Some of you might know me by my birth name, Gaius Octavius Thurinus, or Augustus meaning “the revered one” the title I have earned and have been granted by the senate of Rome. I’m the first emperor of Rome, and of course many of you might also recognize me as the nephew of my great uncle Julius Caesar. I’ve been ruling Rome from 27 BC – 14AD. It almost feels as I have been supporting Rome since 63 BC the year I was born.
Due to the fact that my father Gaius Octavius governor of Macedonia on 61 B.C died as I was growing up, at the age of four, because I had only my mother Atia Balba Caesonia. I was adopted and raised very closely by my uncle Gaius Julius Caesar or as many of you know him as the “Great Julius Caesar” who I admirably look up to and thanks to him I have learned and followed the Roman ruling system very well. I have followed Caesar throughout many battles and have succeeded many times. Because of many events I have been in I have been given many names such as Octavius following events from 63 – 44BC, Octavian following events from 44 – 27 BC, and finally Augustus following events after 27 BC.
I have fought in about 222 battles and have won about 199 of them. My uncle has taught me very well considering he is a man of no pity known as the slayer of men’s. During my time in Spain around 45BC with the Great Caesar I have in honor fought in the battle of Munda, where I honorably shared and cherished one of my last battles with my uncle Julius Caesar.
I do recognize that I’m what I am today because of the great dedication and enormous support I have received from him. My reign as emperor just started after meeting my uncle Julius Caesar who had asked me to be part of his military group. I was to meet with him in the northern part of Spain, but to my regret of sailing out in a bad winter month I got stuck behind with my shipped wrecked and worst of all stuck in enemy land of the Barbarians. Although many of my followers admired my bravery it wasn’t too smart to sail out in weather like that especially when I knew my ship could have suffered the consequence of being scraped down by rocks.
After my training with Caesar we were to return to Rome and make my successful training a big part of Uncle Caesar’s army and also to have some time off to rest considering my uncle was suffering from illnesses such as epilepsy and dizziness. It was now the month of March in 44 BC and my uncle is expected to die any day. Although I knew I should stay with him I had to return to Illyricum to prepare for the Parthian campaign my uncle was running and had been planning for a long time.
To my surprise my uncle was murdered on March 15, 44 B.C portrayed and assassinated by Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longins, and many others who were against Julius Caesar. I was so frustrated, so mad and felt the urge to take revenge, but I knew I was also in danger of being next so I had to handle this in a very calm manner. I knew I had the potential to get back at them with no problem from all the experience and all the tactics I had learned throughout all my years of training with the one and only “Julius Caesar”.
The assassination of my uncle changed my characters and my perception especially towards the people I had entrusted to protect me as well as all those I was attached to. It did not come to me as a surprise to find out that my uncle Caesar had named me as the rightful heir of the Roman Empire. This is because of the cordial relationship between my uncle and I when he was alive. Also, my uncle Caesar had not only trusted me in many matters but also had instilled in me various vital leadership skills (Baker 67). I could only honor his actions of delegating me as the emperor by popularizing his name, since he was dead already. I therefore decided to change my name to his; I changed my name to Julius Caesar Octavianus.
With the murder of my uncle, I knew that Rome was a dangerous place. I knew that I had to be strong in my ruling. Therefore, it was crucial that I adopted various strategies that would help me rule with an iron fist. One of the strategies that I adopted was to make alliances with strong willed and experienced individuals in my empire. I hence formed an uneasy alliance with some of Julius Caesar’s soldiers in 44 B.C, Mark Anthony and the general Marcus Lepidus were the individuals that I deemed appropriate and worthy of forming an alliance with. The alliance was later referred to as the Second Triumvirate. We spent some good times with my fellow soldiers. The good times were comprised of activities of successfully conquering our common enemies.
