Caesar Augustus

Caesar Augustus

Caesar Augustus was one of ancient Rome’s most successful leaders who led the transformation of Rome from a republic to an empire. During his reign, Augustus restored peace and prosperity to the Roman state and changed nearly every aspect of Roman life.


5 - 8


Social Studies, World History


Caesar Augustus

This statue is thought to depict Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.

National Geographic Creative
This statue is thought to depict Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.

Caesar Augustus was born Gaius Octavius in 63 B.C.E. His great-uncle was Julius Caesar, who he fought beside in 47 B.C.E. Augustus impressed his great uncle so much during battle that when Julius Caesar was assassinated in 43 B.C.E., he had appointed Augustus as heir to his political and personal fortune in his will. Augustus, at the age of 19, accepted the inheritance from Caesar’s will and was quickly plunged into the complicated world of Roman politics. He quickly formed strategic alliances, defeated his political rivals, and won a bitterly fought civil war. In 31 B.C.E. at the Battle of Actium, Augustus won a decisive victory over his rival Mark Antony and his Egyptian fleet.

Returning to Rome, Augustus was acclaimed a hero. With skill, efficiency, and cleverness, he secured his position as the first Emperor of Rome. Augustus claimed he acted for the glory of the Roman Republic, not for personal power. He appealed to Roman citizens by claiming that he led a frugal and modest life.

Augustus reorganized Roman life throughout the empire. He passed laws to encourage marital stability and renew religious practices. He instituted a system of taxation and a census while also expanding the network of Roman roads. He founded a postal service and established a regular police force and fire brigade in Rome.

Augustus expanded the empire, annexing Egypt, part of Spain, areas of central Europe, and even lands in the Middle East, such as Judea in C.E. 6. These additions, along with the end of civil wars, fostered the growth of an enormous trading network.

Augustus died outside of Naples, Italy, in C.E. 14. His body was returned to the capital. Businesses closed the day of his funeral out of deep respect for the emperor. He was a ruler of ability and vision and at his death, Augustus was proclaimed by the Senate to be a Roman god.

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National Geographic Society
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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