a name bestowed upon Octavianus by the senate and the
Roman people, Jan. 16, B.C. 27. This date is established by the Fasti
Praenestini (in C. I. L.
1.384) and Censorisus (de Die Natali,
21.8; cf. Mommsen, Res gestae
p. 149). Octavian took the name in accordance with a
senatus consultum moved by Munatius Plancus (Vell.
; Censorin. l.c.
). It was a word used in
connexion with religion, and designated a person as sacred and worthy of
worship: hence the Greek writers translate it by Σεβαστός
(Ov. Fast. 1.607
D. C. 53.16
; Suet. Aug. 7
; Vell. 2.91
; Flor. 4.12
22; Veget. de Re Mil.
2.5). It was not an official title, but
a complimentary surname, like Africanus or Pius; and is hence called by
Suetonius nomen hereditarium
26); i. e. practically inheritable, not legally
inherited (Mommsen, Staatsr.
2.749 n.). It was, however,
borne not only by Tiberius and the other emperors connected with the family
of Augustus, but was likewise adopted by all succeeding emperors, as if
descended, either by birth or adoption, from the founder of the empire (
“in ejus nomen velut quadam adoptione aut jure hereditario
succedere,” Lampr. Al. Sev.
10). It was not
usually assumed until it had been formally decreed by the senate (Tac. Hist. 1.47
; Lampr. Al.
1; Vopisc. Prob.
12); and Vitellius at first
refused it (Tac. Hist. 2.62
). From the time
of Domitian, the imperial style and title began regularly with Imperator Caesar
and ended with Augustus, thus: Imp. Caes. T. Flavius
Domitianus Aug.; though sometimes another name comes after Augustus, as in
T. Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Aug. Pius.
name of Augusta was frequently bestowed upon females of the imperial family,
the first instance of which occurs in the case of Livia, who, upon her
adoption into the Julia gens on the death of Augustus, and by the provisions
of his will, became Julia Augusta (Tac. Ann.
). But Augustus
to the reigning emperor till the middle of the second century, when Marcus
Aurelius and L. Verus both received this surname (Spartian. Ael.
5; M. Ant. Phil.
7). From this time we
frequently find princes of the imperial family, adoptive sons, &c.
honoured with this title (Amm. Marc. 27.7
such were regarded as participators in the imperial power, though of course
the one who received the title first was looked upon as the head of the
empire. When there were two Augusti, we find on coins and inscriptions AVGG;
and when three, AVGGG. In the fourfold division of the empire under
Diocletian, the two senior emperors were styled Augusti,
the two junior Caesares.
From the time of Probus the title became perpetuus
and from Philippus or Claudius Gothicus semper Augustus,
the latter of which titles was
borne by the so-called Roman emperors in Germany. (Eckhel, 6.88, 8.354 ff.;
Mommsen--Marquardt, 2.731; Preller, Mythol.