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

Augustus (born September 23, 63 BC as Gaius Octavius in Rome , † August 19, 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 rise to distinguish him from both Gaius Iulius Caesar and his later role as Augustus . At the latest after the official apotheosis of Julius Caesar in 42 BC. The new name of his stepson was Gaius Iulius Divi filius Caesar. After adopting the title 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 (Eng: "the sublime"), so that the complete form of Emperor Caesar Divi filius Augustus emerged . 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 designation imperator, on the other hand, was not yet 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 sublime, 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 Julian-Claudian imperial house

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. 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. Died. According to Suetonius , Gaius gave the funeral oration for his grandmother. He spent the remainder of his childhood at 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 , when 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 expedition 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 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 onwards, modern historiography - like some contemporaries - referred to him as Octavian. In the conflict between Caesar's supporters - who rallied around Marcus Antonius - and the republican-minded Caesar murderers around Gaius Cassius Longinus as well as Marcus and Decimus Junius Brutus , he quickly played an important role, as he was told by Caesar's veterans, but also by the political friends of the dead dictator was supported.

As sub-commander of Caesar and his co-consul for the year 44 BC, Mark Antony claimed The leadership of the Caesarian followers 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 was confiscated in Apollonia and intended for the Parthian War, but also auctioned his own goods. This procedure 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 Mark Antony. 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. It was of particular importance that Octavian was immediately able to win 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. The supposedly inexperienced Octavian had an extensive advisory team at his disposal right from the start of his political career, which provided him with 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 Forum Gallorum and another 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 murderers of Caesar. By now Antony had again brought more legions under his command than before his defeat. Therefore - and because Octavian now appeared on the political stage of Rome as the "avenger" of his adoptive father - he switched sides and formed an alliance with the Caesarians: together with Marcus Antonius and the former cavalry leader of Caesar, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus , he formed in October 43 v. The so-called second triumvirate . In contrast to the first triumvirate between Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, it was not based on private political agreements, but was enshrined in law. To strengthen the alliance, 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 primarily on the military power of the triumvirs, that is, on their power of disposal over the Roman legions . They were accepted by the people's assembly on November 27, 43 BC. By means of the lex Titia transferred extensive powers to five years. Although they were given quasi-dictatorial powers, the term dictatorship was avoided because Antonius had this office abolished by law after Caesar's murder. As in Sulla's time , proscription lists were now 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 balance within the Roman ruling class decisively to the detriment 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 Antonius 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, Antony received the Narbonensis in addition to Gallia Comata and gave up the Gallia cisalpina , which was henceforth administered jointly with Italy. Furthermore, he was supposed to regulate the situation in the prosperous eastern provinces. After it was originally supposed to be completely eliminated, Lepidus was given the two North African provinces - at that time the breadbasket of Rome. Octavian received 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, the provision of land to the so-called army clientele was expected by every general who wanted to secure the political support of his veterans and gain the trust of future legionaries.

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' wife Fulvia and his brother Lucius because of the land distribution , but Octavian defeated them in the Peruvian War (41/40 BC). After the conquest of Perusia, a wave of executions began, in which Octavian's important former ally, the tribune of the people of 44 BC, also began. BC, Tiberius Cannutius , 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.

He himself entered into another family alliance that year: after separating from his first wife - Clodia - he married Scribonia , a relative of Pompey's son Sextus . Their daughter Julia was to remain his only biological child. But before Iulia's birth, he rejected her mother again, in 38 BC. 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 from Antonius the Peloponnese should also receive; Furthermore, the triumvirs Sextus had a consulate for the year 35 BC. To 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 restricted 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. Chr. To destroy Sextus Pompeius' forces in the naval battle of Naulochoi off the north coast of Sicily. Shortly afterwards, 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 provinces of Sicilia and Africa , important for the grain supply, under his control.

    After the victory over Pompey, the rapid pacification of Italy and the supply of veterans were the 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 his way in 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 waged 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, Antony 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 excerpts of it read out to the Senate and the People's Assembly. Previously, two witnesses to the execution 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 about 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 an internal political opponent into a war between Rome and an external enemy. Anyone who supported 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. Expired and their proconsular competencies 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 Antony's 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 came on September 2, 31 BC. To the all-important 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 there was peace in the whole empire, on January 12th, 29 BC. The gates of the Temple of Jan in the Roman Forum closed. 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 that lasted several days began in the Senate of Rome and 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 gave 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 lend his work duration even 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-bearing stratum of the population 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 illegally. Since the large aristocratic families and political groups such as optimates and populars fought permanently for power and influence in the republic, this had happened again and again in the decades of the civil war - from Marius to Sulla to Caesar.

