Caesar Augustus Essay, Research Paper
Augustus was the first emporer of Rome, and was perhaps the greatest ruler in
Rome s history. Under his rule came prosperity and greatness for the Roman
empire. Augustus was born on September 23, 63 BCE, with the given name
Gaius Octavius. His father died while Octavion was just a child, so he was
raised by his mother his entire life. Octavion led the life of a normal, extremely
wealthy, child of his times. In the morning, to prepare for a job in government,
he studied Greek, literature, philosophy, and public speaking. He also attended
law courts. In the afternoon, he played ball, lifted weights, and wrestled. In the
evening he attended dinner parties with his friends. In his teens, he caught the
attention of his granduncle Julius Caesar. Caesar, the dictator of Rome at the
time, was very fond of Octavian. In March, 44 BCE, Caesar was murdered, and
Octavian s life was changed forever. A few days after his death, Caesar s will
was read. In it, he adopted Octavian as his son, and gave him three fourths of
his fortune, with the other quarter going to the people of Rome. Once the news
of the will had reached Octavian, he went straight to Rome. Though dissuaded,
Octavian was determined to avenge Caesar s murder, and gain complete control
of Rome. Octavian then took the name, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, in
honor of his granduncle.
Octavian had been in competition with Mark Antony for quite some time.
After years of rivalry and disagreement, Octavian joined a political force which
consisted of himself, Antony, and one of Caesar s generals, Lepidus. Together
they formed the Second Triumvirate, or group of three rulers. They planned to
gain complete control of the Roman empire. Their first order of business was to
defeat the armies of Caesar s assassins. In order to obtain money to pay for
their own army, the Second Triumvirate accused over 2300 people as being part
of Caesar s death, and ordered them to be killed. Citizens not accused were
given rewards for every head of those on the list. A free man received $500,
and a slave was give $200 and freedom. This was one of the darkest times in
Roman history, and most of all during Octavian s reign.
The Second Triumvirate finally gained enough money from the
executions, and defeated the opposing armies. They were now in complete
control of Rome. After their defeats, they divided the Roman empire amongst
themselves. Antony was ruler of Gaul (now present day France) and all the land
east of Italy. Octavian was ruler of north Africa, Sicily, and Spain. All three
ruled the Italian peninsula together. For several years, all went well, until
Lepidus was forced to retire. The rivalry between Octavian and Antony began
again. The feud was not only political, but personal also. Fierce hatred for one
another began when Antony fell in love with Caesar s former lover, Cleopatra.
Antony was already married to Octavian s sister, Octavia. Antony divorced
Octavia, and planned to wed Cleopatra. Cleopatra had a child, and claimed it to
be the son of Caesar. She named him Caesarion. Octavion completely
disputed the child to be that of Caesars. After much tension, came the Battle of
Actium. Octavian s and Antony s fleets met near Actium, Greece on September
3, 31 BCE Though Antony s ships were more armed, Octavian s fleet won. The
following summer, Octavian s army invaded Egypt and captured Alexandria.
Caesarion was killed, and Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide within a
year. Octavian was now the undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire.
Octavian was a great politician. He realized that the Roman people would
oppose his individual rule if it did not appear as if the Republic still existed.
Octavian had to make it seem as if the Senate still had power. In order to keep
the people s support, he did not take any names such as emperor or king.
Instead, he took the name Augustus, meaning honored, or revered one.
Augustus eventually had complete control of everything from the army to the
government. He required every soldier to take an oath of loyalty not to Rome,
but to Augustus, himself. But, Augustus was an excellent ruler. He reformed
Rome, and made improvements to the empire in many ways. He established a
public police department, and a fire brigade to make Rome safer. He repaired
Roman aqueducts, and distributed free grain wherever there was a famine. He
also built new roads, theaters, courts of law, and monuments. To expand the
empire, Augustus conquered Spain. The empire was also extended to the north
and east. Soldiers were stationed on the frontier to keep invaders out, and the
empire intact. He encouraged the importance of Roman religion, and
established a religious cult, Roma et Augustus. The Roman people adored
Augustus, and worshipped him as a living God. Other improvements, were a
public postal system, census taking, and the resettling of thousands of
unemployed army veterans. Augustus encouraged his people to be proud of
their ancestry and history. He repaired over eighty temples, and built many new
ones. Augustus tried to set an example of plain, normal living. He wore simple
clothes woven by his wife or daughter. He ate ordinary food: coarse bread,
cheese, and green figs. In order to keep the empire thriving, and the population
high, Augustus encouraged marriage, and giving birth. He offered money
bonuses to large families, and made laws which made it extremely difficult to get
a divorce. Augustus himself was married three times. His third wife, Livia
Drusilla, was his true love. They were married for fifty years, yet had no child,
and no heir to Augustus s throne. He adopted Marcellus, his sister s son, but he
died in 23 BCE He then adopted his two grandsons, Gauis and Lucius, both
died before Augustus. With no male blood relatives remaining, Augustus
adopted his step nephew, Tiberius, his sister s son from her first marriage.
Tiberius went on to be the second emperor of Rome.
Augustus was extremely successful. He ended civil unrest, and
developed a firm stable government. He established a Roman currency system,
and engaged in successful trade with foreign countries. Augustus brought
peace and prosperity to the Roman empire. His rule was known as the Golden
Age. It was in the month of August, the month named after him, when the great
Augustus s life would end. It was a hot summer day in 14 CE Augustus woke up
feeling extremely weak. He died peacefully and quietly with his wife in his small
home near Naples. His body was carried to Rome, where thousands of
mourners awaited. His coffin was set ablaze, and through smoke, an eagle was
said to rise up through the smoke, and fly to the heavens. The eagle was the
great Augustus, going to his place of final