FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AUGUSTUS • Born Gaius Octavius in 63BC.
He was a great nephew of Julius Caesar and later took on his name. • He fought against the assassins of his uncle alongside Antony and defeated them. • Then he fought against Antony and Cleopatra, finally defeating them at the naval Battle of Actium in 31BC. • He introduced many reforms at all levels of Roman life, military, administrative, governmental, legal and economic. • He was a practical and persistent ruler and very successful, really the founder of the Roman Empire which lasted for over 400 years. • He set himself up as emperor only gradually in a series of agreements with the senate, and claimed to be “restoring” the republic. • He had to run a strong central government in order to restore Rome from so much civil war, but he did this with a great lack of individual pomp or arrogance which made it acceptable. • He provided a lot of public entertainment for the people and started up a major public works programme, also restoring public finances and settling retired soldiers in colonia. • He managed to attract the loyalty of all of the classes in Roman society, but of all groups it was the loyalty of the army on which he relied the most. • He was very much a traditionalist, encouraging the men to wear the toga and women to weave homespun cloth (which he wore). • Laws were passed to encourage marriage and the production of plenty of children. • He was very interested in religion and revived a lot of old ceremonies. He took his role as pontifex maximus very seriously (see picture). • He was very keen on the family and revived the cult of the Lares, gods of the family ancestors. • It was one of his proudest boasts that he had presided over the rebuilding of the city of Rome into a magnificent capital. (The Res Gestae emphasises this). He claims that he found Rome a city of brick and left it a city of marble.
• One of the things for which he is best remembered is his patronage, through Maecenas, of some of the great Roman writers