Octavian became Augustus


“In my sixth and seventh consulships [28 and 27 BC], when I had extinguished the flames of civil war, after receiving by universal consent the absolute control of affairs, I transferred the republic from my own control to the will of the senate and the Roman people. For this service on my part I was given the title of Augustus by decree of the senate, and the doorposts of my house were covered with laurels by public act, and a civic crown was fixed above my door, and a golden shield was placed in the Curia Julia whose inscription testified that the senate and the Roman people gave me this in recognition of my valour, my clemency, my justice, and my piety. After that time I took precedence of all in rank, but of power I possessed no more than those who were my colleagues in any magistracy. While I was administering my thirteenth consulship the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title of Father of my Country, and decreed that this title should be inscribed upon the vestibule of my house and in the senate-house and in the Forum Augustum beneath the quadriga erected in my honour by decree of the senate. At the time of writing this I was in my seventy-sixth year. “

Res Gestae Divi Augusti

With this text, which Augustus had written in the first person , we can understand the process that led gradually to become an emperor Octavian , which are attributed various honors , almost like a god. The day of his birth and the day of the battle of Actium become feast days, her name is celebrated in the hymns next to the name of the gods. The word emperor Augustus only meant until military commander . Now it begins to mean what we mean by the emperor.

He was appointed consul , tribune of the plebs and censor , and used it to reorder the Senate, decrease the number of senators , remove those hostile to him and establish his most faithful . In addition, he appointed prince of the Senate. In Rome princeps volve only say “first” because it was the first to vote in the Senate , and then no one had the courage to vote in a different way . They remained therefore the republican magistrates , but no longer had all of their original meaning opposite to the overwhelming power of Augustus.

In 27 B.C. assumed the new office of Augustus. Augusto The word in Latin means “one who gives power , which increases the city.” The Senate made him proconsul of Gaul , Spain and Syria , so there was even a chance that another commander found glory standing out in the most turbulent of the Empire. The whole army was in his hands . As tribune of the people defending the interests of the people in front of the Senate and controls the acts . After the death of Lepidus , finally becomes Pontifex Maximus, that is chief priest.

The Roman State will be called the Principality, or Empire.

The head of this new state will be called Augustus, Caesar or just Prince or Emperor.

Peace and wars under Augustus

29 B.C. was closed the temple of Janus, which was closed only in time of peace, and almost never in Rome. The policy of Augustus aimed mainly at peace, for he showed himself as the one who had brought order and peace in Rome after centuries of wars of conquest and after a century of civil wars.

The army was streamlined, also to avoid arousing the ambition of a few general.

He wanted to affirm traditional values, such as the mos maiorum, habits of ancestors, even in the army, as evidenced by Suetonius in his Life of Augustus”.



“He made many changes and innovations in the army. […] He exacted the strictest discipline. It was with great reluctance taht he allowed even his generals to visit their wives, and then only in the winter season. He sold a Roman knight and his property at public auction, because he had cut off the thumbs of two young sons, to make them unfit for military service; […]  He dismissed the entire tenth legion in disgrace, because they were insubordinate, and others, too, that demanded their discharge in an insolent fashion, he disbanded without the rewards which would have been due for faithful service. If any cohorts gave way in battle, he decimated them, and fed the rest on barley. 


Octavian in fact reorganized the army , laying off 300,000 soldiers , which gave him a reward or a plot of land or 3000 denier . In Italy, he was the Emperor’s guard , the Praetorian Guard , the only military authorized to operate in Rome , and two fleets , one of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea. The rest of the army was concentrated at the borders of the ‘ Empire.

He made peace with the Parthians , who restored the signs taken to Crassus without fighting.

He made only two wars, one to reorder the Judea and one in Germany .

Judea was transformed by satellite, buffer state in real Roman province.

Expanded the boundaries of the ‘ Roman Empire to the Danube and up to ‘ Elba , but the Germans drove back the Romans back to the Rhine River , defeating them at the Battle of the Teutoburg 9. B.C. and from now on becoming a people is not submissive, a threat to the borders of the ‘ Roman Empire .

In that battle , the Romans were trapped by deception, in a muddy forest , as told by Cassius Dione in the following reading:



The mountains had an uneven surface broken by ravines, and the trees grew close together and very high. Hence the Romans, even before the enemy assailed them, were having a hard time of it felling trees, building roads, and bridging places that required it. They had with them many wagons and many beasts of burden as in time of peace; moreover, not a few women and children and a large retinue of servants were following them – one more reason for their advancing in scattered groups. Meanwhile a violent rain and wind came up that separated them still further, while the ground, that had become slippery around the roots and logs, made walking very treacherous for them, and the tops of the trees kept breaking off and falling down, causing much confusion. While the Romans were in such difficulties, the barbarians suddenly surrounded them on all sides at once, coming through the densest thickets, as they were acquainted with the paths. At first they hurled their volleys from a distance; then, as no one defended himself and many were wounded, they approached closer to them. For the Romans were not proceeding in any regular order, but were mixed in helter-skelter with the wagons and the unarmed, and so, being unable to form readily anywhere in a body, and being fewer at every point than their assailants, they suffered greatly and could offer no resistance at all.

[…] The next day they advanced in a little better order, and even reached open country, though they did not get off without loss. […] They were still advancing when the fourth day dawned, and again a heavy downpour and violent wind assailed them, preventing them from going forward and even from standing securely, and moreover depriving them of the use of their weapons. […] Their opponents, on the other hand, being for the most part lightly equipped, and able to approach and retire freely, suffered less from the storm.

[…] Varus, therefore, and all the more prominent officers, fearing that they should either be captured alive or be killed by their bitterest foes (for they had already been wounded), made bold to do a thing that was terrible yet unavoidable: they took their own lives.