Augustus Caesar, Emperor of Rome
The rise to power and rule of Emperor Augustus is a lengthy subject with many highlights. The more important elements of emperor Augustus’ life and legacy to ancient Rome are being collected below.
The Ara Pacis
The “Ara Pacis” is an altar to peace, a large square marble structure built by emperor Augustus in order to celebrate the period of peace and pax Romana which his reign was to herald following the end of the crisis of the Roman republic and the civil war including the war against Mark Anthony and queen Cleopatra of Egypt.
The sculptural reliefs are a notable example of Roman art and of political propaganda. Its very existence was rendered all the more powerful as it was positioned so that the shadow of an enormous solar clock should fall on the altar on the very day and hour of his birth.
The Res Gestae of Augustus (RES GESTAE DIVI AUGUSTI)
The title means “the acts of the divine Augustus”. It is a document, the mother of all inscriptions, which was written by Emperor Augustus before his death; it lists all his actions and accomplishments during his long political career. It was placed in front of Augustus’ mausoleum (tomb) and copied on a variety of temples throughout the Roman empire. It is through one such copy found in Turkey that we have a complete copy, significantly it was on the walls of a temple dedicated to “Rome and Augustus”.
The original was on a bronze plate in front of his mausoleum. It included 35 paragraphs, each of which detailed one of his achievements:
- 1-14 give details of his cursus honorum – his public career.
- 15-24: distribution of money, grain and games to the Roman public.
- 25-35: his military conquests (actually owed to his right hand man, the greatly inspired Agrippa)
- There’s also an appendix, probably not written by Augustus himself, detailing Augustus’ donations to support the Rome’s finances, for the rebuilding of the city and its temples and to help his friends and countrymen in times of need.
The Pantheon is a temple which is perhaps the most renowned of ancient Rome although its original form and shape was lost during a great fire which lead to it being rebuilt by emperor Hadrian. Thearchitecture of the Pantheon and in particular the Pantheon’s dome continue to be a source of architectural inspiration as well as witness of the great achievements of Roman invention and Roman technology.
Augustus and Virgil’s Aenid
Virgil’s epic poem “Aenid” is a significant example of emperor Augustus’ focus on fostering the arts, both as a foundation of Romanity as well as a means of personal political propaganda. It’s permanence through the ages as one of the literary achievements of the classical world is an enduring tribute to the stability and progress of the Roman arts and Roman literature achieved under Augustus.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Augustus
The mausoleum of Emperor Augustus is still large and visible in the centre of Rome although its form and shape gives little away of what it must have been before it was taken to pieces for materials. Nevertheless the basic internal structure still remains, sufficiently to give away its inspiration based on the tombs of the ancient Etruscans. It also seems very likely that the architecture of the tomb’s interior was designed with mystical and magical concepts in mind.
It is not surprising that Augustus should have chosen it to display a lengthy inscription of all his achievements for the Romans, known as the “Res Gestae“.
History of Rome: | The Origins of Rome | The seven Kings of Rome | The Conquest of Italy and the Punic Wars | The Republic and social struggle | The Republic in crisis | Julius Caesar and the end of the Republic | Augustus and the Empire | The Julio Claudian dynasty | The Five Good Emperors | Other Emperors | Emperor Constantine and Christianisation |Fall of the Roman Empire of the West |
Aspects of Rome: | Religion and Mithras | Schools | Literature | Games, Sport and Pass-times | Food | Social Structure and Class | Government & Law |Shopping | Economy of Ancient Rome | Roman Coins | Building and Engineering | Art | Dress and Clothing |Early Christianity | The Gladiators | Gory Martyrdoms | The Vestal Virgins |