However, the alliance was not long lived. The problem arose when Marcus Lepidus and I realized that Mark Anthony was having a not only romantic but also political affair and alliance with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. This relationship was clearly a lethal one in relation to our own alliance and just as we had expected it marked the end of the alliance. We therefore turned against Anthony and dissolved our coalition and alliance. Antony and Cleopatra combined forces and waged war on me. However, I was able to successfully defeat their combined forces in the naval battle of Actium in 31 BC. The positive consequence of this action is that I was clearly labeled as the absolute power in Rome.
It is in the 27 BC that I decided to further add and change my names. After all, I was the absolute Roman Senate ever to live. I added the name and title Augustus. This name means majestic or divine. These were attributes I believed that I possessed not only then, but also right now as I write.
One summer, I was able to leave Rome for a tour to Gaul and Spain. This journey helped to keep me away from Rome until 24 BC. This trip was as a result of careful thinking I had previously done regarding my positions and responsibilities in the Roman Empire. Therefore, I deemed this choice of action as wise and thoughtful of me. I still don’t regret anything today. It was crucial that I leave the public eye for some time while the new political settlements in Rome took effect and root. Agrippa and Maecenas, my close and trusted aides were responsible for supervising the overall political and administrative matter in Rome while I was away.
The summer after I returned to Rome, the “Second Constitutional Settlement” was staged. Consequently, at around this time, a clear conspiracy was able to be unearthed. The two individuals involved, that is, Fannius Caepio and Varro Murena were brought to justice. The desirable and consequently ultimate punishment of execution was given to the two principals.
While the main settlements of 23 and 27 B.C. rooted the basis of Augustus’s position, further refinements were necessary. Just as the settlement of 27 B.C., I decided to leave Rome for the East. This was in 22 BC (Everitt 137). Before I left, I was forced to refuse various offers of the perpetual consulship or dictatorship pressed on to me by the individuals, who appeared to have wholly missed the subtleties of the Second Settlement the year before. Over the coming years, I was able to receive, piecemeal, some considerable number of privileges and honors. In the previous year of 23 BC I was given the right to convene the senate whenever I deemed fit (ius primae relationis). In 22 BC, I was appointed to oversee the supply of grain in Rome.
In 19 BC, I returned to Rome again from the East. Upon my return, I was further accorded censorial powers for a period of five years (Fagan 32). Further, when Lepidus finally died, in 12 BC, I became the chief priest (pntifex maximus). Further, in 2 BC, I was given the title of “Father of my Country” (Pater Patriae). This is the title that made me immensely proud of my achievements till then (Eck 24). This title placed me in a cordial relationship with the Roman state analogous to that of a paterfamilias over my overall charges. I was therefore supposed to be in complete control over everything in Rome. Further, there was my membership of all the colleges of priests, many symbolic privileges, and the matter of auctoritas.
The intricate edifice deeply entrenched in me was at heart, a sham. I could term it as a successful sham as the larger majority of citizens were able to believe in it and me. Further, the fact that there was a political genius in me was not questionable. The slow and careful acquisition of overarching power and authority in almost all the areas of public life were activities aided by the fact that I was a political genius. At all the steps of the way, from the oath of 32 BC and the constitutional settlements through the honors and privileges conferred upon me piecemeal, I could present myself as the passive partner. It is interesting to note that at all times; it is the people of Rome and the senate that showered me with more power voluntarily. Unlike my uncle Caesar, I sought nothing for myself. Indeed, I often showed reluctance to accepting some of the powers, offices and honors accorded to me.
My life as the most favored emperor of Rome was clearly satisfying. I knew that succession problems were due to come since most of the powers I had were as a result of the senate’s and the citizens’ decisions. I had a particular feeling that if one of my family members was not able to succeed me in the empire, I could die and leave Rome infested with civil war. In any case, I am proud that I lived a full life; one full of activities and sacrifices for my country that saw me climb the ladder of power with ease. I do hope that the future generations will be able to read my autobiography and that my name will be recognized through successive generations.