Octavian/Augustus

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Octavian was the name of the great-nephew of Julius Caesar. Caesar’s will named him as his adopted son and heir. Octavian, later to be known as Augustus, was born on September 23 of the year 63 BC. He was the founder of the Roman Empire, and it’s first Emperor, who ruled until his death.

Octavian formed part of the Second Triumvirate, which was a political alliance that also involved Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Mark Antony. They were given overwhelming power in the Roman state that outranked the magistrates and even the consuls. However, just like in the First Triumvirate, they ended up fighting each other, with Octavian being the decisive victor.

After the bloodiest reign of terror in Roman history, the Romans only wanted peace. Yet, Augustus had a problem. He was now the most powerful man in the Roman Empire, and he knew that if he retired a civil war would return. Even still, if he exercised absolute power, he would arouse hatred, making him vulnerable to be killed. Eventually, this led to the Augustan Settlement.

Augustus returned to Italy to renounce his authority, but the senate gives him his powers back. They realized that keeping Augustus with power would prevent from someone else rising and starting a war again. However, he was careful enough to accept some titles and avoid others. He became known as Princeps, which meant first citizen of Rome. The Roman Mediterranean world emerged from the chaos to two centuries of peace and prosperity. Augustus made the Roman Principate work, and he was able to lay the foundations for the most stable era in the Mediterranean.

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Categories: Western Civilization 1 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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