Egypt: Rulers, Kings and Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt: Augustus (Octavius)

Augustus (Octavius)

63 BC - 14 AD

Caesar's sole male relative was a slight, frail grandnephew only 18 years old, who was named heir in Caesar's will to three-quarters of his great wealth. By another condition in the will of the dead dictator, this youth was also adopted as Caesar's son, and so for a while he called himself Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, or Caesar the Younger. After 27 BC, he is known as Augustus. Octavian Augustus was really the greatest civil leader that the ancient world ever produced.

When he came to Rome after Caesar's murder, his only possessions were an inherited name and whatever appeal his youth might bring; but in cold, sagacious steps he made his way rapidly on the policy of avenging Caesar. Through his good sense, moderation, and conscientious attention to duty, Augustus won the support of all major elements in the Mediterranean world. In many provinces, which now enjoyed more careful government and suffered less from extortion, he was made a god, and the month of his final achievement was named after him. Augustus lived to be 76 years old. In his last year, he revised a recital of the great deeds he had achieved for the Roman state, which was to be set up at his tomb. The original version in Rome has disappeared, but another copy of this work, was carved on the temple of Augustus at Ancyra and still survives. In his administration of the Roman Empire, the disaster which upset Augustus the most took place in Germany. While Augustus remained at peace with Parthia, he advanced the Roman frontier in Europe to the Danube and Rhine.

By this advance he subjected modern Switzerland, Austria, much of Hungary, and the Balkans to Roman rule and protected the connections between the western and eastern provinces of the Empire; no other Roman leader made such additions. In 9 AD, the governor of Germany, Varus, was lured into a trap and three Roman legions were wiped out; all of Germany was lost.

Since Augustus had neither the energy nor the military strength to start a reconquest, the Roman frontier remained essentially on the Rhine. Yet, the Mediterranean world attained peace and prosperity under the government of Augustus, who was celebrated in temples, statues, and dedications as an earthly redeemer. The Empire was expensive in its demands of men for the armed forces and of money to support the political system, but the accompanying economic expansion supported these burdens without great difficulty for two centuries and more.