Augustus Caesar in Roman Biography

Augus'tus Cae'sar, called by Suetonius Octavius Cae.sar Augustus, [Fr. Octave C6sar Auguste, ok'- Sv' si'zSR' 6'giist'; It. Ottavio Cesare Augusto, otti've- o chi'si-ri 6w-goos'to,] and subsequently named, as the heir of Julius Caesar the dictator, Ca'ius Ju'lius Cee'sar Octavia'nus, the first Roman emperor, was born at Velitrae, not far from Rome, in 63 B.C. He was the son of Caius Octavius and Atia, the daughter of Julia, who was the sister of Julius Csesar. His father died about the year 60, and his mother married L. Marcius Philippus, who was consul in 56 B.C., and who superintended the education of young Octavius. At the age of twelve he pronounced a funeral oration in praise of his grandmother Julia, and four years later he assumed the toga virilis. He was adopted as a son by Julius Caesar the dictator, whom he followed to Spain in 45 B.C. According to some writers, he was present at the battle of Munda. He was pursuing his studies at ApoUonia when he learned that Caesar was killed, in 44 B.C., and that he had been appointed the heir of liis uncle. In company with his friend Vipsanius Agrippa, he went to Rome to claim his inheritance. He found a dangerous rival in Mark Antony, who had possession of the money and papers of the dictator and refused to give them up. Octavius pursued an artful and temporizing course, by which he gained the support of Cicero and other senators, and showed himself an equal match for old and experienced players in the game of political intrigue. In January, 43, the senate gave him command of an army, and sent him with the consuls Hirtius and Pansa to fight against Antony, who was in Cisalpine Gaul. The army of the senate defeated Antony near Mutina, (M6- dena,) but Hirtius and Pansa were killed in the battle. Soon after this event the command of the army was transferred to D. Brutus by the senate, which had resolved to check the growing power and ambitious efforts of Octavius. In defiance of the authority of the senate, he marched with an army to Rome, was elected consul in August, 43 B.C., (before he had reached the legal age,) and formed a coalition or triumvirate with Antony and Lepidus against M. Brutus and the other republicans. Antony and Octavius, commanding in person, gained a decisive victory over Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, 42 B.C. According to Suetonius, he treated the vanquished with merciless cruelty. Thousands of persons perished as victims of the proscription which the triumvirs ordered. Octavius and Antony soon quarrelled, but postponed hostilities by a feigned reconciliation, and combined their forces against Sextus Pompey, who was master of Sicily and Sardinia. Octavius gained a decisive victory over Pompey in 36 B.C., and, while Antony was engaged in Eastern campaigns or in dalliance with Cleopatra, established his power in Italy. He becime consul for the second time in 33 and for the third time in 31 B.C. At length, owing in part to Antony's infatuation for Cleopatra, and his neglect of Octavia, (the sister of Augustus,) whom he had recently married, the breach became irreconcilable. Octavius gained a decisive victory at the naval battle of Actium, (31 B.C.,) which rendered him sole master of the Roman empire. He entertained or professed a design to restore the republic ; but he allowed himself to be persuaded to usurp imperial power, partly disguised under the form of a republican government. He was elected consul several times after the year 30, and received the title of Augustus from the senate in 27 B.C. His chief ministers or advisers were Agrippa, Maeceitas, and Asinius Pollio. He accepted in the year 23 the tribunitia potestas (tribunitian power) for life. Augustus was a liberal patron of the poets Virgil and Horace, whose genius rendered the Augustan age the most illustrious in the history of Roman literature. He greatly increased the architectural splendour of Rome, and boasted that he left that a city of marble which he had found a city of brick. Under his rule the people enjoyed such a share of peace and prosperity as reconciled them to the loss of their liberty. He married several wives, namely, Clodia, Scribonia, and Livia Drusilla. Scribonia bore him a daughter Julia, his only child. In his domestic relations he was not happy. He was temperate or abstemious in his diet, and lived in a comparatively simple style. He applied himself with great diligence to the study of eloquence from his early youth. Although he could speak very well extemporaneously, he never addressed the senate, the soldiers, or the people, unless he had carefully prepared himself beforehand. He was partial to the study of Greek literature and philosophy, but he never wrote in that language, and did not speak it fluently. According to Suetonius, Augustus composed many works in prose on various subjects, including a history of his own life, which extended only to the Cantabrian war. He also wrote some epigrams and other verses. Having adopted Tiberius (his step-son) as his successor, he died in August, 14 A.D. See Suetonius, " Life of Augustus," ("Vita Aupusti ;") Nicolas Damascenus, "DeVita Augusti;" Tacitus, "Anna'les;" Drumann, "Geschichte Roms;" Plutarch's "Life of INIarcus Antonius;" NouGARfeoE, "Histoire du Siecle d'Auguste," 1840; Larrey, "Vie d'Auguste," 1840.

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