previous next

AUGUSTUS

AUGUSTUS 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 d. Aug. p. 149). Octavian took the name in accordance with a senatus consultum moved by Munatius Plancus (Vell. 2.91; 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, 18; Suet. Aug. 7; Vell. 2.91; Flor. 4.12; Censorin. 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 (Tib. 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. Sev. 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 as praenomina, 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. The 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. 1.8). But Augustus belonged exclusively to the reigning emperor till the middle of the second century, when Marcus Aurelius and L. Verus both received this surname (Spartian. Ael. Verus, 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). All 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 Augustus, 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. 773 ff.)

[W.S] [W.W]

hide References (6 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (6):
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 7
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.8
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.62
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.47
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 27.7
    • Ovid, Fasti, 1
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: