octavian ruled Rome and many of its provinces[note 3] The
triumvirate was eventually torn apart under the competing
ambitions of its rulers: Lepidus was driven into exile, and
Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle
of Actium by the fleet of Octavian commanded by Agrippa in
After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian
restored the outward facade of the Roman Republic, with
governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, but in
practice retained his autocratic power. It took several
years to determine the exact framework by which a formally
republican state could be led by a sole ruler; the result
became known as the Roman Empire. The emperorship was never
an office like the Roman dictatorship which Caesar and Sulla
had held before him; indeed, he declined it when the Roman
populace "entreated him to take on the dictatorship". By
law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for
life by the Senate, including those of tribune of the plebs
and censor. He was consul until 23 BC. His substantive
power stemmed from financial success and resources gained in
conquest, the building of patronage relationships throughout
the Empire, the loyalty of many military soldiers and
veterans, the authority of the many honors granted by the
Senate, and the respect of the people. Augustus' control
over the majority of Rome's legions established an armed
threat that could be used against the Senate, allowing him
to coerce the Senate's decisions. With his ability to
eliminate senatorial opposition by means of arms, the Senate
became docile towards him. His rule through patronage,
military power, and accumulation of the offices of the
defunct Republic became the model for all later imperial
The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace
known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace. Despite continuous
wars on the frontiers, and one year-long civil war over the
imperial succession, the Mediterranean world remained at
peace for more than two centuries. Augustus enlarged the
empire dramatically, annexing Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, and
Raetia, expanded possessions in Africa, and completed the
conquest of Hispania. Beyond the frontiers, he secured the
empire with client states, and made peace with Parthia
through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation,
developed networks of roads with an official courier system,
established a standing army, established the Praetorian
Guard, and created official police and fire-fighting
services for Rome. Much of the city was rebuilt under
Augustus; and he wrote a record of his own accomplishments,
known as the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, which has survived.
Upon his death in 14 AD, Augustus was declared a god by the
Senate - to be worshipped by the Romans. His names
Augustus and Caesar were adopted by every subsequent
emperor, and the month of Sextilis was officially renamed
August in his honour. He was succeeded by his stepson,
former son-in-law and adopted son, Tiberius...
Augustus Caesar on Bible History Online
Augustus Caesar -
His Adoption ,
The First Triumvirate ,
The Second Triumvirate ,
Augustus Caesar ,
The Principate ,
His Empire ,
His Death ,
Maps and Images ,
Ancient Texts ,
Augustus Images and Busts
Augustus Coins, Busts and Statues.
Augustus in Easton's Bible Dictionary
the cognomen of the first Roman emperor, C. Julius Caesar
Octavianus, during whose reign Christ was born (Luke
decree that "all the world should be taxed" was the
ordered occasion of Jesus' being born, according to
(Micah 5:2), in Bethlehem. This name being simply a
meaning "majesty" or "venerable," first given to him
senate (B.C. 27), was borne by succeeding emperors.
death (A.D. 14) he associated Tiberius with him in the
(Luke 3:1), by whom he was succeeded.
Augustus in Naves Topical Bible
An important Roman emperor
Lu 2:1; Ac 25:21,25; 27:1
Augustus in Scripture
Luke 2:1-6 "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child."
Augustus in Smiths Bible Dictionary
(venerable) Cae'sar the first Roman emperor. He was born
A.U.C. 691, B.C. 63. His father was Caius Octavius; his mother
Atia, daughter of Julia the sister of C. Julius Caesar. He was
principally educated by his great-uncle Julius Caesar, and was
made his heir. After his murder, the young Octavius, then
Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, was taken into the triumvirate
with Antony and Lepidus, and, after the removal of the latter,
divided the empire with Antony. The struggle for the supreme
power was terminated in favor of Octavianus by the battle of
Actium, B.C. 31. On this victory he was saluted imperator by
the senate, who conferred on him the title Augustus, B.C. 27.
The first link binding him to New Testament history is his
treatment of Herod after the battle of Actium. That prince,
who had espoused Antony's side, found himself pardoned, taken
into favor and confirmed, nay even increased, in his power.
