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Augustus with citizen's crown ( Corona civica )
So-called “Augustus Bevilacqua” bust, Munich Glyptothek

Augustus (* 23 September 63 BC as Gaius Octavius in Rome , † 19 August 14 AD in Nola near Naples ) was the first Roman emperor .

The great-nephew and main heir Gaius Julius Caesar won the power struggles that led to his assassination in 44 BC. Followed, and was from 31 BC. Until 14 AD. Sole ruler of the Roman Empire . Under the motto of the restoration of the republic - restitutio rei publicae - he actually operated its permanent conversion into a monarchy in the form of the principate . With this he put an end to the century of the Roman civil wars and founded the Julio-Claudian imperial dynasty. His rule, shaped externally by numerous expansion wars, culminated internally in a long phase of consolidation and peace, which was transfigured as Pax Augusta .

Name and title of Augustus

Inscription on the market gate of Ephesus with the official title of Augustus

The birth name of the later Augustus was Gaius Octavius. According to Suetonius he was originally the cognomen Thurinus, which is not otherwise occupied. Cassius Dio mentions the name Kaipias as another, but little noticed, cognomen of Augustus. After the testamentary adoption by Caesar in the year 44 v. He officially adopted its name : C. Iulius Caesar or in full with filiation Gaius Iulius C. f. Caesar. He himself probably never used the name addition Octavianus, as it would have been customary after an adoption, although others, including Marcus Tullius Cicero , called him that. Modern historical literature also mostly uses the names Octavian or Octavian for the time of his ascent to distinguish him from both Gaius Iulius Caesar and his later role as Augustus . At the latest after Julius Caesar's official apotheosis in 42 BC. The new name of his stepson was Gaius Iulius Divi filius Caesar. After adopting the title of Imperator as a first name - perhaps 38 BC. BC, no later than 31 BC BC - he used the original cognomen Caesar instead of the gentile name Iulius (Imperator Caesar Divi filius).

On January 16, 27 BC The Senate gave him the honorary name Augustus (English: "the sublime"), so that the complete form of Emperor Caesar Divi filius Augustus resulted. The name Augustus , like the name Caesar, became part of the Roman imperial titulature with the beginning of the reign of his successor Tiberius . The term imperator, on the other hand, was not used as a prenomen by the first successors of Augustus. At the time of his death, his name and full title were: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus, Pontifex Maximus , Co (n) s (ul) XIII, Imp (erator) XXI, Trib (uniciae) pot (estatis) XXXVII, P (ater ) p (atriae) (in German about: "Imperator Caesar, son of the deified, the exalted, Supreme High Priest, 13 times consul, 21 times emperor, 37 times holder of tribunician power, father of the fatherland"). After his consecration in AD 14, his official name was continued as Divus Augustus Divi filius .


The life story of Emperor Augustus is about two apparently contradicting personalities: on the one hand, a young, ambitious, sometimes cruel politician who knew neither law nor scruples in the struggle for power, and on the other hand, the emperor, who - once in possession of this power - extremely clever Made use of it and with the principate put a new, permanent state order in place of the republic that had been shattered in 100 years of civil war.

Origin and youth

The later Augustus and his sister Octavia were the children of Gaius Octavius and his wife Atia , a niece of Gaius Julius Caesar. Augustus was related to Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus through his grandfather Marcus Atius Balbus . His grandfather, Gnaeus Pompeius, was also Augustus' great-great-grandfather. The Octavier family belonged to the Equites , the Roman knighthood, i.e. the lower, plebeian landed gentry. She was wealthy but little significant. As the first of his family branch in over 100 years, Gaius Octavius ​​took up the course honorum , rose to the Senate and reached 61 BC. Until the Praetur .

After the father's unexpected death in 59 or 58 BC His mother married Lucius Marcius Philippus , who in 56 BC. The consulate clad. The young Gaius was brought up by his grandmother Julia , an older sister of Caesar. He grew up on her estate in Velitrae until she was born in 51 BC. BC died. According to Suetonius , Gaius gave the funeral speech for his grandmother. He spent the remainder of his childhood in the house of his stepfather Philip in Rome. In 49 BC He put on the men's toga (toga virilis) .

Since Caesar had no legally recognized son, he took care of his great-nephew. Thanks to Caesar's intercession, Octavius ​​was born in 48 BC. Admitted to the college of pontifices . 47 BC He was appointed Praefectus urbi , that is, deputy head of the republic, for the duration of the Latin festival , during which the consuls and the other magistrates traditionally stayed outside Rome . In 46 BC Caesar let him take part in his triumphal procession on the occasion of the victory in the civil war. The following year, Gaius Octavius ​​accompanied his great-uncle on his campaign against the sons of Pompey to Spain , where he supposedly impressed Caesar with his bravery.

As an equestrian leader ( magister equitum ) he was also supposed to take part in the planned campaign against the Parthians and had already been sent to Apollonia in what is now Albania with his friends Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Salvidienus Rufus . There it reached him in the spring of 44 BC. The news of Caesar's murder. During his return to Rome he learned that the dictator had adopted him by will and made him the main heir of his private fortune. Caesar had made this decision after the death of his nephew Sextus Iulius Caesar , who was initially intended to be the heir and to whom, unlike Octavius, he was related in a male line .

Rise to power

Bronze bust of Octavian
(find from Meroe , Nubia ; now London, British Museum )

The testamentary adoption of an adult was indeed unusual, but corresponded to applicable law. Therefore, as soon as he was back in Rome, Gaius Octavius ​​accepted the will and all related obligations and henceforth named himself after his adoptive father Gaius Iulius Caesar. From this point on, historiography referred to him - like some contemporaries - as Octavian. In the conflict between Caesar's followers - who rallied around Marcus Antonius - and the republican-minded Caesar murderers around Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus and Decimus Junius Brutus , it initially played no role.

As sub-commander of Caesar and his co-consul for the year 44 BC, Mark Antony claimed The leadership of the Caesarian party for himself. So he initially refused to surrender the dictator's fortune to Octavian. This nevertheless paid out the legacies provided for in Caesar's will to his veterans and the people of Rome. For this he used the war chest that had been confiscated in Apollonia and intended for the Parthian War, but also auctioned his own goods. This approach quickly earned him a large number of supporters and thus political weight. The influential senator and consular Marcus Tullius Cicero , who was not one of the conspirators but sympathized with the republican cause, supported the apparently inexperienced young man in the hope of being able to build him up as a political counterweight to Marcus Antonius. Octavian ostensibly responded to this, but pursued his own plans and relied on his own experienced advisers.

This included personal friends such as the wealthy Gaius Maecenas , Agrippa and Salvidienus Rufus, as well as his stepfather Philip. As a teacher and philosophical advisor, Octavian consulted Athenodorus of Tarsus and Areios of Alexandria. Of particular importance was that Octavian immediately took over two of Caesar's closest advisers: Gaius Oppius and Lucius Cornelius Balbus . Oppius had previously managed Caesar's correspondence and headed his intelligence service; Balbus had been Caesar's private secretary, was seen as the “gray eminence” behind the dictator, and during his frequent absence from Rome he conducted official business unofficially. Oppius and Balbus became important confidants of Octavian who had a strong influence on his first steps as Caesar's heir. So the supposedly inexperienced Octavian had an extensive advisory team at his disposal from the beginning of his political career, which gave him lasting support.

Alliance with the Republicans

While Antony at the end of 44 BC BC attacked Decimus Brutus in Gallia cisalpina , Octavian built an army of veterans Caesars in Italy . At the urging of Cicero, who called for the fight against Mark Antony and needed Octavian's troops for this, the Senate legitimized it at the beginning of 43 BC. Its arrogant military command. In addition, he appointed the not yet 20-year-old senator, gave him propratory command over his legions and the rank of consular, and allowed him to take on all offices ten years before the legally stipulated minimum age. Octavian now even formed an alliance with the Republicans. In the same year he defeated Antonius together with a Senate army under the consuls Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Panza Caetronianus in the battle of Mutina .

