Octavian was the grandson of Julius Caeser. Octavius was born on 23 September 63 BC. His father, Gaius Octavius, was the first in the family to become a senator, but died when Octavian was only four. His mother who had the more distinguished connection. She was the daughter of Julia, sister to Julius Caesar. Octavian served under Julius Caesar in the Spanish expedition of 46 BC despite his delicate health.
And after Julius’ assassination, Octavian came back from Greece where he had been studying. When he got home he had a short battle with Mark Antony but made a truce with him and Lepidus, forming the second triumvirate, but secretly he always wanted to be the sole ruler of Rome.
Every decision he made after that was to further his mission. He forced Lepidus into an early retirement, and defeated Antony in the battle of Actium, which started from Antony divorcing Octavia who was Octavian’s sister.
Then in 23 BC Augustus fell so seriously ill that he himself thought he was dying. This brush with death appeared to have been a further decisive moment in his life. For when he recovered, he set about once more to change the Roman constitution. As the sole ruler and of Rome he expanded his territory and brought the first time of peace since Numa Pompilius. He refused to become Dictator for life but became Emperor Octavian Augustus Caesar.
As Emperor, Augustus ruled for 27 years. He organized the Praetorian Guard who would become the Emperors personal bodyguards. He also set Governors over different provinces to keep the peace. Octavian’s great achievement was persuading the senate to accept him as head of the Roman state, while leaving the senators room for their political ambitions. Augustus left Rome for Gaul and Spain to put down truculent tribes in the summer of 27 BC when he became Emperor and did not return until 24 BC.
It was referred to as the Pax Romana which means The Peace of Rome. Instead of lording his power heavily over the people, he worked along side the senate to encourage cultural development. He built many palaces, temples, and other buildings as well as reduced the army from sixty legions to 28 legions. This was to prevent a coup. Augustus was also the first one to set the standards of distributing free food, money and entertainment when times were restless.
Then in 19 BC he also was granted not merely the consulship (which lasted for one year) but consular power for life. His power was thereafter unassailable. Augustus held equal power to the most powerful politicians in Rome and yet greater power still in the provinces of the empire.
Caesar also called a census in 3BC was the cause for Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem. Octavian Augustus Caesar died in 14 AD and the senate declared him a Roman god.
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