The New Student's Reference Work/Augustus, Gaius Julius Cæsar Octavianus

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The New Student's Reference Work
Augustus, Gaius Julius Cæsar Octavianus

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39991The New Student's Reference Work — Augustus, Gaius Julius Cæsar Octavianus

Augustus, Gaius Julius Cæsar Octavianus, the son of Octavius and Atia (the niece of Julius Cæsar), was born September 23, 63 B. C. In early youth he was adopted by Julius Cæsar as his son and heir. At the time of Cæsar's assassination, Augustus was a student under the celebrated orator Apollodorus in Illyricum. He returned to Italy, assuming the name Julius Cæsar Octavianus, and on his landing at Brundusium was welcomed by deputies from the veterans there assembled. Augustus was at first haughtily treated by the consul, Mark Antony, who refused to surrender the property of Cæsar. After some fighting, in which Antony was defeated and had to flee across the Alps, Augustus, who had made himself a favorite with the people and the army, succeeded in getting the will of Cæsar carried out. When Antony returned from Gaul with Lepidus, Augustus joined them in establishing a triumvirate. He obtained Africa, Sardinia and Sicily. Antony obtained Gaul, and Lepidus Spain. Their power was soon made absolute by the massacre of those unfriendly to them in Italy and by victories over the republican armies in Macedonia under Brutus and Cassius. After the battle of Philippi, won by Augustus and Antony, the triumvirs made a new division of the provinces—Augustus obtaining Italy and Lepidus Africa. Shortly afterward, the claims of Lepidus and Sextus Pompeius having been settled by force and fraud, the Roman world was divided between Augustus and Antony. While Antony was lost in luxurious dissipation at the court of Cleopatra, Augustus was striving to damage his rival in public estimation. At length war was declared against the queen of Egypt, and at the naval battle of Actium, B. C. 31, Augustus was victorious and became sole ruler of the Roman world. Soon after, Antony and Cleopatra ended their lives by suicide. The subsequent measures of Augustus were mild and prudent. He abolished the laws of the triumvirate, adorned the city of Rome and reformed many abuses. The title of Augustus, meaning consecrated, was conferred upon him as consul. In 12 B. C., on the death of Lepidus, he had the title of Pontifex Maximus or high priest conferred upon him. He died August 19, A. D. 14. He so beautified Rome that it was said: "Augustus found the city built of brick, and left it built of marble." He encouraged agriculture and patronized the arts and literature. Horace, Vergil and all the most celebrated contemporary Latin scholars and poets were his friends. His was the famous Augustan Age of Latin literature.