Both heads of the republic perished in the Mutinensian War , and Octavian now demanded one of the freed consulates for himself. When the Senate refused, Octavian marched with his troops on Rome and seized the city like a coup . On August 19, 43 BC He forced his election as consul and the ostracism of the Caesar murderers. By now Antony had brought more legions under his command than before his defeat. Therefore - and because Octavian appeared on the political stage in Rome as the "avenger" of his adoptive father - he switched sides and entered into an alliance with the leaders of the Caesarian party. Based on the model of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus from the year 60 BC. Octavian, Marcus Antonius and the rider leader Marcus Aemilius Lepidus formed in October 43 BC. A second triumvirate . To confirm this, Octavian married Antonius' stepdaughter Clodia .

Second triumvirate

Aureus of the two triumvirs Mark Antony (obverse) and Octavian (reverse), 41 BC. Chr.

The "three-man rule for the order of the state" (tresviri rei publicae constituendae), as the alliance was officially called, was based solely on the military power of the triumvirs, that is, on their control over the vast majority of the Roman legions . They were accepted by the people's assembly on November 27, 43 BC. Chr. Dictatorial powers transferred to five years. As in Sulla's time , proscription lists were published and all those on them were declared outlawed. According to Suetonius, Octavian initially resisted the proscriptions, but then carried them out more relentlessly than his two colleagues. 300 senators and 2000 knights were affected by the proscriptions. At Antonius' instigation, Cicero also fell victim to the massacre of the political opponents of the triumvirs.

The proscriptions did not meet the financial expectations of the triumvirs, but they decimated the republican ruling class in the Senate of Rome, whose gaps the rulers filled with loyal supporters. They acted similarly with the magistrates of other cities. These and other measures shifted the weight within the Roman ruling class decisively to the disadvantage of the republican-minded forces. It was these upheavals that the ancient historian Ronald Syme, critical of Augustus, called the "roman revolution" .

In 42 BC BC Antony and Octavian went to Greece , where the Caesar murderers Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus had gathered their forces. Their defeat in the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia in autumn sealed the fall of the Roman Republic. With the victory largely due to Antony, his vote continued to gain weight within the triumvirate.

When the triumvirs staked out their spheres of influence after Philippi, Antonius received the Narbonensis in addition to Gallia Comata and gave up the Gallia cisalpina , which was henceforth administered together with Italy. He was also supposed to regulate the situation in the prosperous eastern provinces. After Lepidus was originally supposed to be completely eliminated, the two North African provinces were assigned - at that time the granary of Rome. Octavian was given the two Spanish provinces and the difficult task of resettling the veterans in Italy, which was administered jointly by the triumvirs. Since the Marian army reform, every general who wanted to secure the political support of his veterans and gain the trust of future legionaries was expected to provide the so-called army clientele with land .

The land distributions resulted in brutal expropriations and expulsions not only of individual landowners, but of entire urban populations. Octavian was generally hated at the time. In addition, there were serious differences with Antonius' brother Lucius because of the land distribution , but Octavian defeated him in the Peruvian War . After the conquest of Perusia, a wave of executions began, in which Octavian's enemies such as the tribune of the people of 44 BC. BC Tiberius Cannutius as well as Gaius Flavius ​​and Clodius Bithynicus died. Antonius then landed with his troops in Italy. The legions of both triumvirs refused to fight against each other and forced them to form a new alliance. The Treaty of Brundisium from autumn 40 BC BC provided, among other things, the marriage between Antony and Octavia, Octavian's sister.

In that year he entered into another family alliance: after separating from his first wife - Clodia - he married Scribonia , a relative of Pompey's son Sextus . Their daughter Iulia was to remain his only biological child. But even before Iulia's birth, he cast her mother away again. Chr. Livia to marry. The scandal was compounded by the fact that he took Livia into his home before she could divorce her husband, the staunch Republican Tiberius Claudius Nero . The woman who became his closest adviser brought the two sons Tiberius and Drusus with her into the marriage. Tiberius was to succeed his stepfather as emperor.

Conflict with Sextus Pompey

Map of the Roman Empire after the Treaty of Misenum in the summer of 39 BC. Chr.
  • Octavian's sphere of influence
  • Antony's sphere of influence
  • Provinces of Lepidus
  • Sea realm of Sextus Pompey
  • Kingdom of Egypt (Cleopatra)
  • Roman client states
  • Parthian Empire
  • The last political opponent of the triumvirs who still had significant military power was Sextus Pompeius with his fleet. Among other things, he controlled Sicily and endangered the grain supply from there to Rome, which further undermined Octavian's authority. Under pressure from the Senate, Octavian and Antonius concluded in 39 BC. With Sextus Pompeius the treaty of Misenum , according to which Sextus was allowed to keep Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily and the Peloponnese should also receive from Antonius ; Furthermore, the triumvirs Sextus had to have a consulate for the year 35 BC. Assure. The triumvirate was founded in 37 BC. In the Treaty of Taranto extended by another five years.

    Since the concessions in the Treaty of Misenum severely limited Octavian's power, he did everything in the following year to suppress Pompey's influence. Only after several serious setbacks and defeats did his new fleet leader Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa succeed in 36 BC. To destroy Sextus Pompeius' forces in the naval battle of Naulochoi off the north coast of Sicily. Shortly thereafter, Octavian also disempowered Lepidus by getting his troops in Sicily to join him. He now ruled the entire west of the empire and had the important grain provinces of Sicily and Africa under his control.

    After the victory over Pompey, the rapid pacification of Italy and the supply of veterans were the most urgent tasks. Italy had suffered badly from the lack of grain supply during the blockade of Pompey. Instead of expropriating goods by force, as had happened in previous years, the 20,000 men Octavian was now able to release from his huge army were resigned to farm positions in Italy, Sicily and Gaul. 30,000 runaway slaves who had served in Pompey's army were sent to Rome to be handed over to their masters. 6,000 ownerless slaves were crucified.

    Struggle with Antonius for sole rule

    After Octavian had eliminated Pompey and Lepidus, only Antony stood in the way of the struggle for sole rule. From spring 35 to 33 BC During smaller campaigns in Dalmatia he brought a powerful army into shape. Meanwhile, his rival was waging an unsuccessful war against the Parthians , which existed as early as 40 BC. BC under the orders of Quintus Labienus , a supporter of the republican cause, invaded Syria. In addition, Antonius entered into a permanent relationship with Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt , because of which he died in 32 BC. Chr. The in Rome extremely popular Octavia repudiated. As early as 34 BC He started to give away parts of the Roman East to Cleopatra and their children, and as a result had lost a lot of support in Rome.

    Octavian made clever use of Antony's behavior for propaganda purposes. In order to steal his last followers from him, he did not even shrink from sacrilege : he forced the Vestals to hand over the will of Antony that had been deposited with them and had extracts of it read out to the Senate and the People's Assembly. Previously, two witnesses to the drafting of the will, the Senators Lucius Munatius Plancus and Marcus Titius , who died in the autumn of 32 BC. After falling away from Antony in the 3rd century BC, Octavian informed Octavian of the content of the document: According to this, Antony appointed Cleopatra's children as heirs of Roman territories, recognized Caesarion as the biological son of Caesar and determined that he would be buried next to Cleopatra in Alexandria . When this became known, the Senate stripped Antony of all offices. Since Octavian portrayed the Egyptian queen as the originator of Antony's "anti-Rome" behavior, the Senate declared her an enemy of the state and declared war on Egypt. With this move, Octavian had succeeded in turning the struggle against a domestic opponent into a war between Rome and an external enemy. Anyone who continued to support Antony from then on also helped this external enemy and had to appear as a traitor in the eyes of traditionally thinking Romans.

    Octavian's and Antony's triumviral powers were formally as early as January 1, 32 BC. BC expired and their proconsular competences were only provisional. Therefore, Octavian needed to be granted new authority to wage war. He was proclaimed "Leader of Italy" ( dux Italiae ) , to whom the entire West had to take the oath of allegiance . He also took over the consulate again for the following year. From this legally secured position, Octavian opened at the beginning of 31 BC. The Ptolemaic War - officially directed against Cleopatra - by translating with his troops to Greece, which belonged to Antonius' sphere of influence.

