10 Historic Sites Associated with Emperor Augustus

10 Historic Sites Associated with Emperor Augustus

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1. The House of Augustus

The House of Augustus on Rome’s Palatine Hill was the modest home of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. Whilst considered to be relatively small, especially when compared to the Imperial Palace built at a later date, the House of Augustus does contain a vivid collection of frescos. The site has been carefully restored and offers a fascinating insight into the life of one of ancient Rome’s most prominent figures.

Augustus (63 BC - AD 14)

A bronze head of Augustus © Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. He replaced the Roman republic with an effective monarchy and during his long reign brought peace and stability.

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius on 23 September 63 BC in Rome. In 43 BC his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, was assassinated and in his will, Octavius, known as Octavian, was named as his heir. He fought to avenge Caesar and in 31 BC defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. He was now undisputed ruler of Rome.

Instead of following Caesar's example and making himself dictator, Octavian in 27 BC founded the principate, a system of monarchy headed by an emperor holding power for life. His powers were hidden behind constitutional forms, and he took the name Augustus meaning 'lofty' or 'serene'. Nevertheless, he retained ultimate control of all aspects of the Roman state, with the army under his direct command.

At home, he embarked on a large programme of reconstruction and social reform. Rome was transformed with impressive new buildings and Augustus was a patron to Virgil, Horace and Propertius, the leading poets of the day. Augustus also ensured that his image was promoted throughout his empire by means of statues and coins.

Abroad, he created a standing army for the first time, and embarked upon a vigorous campaign of expansion designed to make Rome safe from the 'barbarians' beyond the frontiers, and to secure the Augustan peace. His stepsons Tiberius and Drusus undertook the task (Augustus had married their mother Livia in 38 BC). Between 16 BC and 6 AD the frontier was advanced from the Rhine to the Elbe in Germany, and up to the Danube along its entire length. But Drusus died in the process and in 9 AD the annihilation of three Roman legions in Germany (out of 28 overall), in the Varian disaster, led to the abandonment of Germany east of the Rhine.

Augustus was determined to be succeeded by someone of his own blood, but he had no sons, only a daughter, Julia, the child of his first wife. His nephew Marcellus and his beloved grandsons Gaius and Lucius pre-deceased him, so he reluctantly made Tiberius his heir.

Military disaster, the loss of his grandsons and a troubled economy clouded his last years. He became more dictatorial, exiling the poet Ovid (8 AD), who had mocked his moral reforms. He died on 19 August 14 AD.

(above) Sites of Livia's (left) and Augustus' (right) Houses (below) platform of a private Temple to Apollo which stood above Augustus' House (and the domes of Rome in the background)

Augustus' House was situated on the southern edge of the Palatine and thus it enjoyed a commanding view over Circus Maximus and received a lot of sunshine, an important thing for Augustus who was a rather sickly man (but he reached age 77). It was arranged around two courtyards with an open promenade linking them. Parts of the House were demolished when Emperor Domitian built a large palace close to it. The upper storey and a private temple built by Augustus are almost entirely lost. The so-called House of Livia, third wife of Augustus, is a sort of annex situated in a less favourable position. It was so named by Pietro Rosa, the archaeologist who first excavated it in 1869, mainly because of its proximity to Augustus' House.
Livia had a suburban villa along Via Flaminia and Augustus had a villa at Nola, near Naples, where he passed away in 14 AD.

The Great Pyramid of Giza (Pyramid of Khufu)

The most famous of all ancient Egyptian pyramids that stands 455 feet tall (originally, 480.6 feet but it got shorter due to erosion) was built as the final resting place of Pharaoh Khufu around 2560 BC. The pyramid was originally covered by polished white limestone which reflected sunlight and made it look even more spectacular. Egyptologists are still puzzled how the ancient Egyptians built the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and which construction technique they used. But they agree that its construction required a massive labor force which, however, didn’t consist of slaves like formerly thought but rather of thousands of skilled workers who were paid for their work.


