- Jeremy J. Tanner
[Octavian ; Gaius Octavius ; Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus]
(b Rome, Sept 23, 63 bc; reg 27 bc–ad 14; d Nola, 19 Aug ad 14).
Roman emperor and patron. When Gaius Octavius was named the heir of Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 bc), he was a politically unknown 18 year old. Early portrait types presented him bearded, as a sign of mourning for his adoptive father, thereby reinforcing his claim to be Caesar’s rightful successor. Octavian’s most important programme of artistic patronage, however, followed his assumption in 27 bc of the title ‘Augustus’ (Lat.: ‘venerable’) and with it effective monarchic power. Artistic patronage was a vehicle by which Augustus sought to legitimate his new position in terms of traditional Roman values. He rebuilt 82 temples in order to demonstrate his piety and to restore the pax deorum (‘peace of the gods’) disrupted by the civil wars of the late Republic (see Rome, ancient, §II, 2, (i), (b)). New building in the Forum Romanum (see Rome, §V, 1) allowed him to redefine civic space in order to display his exceptional power. A temple of his deified father, Julius Caesar, dominated the eastern end of the forum. Two triumphal arches celebrating Augustus’ victories at Actium and against the Parthians flanked the temple and formed the entrance to the forum....