    At the exit of the Ambracian Gulf in Epirus Agrippa's fleet and Octavian's army succeeded in enclosing the naval and land forces of Antony and cutting them off from supplies. The month-long blockade had devastating consequences for Antonius' army, so that he was finally forced to attempt a breakthrough with his ships from the Gulf into the open Ionian Sea . It happened on September 2nd, 31 BC. To the all-decisive naval battle at Actium , in which Antony and Cleopatra were defeated by the forces of Octavian and Agrippa. They took Alexandria the following year , whereupon Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Egypt lost its independence and was annexed as a new Roman province . This ended the war between two men for power in Rome and at the same time the 100-year-long epoch of the Roman civil wars . As a sign that peace reigns in the whole empire, on January 12th, 29 BC. Closed the gates of the Temple of Jan in the Roman Forum . According to Titus Livius, this only happened for the third time since the legendary founding of Rome in 753 BC. BC. Octavian spent the following years gradually converting his dominant position of power, which he had forcibly acquired during the civil war, into a legal form that was acceptable to the Romans. 28 BC BC he overturned all his "unlawful" orders from the time of the triumvirate so demonstratively.

    Augustus as Princeps

    On January 13th of the year 27 BC A state act lasting several days began in the Senate of Rome , which officially ended the state of emergency of the civil war . Formally, the old order of the republic was restored, but in fact a completely new, monarchical order with a republican facade was created: the later Roman empire in the form of the principate. At the suggestion of Lucius Munatius Plancus , the Senate awarded Octavian the newly created honorary name Augustus on January 16.

    In the years after Actium, the autocratic ruler was faced with three major tasks: to rebuild the state, to secure the empire internally and externally, and to regulate the succession in order to endure his work after his death. Since Augustus succeeded in all of this, the state act of January 27 BC marks the BC not only marked the beginning of his 40-year reign as Princeps, but also that of a completely new era in Roman history.

    Establishment of the Principate

    Question of the reorganization of the state
    Augustus as a triumphant
    ( cameo , Lothar cross )

    When Octavian in the summer of 29 BC . BC had returned from the East to Rome and a triple triumph had stopped, he faced the same problem at the Caesar 15 years had failed: to create a political system that for the grown in more than 400 years ago, Republican legal understanding of Römer was acceptable and at the same time did justice to the fact that the actual power had shifted more and more over the last 70 years: away from the Senate, the consuls and the other republican institutions , towards the commanders of the legions. From Marius and Sulla to the first and second triumvirates, military rulers had repeatedly achieved extraordinary political power.

    The simple restoration of the old aristocratic republic was out of the question for him for two reasons: On the one hand, the state-supporting stratum of the republic, the senate nobility , had been largely destroyed by the civil wars. On the other hand, the expansion of the empire required a large number of legions, whose commanders could always be tempted to usurp power in an illegal manner. Since the large aristocratic families and political groups such as Optimates and Populares in the republic were constantly fighting for power and influence, this had happened again and again in the decades of the civil war - from Marius to Sulla to Caesar.

    Apparent restoration of the republic

    Two things followed from all this: On the one hand, Octavian had to endeavor to convert the extraordinary political power that military despots like himself had repeatedly achieved into a proper one, i.e. to integrate it legally into the previous state structure. On the other hand, he had to seek to unite the imperium , the military command over the majority of the legions on which political power now rested, in one hand. In short: he had to monopolize the army clientele and establish permanent sole rule. His advantage was that his personal pursuit of power met the need and general need to prevent renewed power struggles and civil wars. Because after the turmoil of the previous decades, many traditionally minded Romans, who had always rejected any kind of autocracy , were inevitably ready to place military and political power in the hands of just one man.

    As in the fight against Antonius, Octavian proved himself to be a master of political propaganda in this task . This emerges from his deed report ( Res Gestae Divi Augusti ) , in which he drew the following picture of his actions towards the end of his life:

    "In my 6th and 7th consulate [that is, 28 and 27 BC. After I had put an end to the civil wars, I, to whom I had come to supreme power with the consent of the general public, again transferred the state [rem publicam] out of my sphere of influence to the free decision of the Senate and the Roman people. For this merit of mine I was named Augustus by resolution of the Senate . […] Since that time I have surpassed everyone in influence and reputation [ auctoritas ] ; but from then on I had no more authority [ potestas ] than that which I had also had as a colleague in office. "

    The reality behind this picture looked different, however: Octavian was clever enough not to strive for the generally hated royal title , but he allowed the existing republican authorities to transfer all those who, in their bundling, actually helped him to a monarchical position equal to a king . But since he formally restored the republican order, he was able to present himself as both savior and protector of the republic. Ultimately, he entered into a compromise with the Senate aristocracy by severely curtailing their political power, but not completely excluding them from the exercise of power. In addition, unlike Sulla and Caesar, he did not inflict any humiliation on her and thus allowed her to preserve her dignity and her social prestige (dignitas) .

    Securing power

    Immediately after his return from the war against Antonius, Octavian sought the support of the old noble families and set about strengthening the reputation of the republican institutions. For example, he had around 190 members excluded from the Senate who were officially considered inappropriate. At the same time he replenished the thinned ranks of the senate nobility by raising deserving individuals and supporters to the patrician rank. He called himself - emphatically modest - princeps senatus , first of the Senate, a title that had existed before, but which had only designated a primus inter pares , a first among equals. This gave rise to the term principle for the Augustan form of rule, which means something like "rule of the first citizen". The princeps made a great impression on the population of Rome at the end of 28 BC. When he had all illegal laws from the time of the Triumvirate repealed.

    Whether Octavian had other powers besides the consulate at the beginning of 27 and what this might consist of has been a matter of controversy in research since Theodor Mommsen . In any case, on January 13, 27 BC BC, on the first day of the state act, his extraordinary omnipotence ( potens rerum omnium ) over the provinces and legions demonstratively into the hands of the "cleansed" Senate. This formally formed the central ruling body again. The republic was externally restored. In general, there was talk of the res publica restituta . So far the facts coincided with Augustus' propaganda version.

    In its next session, however, just four days later, the Senate officially transferred military command in half of the provinces to Octavian - namely in those half that were on the edges of the empire and in which therefore the bulk of the legions were located. He was represented there by legates . The decision was based on the fact that these areas were particularly endangered and that Octavian would resign from command there after they were pacified. In this way he was given the authority of the provincial governors (imperium proconsulare) over the vast majority of the army. So Octavian remained the military ruler and sole patron of the army clientele, but now formally within the framework of the law. From then on the empire was de facto divided into imperial and senatorial provinces .

    Another republican element of the new state order was the return to the annual replacement of the magistrates. However , the Princeps regularly used one of the two consulates for himself over the next few years. This changed with the revision of the Principle Constitution on July 1, 23 BC. From then on Augustus renounced the consulate for up to two years. Instead, he had the tribunician power (tribunicia potestas) transferred to him for life , ie not the office of the tribunes , but “only” its official powers. With this he won the right to convene the Senate and the people's assemblies, to propose these laws, to veto against Senate and popular decisions and even to forbid the consuls from official acts. In order to be able to give instructions to the magistrates in Rome and Italy, all special consular rights were added to the tribunicia potestas of Augustus, which a tribune of the people was not actually entitled to. Tribunician power thus became the source of imperial power in Rome and Italy. By giving up the permanent consulate, however, Augustus lost his authority to issue instructions to the proconsuls of the Senate and thus also to the senatorial provinces. In order to restore this, he had a superordinate proconsular authority (imperium proconsulare maius) transferred.

    With the revision of the constitution of principles, Augustus formally resigned the consulate, but in fact retained all the powers of a consul. By renouncing the consulate, however, he had lost all external badges of rank that indicated his central position, with the exception of the purple toga and the corona triumphalis . In order to compensate for this, the Princeps were given 19 BC. The consular rights were granted to him: He was again constantly accompanied by twelve lictors and was allowed to sit between the two incumbent consuls in the Senate. Augustus apparently renounced absolute power by letting the senate aristocracy participate in it, but in reality kept all important functions in the state and the military in his hands.

