Born in 63 B.C., Caesar Augustus was the first ruler of the Roman Empire. Though he was born Gaius Octavius Caesar, his name became Gaius Julius Caesar upon the posthumous adoption by his uncle, Julius Caesar. The title of “Augustus” was added by the Roman Senate in 27 B.C. Consequently, he is known by several names including both Octavian and Caesar Augustus.
Born to Gaius Octavius, who had governed Macedonia, and Atia, a niece of Julius Caesar, Augustus was born in Rome but spent much of his childhood in Velitrae, the home of his father’s family. His father died when he was four and his mother remarried the powerful Lucius Marcius Philippus who had previously governed Syria and was elected Roman Consul in 56 B.C. Augustus had little political associations until he joined Caesar at his camp around the year 46 B.C. Due to his bravery, surviving shipwreck and making it to camp through hostile territory, Caesar took a deep liking of him and named him his heir.
After Caesar’s Assassination, Augustus marched to Rome where he demanded he be named Consul in accordance with his uncle’s wishes. This wish was granted and Augustus, along with Marc Antony and Marcus Lepidus, formed the second Triumvirate of Rome and ruled together. Although the Triumvirate made considerable gains for Rome and cemented their power, relations between the men began to deteriorate after Antony abandoned his wife (Augustus’s sister) and joined Cleopatra in Egypt later giving their children together provinces that belonged to Rome. Augustus declared war on Marc Antony and his allies. Augustus defeated the pair who committed suicide.
In 27 B.C. Augustus was named Emperor of Rome with the Roman Senate backing him as an advising body. Under his rule, Rome experienced peace after one hundred years of civil war. He was revered for his just and honest rule which maintained a reliable currency system. He achieved notable advancements including a better postal service and more roads throughout the expansive empire. He was also known as a builder; under his reign many aqueducts, buildings, and bridges were constructed. He was a famous patron of the arts as well and supported such literary figures as Virgil, Ovid, Livy, and Horace.
Perhaps most importantly, Augustus greatly expanded the empire. He and his generals were able to subdue both Gaul and Spain. He also exerted power over Panonia and Dalmatia. His victory over Cleopatra resulted in the Roman annexation of Egypt. Many historians believe that Augustus was the greatest emperor of Rome. Augustus Caesar had three wives during the course of his life: Clodia Pulchra, Scribonia, and Livia Drusilla. He had one daughter, Julia the Elder, with Scribonia and adopted three males: Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, and Tiberius. Tiberius succeeded Augustus as emperor after his death in 14 A.D.