History for the Rest of Us

Caesar Augustus

Caesar Augustus

Aug 17, 2012

THE LIVES OF THE TWELVE CAESARS by C. Suetonius Tranquillus OCTAVIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS. I. That the family of the Octavii was of the first distinction in Velitrae, is rendered evident by many circumstances. For in the most frequented part of the town, there was, not long since, a street named the Octavian; and an altar was to be seen, consecrated to one Octavius, who being chosen general in a war with some neighbouring people, the enemy making a sudden attack, while he was sacrificing to Mars, he immediately snatched the entrails of the victim from off the fire, and offered them half raw upon the altar; after which, marching out to battle, he returned victorious. This incident gave rise to a law, by which it was enacted, that in all future times the entrails should be offered to Mars in the same manner; and the rest of the victim be carried to the Octavii. II. This family, as well as several in Rome, was admitted into the senate by Tarquinius Priscus, and soon afterwards placed by Servius Tullius among the patricians; but in process of time it transferred itself to the plebeian order, and, after the lapse of a long interval, was restored by Julius Caesar to the rank of patricians. The first person of the family raised by the suffrages of the people to the magistracy, was Caius Rufus. He obtained the quaestorship, and had two sons, Cneius and Caius; from whom are descended the two branches of the Octavian family, which have had very different fortunes. For Cneius, and his descendants in uninterrupted succession, held all the highest offices of the state; whilst Caius and his posterity, whether from their circumstances or their choice, remained in the equestrian order until the father of Augustus. The great-grandfather of Augustus served as a military tribune in the second Punic war in Sicily, under the command of Aemilius Pappus. His grandfather contented himself with bearing the public offices of his own municipality, and grew old in the tranquil enjoyment of an ample patrimony. Such is the account given by different authors. Augustus himself, however, tells us nothing more than that he was descended of an...