The year 509 BC Rome finally became a Republic and thus started the Roman empire. As Rome rose to power they went through many wars and many conflicts between the plebeians and patricians. The republic was made out of 3 groups, the consuls which were 2 men elected from the senate, the senate which was made of 300 patricians, and the assembly made from plebeians. Many years later Rome started to reject the republic when it went into a series of civil wars. 3 men form the first triumvirate, Julius Caesar, Pompeii, and Crassus. Julius Caesar became the victor. He was then rewarded dictator for life. On the date September 23, 63 BC a boy was born. He was originally Caesar’s grand-nephew. This boy would later grow to a power and change Rome for good.
Julius Caesar had become dictator for life. 2 years later he was assassinated by members of the senate. A young boy named Octavian, was 18 years old. Octavian was Caesar’s grand-nephew but Octavian had always hoped Caesar would take him as a son. Octavian knew of everything that Caesar had done. From conquering Gaul to when he crossed the Rublican with his army, and also when he defeated his enemies and became the most powerful man in Rome. At the age of 14 Octavian had finally met his great-uncle and hero when he came back from Asia Minor and said the 3 famous words that summed up his victory, “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” Latin for “I came, I saw, I conquered” In Caesar’s will, Octavian’s dream had finally come true. Caesar had adopted him as his son. In Caesar’s will he left his money to a man named Marc Anthony. He was a powerful general at the time. He was a consul of Rome and successor to Caesar. Octavian knew he couldn’t just get the money from Anthony. Octavian had no military experience or political experience. But he was now Julius Caesar’s son.
As Rome once again fell into devastation, they needed someone who could pull Rome back together and take control. This led to the second triumvirate. The three men who were running in this were Lepidus, Octavian, and Marc Anthony. After Lepidus retired from running for dictator, it left only Octavian and Marc Anthony. As Marc Anthony and Cleopatra set out to take the throne in Rome, they went to western Rome in Asia Minor to win battles. Anthony won the battle of Armenia but soon after returned to Alexandria instead of Rome. When People had wondered why he had done this Octavian said to the senate “Anthony intends to make Alexandria, instead of Rome, the capital of the Roman empire. Anthony is bewitched by Cleopatra. Has he not bestowed upon her provinces which belong to you, as Romans? Has he not deserted Octavia, his faithful wife, for that accursed female (Foster 114)?” Anthony started moving his Egyptian fleet and 200 ships toward a city called Actium. Octavian had a fleet off 400 ships waiting for him, and Octavian soon won the battle. Anthony had heard that Cleopatra had killed herself, and without thought he killed himself so he could be with her. Cleopatra though, wasn’t dead. She came back home to visit Anthony’s tomb. She then went to her own tomb and poisoned herself. Octavian now stood alone, one ruler who now controlled all of Rome and now a new Roman province, Egypt.
Octavian now was ruler of Rome. Since he was Julius Caesar’s adopted son, in January, 27 BC the senate changed his name from Octavian to Augustus Caesar. From this point on, Pax Romana had begun. Pax Romana is Latin for Rome in peace. Peace was finally restored in Rome, And Augustus was the imperator. Imperator later became know as emperor. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. The first thing Augustus did to restore peace was present to Rome a new constitution. This constitution “transferred the State to the free disposal of the Senate and people (“Augustus” 370).” There were still several civil wars but definitely not as many as before. He had many military operations continuing in many frontier areas. By the year 25 BC rebellious Alpine tribes were defeated and destroyed. In central Asia Minor an area named Galatia was annexed. But a place called Mauretania was changed from Roman provincial status to a client-kingdom which had a dependent monarchy. Around the year 23 BC reports of conspiracies made him feel that new constitutional stops were necessary. He continued to End all his series of consulships in favor of a power in which disconnected altogether from office and it’s businesslike inconveniences. This gained power had raised Augustus to a new level. Augustus had listen to the poor people and had supported them. He also tended to back the established classes as the basis of his system. Augustus, around 19 BC, started to witness some social occasions. He encouraged marriage, regulated penalties for adultery, and reduce extravagance. In 17 BC there were glorious celebrations of ancient ritual. This was known as the Secular Games, to filter the Roman people of their past sins and provide full religious initiation of the new age.
Around the years 16-15 BC, was formed the beginning of a civil service in Rome. This had never been done before but was destined to become an essential feature of the imperial system. Around the same time, a completely reformed administrative structure of Rome, Italy, and the entire empire was matured. The empire’s financial system at the time was far more superior to anything else in the entire empire. This great financial system was based on the central treasury, but the details of its relationship with the treasuries of the provinces, and most of all the province of Augustus, are still unsatisfactory understood. Mainly because, even though the emperor proudly recorded his gifts to the central treasury, he did not report what funds passed in the opposite direction.
Lepidus, who had lived in retirement for 24 years, died in the year 12 BC. Augustus had succeeded him as the official head of the Roman religion. Also in this year, in Egypt, became not only the pharaoh, but a god. A year later Augustus had lost his old advisor and an outstanding patron of letters. Tiberius, a step-nephew to Augustus, was elected to share Augustus’ tribunician power in 6 BC. In the year 4 AD, Augustus realized that he had to make Tiberius his heir. So, he adopted Tiberius as his son. This meant that Tiberius had to adopt Germanicus, the son of his brother, Drusus. With all this gained power by Tiberius, it almost made him an equal to Augustus. Augustus now was started to feel his age, he was no longer the young general of old. Around the year 13 AD, Augustus had to renew his powers for another 10 years. But would he last for those 10 years? Tiberius was now made equal to Augustus in every constitutional detail. Augustus deposited his will at the House of the Vestals in Rome. It contained a summary of the military and financial resources of the empire. His ingenious political testament known as the “Res Gestae Divi Augusti” (“Acts of the Divine Augustus”). On August 19, 14 AD, Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, had died. On September 13, the senate had made Augustus a god of the Roman state. By now, Tiberius, Augustus’ adopted son, became the second emperor of the Roman Empire. Much like other emperors, Tiberius assumed the designation of “Augustus” in addition to his own.
Augustus Caesar was not only the first emperor of Rome, but the greatest. He was one of the great administrative geniuses of history. He brought Rome from constant civil war into the golden age of Rome, also known as Pax Romana. And Pax Romana did not end when he died, it kept going until near the last emperor to carry the name Caesar. Augustus was remembered through out the entire empire and after. He was named the father of Rome. He united Rome as one, and still expanded the empire. But like every empire, sooner or later the great Roman Empire would fall as well. Many empires would rise and fall, and many revolutionized the world today, but none would compare to the impact Rome has on the world today
1. “Augustus.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 1997
2. Grant, Michael. The World of Rome. New York: Mentor books, 1960
3. Foster, Genevieve. Augustus Caesar’s World. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947.