    Augustus title and other honors
    Augustus as Princeps, with the Corona triumphalis on his head

    The honorary name Augustus , "the Sublime", which the Senate Octavian gave on the last day of the state act of January 27 BC. Conferred, reminded of the augurium , a cult act to interpret the will of the gods, which according to legend Romulus had already undertaken. The name equated its bearer with the legendary founder of the city of Rome and gave the highest political power in the state a sacred aura that the consuls never had during the republic. With the new title, the Senate also awarded the Princeps a shield of honor (clipeus virtutis), on which bravery, gentleness, justice and the fulfillment of duty to the gods and the fatherland were praised as the virtues of Augustus.

    Another honor was the first celebration of the decennalia , the ten-year anniversary of the reign of the Princeps, in 17 BC. The festival went back to the fact that Augustus had formally accepted the power transferred to him for only 10 years. In its course, as in 27 v. Chr. Power returned to the hands of the Senate, which immediately transferred it to him again. The decennalia also served the purpose of creating the appearance of continued rule by the Senate and of concealing the actual balance of power in Rome.

    The princeps' sacred dignity was further strengthened than in the year 13 or 12 BC. BC Marcus Aemilius Lepidus died. Augustus' former colleague in the triumvirate was only allowed to keep the office of Pontifex Maximus after his disempowerment . Now Augustus also took over this office; As the highest priest of the Roman state cult, he was now able to regulate all matters of religio Romana in his own way .

    In the year 8 BC The Senate decided to rename the month of Sextilis to Augustus . The reason given for choosing this month instead of Augustus' birth month September was given that he had become consul for the first time in the Sextilis and had celebrated three triumphs. Also, this month, in which Egypt was conquered, marked the end of the civil wars. The real reason could have been that the sextilis directly followed the July named after Caesar.

    On February 5th of the year 2 BC The Senate finally awarded Augustus the title pater patriae ("Father of the Fatherland"), of which he was particularly proud because it was more than a mere honorary title. Rather, he made it clear to everyone that the emperor had the same authority over all members of the empire as every Roman head of the family, the pater familias, had over his own .

    Acceptance of the new order

    The reorganization of the state was not accepted by the Romans without contradiction. In particular, the patrician families of the old senate nobility, who viewed Augustus as an upstart, found it difficult to come to terms with their disempowerment. Some sources report that after his return from the East, Augustus only dared to enter the Senate with a breastplate under his toga and only received senators individually and after thorough body searches. Conspiracies like those of Maecenas' brother-in-law A. Terentius Varro Murena and Fannius Caepio, which began in 23 or 22 BC. BC, show that Augustus' policies aroused considerable resistance for a long time. Since the time of the conspiracy cannot be precisely dated, it is still unclear whether it was the triggering factor or a consequence of the 23 BC. Chr. Readjustment of the principals order was.

    Was that the new system of government finally accepted, was safe only in part because Augustus the republican institutions and the traditional rights and customs, the mos maiorum , proved his respect. The Romans could tell themselves that the old republic and its institutions continued to exist in form, but those interested in politics must have seen through Augustus' propaganda. In the end, the decisive factor was the simple fact that the principate worked - in complete contrast, for example, to Sulla's or Caesar's models of order - and that there was no realistic alternative to Augustus. In addition, the time factor was decisive for the success of the new system of rule: Augustus ruled for more than 40 years after gaining sole rule, longer than any of his successors. During this long period the Romans got used to the rule of the First Citizen. When the emperor died, there were hardly any Romans left who had consciously experienced the old republic. Thus, with the establishment of the Principate, a long period of inner peace and prosperity began. Augustus' new order was to last for 300 years - until Diocletian's reign .

    Even the historian Tacitus , one of the principal's harshest critics, recognized Augustus' clear merit in this policy of consolidation. Their exemplary validity is shown in the term “ Augustan threshold ”, with which modern political science describes the successful transition of a growing but unstable empire into a permanently stable state.

    Economic and social reorganization

    Members of the imperial family,
    relief on the south wall of the Ara Pacis , Rome

    An equally demanding task as the restructuring of the state constitution was the internal and external stabilization of the empire, its economic recovery, the restoration of law and order in Rome and the provinces and the securing of the borders. According to Actium, the conditions for a general economic upswing were better than ever in the previous decades. Augustus was able to dismiss more than a third of the 70 or so legions , that is to say about 80,000 of the 230,000 men who died in 31 BC. Were still under arms. Such an army would not only have been too large and too expensive for peacetime; it would always have been a potential danger to keep so many soldiers under arms.

    Unlike 12 years earlier, he did not have to resort to confiscations to compensate the veterans , but could use the immense booty that had fallen into his hands with the Egyptian state treasure for land purchases. Thus a broad stratum of peasants devoted to him arose in Italy and the provinces. His supporters in Rome - for example in the new Senate - were given money and posts. Thus Augustus himself created the new strata of society on which the state order of the Principate was to rest.

    Reorganization of the provinces

    A certain degree of prosperity gradually returned to the provinces , which until then had been repeatedly plagued by contributions , troop levies and armies passing through , because the principate established legal certainty and above all prevented the plundering by former magistrates of the republic, which had been common up until then. These had always held themselves harmless in the provinces for the costs caused by their political involvement in Rome. The historian Velleius Paterculus summarized the effectiveness of Augustus' policy a few years after his death as follows: "The fields were restored, the sanctuaries were honored, the people enjoyed peace and quiet and were safely in possession of their property."

    At first the emperor took over the reorganization of the provinces himself. As early as the summer of 27 BC. He set out on a multi-year inspection tour through the north-west of the empire. Gaul had been left to its own devices since Caesar's conquest. According to the order of the conditions there, Augustus conquered those areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula that had not yet belonged to the empire and incorporated them into the province of Hispania Tarraconensis . In Tarraco he took up his 8th and 9th consulate. On the return journey to Rome in 23 BC. BC Augustus fell so seriously ill that those around him were already expecting his death. He eventually survived, but decided not to lead his legions personally in the future.

    Moral politics
    Augustus as Supreme Priest
    (Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano )

    A return to traditional customs and morals also became a hallmark of Augustus' rule. In 19 BC In BC Augustus had the senate transfer the cura morum, the control of morals. In the following year he had the penal provisions for adultery tightened in the Leges Iuliae and a general obligation to marry was introduced. In the years of his ascent he himself had not exactly given up a model of ancient Roman virtues - the forced divorce of his wife Livia from her former husband was only the most striking example. But now he saw in the emphasis on traditional values ​​a means to heal the spiritual devastation from the time of the civil wars.

    The dignity and authority of the princeps naturally required Augustus and his family to lead by example. This eventually led to a falling out with his daughter Julia, who refused to submit to his father's moral code. In the year 2 BC BC Augustus himself had her accused of adultery before the Senate and banished to the small island of Pandateria . Nine years later, in 8 AD, the poet Ovid , the author of the Ars amatoria ("art of love") , suffered the same fate: he was exiled to Tomis on the Black Sea.

    The propagandistic image of the Princeps as a loyal Roman patron who watches over the well-being of his own was clearly expressed in an extensive building program in Rome (publica magnificentia). This included functional buildings such as aqueducts and a huge sundial , but above all representative buildings such as the Augustus Forum , the Marcellus Theater and numerous temples that served to show the Romans the power and authority of Augustus. In his report of deeds, the emperor speaks of 82 temples that he repaired in one year, while Virgil in the Aeneid speaks of 300 temples that he had built in total.