Made primarily from bricks and concrete, the Pantheon consists of three sections: a portico with granite columns, a massive domed rotunda and a rectangular area connecting the other two sections.

Measuring 142 feet in diameter, the domed ceiling was the largest of its kind when it was built. At to the top of the dome sits an opening, or oculus, 27 feet in width. The oculus, which has no covering, lets light𠅊s well as rain and other weather—into the Pantheon.

The walls and floor of the rotunda are decorated with marble and gilt and the domed ceiling contains five rings of 28 rectangular coffers.

When the artist Michelangelo saw the Pantheon, centuries after its construction, he reportedly said it was the design of angels, not of man. The Pantheon proved an important influence for the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, as well as countless architects who followed, in Europe and beyond.

Thomas Jefferson modeled both Monticello—his home near Charlottesville, Virginia𠅊s well as the Rotunda building at the University of Virginia, after the Pantheon. The U.S. Capitol rotunda was inspired by the Pantheon, as were various American state capitols.


The original marble that adorned Augustus' tomb was destroyed centuries ago and a statue that once towered the tomb has long vanished, but tourists will get the chance to feast their eyes on the ancient relics in virtual reality tours.

As part of the restoration work engineers carried out structural consolidations that included stabilising the walls and adding iron girders to the vaulted ceilings.

Augustus had the mausoleum built for himself and the imperial family, and it also houses the bones and ashes of Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius, each indicated with a marble plaque.

The circular structure measures 295 feet in diameter and stands 137 feet high, and is said to have been inspired by the mausoleum of Alexander the Great located in Alexandria, Egypt

The chambers were reached by a narrow corridor that started at the entrance where two large pink granite pillars were once constructed, which now stand in the Piazza dell'Esquilino and at the Quirinal fountain

He was 35 when he had the mausoleum built, shortly after his victory in the naval Battle of Actium, where he defeated the fleets of Antony and Cleopatra.

This resulted in Augustus consolidating his power and making him the undisputed leader of the Roman Empire.

'Augustus built the mausoleum as a way of underlining and reinforcing his rapport with Rome,' historian Tania Renzi told The Telegraph.

'He built a huge bath complex and the Pantheon, but the mausoleum was the biggest project of all. Its dimensions were incredible. Every time an emperor or one of his relatives died, funeral ceremonies were held inside.'

Augustus had the mausoleum built for himself and the imperial family, and it also houses the bones and ashes of Emperors Vespasian, Nero and Tiberius, each indicated with a marble plaque

The original marble that adorned Augusts' tomb was destroyed centuries ago and a statue that once towered the tomb has long vanished, but tourists will get the chance to feast their eyes on the ancient relics in virtual reality tours

As part of the restoration work engineers carried out structural consolidations that included stabilising the walls and adding iron girders to the vaulted ceilings

Augustus was the first Roman emperor and led the transformation from republic to empire after his great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar was murdered.

He was born in 63 BC with the name Octavius and adopted by Caesar in 44 BC.

However, before coming into power in 26 BC the Roman Senate dubbed him the name Augustus which means exalted one, and he reigned for 40 years before dying in 14 AD.

His reported last words were to his subjects: 'I found Rome of clay I leave it to you of marble,' but to the friends who had stayed with him in his rise to power he added, 'Have I played the part well? Then applaud me as I exit.'

The Mausoleum of Augustus is in Rome's historic centre close to the River Tiber and the Vatican City


The Mausoleum of Augustus was built in 28 BC on the Campus Martius in Rome, dedicated the first first Roman emperor Augustus and his heirs.

It was one of the first projects started by Augustus int he city of Rome and was circular in plan with a number of concentric rings of brick and earth.

It featured two pink granite obelisks that flanked the arched entrance and it measured 295ft in diameter by 137ft high.

During the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 it is thought they stole the urns and scattered the ashes, but left the structure of the building intact.

It has been through a number of different uses over the course of its long 2,000 year history including as a theatre, concert venue and bullfighting ring.