After Herod's death, in A.D. 4, Augustus divided his
dominions, almost exactly according to his dying directions,
among his sons. Augustus died in Nola in Campania, Aug. 19,
A.U.C. 767, A.D. 14, in his 76th year; but long before his
death he had associated Tiberius with him in the empire.
Augustus in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
(1) The first Roman emperor, and noteworthy in Bible history
as the emperor in whose reign the Incarnation took place (Lk
2:1). His original name was Caius Octavius Caepias and he was
born in 63 BC, the year of Cicero's consulship. He was the
grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, his mother Atia having been the
daughter of Julia, Caesar's younger sister. He was only 19
years of age when Caesar was murdered in the Senate house (44
BC), but with a true instinct of statesmanship he steered his
course through the intrigues and dangers of the closing years
of the republic, and after the battle of Actium was left
without a rival. Some difficulty was experienced in finding a
name that would exactly define the position of the new ruler
of the state. He himself declined the names of rex and
dictator, and in 27 BC he was by the decree of the Senate
styled Augustus. The epithet implied respect and veneration
beyond what is bestowed on human things:
"Sancta vocant augusta patres: augusta vocantur
Templa sacerdotum rite dicata manu."
--Ovid Fasti. 609; compare Dion Cass., 5316...
Dates in the Life of Augustus Caesar from his birth in 63 BC to his death in 14 AD.
Background of the History of Augustus Caesar
Julius Caesar. "Beware the ides of March," was what the fortune teller had whispered in Julius Caesar's ear. "I have seen many warnings of danger in your future." But Caesar, confident of his power in early 44 B.C., simply went on about his business. He was even bold enough to dismiss his bodyguards. However, March 15, referred to in the Roman calendar as the "ides" of March, turned out to be the day of Caesar's gruesome death.
As Caesar entered into the place of the senate that day, a group of men gathered around him as if to pay their respects. One of them took hold of Caesar's robe and said, "Friends, what are you waiting for?" That was the signal to attack. They drew their daggers from their robes and began stabbing Caesar. He tried to defend himself, but then he recognized one of the men. It was Brutus, a man Caesar thought was his friend.
"Et tu, Brute?" ("You too, Brutus?") Caesar asked.
He realized that even his friend had turned against him, and he stopped resisting. Caesar fell to the floor and died. He had been stabbed 23 times.
Brutus jumped up, waving his bloody knife. He announced that he and his men had saved the Roman Republic by killing Caesar. However, the death of Caesar did not restore the Republic. Instead, it ushered in 13 years of civil war as various groups struggled to control Rome.
Caesar had seized control of the government of the Roman world in 49 B.C., making himself dictator for life. As dictator, Caesar seemed to have little respect for the constitution. According to the constitution, a Roman leader was supposed to share power with the senators. But many senators thought Caesar acted as if he were above the law. They thought he treated them as servants. They saw his behavior as haughty and insulting. Many began to think of him as both a personal enemy and an enemy of the Roman Republic.
Senators and other Roman citizens whispered among themselves that Caesar intended to make himself king. If he did so, he could establish a dynasty. His family line would rule the Roman world even after his death, and the Senate would then have no role in choosing the next leader. Outraged, more than 60 senators met secretly. They planned how they would assassinate Caesar and murder him for political reasons. One leader of the group was Brutus, the so-called friend of Caesar.
When Brutus and his men killed Caesar on the ides of March, they thought they had saved the Republic. But by the end of that day, the assassins had to hide from angry mobs of Roman citizens. Many were outraged by Caesar's murder. Caesar was well liked because he made many reforms that improved people's lives. For example, he reorganized the government and lowered taxes. He founded new colonies and gave people land to farm. He hired people to build temples and public buildings. He made citizens of many people in the colonies.
A power struggle followed Caesar's death. Caesar's adopted son Octavian acquired such influence that Antony and Lepidus took him into their triumvirate. He defeated his rivals in 31 B.C. and led Rome into a new era.