    Foreign policy and border security

    The Roman Empire under Augustus:
  • Italy and the Roman Provinces
  • dependent territories and client states
  • Germania magna
  • Augustus' foreign policy has long been viewed as defensive. Historians of the 19th century saw in it only a rounding off and securing of the imperial borders. Among other things, the fact that Augustus did not resume Caesar's plan for a campaign against the Parthian Empire contributed to this view . A military demonstration of force against the neighbor in the southeast was enough to defeat the Parthian King Phraates IV in 20 BC. To a contractual border regulation and to the surrender of the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Captured, symbolic legionary eagles. In Rome it was touted as a great military victory, which in reality was a peaceful solution.

    The integration of Egypt went largely smoothly. In 25 BC BC Rome won the new province of Galatia in Asia Minor on the basis of a testamentary decree of the last Galatian king Amyntas. In addition, a number of new client states such as Armenia , Cappadocia and Mauritania became dependent on Rome.

    Nevertheless, the thesis of a basically peaceful, defensive foreign policy could not be upheld. No republican general and no emperor has incorporated such large territories into the Roman Empire as Augustus - and this above all through military conquests. Plans for a conquest of Arabia failed right from the start, as the campaign of Aelius Gallus in 25/24 BC. Was unsuccessful. In the six-year Cantabrian War from 25 to 19 BC However, Augustus' troops conquered the last non-Roman areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. The land of the defeated Cantabrians was incorporated into the empire as part of the Tarraconensis province . After 17 BC During the secular celebrations in Rome the peace order of the Principate was still celebrated, the empire went back to the offensive the following year. The reason for this is still unclear. Perhaps it started as a minor border dispute with Germanic tribes, which ended with extensive military operations on the northeastern borders and the incorporation of no less than five new provinces.

    From the eastern border of Gaul, the Alps and the Dalmatian coastal mountains, the imperial border extended to the Danube and the Rhine, and at times even to the Elbe . The new provinces of Raetia , Noricum , Pannonia , Illyricum and Moesia emerged south of the Danube . In the year 15 BC The foundation of the city of Augusta Vindelicorum falls in BC . Today's Augsburg , whose name goes back to the Princeps, later became the capital of the province of Raetia.

    In contrast to these successes, the Augustan German Wars ended in catastrophe. The attempt to conquer the Germania magna on the right bank of the Rhine was due to the campaigns of Augustus' stepson Drusus from 12 to 9 BC. Already well advanced and was completed after Drusus' death by his Buder Tiberius . In 9 AD, however, an alliance of Germanic tribes initiated by the Cheruscan prince Arminius in the "saltus Teutoburgiensis" - possibly the region around Kalkriese near Osnabrück - destroyed three Roman legions under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus . The Varus Battle followed in the years 14 to 16 AD. Drusus' son Germanicus attempted to recapture it, which was costly . Ultimately, however, the Romans withdrew to the Rhine-Danube line and built the Limes as a fortified border against Germania.

    Succession arrangements

    The Gemma Augustea (around 10 AD) shows Augustus as Jupiter , who receives the victorious Tiberius among the gods ( Kunsthistorisches Museum )
    Family tree of the Julian-Claudian dynasty, from which Augustus and four other emperors emerged

    Although Augustus is portrayed as a good-looking man in almost all sources on his life, he has been of weak constitution since childhood. He survived several serious illnesses like the one in 23 BC. Chr. Only barely and could not expect to reach the very high age of almost 76 years for the time. The regulation of the succession was therefore a central task for his endeavor to give the newly created system of rule duration . While his wife Livia wanted to see one of their sons on the throne of Tiberius Claudius Nero, Augustus pursued the plan of succession in his own Juliet Secure family . Since the emperor had no sons, he forced his daughter Julia to marry several successor candidates one after the other.

    This was in the year 25 BC. First Marcellus , the son of his sister Octavia and her first husband. The preference for his nephew apparently led to tensions between Augustus and his general Agrippa, who had well-founded hopes for the successor. But Marcellus died barely 20 years old at the end of 23 BC. Chr. And Agrippa was now considered a promising successor candidate. Augustus urged the old friend in 21 BC. To divorce his wife and to marry Julia, 25 years his junior. The two had two daughters and three sons, Gaius Caesar , Lucius Caesar and the later-born Agrippa Postumus . At least since Agrippa's death in 12 BC In BC Augustus regarded the two older grandchildren as his preferred successors. For this reason he had adopted them as sons during Agrippa's lifetime.

    Both grandchildren were 12 v. Chr. Chr. Still so young that after the premature death of Augustus they could not have succeeded immediately. Until they were old enough to be the successor candidates and could be presented to the Roman public, the princeps needed a deputy. He was supposed to support Augustus in government affairs and to inherit instead of the too young grandchildren. This role that Agrippa had once occupied was now to be filled by Tiberius . Augustus forced him to separate from his wife Vipsania, a daughter of Agrippa, to marry Iulia and to undertake to protect the two young princes. At that time Augustus does not seem to have wanted Tiberius or his younger brother Drusus, with whom he had a better relationship, as his successor. He made it clear that Tiberius was only a "placeholder" for the two grandchildren and should only serve as a successor candidate for a transitional period. This led to a falling out with Tiberius, who also felt the forced marriage to Iulia as torture. The stepson therefore placed 5 BC. BC all offices and went into exile to Rhodes . A reconciliation only came about after Lucius and Gaius Caesar died in quick succession, in AD 2 and 4, and Julia was banished from Rome because of her way of life. Since Drusus already 9 BC Chr. Died in a campaign in Germania, only Tiberius remained as successor.

    Augustus adopted him on June 26th of the year 4 together with his last living grandson Agrippa Postumus. However, three years later he had the latter banished to the island of Planasia near Elba for reasons that were never entirely clear , where he was murdered immediately after Augustus' death. Tiberius, in turn, had to adopt the son of his late brother Drusus: Germanicus . The great-nephew of Augustus, as Octavia's grandson, came from both the Julian and the Claudian branches of the family. Since Germanicus 4 AD was still too young to directly succeed Augustus in office, the Princeps assigned him the role of Tiberius' successor. After setting the course for family policy up to the third generation, Augustus Tiberius transferred the tribunician authority (tribunicia potestas) in AD 4 . But it was not until 13 AD, the year before his death, that Augustus also granted him proconsular powers (imperium proconsulare maius) and thus publicly designated Tiberius as the only possible successor.

    In his extensive will, Augustus bequeathed his material wealth to his adoptive son and wife Livia. In addition, he set legacies for the citizens of Rome and the Praetorians. He also arranged his funeral and gave instructions for Tiberius and the state.

    Death and burial

    In the summer of the following year the emperor undertook a trip that was to take him to Benevento via Capri . He fell ill with diarrhea on Capri , but traveled even further to the mainland near Naples and had himself taken to Nola - allegedly in the same house where his father Gaius Octavius ​​had died 71 years earlier. The emperor died there in the presence of his wife Livia and a number of dignitaries who had rushed to the place on August 19th, the year 14, the same day on which he had taken up his first consulate over 50 years earlier. According to Suetonius, the man who had worn so many masks in his life is said to have said goodbye with a formula that the comedians said at the end of a play: If you liked the whole thing, applaud our game and dismiss us all with thanks .

    Augustus' body was cremated on the Field of Mars in Rome and the ashes were buried in the magnificent Augustus mausoleum , which the emperor had built there for himself and his family. In addition, like most Roman Caesars after their death, he was declared the god of the state ( divus ) . A temple between the Capitol and Palatine Hill was dedicated to the cult of Divus Augustus . He was responsible for a college of 21 priests, the Augustales , to which only the highest members of the Senate and the Imperial House were appointed.

    Augustan age

    Even contemporaries of Augustus viewed their presence as an "Apollonian era", shaped by Apollo , the god of light, the arts and music, wisdom and prophecy. The emperor had sanctuaries built for him at Actium and at his own house on the Palatine Hill in Rome.

