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The Romans

Augustus

Octavian was born on 23 September 63 BC. He was the son of a niece of the Roman Emperor Caesar. Caesar supported his grandnephew, smoothed the way for him to follow a career in the civil service and finally adopted him. Caesar was murdered in 44 BC and was succeeded by Augustus who took over several military functions and asserted himself against his political rivals and opponents.

Octavian changed his name to Augustus when he became Roman Emperor in 27 BC. He stayed in office until his death in 14 AD. He adopted Agrippa’s sons Caius Caesar und Lucius Caesar in order to secure his succession. However one died shortly after the other at the beginning of the first century AD during military missions. This is why he adopted his stepson Tiberius shortly afterwards. Before the adoption, he had already given his daughter Julia to him as a wife– also for political reasons.

At the beginning of his career Augustus consolidated the provinces in the southern and eastern provinces. In the decades before and after the turn of the eras however, he needed to concentrate on the northern and the north-eastern borders of the Imperium Romanum. On one side, the borders were secured and strengthened by building military bases, and on the other side, his generals advanced northwards, i.e. Drusus reached the river Elbe. Some Germanic tribes were subdued, others became Roman allies. Initially, Tiberius was quite successful in Germania, but then the governor Publius Quintilius Varus was defeated in 9 AD. Three Roman legions, three cavalry detachments (alae), six auxiliary cohorts as well as the Roman Army’s impedimenta were annihilated. Augustus, apparently, was taken aback because of the numerous casualties. The historian Florus mentioned that Augustus commemorated the event in mourning on each anniversary of the battle. He died in 14 AD, even before Germanicus was recalled and his efforts to subdue Germania were abandoned because they proved to be unattainable.