Brief Background of the Name Octavian
That the empire survived the civil wars that destroyed the republic was largely due to the long life (63 B.C.-14 A.D.) and political skill of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later known as Augustus. He was the first emperor of Rome and founder of a Roman state that endured for centuries. Gaius Octavian was born on September 23, 63 B.C., to C. Octavius and atia, a niece of Julius Caesar, by his sister Julia. The family of Octavian was a good one, but its alliance to the Julians was far more important, and Octavian came under their direct influence when his father died in 59 B.C. Atia raised him and ensured his education by grammarians and philosophers, but it was Julius Caesar himself who had the most impact upon Octavian, and who had personally prepared him with the greatest opportunities.
The Roman world had thought Marc Antony, Caesar’s powerful Lieutenant, would be next in line after Caesar but they were soon to find that Julius Caesar would leave a will naming Octavian, a virtually unknown, as his adopted son and chief heir to his throne.
Improved City Life under Augustus
Augustus’ famous saying was, "I found Rome built of sun-dried bricks. I leave her covered in marble." During the long period (41 years) that he ruled, Augustus built or restored 82 temples. Most of them were dressed in the smooth marble from the quarries that were just discovered north of Rome.
Augustus also worked hard to improve city life in Rome. There were nearly one million people living in Rome, and yet Rome had no city services. Many of the people were hunger and very poor. Violence and disorder increased, and Rome had a major crime problem. One of the worst problems was the fact that fires had regularly swept through the city. Augustus’ solution was creating a new police force and a fire department. He set up a government office that would supply food to the city's citizens.
Introduction to the History of Augustus Caesar
BKA 102 - Augustus. This Bible Knowledge Accelerator program contains a very brief overview of the life and history of the emperor Augustus. You can download more detailed studies concerning various topics by visiting Bible History Online.
Julius Caesar and The First Triumvirate
Julius Caesar served in Spain as proconsul in 61 B.C., a year later he returned to Rome desiring the consulate, the supreme office of power during the Republic. The senators were opposed to him, yet he came up with a brilliant idea. He organized a coalition, known as the First Triumvirate, made up of Pompey, commander in chief of the army; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome, and himself. Pompey and Crassus were jealous of each other, but Caesar by force of personality kept things going.
In 59 B.C. he married Calpurnia. In the same year, as consul, he was in favor of an agrarian law providing Campanian lands for 20,000 poor citizens and veterans, in spite of the opposition of his senatorial colleague, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus. Caesar also won the support of the wealthy equites by getting a reduction for them in their tax contracts in Asia. This made him the guiding power in a coalition between people and plutocrats.
He was assigned the rule of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul and Illyricum with four legions for five years (58-54 B.C.). The differences between Pompey and Crassus grew, and Caesar again moved (56 B.C.) to patch up matters, arriving at an agreement that both Pompey and Crassus should be consuls in 55 B.C. and that their proconsular provinces should be Spain and Syria. From this arrangement he drew an extension of his command in Gaul to 49 B.C. In the years 58-49 B.C. he firmly established his reputation in the Gallic Wars.
In 55 B.C., Caesar made explorations into Britain, and in 54 B.C. he defeated the Britons, led by Cassivellaunus. Caesar met his most serious opposition in Gaul from Vercingetorix, whom he defeated in Alesia in 52 B.C. By the end of the wars Caesar had reduced all Gaul to Roman control. These campaigns proved him one of the greatest commanders of all time. In them he revealed his consummate military genius, characterized by quick, sure judgment and determined energy. The campaigns also developed the personal devotion of the legions to Caesar. His personal interest in the men (he is reputed to have known them all by name) and his willingness to undergo every hardship made him the idol of the army—a significant element in his later career.
In 54 B.C. occurred the death of Caesar's daughter Julia, Pompey's wife since 59 B.C. She had been the principal personal tie between the two men. During the years Caesar was in Gaul, Pompey had been gradually leaning more and more toward the senatorial party. The tribunate of Clodius (58 B.C.) had aggravated conditions in Rome, and Caesar's military successes had aroused Pompey's jealousy. Crassus' death (53 B.C.) in Parthia ended the First Triumvirate and set Pompey and Caesar against each other.