    An example of the veneration the princeps was accorded during his lifetime is a cult song by Horace :

    "Now the bull is safely moving on its way,
    Ceres blesses the corridor again with rich seeds,
    the ship sways peacefully through the reconciled flood.
    Good faith has re-awakened (...)
    Who is still filled with fear Parthians and Scythians now?
    Whom Germania's brood, sons of the raw air
    Whom, since Caesar lives, cares about the war's dräun fern
    in wild Iberia? (...) "

    - Quintus Horatius Flaccus

    The reign of the first emperor after his death was completely transfigured under the term of the Pax Augusta, the "Augustan Peace". Compared to the previous century and the rule of many successors to the first emperor, the Augustan era - the Saeculum Augustum - did indeed bring a long lasting period of internal peace, stability, security and prosperity to Rome, Italy and most of the provinces. After the ravages of the civil wars, the economy flourished, as did art and culture.

    The time produced poets like Virgil , Horace , Ovid and Properz , historians like Titus Livius and architects like Vitruvius . The emperor tried himself as a tragedy writer, but destroyed his drama Ajax , whose inadequacy he was aware of, with the comment: My Ajax has fallen into the sponge.

    The Marcellus Theater , behind it the Portico of Octavia and the Circus Flaminius on the Marsfeld (model in the Museo della Civiltà Romana, Rome)

    Rome changed, as Augustus believed, from a city of bricks to a city of marble. Impressive architectural evidence of this period has survived to this day, such as the Marcellus Theater, the Pantheon built by Agrippa and renovated under Emperor Hadrian and, last but not least, Augustus' mausoleum and the Ara Pacis , the altar of peace from 9 BC. BC, which shows a procession of the imperial family on a relief.

    The image that the emperor wanted to convey to the Romans with such buildings was in contrast at least since the year 16 BC. BC again with the incessant wars that were waged on the borders. The empire expanded under Augustus at a rate like never before and never since. In addition to rich Egypt and Galatia, provinces on the Rhine and Danube were added, the conquest of which could only be compared with that of Caesar's Gaul.

    But there was war in the interior of the empire and the provinces after 31 BC. Chr. Can only be felt a little. Even contemporaries saw peace and prosperity as defining characteristics of the era. This was the reason why they finally resigned themselves to the introduction of the monarchy and the end of the republic, especially since the attempt to return to its oligarchic order could have provoked new civil wars. And it was no coincidence that the followers of a new faith later established a connection between the reign of the deified Augustus, who was celebrated as savior and prince of peace, and the birth of the founder of the religion, whom they venerated as the Son of God, Savior and herald of a kingdom of peace.

    Augustus in posterity and research

    The image of the princeps has changed again and again in the 2000 years since his death. These changes usually had little or nothing to do with his person and his politics.

    Images of Augustus from antiquity to early modern times

    Augustus had done everything to leave posterity as positive as possible of himself. His autobiography was lost, but his “report of deeds”, the so-called Res gestae divi Augusti , give a good impression of how the ruler himself wanted to be seen. Also Nicolaus of Damascus was in his only fragmentary biography of Augustus endeavored to represent him only in the best light.

    However, there are also traces of a different, critical assessment in ancient historiography. The historian Tacitus, for example, an avowed supporter of the earlier, republican conditions, wrote in his work Annalen in the early 2nd century about the establishment of the Principate:

    "After the change in the form of government, there was nowhere left of the old, clean state mentality ..."

    After a critical passage about the posthumous honors of Augustus, which he considered exaggerated, Tacitus wrote about the princeps himself:

    “On the other hand, his life was alternately praised or reprimanded in the circle of insightful men: Some said that out of attachment to the adoptive father and the plight of the state, in which at that time there was no room for legal action, he had been driven to civil war, the one with decent means can neither be prepared nor led. (...)

    This was countered by saying that he had only used his attachment to his father and the difficult situation of the state as an excuse; In truth, it was a lust for power: he stirred up the veterans through generosity, enlisted an army as a young man without office, bribed the consul's legions, pretended to lean towards the Pompeian party. (...) "

    Certain descriptions of Tacitus and of the early 3rd century Senator Cassius Dio have some similarities. But while Tacitus drew a rather negative picture of the first princeps, since he regretted the fall of the republic and recognized the power politics of Augustus as such, Dios presentation was more positive. Since his work offers additional material in addition to the passages that correspond to Tacitus, there is broad consensus in research that Dio did not use Tacitus, but that both used a common source that is now lost. Like most ancient historians, Tacitus rarely named his sources. From the senatorial historiography , however, several works from the time before him are known, including that of Aulus Cremutius Cordus , who apparently portrayed Brutus and Cassius in a very positive way. Also AUFIDIUS bassus described at least partly the rule of Augustus; however, it is not known from what point in time its histories began. Servilius Nonianus probably also wrote about the rule of the princeps. Suetonius used material from lost works of this time in his imperial servants. But Tacitus may have been the first historian whose overall judgment of Augustus was tainted negatively.

    Augustus and his time experienced a major reinterpretation after the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Since late antiquity and the Middle Ages , Christians have tried again and again to equate the pax Augusta with the pax Christiana , since Jesus of Nazareth was born in the Augustan era. In the late Middle Ages , the Roman-German kings and emperors also used this fact politically to justify their priority over the papacy. During the Christmas service it was indirectly emphasized that at the time of Jesus' birth there was already a Roman emperor but no Pope. Even in modern times , politicians have always wanted to construct parallels between their own time and that of Augustus for different reasons. During the French Revolution z. As the establishment of the Board after the reign of terror of the Jacobins in 1794 compared with the establishment of the Principality. In the 20th century, the Italian fascists sparked a real Augustus fever. Even during the time of National Socialism , numerous ancient historians, including Wilhelm Weber , tried to portray Augustus' rule as a model for the so-called national renewal of Germany through the “ Führer principle ”.

    Augustus in modern history

    In the 19th century, the ancient historian Theodor Mommsen had judged very differently : He had interpreted Augustus' principals not as sole but as dual rule shared by the Senate and Princeps. Against this image, Ronald Syme turned , whose work The Roman Revolution , published in 1939, is considered the starting point of modern Augustus research, primarily due to its rich material. Symes depiction was shaped by the spread of fascist movements in Europe of his time. He wanted to see in Augustus a dictator and in his rise to see parallels to the beginnings of fascism . Benito Mussolini himself saw it similarly , even if he did not share Syme's negative assessment. According to Syme, Augustus' regime emerged from a revolution. He himself was a party man who, with the help of money and weapons, eliminated the old leadership class and replaced it with a new one. As a calculating power man, he carried the old, crumbling republic to the grave in order to establish sole rule under an apparently republican facade.

    The historian Jochen Bleicken judged the Princeps critically, but not disparagingly: In ancient history there are only Alexander and Caesar whose achievements can be compared with those of Augustus. Nevertheless, one could not equate him with these "big ones", which basically only had a destructive effect. Augustus, on the other hand, was above all the pioneering “master builder of the Roman Empire” and “educator” of the new elites of the principate. There could be no question of Augustus' hypocrisy or of the facade character of his regime. Dietmar Kienast even saw Augustus as the most selfless ruler in all of history. In his biography of Augustus, Klaus Bringmann (2007) also drew an overall positive balance sheet of the reign of the first Roman emperor: unlike Ronald Syme, he sees his achievements as proof that for Augustus, having power was not an end in itself. Werner Dahlheim (2010) contrasts the young Octavian's “murderous tricks of the first years” with the positive judgment of the second half of his life. Measured by the durability of his statesmanship, Augustus appears to him as a “great man”.

    On the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the death of the emperor, the exhibition “Augusto” was shown in the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome from October 2013 to February 2014. On the same occasion, Ernst Baltrusch and Christian Wendt organized a lecture series at the Free University of Berlin with 12 contributions by colleagues on important aspects of politics and culture of the epoch of the first Princeps and their significance for posterity, which were published in an anthology in 2016 .


