Augustus Caesar Essay, Research Paper
Augustus Caesar was born Gaius Octavius on September 23, 63 BC His mother, Atia, was the niece of Julius Caesar; her mother was Caesar’s sister. Octavian’s family was an old and wealthy one from the small town of Velitrae. Octavian’s father died when he was four years old and he was adopted by his great uncle Julius Caesar. At the age of 16 Octavius traveled to Spain with Julius in his campaign against Pompey the great. During the journey Octavian suffered many hardships including illness and a ship wreak that he narrowly escaped, his initiative impressed Caesar. In 44B.C Octavian learned that Julius Caesar was murdered as part of a political conspiracy. Octavian returned to Rome to discover that Caesar left him the bulk of his estate in his will. Soon after this inheritance Octavian took the name of Gaius Julius Caesar and at the age of 18 took control of Rome.
When Octavian returned to Rome his two main goals were to claim his inheritance and to revenge Julius Caesar’s death. To do so he tried to create an alliance with his rival Marc Antony. Antony took a harsh attitude to Octavian because of his age and even tried to block his inheritance from Caesar. As a result, Octavian went to the senate and used their forces to defeat Antony at the battle of Mutina. At the end of the battle in 43B.C Octavian learned that the senate planned to use him to remove Antony and then discard himself. To stop this Octavian met with Antony and Aemilius Lepidus to form the second Triumvirate of Rome. This deal was sealed with marriage, Octavian wed the daughter of Antony’s wife and later Antony married Octavian’s sister. The triumvirs quickly had themselves voted unlimited powers and began to eradicate their opposition, especially those related with the murder of Julius Caesar. Hundreds of Roman’s were killed during this process. After that Octavian and Antony confronted Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, the leaders of the conspiracy against Caesar. At the battles of Phillipi in Greece the last of their forces were destroyed and Brutus and Cassius were killed.
Octavian and Antony divided Rome between them after there victory, Octavian took the west and Antony took the east. Lepidus was pushed aside and eventually ended his life under house arrest. The relationship between Antony and Octavian steadily fell apart. It was patched up by Antony’s marriage to Octavian’s sister, and in 36B.C the two cooperated to defeat Sextus Pompeius (the son of Pompey) in Sicily. This temporary end to hostilities led to an inevitable conflict. In the east Antony formed a close relationship with Cleopatra, Queen of the Egyptians. Antony gave her Roman territories that used to belong to Egypt, and showed signs that he was trying to form an independent monarchy in Asia. Octavian found out about this and in 32B.C Rome declared war on Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian gathered a fleet and an army and moved east. The Roman forces defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle of Actium on September 2, 31B.C. The two lovers escaped to Egypt and later committed suicide when surrounded by Octavian’s forces. He then annexed Egypt as a Roman province. Octavian than became the sole ruler of Rome and gave the appearance of a restored Roman republic. However Octavian realized that a fully restored republic would lead to a bloody civil war so he proclaimed himself princep of Rome which was along the same lines as a consul.
In 12A.D Octavian was granted the title of Augustus from the senate, at first he refused but then later accepted. As ruler Augustus’ major concerns were internal reform and external defense. In Rome he revised the senate roll and enforced many laws against immorality, he even sent his own daughter into exile for several accounts of adultery. Augustus also focused on religion, in 12A.D he was elected pontifex maximus, or head priest. Whenever possible he revived old customs attempting to strengthen patriotism and social order in Rome. His many building projects repaired years of neglect and greatly improved the city. As he grew older Augustus attempted to find and heir to the rule of Rome. After his three grandsons either died or proved unfit he was forced to turn to Tiberius, his wife’s son by her first husband. Augustus died in 14A.D and the fact that Tiberius succeeded him without internal problems or a civil war proves that Augustus was successful in creating a new and lasting political order, The Roman Empire.