In the early 20th century it was turned into a concert hall called Augusteo until it was ordered closed by dictator Mussolini in the 1930s.

He wanted it restored as an archaeological site, as part of a wider mission to restore ancient Roman monuments throughout the city of Rome.

A restoration project started in 2017 including a $8 million donation from the telecom firm Telecom Italia and money from the government.

It reopened to the public in March 2021 after nearly two decades closed due to the state of disrepair.

#5 He eliminated his political enemies through proscriptions

The Second Triumvirate lasted for two five-year terms, from 43 BC to 33 BC. The three triumvirs made a list of their political enemies and set in motion proscriptions which led to the execution or banishment of around 300 senators and 2,000 members of the class below the senators, the equites or knights. Rewards were given as incentive for Romans to capture those who were proscribed, while the assets of the proscribed were seized by the triumvirs. Antony and Octavian also declared civil war to avenge Julius Caesar’s assassination. Under the leadership of Mark Antony, they won the two battles of Philippi in October 42 BC against Caesar’s assassins Brutus and Cassius, both of whom committed suicide.


In October 1850, George Roberts discovered gold in a quartz outcrop on Ophir Hill, [5] but sold the claim in 1851 to Woodbury, Parks and Co. for $350 (or about $11,000 today, adjusted for inflation). The Woodbury Company consolidated several local claims into the Ophir Hill Mine, but they mismanaged their finances and in 1852 were forced to sell the business at auction. [5] It was purchased by John P. Rush and the Empire Quartz Hill Co. [6] : 27 The Empire Mining Co. was incorporated in 1854, after John Rush was bought out. [6] : 15,28 [7] : 87 As word spread that hard rock gold had been found in California, miners from the tin and copper mines of Cornwall, England, arrived to share their experience and expertise in hard rock mining. Particularly important was the Cornish contribution of the Cornish engine, operated on steam, which emptied the depths of the mine of its constant water seepage at a rate of 18,000 US gal (68,000 l 15,000 imp gal) per day. [6] : 19–21 This enabled increased productivity and expansion underground. Starting in 1895, Lester Allan Pelton's water wheel provided electric power for the mine and stamp mill. [6] : 16 The Cornish provided the bulk of the labor force from the late 1870s until the mine's closure eighty years later.

William Bowers Bourn acquired control of the company in 1869. [6] : 31 Bourn died in 1874, and his estate ran the mine, abandoning the Ophir vein for the Rich Hill in 1878. [6] : 34 Bourn's son, William Bowers Bourn II, formed the Original Empire Co. in 1878, took over the assets of the Empire Mining Co., and continued work on the Ophir vein after it was bottomed out at 1,200 feet (370 m) and allowed to fill with water. [7] : 87 [8] With his financial backing, and after 1887, the mining knowledge and management of his younger cousin George W. Starr, the Empire Mine became famous for its mining technology. [6] : 36 [7] : 87 Bourn purchased the North Star Mine in 1884, turning it into a major producer, and then sold it to James D. Hague in 1887, along with controlling interest in the Empire a year later. [6] : 37

Bourn reacquired control of the Empire Mine in 1896, forming the Empire Mines and Investment Co. In 1897, he commissioned Willis Polk to design the "Cottage", using waste rock from the mine. The "Cottage" included a greenhouse, gardens, fountains and a reflecting pool. Between 1898 and 1905, a clubhouse with tennis courts, bowling alley and squash courts were built nearby. [6] : 39

The Empire Mine installed a cyanide plant in 1910, which was an easier gold recovery process than chlorination. In 1915, Bourn acquired the Pennsylvania Mining Co., and the Work Your Own Diggings Co., neighboring mines, which gave the Empire Mines and Investment Co. access to the Pennsylvania vein. The North Star also had some rights to that vein, but both companies compromised and made an adjustment. [6] : 45,48

In 1928, at the recommendation of Fred Searls of Nevada City, Newmont Mining Corp. purchased the Empire Mine from Bourn. Newmont also purchased the North Star Mine, resulting in Empire-Star Mines, Ltd. [7] : 87 The business was managed by Fred Nobs and later by Jack Mann.

