Augustus (63 BC - AD 14), the first Roman emperor, brought peace and stability to Rome after decades of strife and uncertainty. He put in place a new institutional framework for the Roman Empire and inspired the ideology that sustained it for the next three hundred years. This book presents a selection of the most important scholarship on Augustus and the contribution he made to the development of the Roman state in the early imperial period. The subjects of the selected papers include Augustus' dramatic rise to prominence following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and the nature of his powers first as triumvir, then as Princeps; his policy regarding overseas wars and expansion, his administrative and military reforms of the Roman state; the role of his own family, his wife Livia, his son-in-law Agrippa and his adopted sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar and then Tiberius, in public life; his concern to reinforce Roman religion and family life; the development of an ideology that helped bolster his authority as ruler of an expanded Empire, including the importance of visual imagery, monuments and literature in the far-flung propagation of his image as leader; and the impact that his regime made on the communities of the Roman provinces. Jonathan Edmondson sets these papers into the general context of major trends in the study of Augustus in Britain, Europe and North America since the nineteenth century. Five are published here in English for the first time and many include illustrations of the most important visual evidence for the principate of Augustus. The book is equipped with a chronology, a glossary and a guide to further reading; all passages in Latin and Greek are translated into English.


Few would seriously question the claim that the age of the first Roman emperor Augustus was “one of the pivotal periods of western history, if not world history.” the man who was granted the name “Augustus” by the Roman senate on 16 January 27 bc was born C. Octavius on 23 September 63 bc to a prominent local family from the town of Velitrae (modern Velletri), some 30 km south-east of Rome. By the time of his birth, his father had already embarked on a successful political career at Rome. He was elected praetor for 61 bc and then went out to govern the province of Macedonia as proconsul in 60–59, but died on his way back from his province before being able to stand for the consulship, the highest and most prestigious of the annual magistracies of the Roman state. Fifteen years later in 44 bc the young Octavius was vaulted to prominence, when at the age of 18 he was named principal heir to the property of Julius Caesar, his great-uncle on his mother Atia’s side. As Caesar’s heir and posthumously adopted son, he took his adoptive father’s name, as was customary, becoming C. Iulius C.f. Caesar Octavianus (hence “Octavian”), and was immediately embroiled in the political turmoil that erupted in the wake of the dictator’s murder on the Ides of March. From that moment onwards until his own death on 19 August ad 14, just over a month short of his seventy-seventh birthday, the man we know as Augustus played a central role in a crucial period of the history of Rome and its Empire.

During his long period in power the Roman political landscape

Galinsky 2005b: 1.

Following Caesar’s deification early in 42 bc the young man became Divi f(ilius) (“son of the Deified”) rather than C(ai) f(ilius) (“son of Gaius”). He preferred to avoid the use of “Octavianus,” to emphasise his link to Caesar. By 38 bc at the latest he had dropped the dictator’s praenomen and nomen to become “Imperator Caesar Divi f.,” to which the cognomen “Augustus” was added in 27 bc. For a penetrating evaluation of these shifts in his nomenclature, see Syme 1958a (= Chapter 1, below); note also Rubincam 1992.

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