    • Res Gestae Divi Augusti : Actual report written by Augustus himself, which was attached to bronze pillars in front of his mausoleum. Copies were found as inscriptions in several places in Asia Minor, the most complete - with a Greek translation - in a temple in Ankara , after which the work is also called Monumentum Ancyranum . There are numerous editions, including a Latin-Greek-German edition with commentary ed. by Ekkehard Weber, Munich a. Zurich 1975. Text (Latin) , Text (Latin / Greek / English)
    • De vita sua: an autobiography that dealt with the period up to the Cantabrian War in thirteen books, but was practically completely lost. (Modern "reconstructions" by OK Gilliam, Philipp Vandenberg and Allan Massie belong to the genre of the historical novel .)
    • Sicilia: lost epic in hexameters , attested only by Suetonius
    • Ajax: tragedy destroyed by Augustus himself


    • Appian , Roman History. Vol. 2: Civil Wars. Translated by Otto Veh , 1988. Text (English) by LacusCurtius
    • Cassius Dio , Roman History. Translated by Otto Veh, Artemis-Verlag, Zurich 1985, ( English translation )
    • Nikolaos of Damascus , The Life of Augustus. Often criticized biography, which is not always reliable and is only preserved in Byzantine excerpts. Bilingual translation by Jürgen Malitz, Nikolaos von Damascus. Das Leben des Kaiser Augustus , Darmstadt 2003. Text (English) Text (German) (PDF; 77 kB)
    • Suetonius , Divus Augustus. Most detailed ancient biography from the collection of the emperor's biographies from Gaius Iulius Caesar to Domitian . Numerous editions, for example in all received works , Essen 2004 (German translation). Text (Latin) , ( English translation )
    • Tacitus , annals . The historical work only begins with the death of Augustus, but contains numerous retrospectives on his reign. Numerous editions, for example Latin and German ed. by Erich Heller, Munich a. Zurich 1982. Text (Latin / English)
    • Klaus Bringmann, Dirk Wiegandt: Augustus. Writings, speeches and sayings. Texts for research, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 3-534-19028-9 (extensive source collection, contains all known orders and edicts, personal letters and official documents of Octavian / Augustus)


    • Ernst Baltrusch , Christian Wendt (ed.): The first. Augustus and the beginning of a new era, Zabern's illustrated books on archeology. Special volumes of the ancient world, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt 2016, ISBN 978-3-8053-5033-4 .
    • Jochen Bleicken : Augustus. A biography. Alexander Fest, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-8286-0027-1 . New edition with afterword by Uwe Walter , Rowohlt, Reinbek 2010, ISBN 978-3-499-62650-0 .
    • Jochen Bleicken: Constitutional and social history of the Roman Empire. 2 volumes, 3rd or 4th edition, Schöningh, Paderborn 1981, ISBN 3-8252-0838-9 , ISBN 3-8252-0839-7 .
    • Alan K. Bowman (Ed.): The Cambridge Ancient History . Vol. 10. The Augustan Empire. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996, ISBN 0-521-26430-8 (detailed overview).
    • Klaus Bringmann , Thomas Schäfer : Augustus and the establishment of the Roman Empire. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-05-003054-2 (study book with source part).
    • Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Primus, Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 978-3-89678-605-0 .
    • Karl Christ : History of the Roman Empire. From Augustus to Constantine. 4th revised and updated edition. CH Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-36316-4 , p. 47ff.
    • Werner Dahlheim : Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. CH Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60593-2 ( review ).
    • Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. In: Manfred Clauss (Ed.): The Roman Emperors. 55 historical portraits from Caesar to Justinian. 4th updated edition. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60911-4 , pp. 26-50 (short biography).
    • Werner Eck : Augustus and his time. 5th revised edition. Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-41884-6 (brief introduction).
    • Manuel Flecker, Stefan Krmnicek, Johannes Lipps, Richard Posamentir, Thomas Schäfer (eds.): Augustus is dead Long live the emperor! International colloquium on the occasion of the 2000th year of death of the Roman emperor from November 20, 2014 in Tübingen (= Tübingen archaeological research. Vol. 24). Verlag Marie Leidorf, Rahden 2017, ISBN 978-3-89646-915-1 .
    • Jörg Fündling : The Golden Age. How Augustus reinvented Rome. WBG, Darmstadt 2013, ISBN 978-3-86312-035-1 .
    • Karl Galinsky (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, ISBN 0-521-00393-8 (collection of articles).
    • Karl Galinsky: Augustus. His life as an emperor. From the English by Cornelius Hartz, von Zabern, Mainz 2013, ISBN 978-3-8053-4677-1 .
    • Wolfgang Havener: Emperor Augustus. The discursive constitution of the military “persona” of the first Roman “princeps” (= Studies in ancient monarchies. Vol. 4). Steiner, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-515-11220-8 .
    • Dietmar Kienast : Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 4th edition, bibliographically updated and supplemented by a foreword. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2009, ISBN 978-3-534-23023-5 (problem-oriented, but difficult to read presentation with extensive scientific apparatus).
    • Angela Pabst : Emperor Augustus. Redesign of Rome. Reclam, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-15-010988-5 .
    • Heinrich Schlange-Schöningen : Augustus. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-16512-8 (concise presentation).
    • Linda Simonis, Annette Simonis: Augustus. In: Peter von Möllendorff , Annette Simonis, Linda Simonis (ed.): Historical figures of antiquity. Reception in literature, art and music (= Der Neue Pauly . Supplements. Volume 8). Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-476-02468-8 , Sp. 151-164.
    • Pat Southern : Augustus. Magnus, Essen 2005, ISBN 3-88400-431-X .
    • Ines Stahlmann: Emperor Caesar Augustus. Studies on the history of the understanding of principles in German antiquity up to 1945. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1988, ISBN 3-534-03890-8 .
    • Ronald Syme : The Roman Revolution. Power struggles in ancient Rome. Fundamentally revised and for the first time complete new edition, edited by Christoph Selzer and Uwe Walter. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-608-94029-4 (classic representation that has become the starting point of modern Augustus research).
    • Paul Zanker : Augustus and the power of images. 3. Edition. Beck, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-406-34514-X (overall presentation of the propagandistic and representative politics of Augustus).

    Web links

    Commons : Augustus  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikisource: Augustus  - Sources and full texts (Latin)