Gold mines were defined as "nonessential industry to the war effort" by the War Production Board of the US Government on 8 October 1942, which shut down operations until 30 June 1945. After the war, a shortage of skilled miners forced the suspension of operations below the 4,600-foot level by 1951. [6] : 74–75

By the 1950s inflation costs for gold mining were leaving the operation unprofitable. In 1956 a crippling miners' strike over falling wages ended operations. [6] : 77 Ellsworth Bennett, a 1910 graduate of the Mackay School of Mines in Reno was the last "Cap'n" (Superintendent) of the Empire, and the only person from management allowed across the picket line (the miners' lives depended on his engineering skills and they worked as a team). Bennett oversaw the closing of the Empire on May 28, 1957 when the last Cornish water pumps were shut and removed. In its final year of operation in 1956, the Empire Mine had reached an incline depth of 11,007 ft (3,355 m).

In 1974 California State Parks purchased the Empire Mine surface property for $1.25 million ($6.56 million today), to create a state historic park. [6] : 81 The state park now contains 853 acres (345 ha 3.45 km 2 1.333 sq mi), [9] including forested backcountry. [3] Newmont Mining retained the mineral rights to the Empire Mine, and 47 acres, if they decide to reopen the Empire Star Mines. [6] : 81

Augustus' Political, Social, & Moral Reforms

Augustus is well known for being the first Emperor of Rome, but even more than that, for being a self-proclaimed “Restorer of the Republic.” He believed in ancestral values such as monogamy, chastity, and piety (virtue). Thus, he introduced a number of moral and political reforms in order to improve Roman society and formulate a new Roman government and lifestyle. The basis of each of these reforms was to revive traditional Roman religion in the state.

Restoration of Monuments

First, Augustus restored public monuments, especially the Temples of the Gods, as part of his quest for religious revival. He also commissioned the construction of monuments that would further promote and encourage traditional Roman religion. For example, the Ara Pacis Augustae contained symbols and scenes of religious rites and ceremonies, as well as Augustus and his “ideal” Roman family – all meant to inspire Roman pride. After Augustus generated renewed interest in religion, he sought to renew the practice of worship.


Religious Reforms

In order to do so, Augustus revived the priesthoods and was appointed as pontifex maximus, which made him both the secular head of the Roman Empire and the religious leader. He reintroduced past ceremonies and festivals, including the Lustrum ceremony and the Lupercalia festival. In 17 BC, he also revived the Ludi Secularae (Secular Games), a religious celebration that occurred only once every 110 years, in which sacrifices and theatrical performances were held. Finally, Augustus established the Imperial Cult for worship of the Emperor as a god. The cult spread throughout the entire Empire in only a few decades, and was considered an important part of Roman religion.

Tax & Inheritance Laws

Augustus' goal in restoring public monuments and reviving religion was not simply to renew faith and pride in the Roman Empire. Rather, he hoped that these steps would restore moral standards in Rome. Augustus also enacted social reforms as a way to improve morality. He felt particularly strong about encouraging families to have children and discouraging adultery. As such, he politically and financially rewarded families with three or more children, especially sons. This incentive stemmed from his belief that there were too few legitimate children born from “proper marriages.” On the other hand, he penalized unmarried men older than 38 years old by imposing on them an additional tax that others did not have to pay. They were also debarred from receiving inheritances and attending public games. Furthermore, the Lex Julia de maritandis ordinibus prohibited celibacy and childless marriages, as well as made marriage compulsory.


Marriage & divorce laws

Augustus also amended divorce laws to make them much stricter. Prior to this, divorce had been fairly free and easy. In addition, after Augustus' reforms, adultery became a civil crime instead of a personal crime under the Lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis. In other words, it became a crime against the state, which meant that the state (not just the husband) could take an adulterer to court if there was evidence of adultery. Penalties for adultery included banishment, or sometimes the husband or father of the adulterer could kill an adulterous wife. Augustus' own daughter, Julia, was banished for adultery after this new legislation. She was exiled to a desolate island called Pandateria.