Map of Imperial Rome at the Time of Augustus
Sites and places in the city of Rome at the time of Augustus.
Map of the Roman Empire under Augustus
Map of the Roman Empire in 14 AD.
Overview of the History of Augustus Caesar
Augustus is very possibly the single most important person in all of Roman history. During his very long and fantastic career, he provided many answers for the major problems of the Republic and his solutions for Roman government remained solid for another three centuries. His system was called the "Principate," and although it had its problems, it brought to the Roman Empire a succession of rulers who controlled an incredibly long period of peace and prosperity, more than Europe and the Middle East had ever known.
Even though most of the rulers had their problems, the achievements of Augustus in establishing this system is amazing. Augustus was a remarkable man, well known for the fact that he could be very ruthless and at the same time be tolerant and forgiving.
Augustus was the imperial title given to Octavius, successor of Julius Caesar. He was born in 63 B.C. and was educated by his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, who eventually made him his heir.
Octavian was the first Roman emperor and the Bible refers to him as "Caesar Augustus". It was this same Emperor who had ordered the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where the real King would be born.
Imagine, the true King of the greatest heavenly kingdom was born during the reign of the greatest earthly king of the greatest earthly kingdom, and it was this earthly king who unknowingly decreed that all the world should be taxed, each going to his own city, and thus the true King would be born in Bethlehem. It is quite possible that this is the reason for the birth of Christ being in the "fullness of times" mentioned in the Bible: Gal. 4:4.
The Adoption of Augustus Caesar
In 53 B.C., at the age of 12, Octavian delivered the funeral ovation (the laudatio) for his grandmother Julia, which was his first public appearance, and several years later he served in the priesthood. Caesar was to play a determinative role in shaping the rest of Octavius's life. He saw his uncle’s triumph in Rome in 46 B.C. and in 45 young Octavian journeyed to Spain to be with him on campaign.
Octavian was not strong physically, he suffered from a variety of illnesses that plagued him his whole life. The trip to Spain was a very dangerous journey. He also suffered a shipwreck and was in a sorry shape when he arrived at Caesar’s camp. But his uncle recognized something unique in him, rewarding his efforts with military training and the young man was included as his Master of Horse for 43 B.C.
After a time Octavian was elected to the pontifical college and sent to Apollonia, in Epirus, to study philosophy and the arts of war. He took with him his two dearest friends, Marcus Agrippa and Marcus Rufus. His studies were cut short by the assassination of Caesar in Rome.
Octavian was only 18 years old, but the will of his uncle declared him his chief heir and adopted son and not Marc Antony as was expected.
Octavian’s position in Rome was now became radically different and bound by the obligation to avenge Caesar’s death. His family, now fearful for his life, urged him to renounce the adoption but Octavian traveled to Rome. Instead of rash action he found that cautious deliberation would be far more useful. His patience was a characteristic that would mark his later years.
The Death of Augustus Caesar
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.
The Deeds of the Divine Augustus
Ancient text written attributed to Caesar Augustus.
The Deified Augustus
The Lives of the Caesars - The Deified Augustus by Suetonius
The Empire of Augustus
Octavian brought peace to the Roman Empire and became a popular leader. In 27 B.C., the Senate voted to give him the title Augustus, which means "the respected one." He ruled the empire until 14 A.D.
Augustus had learned well from his father's mistakes. He continued many of the reforms that had been started by Caesar. He knew that the people wanted a republic, so he always claimed to be restoring the government of the Roman Republic.
But Augustus was always in charge and held the real power. He controlled nearly all of the military troops. He appointed the most important officials of government, those who governed the provinces. He carefully avoided using the title of king. Instead, he called himself "first citizen" to show that he was one of the people.
Augustus ruled an empire. He is considered to be the first Roman emperor. The people welcomed him because they longed for a strong leader. They desperately wanted peace and order after all of the civil wars and turmoil that followed Julius Caesar's death.
