Emperor Augustus was the first Emperor of Rome and, as such, was the founder of a Rome with a new state vision. Augustus transformed the Republic into the Empire it later became. Born in 63 B.C, Emperor Augustus had an influential family: his uncle was Julius Caesar, who adopted him as heir and son in his testament. Before the adoption, Augustus was still known under the name of Octavius. His actions were considered, after the death of Julius Caesar, the most admirable as he used his intelligence and persuasion skills to face different challenges. Following the death of Julius Caesar, the Roman politician Marc Antony had kept Augustus’s inheritance until he had come to a proper age to claim it, but he refused to return it to him. Thus, Augustus initiated legal actions in the Senate to recover his inheritance, managing to persuade them to make him a senator, and then take advantage of his new position to directly face Marc.
After recovering what was rightfully his and forcing the Senate to make him consul, adopting the new name of “Gaius Julius Caesar Octavius,” he decided to make a truce with Marc Antony to institute the Triumvirate and maintain the government of Rome. Thus, after the agreement the Roman Republic was divided into three provinces governed by Augustus on Italy, Marc Antony on Egypt, and Marcus Lepidus on Africa. The brilliance of this strategy allowed Augustus to maintain control of a more manageable portion of the Republic while he regained the military force and the favor of the Senate. Furthermore, he already had the support of the people because of his connection with Julius Caesar and the fact that Augustus did not believe in the dictatorship but on the respect of the old Roman customs and the will of the people.
His astuteness in instituting the Triumvirate showed results later, as eventually, Marcus Lepidus tried to take complete control of Rome but was defeated and exiled by Augustus. Subsequently, in 32 BC, Marc Antony declared war on him and was also defeated (Bunson, 2002). In this way, he was able to use his intelligence, cunning, persuasive abilities, and sense of strategy to confront both enemies by separating and defeating them, which allowed him to reconvene the whole Roman territory under his command. After unifying the territory, he received the name of Augustus, which meant “semi-divine” and the titles of “Imperium maius” and “Tribunicia potestas” as well, he obtained the power over all the provinces, the Senate, and the Roman State. By skillfully taking complete control, he created and changed laws, reinvigorated the tax systems and built monuments such as the forum and temples. In the end, he used his intellect and his own traits to institute one of the most powerful empires in the world. It is for those reasons that Augustus became one of the most significant characters in Western history.
- Bunson, M. (2002). Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc