47 Facts About Octavian


Octavian reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the city during his reign.

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Octavian was given the name Gaius Octavius, and in his infancy he received the cognomen Thurinus, possibly commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves which occurred a few years after his birth.

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Octavian's paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War.

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Octavian's father, named Gaius Octavius, had been governor of Macedonia.

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Octavian's mother married a former governor of Syria, Lucius Marcius Philippus.

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Octavian rejected the advice of some army officers to take refuge with the troops in Macedonia and sailed to Italy to ascertain whether he had any potential political fortunes or security.

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Octavian began to bolster his personal forces with Caesar's veteran legionaries and with troops designated for the Parthian war, gathering support by emphasizing his status as heir to Caesar.

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Mark Antony was amassing political support, but Octavian still had opportunity to rival him as the leading member of the faction supporting Caesar.

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Octavian failed to persuade Antony to relinquish Caesar's money to him.

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Senate heaped many more rewards on Decimus Brutus than on Octavian for defeating Antony, then attempted to give command of the consular legions to Decimus Brutus.

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Marcus Velleius Paterculus asserted that Octavian tried to avoid proscribing officials whereas Lepidus and Antony were to blame for initiating them.

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Cassius Dio defended Octavian as trying to spare as many as possible, whereas Antony and Lepidus, being older and involved in politics longer, had many more enemies to deal with.

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Suetonius said that Octavian was reluctant to proscribe officials, but did pursue his enemies with more vigor than the other triumvirs.

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For example, Octavian allowed the proscription of his ally Cicero, Antony the proscription of his maternal uncle Lucius Julius Caesar, and Lepidus his brother Paullus.

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Octavian was able to further his cause by emphasizing the fact that he was divi filius, "Son of the Divine".

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Antony and Octavian then sent 28 legions by sea to face the armies of Brutus and Cassius, who had built their base of power in Greece.

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Octavian was left to decide where in Italy to settle the tens of thousands of veterans of the Macedonian campaign, whom the triumvirs had promised to discharge.

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Meanwhile, Octavian asked for a divorce from Claudia, the daughter of Fulvia and her first husband Publius Clodius Pulcher.

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Octavian returned Claudia to her mother, claiming that their marriage had never been consummated.

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Octavian sent only a tenth of those promised which Antony viewed as an intentional provocation.

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Lepidus surrendered to Octavian and was permitted to retain the office of pontifex maximus, but was ejected from the Triumvirate, his public career at an end, and effectively was exiled to a villa at Cape Circei in Italy.

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Octavian ensured Rome's citizens of their rights to property in order to maintain peace and stability in his portion of the Empire.

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Octavian had the Senate grant him, his wife, and his sister tribunal immunity, or sacrosanctitas, in order to ensure his own safety and that of Livia and Octavia once he returned to Rome.

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Octavian used this to spread propaganda implying that Antony was becoming less than Roman because he rejected a legitimate Roman spouse for an "Oriental paramour".

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Octavian awarded the title "Queen of Kings" to Cleopatra, acts that Octavian used to convince the Roman Senate that Antony had ambitions to diminish the preeminence of Rome.

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Breach between Antony and Octavian prompted a large portion of the Senators, as well as both of that year's consuls, to leave Rome and defect to Antony.

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Octavian forcibly entered the temple of the Vestal Virgins and seized Antony's secret will, which he promptly publicized.

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Octavian had exploited his position as Caesar's heir to further his own political career, and he was well aware of the dangers in allowing another person to do the same.

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Octavian therefore followed the advice of Arius Didymus that "two Caesars are one too many", ordering Caesarion, Julius Caesar's son by Cleopatra, killed, while sparing Cleopatra's children by Antony, with the exception of Antony's older son.

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Octavian had previously shown little mercy to surrendered enemies and acted in ways that had proven unpopular with the Roman people, yet he was given credit for pardoning many of his opponents after the Battle of Actium.

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Octavian did so by courting the Senate and the people while upholding the republican traditions of Rome, appearing that he was not aspiring to dictatorship or monarchy.

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Octavian's aims from this point forward were to return Rome to a state of stability, traditional legality, and civility by lifting the overt political pressure imposed on the courts of law and ensuring free elections—in name at least.

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Octavian was no longer in direct control of the provinces and their armies, but he retained the loyalty of active duty soldiers and veterans alike.

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Octavian failed to encourage enough senators to finance the building and maintenance of networks of roads in Italy in 20 BC, but he undertook direct responsibility for them.

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The provinces not under Octavian's control were overseen by governors chosen by the Roman Senate.

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Octavian became the most powerful political figure in the city of Rome and in most of its provinces, but he did not have a monopoly on political and martial power.

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Octavian transformed Caesar, a cognomen for one branch of the Julian family, into a new family line that began with him.

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Octavian wanted to relate to and connect with the concerns of the plebs and lay people.

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Octavian achieved this through various means of generosity and a cutting back of lavish excess.

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Octavian restored 82 different temples to display his care for the Roman pantheon of deities.

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Octavian directed the future of the Empire down many lasting paths, from the existence of a standing professional army stationed at or near the frontiers, to the dynastic principle so often employed in the imperial succession, to the embellishment of the capital at the emperor's expense.

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Octavian's memory was enshrined in the political ethos of the Imperial age as a paradigm of the good emperor.

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Octavian had made many concessions to Anthony and to Lepidus for the sake of vengeance on his father's murderers.

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Octavian was immensely hardworking and tried as hard as any democratic parliamentarian to treat his senatorial colleagues with respect and sensitivity.

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Octavian built the immense Villa Giulia on the island of Ventotene as a summer residence early in his reign.

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Octavian's teeth were wide apart, small, and ill-kept; his hair was slightly curly and inclined to golden; his eyebrows met.

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Octavian's ears were of moderate size, and his nose projected a little at the top and then bent ever so slightly inward.

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