Augustus Caesar Reign
Reign of the first emperor.1 Gaius Octavian Caesar Augustus is considered to be the
first roman emperor which he ruled for 41 years until his death. He was born on 23 of
September 63 B.C. and died the 19 of August 14 AD. I believe that Augustus Caesar is
one of the best roman emperor that has ever lived. First of all, he was able to become
the sole emperor of Rome. Second, he restored the Roman Republic with the
govermental power vested in the Roman Senate.
Octavian was able to reach his position as a roman emperor because of his ties to the
current Caesar, Julius Caesar. Julius was his great uncle and favored him at a very
young age. In 48 BC, when Octavian was 15 years old, Caesar enrolled Octavius in the
priestly college of the Pontifaces and into the hereditary Patrician class in Rome.
Octavius also joined Caesar on a military campaign in Spain on 46 BC. Later, Octavius
was sent by Caesar to Apollonia ,in Greece, to finish his education. During his time in
Apollonia, Octavius trained with Roman Legions who were stationed there at the time. It
was during his stay here that he had learned about Caesars assination and that he was
Caesars adopted heir.
1 “Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus (42 B.C.-37).” Encyclopedia of World Biography.
Thomson Gale, 1998. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 Nov. 2010.
h t t p : / / fi n d . g a l e g r o u p . c o m / g t x / i n f o m a r k . d o & c o n t e n t S e t = I A C –
Octavian was 18 years old and was living in Apollonia when the news of Caesars
assination reached him. His friends and family begged him to stay where he was and
thought it best that he renounce his inheritance because the enemies and assassins of
Caesar were very strong. Octavius did not take this advice and immediately announced
his intentions of going to Rome to claim what was rightly his and to avenge Caesars
death. Octavius displayed his deep understanding of the affairs of the government and
he tried to make friends with the leaders of the Roman army. However, the important
Mark Antony and Lepidus both viciously opposed Octaviuss claim to power and fought
him in a battle which they lost. After this first great victory, Octavius was made consul
and decided that it would be best for all parties concerned that the three men should
come to an understanding with one another to get vengeance on the assassins of
Caesar. The joining of these powers was known as the Second Triumverant and in it the
empire was divided as Octavius was to rule the West, Antony the East and Lepidus
Africa. Soon after the initiation of the triumverant, Octavius married a woman named
Scribonia for political reasons. Scribonia was the relative of Sextus Pompey (the
grandson of Pompey the Great).
The triumvirant had two main goals which were the consolidation of power and te
vangeance of the Casesar. In 42 BC the armies of Octavian and Antony met those of
Brutus and Cassius (caesar?s assassins) at Philippi where they were defeated and later
killed themselves. With the death of these assasins, Octavian and Antony were strong
enough to rule without Lepidus and so dropped him from the triumvirant on the grounds
that he was plotting against them. After this, Octavian returned to Rome and Antony
went back to the East. As soon as Octavian returned to Rome he starting planning on
waging a war against Antony. He gathered many rumors and displayed them to the
Roman Senate which was force to agree upon waging a war against Egypt. After their
defeat both, Antony and Cleopatra comitted suicide. Octavian was now the sole ruler of
the Roman Empire.2
Upon the death of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavius (now Augustus) arrived in Rome and
celebrated a great triumph in which the people hailed him as Imperator.3Upon his
arrival, the doors of the temple of Janus were closed for the first time in 200 years and
peace had finally been restored to the Roman Empire. Upon his return to Rome,
Augustus was given every high office by the senate and was essentially head of all the
political and religious affairs of the Empire. After he retired from the Consulship he was
given the rights that consuls usually only enjoyed. Also he was made proconsul over
certain provinces and had authority over all provincial governors. Furthermore ,the
consuls were always in command of the Roman army so the proconsul had command
of the provincial army. This meant that Augustus was the head of all the armies in the
empire. With all these powers, Augustus was actually in total control of the empire but
he did not want to make the same mistake Caesar did. To secure his power, he made it
2 Harl, Kenneth W. “Actium, Battle of.(Event overview).” The Readers Companion to
Military History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 1996. Academic
OneFile. Web. 18 Nov. 2010
3 The Journal of Roman StudiesVol. 76, (1986), pp. 66-87. Society for the Promotion of
Roman Studies.
look like he was the “representative” of the senate as he had not gained these powers
by force but had them given to him by the senate. Augustus took the title Princeps
instead of using emperor or king right out which would have been very dangerous for
Augustus started out his lengthy reign by continuing many of the reforms started by
Julius Caesar. One of his first acts was to continue the regulations for the distribution of
corn begun under Caesar and he also improved the water supply of Rome. Augustus
also instituted a fire brigade and made Romes police force more efficient. His most
famous civil change ,however, was the institution of the Praetorian Guard who were his
personal police force and that of most emperors who came after him. This select group
of men numbered 3000 and were stationed all over Italy.
Augustus also had an extensive building program which helped to beautify Rome. Some
of his more well known building projects were the construction of the Forum of
Augustus, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Theater of Marcellus and the baths of
Agrippa. Also, he rebuilt many roads and temples.Augustus was dedicated to the
beautification of Rome and was recorded to have said of himself “I found Rome a city of
wood and left her a city of marble. The most important reforms Augustus made involved
how the provinces would be ruled. The problem was that Rome tried to Rule the
provinces like she ruled herself but what works well with a small city state would not
work well with a vast empire. It is because of this misrule during the last century of the
republic that the provinces had suffered greatly due to wasted land and heavy taxation
to fund Romes many wars. As well, there had been a great deal of fighting within the
provinces which led to barbarian invasions on the frontier towns.
To remedy the problem with the provinces, Augustus first divided them into two classes.
In his division, the older provinces were kept under the control of the senate but the
newer provinces or ones which were on the frontiers were put under his control. This
division worked well for Augustus in all ways since the senate had given him some
power in all provinces.He even had power in the provinces ruled by the senate. These
reforms of Augustus resulted in better and more honest governing of the provinces
because it was no longer possible for the governors to misgovern them.Any governor
who did misgovern was responsible to Augustus or the senate and was immediately
called to Rome to be punished.
Finally, these are the main reaons why I think that Augustus Caesar was one of the best
Roman Emperors, because he managed to rise to be the sole emperor and the
accomplishments he did while he was emperor. This emperor had no matches, however
few came close to his doings but without ever overdoing him.