Gaius Octavius, better known as Augustus, is known in history as a great ruler and wise reformer. This outstanding man founded the Roman Empire and became its Emperor. His reforms and projects led to the prosperity of Rome.
The Early Years of Octavius
Gaius Octavius was born in the town of Valletri. The date of his birth was 23 September 63 B.C. Octavius’s uncle was Julius Caesar. In 46 B.C. Octavius went to Spain to take part in Caesar’s military campaign. During that campaign, Caesar noticed the leadership skills of his nephew. Later, Octavius obtained education in Apollonia, training with the Roman legions. While being there, he found out that his uncle was killed. According to the will of Caesar, Octavius became his heir. Since then his highest aim was to revenge for the death of his uncle.
The Road to Power
Octavius immediately returned to Rome and claimed his rights. He intended to interact with the government and military leaders in ruling the country. Octavius established the Second Triumvirate in cooperation with the Roman commander Mark Antony and politician Lepidus. Thus, the Empire was divided between the three men: Octavius ruled the western territories, Antony dominated in the eastern lands and African territory was under the control of Lepidus.
In 42 B.C. Octavius’s army defeated the army of Brutus and Cassius, the killers of Caesar, in the battles at Philippi (Macedonia). As a result, both men committed suicide. In 36 B.C., Octavius and Lepidus defeated Pompeius who aimed to conquer the lands of Italy. After that fight Lepidus was exiled. Thus, the control over the Roman Empire was divided between the two men, Octavius and Antony.
Meanwhile, Antony allied with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. They decided to seize the power in the Mediterranean. As a result, Octavius announced that Antony was the enemy of the Roman Empire. The Senate declared war on Egypt. The crucial battle of the war was the battle of Actium, wherein the Roman fleet crushed the Egyptian forces. In 30 B.C. both Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Thus, Egypt became the Roman province.
Octavius gained the status of consul when he returned to Rome. In addition, Senate gave him the power over all the political and religious institutions. Octavius also controlled all provincial governors. Moreover, the Roman army was under his authority. Having gained all those powers, Octavius totally controlled the Roman Empire.
On the occasion, Octavius changed his name for Augustus that meant “illustrious”. Later, the Senate granted him the highest title of the father of the Roman Empire.
The Reforms of Augustus
Augustus implemented many reforms. He improved the rule of the provinces. Augustus divided all the territories into two types, older provinces and newer provinces. The Senate controlled the older provinces while the newer provinces were under the authority of Augustus. Thus, Augustus was aware of actions of every governor. In addition, he stabilized Rome’s financial relations with its provinces.
Augustus arranged the distribution of corn to Rome. He improved Rome’s water supply system and rebuilt roads. He also established a fire brigade and improved the work of the police force. In addition, Augustus set the Pax Romana, a peaceful time in the Roman Empire that lasted for a long time after his death.
Augustus brought to life many building projects. He constructed the Temple of Caesar, the Baths of Agrippa, the Forum of Augustus and others. He also built the Mausoleum of Augustus where his relatives were buried.
Augustus established the public games known as the Secular Games. The Romans believed that those games purified the Roman Empire.
Having reigned for forty years, Augustus died in 14 A.D.
Augustus was one of the most outstanding Roman Emperors. Combining his administrative talent with his leadership skills, he founded the Roman Empire and made it a prosperous and flourishing state.