The Empire that Augustus Built
Conclusion. The awesome empire that Augustus had shaped was immense. Its boundaries were--the Atlantic on the west; the Euphrates on the east; the Black Sea, the Danube, and the British Channel on the north; and the deserts of Africa and Arabia, and the cataracts of the Nile, on the south. Only the German tribes in the far north, and the Parthians on the east, remained independent.
The population of the Roman Empire during the time of Augustus was probably between 85,000 and 120,000. His standing professional army consisted of over 170,000 soldiers, besides the troops stationed in the capital, and it was they who guarded the frontiers from the many barbarous tribes.
Augustus administered the whole Empire through the Provinces, who were governed by officers that received their commission from Rome. People grew up without knowing any form of government other than the Principate. Augustus brought peace and prosperity throughout the empire, but it was Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who would ultimately utilize this young empire and bring true peace to mankind.
It is amazing to see just how much the Lord had prepared the world for the spreading of His gospel. Edward Arthur Litton well said:
"The devout student of history must recognize in the political state of the world at this time a remarkable preparation for the promulgation of Christianity. The peace which the empire enjoyed; the excellent roads which the Romans constructed wherever they established themselves; the presence of the imperial legions in every important place repressing the outbreaks of religious fanaticism, and so affording protection to the infant church; the increase of commerce; and the leveling tendency of an imperial despotism--all manifestly contributed to the success of the gospel...There could not have been a more favorable moment for the heralds of the gospel to commence their mission."
The Pax Romana under Augustus
The Pax Romana
Augustus's reign marked the beginning of a remarkable period in Rome's history. For more than 200 years, the vast Roman Empire was united and, for the most part, peaceful. This period from 27 B.C. to 180 A.D. is called the Pax Romana, or "Peace of Rome."
Augustus Caesar died at Nola in Campania, in his 76th year, in 14 A.D. After his death, the title "Augustus" was given to all of the Roman emperors.
The Princeps and Augustus Caesar
The Princeps was an unofficial but important title that mean "First Citizen" or "First Statesman."
During the Republican era the princeps was used to give honor to special leaders. Pompey the Great was called princeps out of recognition for his victories for the state and his position within Rome.
Others received the name, including Cicero for the Catiline Affair in 63 B.C. Julius Caesar won the title from Cicero in 49 B.C.
Julius Caesar had wanted to transform Roman society and Octavian wanted to re-establish it within a new order. For example Octavian forced men out of the Senate if they were not a direct descendant of the highest Roman nobility. He made a decree that no Roman citizen could marry a freeman, or anyone outside his own rank.
Octavian restored the old Republican Temples with marble and the old forms of the Republican government were to be observed. When Octavian acted it was only through the Senate and Assembly. In 27 B.C. he laid down all of his powers and it was the Senate who would grant them back to him through the people. Therefore by senatorial proclamation Octavian became:
Princeps – The head of the Senate and first citizen of the state
Imperator Caesar Divi filius – Commander-in-chief of the armed forces and son of the divine Julius (thus he became an object of worship).
Augustus – Restorer and augmenter of the state (a title bestowed on gods).
The Senate therefore recognized that the old order was gone and new times had come. After nearly a century of civil war the biggest desire of all Romans was peace and order and Augustus Caesar would give it to them.
The Provinces of the Roman Empire under Augustus
The Roman Empire beyond Italy was divided into about 40 provinces, or territories. Each province had its own governor, who was appointed by the emperor or named by the Senate. The governors' work mainly included keeping order and collecting taxes.
Augustus and the emperors who followed him expanded the empire by conquering new territories. By the end of the first century A.D. the Roman Empire had a population of about 60 million. This was more than one-fifth of the total population of the world at that time.
The Second Triumvirate and Augustus Caesar
In 43 B.C., Octavian, Lepidus, and Mark Antony were named as the Second Triumvirate, the three rulers who shared the office of emperor.
Civil war broke out after Caesar's assassination. Two of the assassins, Brutus and Cassius, led one side. Octavian and Mark Antony, one of Caesar's lieutenants, took the other. In 2 quick battles, the assassins were crushed.
The victory catapulted young Octavian— or Augustus, as he was later called— into the political limelight. Besides the power of his father's name, Octavian seems to have been rather striking in appearance. One of his chroniclers describes him in this highly personal and informal way.