    Apparent restoration of the republic

    From all this, two things followed: On the one hand, Octavian had to endeavor to convert the extraordinary political power, which 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 try 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 Antony, Octavian also proved himself to be a master of political propaganda in this task . This emerges from his report of deeds ( 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 the highest authority 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 then I have surpassed everyone in terms of influence and reputation [ auctoritas ] ; in terms of authority [ potestas ], however, from then on I had no more authority than that which I 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 title of king , 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 the savior and protector of the republic at the same time. 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. 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 class. 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 principate for the Augustan form of rule, which means something like "rule of the first citizen". The princeps achieved a strong propagandistic effect with the fact that at the end of 28 BC he BC had all of his unlawful orders from the time of the Triumvirate lifted.

    Whether Octavian had other powers besides the consulate at the beginning of 27 and what these might consist of has been a controversial researcher since Theodor Mommsen . In any case, on January 13, 27 BC BC, on the first day of the act of state, 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 outwardly 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 reason for the decision was 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. Octavian thus 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 tribune of the people , 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 . To compensate for this, the Princeps were 19 BC. The consular honorary rights were granted: So he was again constantly accompanied by twelve lictors and was allowed to sit in the Senate between the two incumbent consuls. 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", was given by the Senate Octavian 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 had never had during the republic. With the new title, the Senate also gave 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 position of 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 Sextilis and had celebrated three triumphs. In addition, 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 opposition 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. The principals order was readjusted.

    That the new system of rule was finally accepted was surely only partly because Augustus showed his respect for the republican institutions and the traditional rights and customs, the mos maiorum . The Romans could say to themselves that the old republic and its institutions continued to exist in form, but those interested in politics are likely to have seen through Augustus' propaganda. In the end, the decisive factor was the simple fact that the principate worked - in complete contrast to the order models of Sulla or Caesar - 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: after gaining sole rule, Augustus ruled for more than 40 years, longer than any of his successors. During this long time 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. With regard to the assessment by ancient historians, however, it must be taken into account that the first book burnings took place under Augustus . Affected were historical works that assessed his rule critically. Even if individual copies of these works survived in private collections and were later redistributed, the flow of information was severely impaired. The later emperor Claudius is said to have been prevented by his mother and grandmother from discussing the time after Caesar's murder in more detail in his historical work.

    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 enormous 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. So 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 previously common plundering by former magistrates of the republic. 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 prominent example of this. 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, of course, required Augustus and his family to lead by example. This ultimately 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 found visible expression 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 had repaired in one year, while Virgil in the Aeneid spoke 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 propagates the return of the legionary eagles as a victory.

    Augustus' foreign policy has long been viewed as defensive. Historians of the 19th century saw in it only a rounding out 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 the year 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 principally 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 primarily through military conquests. Plans for a conquest of Arabia failed in the beginning, since the campaign of Aelius Gallus in 25/24 BC. Chr. Remained 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 in 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 . More recent archaeological finds such as that of a Roman settlement near Waldgirmes indicate that the provincialization of Germania between the Rhine and Elbe was already well advanced in Augustus' time. 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 the provincial governor Publius Quinctilius Varus . After the defeat became known, one of the greatest in the history of the Roman Empire, the emperor is said to have feared uprisings in Rome himself and to have reinforced the city guards. Augustus was also personally badly affected by the news, especially since Varus, as the husband of his great-niece Claudia Pulchra, belonged to the wider family. Suetonius delivers Augustus' exclamation Quinctili Vare, legiones redde! ("Quinctilius Varus, give the legions back!"). As a sign of mourning, the emperor let his hair and beard grow for months and always celebrated the anniversary of the Varus Battle as a day of mourning. The ordinal numbers of the three destroyed troops, the 17th, 18th and 19th legions, were never given again. It was only after Augustus 'death, in the years 14 to 16 AD, that Drusus' son Germanicus attempted to recapture, which was costly . Finally, 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 in the circle of 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 handsome man in almost all sources on his life, he has been of weak constitution since childhood. He survived several serious illnesses such as the one in 23 BC. Chr. Only barely and could not expect to reach the very high age of almost 76 years at that time. For his endeavors to give the newly created system of rule duration, the regulation of the succession was therefore a central task. While his wife Livia wanted to see one of their sons from Tiberius Claudius Nero on the throne, 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 his 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 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 already adopted them as sons during Agrippa's lifetime.

