By © Marie-Lan Nguyen- Wikimedia

Top 10 Sensational Facts about Augustus


 

Caesar Augustus was one of ancient Rome’s most successful leaders. He led the transformation of Rome from a republic to an empire.

Augustus is also credited with the 200 years of peace in the Roman Empire. He was Julius Caesar’s nephew and succeeded him.

The month of August was one filled with great victories such as Cleopatra and Mark Anthony’s death, the roman empire won several wars.

For this reason, he changed the name of the month Sextilius to August, in his honour.   

Augustus’ contribution to the progress of the Roman empire, here are the top 10 sensational facts about him.

1. Although he was ruthless, Augustus had a soft side

By I, Sailko – Wikimedia

Augustus was known to be a ruthless leader, especially with his enemies. He however extended mercy to his subjects.

One memorable incident where he extended mercy was when he forgave a servant. The servant had accidentally broken a crystal cup.

This happened at the house of his friend Vedius Pollio, this friend was known to throw people into pits of flesh-eating eels. Pollio ordered that this be his execution.

The servant begged Augustus to let him choose another way to die. Augustus not only forgave him but also let him small the rest of the valuable cups.

2. Augustus was Julius Caesar’s nephew

Augustus was born on 23 September 63 BC at Ox Head on Palatine Hill in the city of Rome.

He was named after his father Gaius Octavius, who was the first Roman senator. He also served as governor of Macedonia.

His mother, Atia, was Julius Caesar’s sister. She remarried after Augustus’ father passed on. He was raised by his maternal grandmother. She died when he was 12.

Julius Caesar had only one daughter who did not live long after birth. This meant that Augustus was the next male relative to take the throne.  

3. Augustus was not his birth name

When he was born, his given name was Gaius Octavius, he was named after his father.

He later changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus after being adopted by his uncle Julius Caesar.

When he took up leadership of the Roman Empire, the senate gave him the name Augustus meaning the revered one.  

During his reign, he was given several names such as the chief priest, first citizen, commander in chief, and son of god.

Despite all these titles, Augustus did not refer to himself as an emperor or monarch. He lived a modest lifestyle.

4. He had a month on the calendar named after him

In 8 B.C. Augustus changed the Roman month of Sextilius to August. He followed the footsteps of his uncle Julius Caesar who had a roman month changed to July.

Contrary to popular belief, he did not choose the month because of its number of days. The month already had 31 days same as July.

The name change was to honour the significant events that happened during his reign.

5. Augustus had three wives

the bust of Tiberius, Augustus’ step-son. Photo sourced from Wikimedia

Augustus married three times. His first wife was for political ties. He was married to Mark Antony’s stepdaughter Clodia Pulchra. This marriage was not consummated and he sent her back home.

His second marriage was to Scribonia with whom they had a daughter, Julia. They divorced in 39 BC.

Augustus then married Livia Drusilla. she had two sons, Tiberius and Drusus, from her previous marriage. Tiberius married Julia, his stepsister before he was adopted and succeeded Augustus in 14 AD.

6. He expanded the Roman Empire

Augustus was the only Emperor who enlarged the Empire, which covered Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia.

He had strongholds in Africa, Spain and was close to conquering German. Augustus also reformed the taxation system, he established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome.

It is alleged that his wife Livia poisoned him. Her son Tiberius became emperor.

Augustus spent years in Spain, Gaul, Greece and Asia. Although he was not good on the battlefield, Augustus had his way with his words.

7. Augustus sent his daughter to exile

Augustus was a strong believer in traditional values such as marriage and childbirth. He built several temples during his reign.

Adultery was a criminal offence, yet he himself had committed it several times.

When he found out that his daughter was having extramarital affairs with popular men such as Mark Anthony’s son, he had her sent to an isolated location.  

He also banished his granddaughter for the same crime. Augustus never got to see his daughter again.

8. He passed several laws as an Emperor

By Giovanni Battista – Wikimedia

Augustus passed laws to encourage marital stability and renew religious practices. He established a system of taxation and also expanded the network of Roman infrastructure. The city was the most beautiful and developed.

He also founded a postal service, established a regular police force and fire brigade in Rome.

9. Augustus is credited with peace in the Roman Empire that lasted over 200 years

Augustus Caesar’s victory at Actium in 31 BC brought the civil wars in the Roman Republic to an end. He transformed the empire into a stable monarchic regime. His reign was the most peaceful that lasted for 200 years. This period was known as Pax Romana.

Several projects were completed during his time as the Roman Emperor. The empire had the best road network.

10.  He was declared a god after he died

Augustus died outside of Naples, Italy in 14A.D. His body was returned to Rome. There was a day of mourning during the day of his funeral, all businesses were closed. This was done to respect and honour a great leader.

After his death, the Senate proclaimed him to be Roman god. He had greatly impacted the lives of many people in his empire and beyond. His body was laid in state at the Pantheon.