"He was quite handsome.... Sometimes he would clip his beard; sometimes he would shave it. While his barbers were at work on him, it was not unusual for him to read or write.... His eyes were clear and radiant.... His complexion was between dark and fair. Though only five feet, six inches in height . . his shortness was not too noticeable because of the good proportions of his figure." –SEUTONIUS
While Octavian was growing in political stature, so was Mark Antony. Among the Antony's political friends was Herod, Antipater's son. After Antipater's death by poisoning, Antony helped Herod eventually get the title "King of Judea."
Antony failed to recognize that in Octavian he was dealing with a natural born politician. Octavian never was an imposing figure physically, and he owed his military victories largely to the skill of his able lieutenants. Yet In the political arena he was without peer, rising as a virtual unknown in 44 B.C. to become the first of the Julio-Claudian emperors by 27 B.C.
Antony's days of power were numbered. When Antony had divorced Octavia (Octavian’s sister) to marry Cleopatra, Octavian declared war and a showdown took place at Actium in 31 B.C. Octavian won a decisive victory over Antony, but Antony managed a spectacular escape to Egypt. There, months later, he and his famous lover, Cleopatra, ended their lives in suicide.
When Herod got wind of Antony's death, he knew his own kingship now hung by a thread. He decided to make a bold move. When he was to meet with Octavian, he took off his crown and placed it at the leader's feet. This worked according to plan. Octavian picked up the crown and returned it to Herod, saying in effect: "Serve me as faithfully as you did Antony." Herod did just that, from that moment forward.
After the death of Herod in 4 B.C., his dominions were divided among his sons by Augustus, almost in exact accordance with his will.
In 27 B.C. Octavian became Rome's first emperor, being surnamed Augustus Caesar "majestic." He was saluted as emperor (imperator, military commander in chief originally). Leaving the names and rights of the chief republican officers unchanged, he united them all, one by one, in himself.
Although he wore platform shoes to look taller, Augustus turned out to be a giant, politically. In later years he boasted, not incorrectly, that he had found Rome in bricks and left it in marble.
Augustus was emperor at the birth and during half the lifetime of our Lord, and his name occurs in the Bible (Luke 2:1) as the emperor who ordered the census, and because of this edict Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, the place where the Messiah was to be born.
Augustus brought order and prosperity to the Roman Empire after the long period of civil war, and for his successes he was worshiped in many places. With him began the emperor cult, and Herod the Great built temples to the divine Augustus at Caesarea and Samaria; both of these have been excavated. Augustus was worshiped in Ephesus too, and a great lintel with an inscription to the divine Augustus has been excavated there and re-erected over the gate to the Greek agora. Paul would have seen it and passed under it often as he ministered in the city for most of three years on his third missionary journey.
The Title Augustus Caesar
That the empire survived the civil wars that destroyed the republic was largely due to the long life (63 B.C.-14 A.D.) and political skill of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, later known as Augustus. In 44 B.C. Octavian, great nephew and adopted son of the murdered dictator, rallied Caesar's veterans and used them first against Marc Antony, the chief leader of the Caesarians, and then in alliance with Antony and Lepidus (the Second Triumvirate), against the republicans. Proscriptions caused the death of some 300 senators and 2000 nobles. Opponents of the triumvirate were defeated, and much property was made available with which to reward the troops.
After Brutus and Cassius had been defeated at Philippi (42 B.C.), and Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium (31 B.C.), Octavian was now without opposition and master of the empire.
Octavian brought peace to the Roman Empire and became a popular leader. In 27 B.C., the Senate voted to give him the title Augustus, which means "the respected one." He ruled the empire until 14 A.D. In the Bible Luke refers to him as "Caesar Augustus."
With the settlement of 27 B.C. he laid the foundations of the `principate', a system of government that was to give the empire internal peace with only brief interruptions for around 250 years.
In reality this monarchy was much different than in the previous era and it was much more acceptable to men familiar with free republican institutions. The ruler was not king but first citizen (princeps). Of his formal titles, Caesar proclaimed that he was a descendant of the dead dictator, and Imperator (emperor), that he was commander in chief.