    Both grandchildren were 12 v. Chr. Chr. Still so young that they could not have succeeded immediately after Augustus' premature death. 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, which 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. He resigned all offices and went into exile in 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 as early as 9 BC Chr. Died in a campaign in Germania, only Tiberius remained as his successor.

    Augustus adopted him on June 26th in 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 succeed Augustus directly in office, the Princeps assigned him the role of successor to Tiberius. After setting the course for family politics 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 gave him proconsular powers (imperium proconsulare maius) and thus publicly designated Tiberius as the only possible successor.

    In his extensive will, Augustus bequeathed his material property 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 was brought to Nola - allegedly in the same house where his father Gaius Octavius ​​had died 71 years earlier. There the emperor died in the presence of his wife Livia and a number of dignitaries who had hurried to the place on August 19th, the year 14, the same day on which he had taken up his first consulate more than 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, please 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 that 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 of Divus Augustus was dedicated between the Capitol and the Palatine Hill . The cultic service there was incumbent on 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 enjoyed during his lifetime is a cult song by Horace :

    "Now, draws on his way sure the bull there,
    Ceres blesses the hall again with rich seed
    Peaceful rocks the ship through the flood reconciled
    good faith are reawakened (...)
    Wen met yet with anxiety Parthian and Scythian 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 - indeed brought 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 himself tried his hand at writing tragedies, but destroyed his drama Ajax , the inadequacy of which he was aware, 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 made of bricks to a city made of marble. Impressive architectural evidence of this period has survived to this day, such as the Marcellus Theater, the Pantheon built by Agrippa and renewed 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 that has never been seen 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 Caesar's conquest of 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 perceived 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 made a connection between the reign of the deified Augustus, who was celebrated as savior and prince of peace, and the birth of their founder of 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 possible 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 believed 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, recruited 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 painted a rather negative picture of the first princeps, as he regretted the fall of the republic and recognized Augustus 'power politics as such, Dios' presentation was more positive. Since his work offers additional material in addition to the passages corresponding 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. Aufidius Bassus , too , at least partially described 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 underwent 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, on the other hand, the Italian fascists sparked a real Augustus fever. Even during the National Socialist era , 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 Symes' 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. Even Klaus Bringmann (2007) concluded in his Augustus biography of an overall positive balance of the reign of the first Roman emperor: Unlike Ronald Syme he sees in the services the evidence that the possession of power was not an end in itself for Augustus. Werner Dahlheim (2010) contrasts the young Octavian's “grueling maneuvers of the first years” with the positive judgment about his second half of 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 from colleagues on important aspects of politics and culture of the era 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 a commentary. by Ekkehard Weber, Munich and Zurich 1975. Text (Latin) , Text (Latin / Greek / English)
    • De vita sua: an autobiography that covered 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 does not begin until Augustus' death, but contains numerous reviews of his reign. Numerous editions, for example Latin and German ed. by Erich Heller, Munich and 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)


