He was born ‘Gaius Octavius’ on 23 September 63BC, to parents Atia (Julius Caesar’s niece) and Gaius Octavius, however his father was to die when Octavian was 4 years old.
When his mother Atia remarried, little interest was placed on Octavian, as he was known, and his grandmother Julia (sister of Julius Caesar) took over his care and education. Even from an early age Octavian was a sickly child, however he was from a prominent family and much was expected of him. He became a well-educated and cultured man who found pleasure in literature and poetry.
Following the death of Julius Caesar, Octavian was named in Caesar’s will as his adopted son and rightful heir.
At this time, Cassius and Brutus now ruled Rome, but they fled after Marc Antony rallied the mob against them. Antony then ruled, but not officially.
Octavian and Antony formed an alliance and ruled Rome and it’s territories together with Lepidus.
These territories were split into three, and they ruled as a Triumvirate.
Octavian ruled Rome
Marc Antony ruled Egypt
Lepidus ruled Africa
This alliance was to fall apart and Octavian fought Marc Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31BC. Following Octavian’s battle victory, Marc Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide.
Octavian returned to Rome and became First Citizen (princips)
Emperor 27BC – 14AD
He became Emperor in 27BC and the senate named him Augustus.
He therefore became the First Emperor of Rome.
During his time as Emperor, he arranged for much of the city to be rebuilt with new buildings, roads and aqueducts and he passed many reforms, promoting family life and marriage.
It was to be a time of great peace in Rome (Pax Romana).
Augustus only had one biological child, a daughter Julia whom he had exiled for her scandalous behaviour. His grandsons by Julia had already died young, but Augustus was determined to be succeeded by his own blood. He therefore adopted his wife Livia’s son Tiberius as his own, and he would succeed him.
He became Emperor at age 36, although he had already ruled for some time, and he ruled until his death at age 77. It is believed that his wife Livia may have been involved in his death.
On his deathbed he stated ‘I inherited a city of clay and turned it into marble’.