The Senate made aware the fact that this citizen had unique prestige and influence by giving him the title of Augustus. The princeps' power was like that of a king in that it rested on hereditary loyalty, especially of the army, to himself, his family and descendants (whether by birth or adoption).
His personality was magnified and publicized through the so-called imperial cult, a complex of ceremonies making use of the forms of religion to express and instill loyalty to the ruler. At the same time Augustus voluntarily restricted his actions within the limits of various constitutional powers conferred by the Senate, for which, taken singly, republican precedent could be found. Moreover, he let his position evolve through a series of settlements, and thus avoided outrage to public and especially senatorial opinion. In 27 B.C. he was granted a proconsular command, or province including Gaul, Spain and Syria, and by far the greatest part of the Roman army. In 23 B.C. he received the power of a tribune, and his proconsular authority was made greater than that of any other provincial governor. In 19 sc he received (probably) consular powers that entitled him to introduce administrative reforms in Rome and Italy. This complex of powers remained the constitutional basis of the imperial office and continued to be granted by the Senate, which thus retained, in theory at least, a share in the appointment of the emperor.
Augustus reduced the huge armies of the civil war to around 300,000 men, made up half of Roman citizens serving in legions and half of provincials in auxiliary units. The army was stationed in frontier provinces. After around 25 years service legionaries received a lump-sum pension from a military treasury fed by two special taxes. Auxiliaries, on retirement, were given Roman citizenship. Augustus was lucky to have able yet reliable generals, notably his friend Agrippa, and in later years his stepsons Tiberius and Drusus.
These and others expanded the empire very considerably until in 9 A.D. the loss of three legions in the disastrous battle of the Teutoburg Forest ended a sustained attempt to conquer Germany, and reconciled Augustus to frontiers stabilized along the Rhine, Danube and Euphrates. By and large growth of the empire had come to an end. The conquest of Britain, begun under Claudius, was the only major post-Augustan addition to the empire to prove lasting. Suspicion of successful generals, and the strain on the economy of recruiting, paying and pensioning the extra troops required by expansion reconciled most emperors to a basically defensive policy. In time the army had to be enlarged nevertheless-at great social cost.
Augustus reorganized the administration of the whole empire. At Rome he appointed an equestrian praefectus annonae to organize supplies for the free issue of corn that was the privilege of the inhabitants of the capital. For the first time the city received a police force, fire brigade and organization for flood control.
After the death of Augustus the public assemblies lost their electoral and legislative functions to the Senate. Public opinion could still find expression in demonstrations in the theatre or circus, where emperors were expected to watch the shows in the midst of huge numbers of their subjects. Numerous colonies were founded for the settlement of veterans, especially in southern France, in Spain and North Africa. In this way the surplus population of Italy, which had contributed to the instability of the late republic, was dispersed, and the raising of revolutionary armies made much more difficult for the future.
Appointment of provincial governors was shared between emperor and Senate. Imperial provinces were governed by a legatus Augusti of senatorial rank or by an equestrian official. Senatorial provinces were governed by ex-consuls or ex-quaestors, with the title of proconsul. In imperial provinces finance was in the hands of an equestrian procurator, in senatorial provinces of a quaestor. But inhabitants of both kinds of province looked upon the emperor as their head of state. Similarly resolutions of the Senate (senatus consulta) had legal force for the whole empire.
Under Augustus literature flourished. The epic of Virgil (70-19 B.C.), history of Livy (59 B.C.-17 A.D.), the personal poetry of Horace (65-8 B.C.), Propertius (after 16 B.C.), Tibullus (48-19 B.C.) and Ovid (43 B.C.-17 A.D.) were soon recognized as Latin classics worthy to be mentioned with those of the Greeks. Among the themes treated most memorably were the history and traditional values of the Roman people and the emotions of personal relations, especially of love.
After his death, the title "Augustus" was given to all Roman emperors. The "Augustus Caesar" mentioned in Acts 25:21, 25, for instance, is not Octavian but Nero.
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