    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 as a gift 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 possibilities: it could show the family's origins from the Thurii area (the Octavians 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 , however, was placed on an altar from the 1st century BC. Discovered in the crypt of the Franciscan church of Montefalco , so that the Octavier family could 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 considered to be historically relevant, in some cases even as a fake.
    5. For this reason, Octavianus is often put in brackets in research: C. Iulius C. f. Caesar (Octavianus) (cf. 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 of rulers and in 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: Emperor 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 the social and political position too much. Augustus (like the title pater patriae ) points 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 "imperatorial 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. pp. 692ff .; Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd reviewed and expanded edition, Darmstadt 1999, p. 6ff .; Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 256. On the other hand, 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 Octavian initially only inherited Caesar's property by accepting the will and that he was only included in the gens Iulia in 43 BC. Occurred after the adoption was confirmed by a curiate law.
    17. Ronald Syme: The Roman Revolution , 2., verb. Ed., Oxford 1952, pp. 114-122; Krešimir Matijević: Mark Antony: Consul - Proconsul - Public Enemy. The politics of the years 44 and 43 BC. Rahden / Westf. 2006, pp. 111-129.
    18. Jürgen Malitz: The Caesars Office . In: Historia 36, 1987, pp. 51-72.
    19. Andreas Alföldi: Oktavian's rise to power . Habelt, Bonn 1976; Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2007, p. 38.
    20. On the Triumvirate see Josiah Osgood: Caesar's Legacy. Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire. Cambridge 2006.
    21. Suetonius: Augustus 27 : 1 .
    22. ^ Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 64.
    23. Ronald Syme: The Roman revolution. Oxford et al. 1939.
    24. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 62,1 ; Cassius Dio 48.5.3 .
    25. It is unclear whether the extension of the end of 38 BC. Triumvirate expired retrospectively 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.
    26. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 229f.
    27. Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd, through and exp. Ed., Darmstadt 1999, p. 57.
    28. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 252-255.
    29. 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 .
    30. Res gestae Divi Augusti 25: All 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.
    31. Titus Livius, Ab urbe condita 1,19.
    32. Cassius Dio 53,2,5 .
    33. 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.
    34. ^ Res gestae Divi Augusti 34 .
    35. Cassius Dio 53,2,5 . See also Tacitus: Annals 3,28,1f. [1] Furthermore the well-known aureus with the legend leges et iura p (opuli) r (omani) restituit .
    36. ↑ 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 ).
    37. Macrobius, Saturnalien 1,12,35; shorter Suetonius, Augustus 31.2 .
    38. So Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 379 and 732.
    39. Seneca: Controversiae 10 praef. 5-8; Suetonius: Caligula 16.1 . All in all Krešimir Matijević: Asinius Pollio and Augustus: Historiography in the early Principat. In: Frankfurter Electronic Rundschau zur Altertumskunde 38 (2019), pp. 30–43 ( online ).
    40. ^ Suetonius: Claudius 42.2 .
    41. Velleius Paterculus 2.89.3 .
    42. Suetonius, Augustus 26: 3 .
    43. Suetonius , Augstus 23,3
    44. As with all periods of time that extend over the Christian era, it should 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 follows immediately. Therefore, between September 23rd, 63 BC. And August 19, 14 AD, almost 76 years and not 77, as one might assume.
    45. On the role of Tiberius as a placeholder for the young Caesares see: Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 631ff.
    46. Cassius Dio 56,32
    47. ^ Suetonius, Augustus 99.
    48. Horaz, Carmina 4, 5, 17 ff., Quoted from 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.
    49. 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.
    50. ^ Tacitus, Annalen 1,4 , translation by Erich Heller.
    51. ^ Tacitus, Annalen 1,9 , translation by Erich Heller.
    52. Tacitus, Annalen 1,10 , translation by Erich Heller.
    53. ^ On the pre-Tacite historians John Wilkes: Julio-Claudian Historians. In: Classical World. Vol. 65, 1972, pp. 177ff.
    54. So Bernd Manuwald: Cassius Dio and the 'judgment of the dead' about Augustus in Tacitus. In: Hermes. Vol. 101, 1973, pp. 353-374, here: 373f.
    55. 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 )
    56. ^ Theodor Mommsen: Roman State Law. Vol. 2, 3rd edition, Leipzig 1887, p. 748.
    57. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, pp. 684f.
    58. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. A biography. Berlin 1998, p. 374.
    59. Dietmar Kienast: Augustus. Princeeps and Monarch. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Darmstadt 1999, p. 517.
    60. ^ Klaus Bringmann: Augustus. Darmstadt 2007, p. 244.
    61. Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. Munich 2010, p. 389.
    62. Werner Dahlheim: Augustus. Rebel - Ruler - Savior. A biography. Munich 2010, p. 405.
    63. ^ 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.
    64. Ernst Baltrusch, Christian Wendt (ed.): The first. Augustus and the beginning of a new era. Darmstadt 2016.
    predecessor government office successor
    - Roman Emperor
    27 BC Chr. – 14 AD