    1. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 5: 1 .
    2. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 7.1 . Suetonius claims to have read it on a bust that he gave to an emperor of his time ( Trajan or Hadrian ?). He also mentions that Mark Antony used it as an expression of his contempt. Suetonius is not sure why the young Gaius Octavius ​​received the cognomen Thurinus . He gives two options: it could indicate the family's origin from the Thurii area (the Octavians, however, probably came from Velitrae) or it could be related to the victory of his father's Thurina region . However, FX Ryan, Kaipias doubts this . An epithet for Augustus. In: Studia humaniora Tartuensia. Vol. 6, Art. 2, 2005, Note 2 ( online ) due to the inscription CIL 6, 41023 , which does not mention a corresponding victory.
    3. Cassius Dio 45,1,1 : Ὀκτάουιος Καιπίας . Various interpretations have been attempted, such as an incorrect translation of Copiae (Latin for Thurii ) into Greek. Ryan, Kaipias sees a connection to the zodiac sign of Augustus (Capricornus). The very rare Cognomen Caipias was, however, on an altar from the 1st century BC. Discovered in the crypt of the Franciscan church of Montefalco , so that the Octavier family could have come from Umbria .
    4. With C. f. for Gaii filius ("son of Gaius"). Cf. also Appian's description as "Caesar Caesar's son" (Appian, civil wars 3,11,38). Cicero , ad Atticum 14,12, reports that even before the public acceptance of his adoption he called himself Caesar , which is confirmed by Cassius Dio 45.3. An intermediate form Octavius ​​Caesar is in Appian, Civil Wars 4, 8, 31 ff. For the year 43 BC. However, it is not regarded as historically relevant, and in some cases even as a forgery.
    5. For this reason, Octavianus is often put in brackets in research: C. Iulius C. f. Caesar (Octavianus) (see also Ronald Syme : The Roman Revolution. Oxford 1939, pp. 307 ff., 322 ff .; Hubert Cancik: On the use of military titulatures in the Roman cult and Christianity. In: Heinrich von Stietencron: Der Name Gottes. Düsseldorf 1975, pp. 112-130, here: 113f.).
    6. Rare: Gaius Iulius Divi Iuli (i) filius Caesar. Here, too, is the tradition of Cassius Dio 47,18,3, the Ronald Syme: Imperator Caesar. A study in nomenclature. In: Historia. Vol. 7, 1958, pp. 172-188, to be followed, questionable. Andreas Alföldi ( Octavian's march into Rome, August 43 BC In: Hermes . Vol. 86, 1958, pp. 480–496) - and also considered by Kraft (1952–1953), but initially still doubted - dates the first coins with DIVI IVLI • F • and DIVI • F • to the year 43 BC. After Octavian's takeover of the Capitoline mint. This view is supported by Nikolaos of Damascus ( FGrHist 18.55) and Appian ( Civil Wars 3:11, 38), after which it becomes clear that Octavian tended to increase his political activity through religious consecration.
    7. Cf. Ronald Syme: Imperator Caesar. A study in nomenclature. In: Historia. Vol. 7, 1958, pp. 172-188.
    8. Cf. Ronald Syme: Imperator Caesar. A study in nomenclature. In: Historia. Vol. 7, 1958, pp. 172-188.
    9. Caesar in the title, especially that of the first Augustus, cautiously evokes the personal, historical dimension without emphasizing too much the social and political position. Augustus (like the title pater patriae ) refers to the myth of Rome's founding of the city (see Quirinus or Romulus ).
    10. What is meant here is the deified dictator Caesar ( Divus Iulius ). The titulature (or part of the name) Divi filius ("Son of God") was used by all emperors who were sons of a divus . B. Tiberius as Divi Augusti filius and Titus as Divi Vespasiani filius.
    11. The attached number XXI refers to victories that Augustus himself or his generals achieved under his rule. Imperator is therefore not an official title, but a real prenomen and a “name of power” (Syme and Béranger, in: Cancik 1975). Octavian's first "imperial acclamation" took place in 43 BC. After his victory over Antony at Mutina.
    12. A few temples and altars in Italy and the provinces already indicate that Augustus was worshiped as God during his lifetime, regardless of the cult of the genius Augusti , but not as Divus Augustus, but as Divi filius, possibly also incorrectly as Divus Iulius ( Ittai Gradel: Emperor Worship and Roman Religion. Oxford 2002).
    13. ^ Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 13. This paradox also characterizes Werner Dahlheim's presentation: Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. Munich 2010.
    14. Suetonius: Augustus 2,1 uses the expression minores gentes, which was used for the plebeian families who were represented in the Roman Senate.
    15. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 8, 1 .
    16. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 2000, p. 35ff. u. P. 692ff .; Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd reviewed and expanded edition, Darmstadt 1999, p. 6ff .; Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 256. In contrast, Leonhard Schumacher represents in Octavian and Caesar's will. In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . Romance Department. 116, 1999, pp. 49-70, the view that by accepting the will, Octavian initially only inherited Caesar's property and that he was only included in the gens Iulia in 43 BC. Occurred after the adoption was confirmed by a curiate law.
    17. See also Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 38.
    18. On the Triumvirate cf. recently Josiah Osgood: Caesar's Legacy. Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire. Cambridge 2006.
    19. ^ Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 64.
    20. Ronald Syme: The Roman revolution. Oxford et al. 1939.
    21. Suetonius, Augustus 62, 1 ; Cassius Dio 48, 5, 3 .
    22. It is unclear whether the extension of the end of 38 BC. Triumvirate expired retroactively from January 1st, 37 BC. Or only from January 1, 36 BC. Was valid. Cf. Werner Eck : Augustus and his time. 6th, revised edition. CH Beck, Munich 2014 (1st edition 1998), ISBN 978-3-406-41884-6 , p. 26.
    23. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 229f.
    24. Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd, through and exp. Ed., Darmstadt 1999, p. 57.
    25. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 252-255.
    26. See also Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd, reviewed and expanded edition, Darmstadt 1999, p. 66f; Velleius Paterculus, Roman History 2.83 ; Plutarch, Antonius 58; Cassius Dio 50.13 .
    27. Res gestae Divi Augusti 25: The whole of Italy took the oath of allegiance to me of their own free will and emphatically demanded me as leader of the war in which I was victorious at Actium [ducem depoposcit]. The provinces of Gaul and Spain, Africa, Sicily and Sardinia have taken the same oath. With the self-description ducem depoposcit Augustus pointed out that he had received the title dux Italiae and the high command on the basis of a popular resolution. Associated with this was the transfer of an expanded military command.
    28. Titus Livius: Ab urbe condita 1, 19.
    29. Cassius Dio 53,2,5 .
    30. The three triumphal procession took place on August 13, 14 and 15, 29 BC. Instead of. The victory over the Dalmatian tribes (33 BC), the victory of Actium (31 BC) and the conquest of Egypt (30 BC) were celebrated. On the fourth triumph over Sextus Pompeius Octavian had already 36 BC. And instead only accepted the ovatio . At that time he was awarded both the corona triumphalis (more precisely the golden corona laurea ) and the inviolability of a tribune of the people (potestas sacrosancta) for life.
    31. ^ Res gestae Divi Augusti 34 .
    32. ↑ On this most recently Henning Börm , Wolfgang Havener: Octavian's legal position in January 27 BC. And the problem of the "transmission" of the res publica. In: Historia . Vol. 61, 2012, pp. 202-220 ( online ).
    33. Macrobius, Saturnalia 1, 12, 35; shorter Suetonius, Augustus 31, 2 .
    34. ^ So Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 379 and 732.
    35. Velleius Paterculus 2.89.3 .
    36. ^ Suetonius: Augustus 26, 3 .
    37. As with all periods of time that extend over the Christian era, it must also be noted with the age of Augustus that there is no year zero in our calendar . December 31, 1 BC January 1st, 1 AD immediately follows. Therefore, between September 23rd, 63 BC. And August 19, 14 AD, almost 76 years and not 77, as one might assume.
    38. On the role of Tiberius as a placeholder for the young Caesares see: Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 631ff.
    39. Cassius Dio, 56,32
    40. ^ Suetonius, Augustus , 99
    41. Carmina IV 5.17 ff, cit. after Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. In: Manfred Clauss (Ed.): The Roman Emperors. 55 historical portraits from Caesar to Justinian. Munich 1997, pp. 26-50, here: pp. 45f.
    42. Cf. Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. In: Manfred Clauss (Ed.): The Roman Emperors. 55 historical portraits from Caesar to Justinian. Munich 1997, pp. 26–50, here: p. 49.
    43. ^ Tacitus, Annalen 1,4 , translation by Erich Heller.
    44. Tacitus, Annalen 1,9 , translation by Erich Heller.
    45. Tacitus, Annalen 1,10 , translation by Erich Heller.
    46. ^ On the pre-Tacite historians John Wilkes: Julio-Claudian Historians. In: Classical World. Vol. 65, 1972, pp. 177ff.
    47. So Bernd Manuwald: Cassius Dio and the 'judgment of the dead' about Augustus at Tacitus. In: Hermes. Vol. 101, 1973, pp. 353-374, here: 373f.
    48. ^ Hermann Heimpel : Royal Christmas Service in the later Middle Ages. In: German Archive for Research into the Middle Ages. Vol. 39, 1983, pp. 131–206 ( digitized version )
    49. ^ Theodor Mommsen: Roman State Law. Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Leipzig 1887, p. 748.
    50. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 684f.
    51. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 374.
    52. Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Darmstadt 1999, p. 517.
    53. ^ Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 244.
    54. Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. Munich 2010, p. 389.
    55. Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. Munich 2010, p. 405.
    56. ^ Dirk Schümer: Augustus Exhibition in Rome. A rabid European from the very beginning. He was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar and invented the Roman Empire: a large exhibition in Rome celebrates the heroism and glory of the ruler Augustus. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung # FAZ.NET , October 30, 2013.
    57. Ernst Baltrusch, Christian Wendt (ed.): The first. Augustus and the beginning of a new era. Darmstadt 2016.
    predecessor Office successor
    - Roman Emperor
    27 BC Chr. – 14 AD
    This article was added to the list of excellent articles on June 29, 2004 in this version .