Coins of Octavian/Augustus

First Roman Emperor (27 BC to AD 14)

Gaius Octavius, the future emperor Augustus, was born on September 23, 63 BC. He was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar and was adopted as Caesar’s son. In 43 BC, after gaining the consulship, Octavian entered into an agreement with his rivals in power, Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, known as the Second Triumvirate. In 42 BC, the triumvirs avenged the murder of Caesar by defeating the assassins Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi. Julius Caesar was deified in this year. From this point on, Octavian came to be known as divi filius, “son of the Divine (Julius).”

Soon the Second Triumvirate began to deteriorate. Octavian defeated Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and assumed supreme power in Rome. In January of 27 BC, Octavian received the honorific title of “Augustus” which proclaimed his superior position in the state. In 23 BC he received proconsular imperium (powers as commander-in-chief of military forces) and the tribunician power for life, which were seen as the definitive powers of his supreme authority as emperor of the Roman Empire.

The reign of Augustus was generally a stable and prosperous one. Augustus died in AD 14, at which point the Senate decreed that Augustus should be included among the gods of the state. Augustus was thereafter known and revered for bringing peace and good fortune to the Roman Empire.

(See also: Ara Pacis Augustae; Livia; Gaius or Lucius Caesar.)

AE Sestertiu, Rome
38 BC or later

Head of Octavian r.; before CAESAR; after DIVI F downwards.

Wreathed head of Julius Caesar r.; before DIVOS (or DIVVS) downward; behind IVLIVS downward.