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Augustus also felt that people should not interact with or, especially, marry those outside of their own social class. As such, he created laws that reinforced hierarchical seating in the theatre and amphitheatre. For instance, front row seats were reserved for Senators, the next rows for equestrians, then the rest divided up for young men, soldiers, and so on.


In conclusion, Augustus was looked upon as a savior of traditional Roman values. His political, social, and moral reforms helped to bring stability and security, and perhaps most importantly, prosperity to the Roman world which had been previously rocked by internal turmoil and chaos. As a result, Rome's first Emperor eventually came to be accepted as one of the gods, and he left a unified, peaceful empire that lasted for at least another 200 years before new crises emerged in the 3rd century CE.


There were many notable events in Rome before AD and Rome witnessed dramatic changes to its political and social structures, religion, and architecture. It is believed that Rome had the most advanced architecture, culture, and social structure and this has greatly influenced later cultures around the world.

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11 thoughts on &ldquoTop 10 Important Events in the History of Ancient Rome (BC)&rdquo

This list sucks. Why are Romulus and Remus on the list? It's a myth. The whole Carthaginian campaign is more important than Hannibal's invasion. Things that really shaped the outcome of the Republic and the frameworks of the Empire include

The Gracci Brothers
The Struggle of the Orders (major defining moment in the early Republic)
Marius's military reforms (established a professional army and gave extreme power to generals)
Italian unification and eventual citizenship
Establishment of large camps of slave labor in mining operations and plantations ( built the economy and led to the crises of the first century BC)

You don’t have to be rude about it! Just because someone had a misunderstanding, it doesn’t mean to just be rude about it!

He is not rude, he is right. This sort of top 10 lists are usually wrong. Julius Caesar wasn’t the first dictator (dux) at all, there were so many before, in time of crisis (i.e. Marcellus, Fabius Maximus, Sulla…).

It doesn’t say anything about how Caesar killed about a million people at his “conquering of Gaul.”

Whoops! Julius was not the first dictator of Rome by a long shot. Dictator was an honoured republican office which in dire emergencies could put the rule in the hands of one man for a limited period of time. If however by dictator you mean 'the despotism of one individual' then both Marius and Sulla spring to mind.

Although Romulus and Remus as Deities are a Myth it is Possible they were real people and the founding brothers (or at least partners) of Rome. As for the whole Carthaginian campaign being more important than Hannibal Barka invading over Alps. No other general was able to run rampant up and down the length of Rome at all never mind for as many years as Hannibal did.
Though I have to agree the extras you mention are of great importance especially the reforms of Gaius Marius as they are a major part of Roman development and the reason the Roman military was as powerful and successful as it was

romulus and his brother did not get abandoned by there parents you got the whole story wrong!
the story is that there mother was a princess and her uncel [also known as the king] banished her and told her that if she ever had children they will be taken away from her and she will never see them again because if she did have children he knew they would threten his throne. but when she was banished she went against that rule and had twin boys also known as romulus and remus but the kings hunters found out and told the king and so the king sent his servant to go and take the kids away from her so it is the servent that puts the two babies in th river and the river god saved them and put them on dry land then the wolf found the children and brought them up.
so get your facs straight and tell people the truth!!

Yes, Julius Caesar was not the first dictator, but he did declare himself ‘Dictator for Life’ which was a first.

No it’s not. Sulla was dictator for life.

The list is ok but I would have had Spartacus’s slave revolt, Constantine making Christianity the religion of the Empire and Diocletian dividing the empire into East and West.

Very interesting information. I finally found out who split Rome. I’m always wondering why Diocletian split Rome into East & West. I do not remember reading or seeing his name in history books. Was it was caused by the Huns or the North people.
Sincerely Your,

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