The Life of Jesus in Harmony
AUGUSTUS (27 BC-14 AD)
AUGUSTUS CAESAR. Civil war broke out after Caesar's assassination. Two of the
assassins, Brutus and Cassius, led one side. Octavian, Caesar's adopted 18-year-old son, and Mark Antony, one of Caesar's lieutenants, opposed their bid for power. In 2 quick
battles, the assassins were crushed. The victory catapulted young Octavianó or Augustus, as he was later calledó 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."
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."
But Antony's days of power were numbered. He and Octavian began to disagree
openly, and a showdown took place at Actium in 31 B.C. Octavian triumphed, 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 upon a bold move. Seeking an audience with Octavian, he took
off his crown and placed it at the leader's feet.
Herod's theatrics 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.
In 27 BC Octavian became Rome's first emperor, taking the name Augustus Caesar. 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.
- On January 13, 27 BC Octavian, a nephew of Julius Caesar and victor over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BC, resigned the offices
he had held since 43 BC and officially restored the Republic.
- In exchange, the Senate bestowed on him the title, Augustus, and a ten year
military command over all the armed forces in the provinces.
- By 23 BC, Augustus discovered that he needed more power than he had already
obtained. He was named pro-consul and tribune for life, a position that gave
him the power of veto.
- After 23 B.C., Rome was ruled by one man, the emperor.
- Augustus provided Rome with a new start after years of chaos, civil war, and
- He overhauled and improved the administration of the empire.
- In Rome, departments for the city were set up--police, fire, drainage,
conservation of the Tiber banks, and most important the establishment of the corn
- Augustus restored a sound money policy and the confidence he created pushed
the economy forward.
- He inaugurated a vast public works program, restored old temples, and
provided a new forum in order to provide work for the unemployed.
- Rome became a splendid city of gleaming white marble.
- During 18 B.C., Augustus instituted reform legislation that was designed to
improve the morals and restore republican virtues.
- Laws against adultery, plus restrictions against luxury and ostentation were promulgated and
Augustus revived respect for the Lares, Penates, and for the Vestal Virgins.
- The military policy of Augustus and his successors during the first two
hundred years of empire was based on two principles:
- As a result, the prime purpose of the army was to defend the frontiers of
the empire and maintain peace in the provinces.
Agrippa (Marcus Vispanius Agrippa)
- the maintenance of the smallest army possible yet capable of meeting its
- the avoidance of a highly centralized army concentrated in Rome.
- Augustus was shrewd enough to know that he needed help to run so large an
- He received help officially from Agrippa (general and right hand man of
Octavian), a boyhood friend, and unofficially from Livia, his third wife.
- Agrippa was the first to advise Augustus to make a bid for power when Julius
Caesar was killed.
- Augustus had fought well at Actium and put down uprisings in Gaul and Spain.
- Surviving portraits show his rugged, strong jawed features.
- He was an outstanding general, a well educated man, and a brilliant
administrator who organized cities, constructed a water supply system for Rome, and
supervised the building of a road network in Gaul.
- Livia was a dignified aristocratic beautifully amazing woman.
- She had nice features, enormous eyes, and thick wavy hair.
- When Octavian first met her, she was married to a middle-aged soldier who
allowed her to divorce him so that she could marry Augustus.
- She was chaste, obedient, and silent in public.
- She had a tremendous influence on Augustus who made notes on subjects he
wanted to discuss with her.
- Her greatest service to Rome was in her devotion to her husband
- Also in the civilizing influence she brought to bear on him.
- Her great-grandson Caligula gave her the nickname (Ulysses in Petticoats).
- The empire founded by Augustus was at its height in the first two centuries
of its existence.
- During this age the pax Romana (universal peace terms for the dominions),
existed throughout most of the Roman world.
- Only on the frontiers was defense necessary against Persian, German, and
other foreign enemies.
- Defense was the work of the professional soldiers of the Roman legions.
- A standard bearing the eagle, the symbol of the empire, was planted in
territory that extended to the Rhine river in the north, the Danube river in the
northeast, the Caspian Sea in the near east, and the coastal area of North Africa.
- Britain and Dacia were added during the first century AD.