Ancient Rome’s longest-serving emperor is Augustus – who is also the empire’s first emperor following the death of Julius Caesar in 44BC.
Augustus was born Octavian and he was the great nephew of Julius Caesar, who adopted him and named him as his successor. Octavian changed his name to Augustus when he succeeded Caesar after his assassination. He did not become emperor immediately, but reigned from 16 January 27 BC – 19 August AD 14 – a whopping 40 years, 7 months and 3 days.
August is named in memory of Emperor Augustus. In both the Julian and Gregorian calendars, it is the eighth month of the year. The name came about because Rome was supposed to have been founded under the “august augury” of King Romulus and the name Augustus had the meaning “magnificent” or “majestic”, so was appropriate for an emperor. Royal females took the name “Augusta”. Rulers after the fall of the Roman Empire continued to take the name Augustus, including the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, who was called serenissimus Augustus.
Augustus is known for introducing a period of stability during the Roman Empire, following the turmoil that followed the assassination of Julius Caesar. He was actually the founder of the Roman Empire – Caesar was never an emperor as during his reign, as Rome was a republic. Augustus founded the Roman Principate, which was the first stage of the empire, lasting from the start of his reign in 27 BC to 284 AD. The Principate was called so because Augustus governed as a single ruler, known as a princeps.
Augustus joined forces with Mark Antony (14 January 83 BC – 1 August 30 BC) and Caesar’s friend and ally, Marcus Lepidus (c 89 BC – c 13 BC), to bring down those who had assassinated Caesar.
Caesar’s only son by Cleopatra, Caesarion, was Pharoah of Egypt – until he was killed by Augustus in 30 BC at the age of 17, following the death of his mother. Augustus was instrumental in defeating the alliance of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, leading to their deaths. Egypt became part of the Roman Empire, along with Dalmatia, parts of Africa and Hispania. Only German lands proved unconquerable during his reign.
He made peace with the Parthians – ancient Iranians – to secure the Silk Route trade for Rome and Augustus also established the feared Praetorian Guard in Rome.
Augustus also reformed taxes in the empire and a communication system using a new network of roads, with a courier system introduced. He was a moderniser as well as a military man – and much of what was established in the Roman Empire influences our modern way of life. The courier system we have today owes much to the Romans, so you can thank Augustus for your pizza when it arrives at your door!
It is thought that Augustus died of natural causes at the age of 75, although there were rumours that his wife had a hand in his demise. Livia’s son Tiberius was adopted by Augustus and named as his successor and it was thought she might have poisoned him so that her son could succeed.
Augustus was known for instigating two centuries of peace in the empire – known as the Pax Romana (“pax” means “peace” in Latin). The Ara Pacis Augustae (The Altar of Peace of Augustus) in Rome is a lasting monument to his reign. It is now situated on the Lungotevere opposite Castel Sant’Angelo and just in front of the Mausoleum of Augustus, so is convenient to visit if you are off to the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo.
It is a lovely, cool building with WCs in the basement and a modern fountain outside that you can actually sit by with a cooling drink. It is now illegal to sit by the ancient fountains in Rome because of the risk of erosion, so we really do have a lot to thank Augustus for!
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Edward Fenshall is the FBI’s organised crime maverick, in pursuit of Romanian crime baron Lazlo Dagobert, one of the bureau’s Top Ten Most Wanted.
Happily divorced Ed is a short man with a large head, thanks to his mild achondroplasia. A beacon for equal opportunities at the bureau, he has a taste for bourbon and a fatal flaw not even he knows about.
When Ed meets Alzheimer’s researcher Dr Neil McCarthy while undercover at a Rome conference, his world opens out personally and professionally – and his decade-long investigation into Lazlo Dagobert takes off again, thanks to a suspicious painting with potential links to WWII stolen artefacts, sold at a City of London charity auction.
ROME ALONE series on Kindle
The ROME ALONE series of books was first published in 2015 and begins in the Eternal City with ROME ALONE, where Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy and unhappy housewife Belinda Rightson (Bee) both decide to spend a long weekend to forget their marital woes.
Though strangers leaving from opposite ends of the country, they are somehow unable to stop crossing paths, as Dr McCarthy tries to keep his post-divorce panic attacks at bay -and Bee worries about the state of her marriage to City trader Max.
In ROME AGAIN, Bee and Dr McCarthy find themselves in the Eternal City again three years later – and the dark forces at work they did not suspect on their first trip begin to unravel.
VERONA ALONE & VERONA AGAIN
The sequels to ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN are VERONA ALONE and VERONA AGAIN.
In VERONA AGAIN, former professional cellist Moira decides to mark her divorce by fulfilling the ambition of a lifetime and visiting the opera season in Verona. There, she bumps into a short, quirky American on a mission, who takes her under his wing. As Ed Fenshall goes in pursuit of Lazlo Dagobert on an FBI yacht around the Adriatic, Moira finds herself all at sea and in hot water with a dangerous stranger.
In VERONA AGAIN, as three couples battle to save their relationships, Fenshall and his junior colleague Karl O’Rourke mount a Venice operation to finally corner Lazlo Dagobert, as he re-emerges after disappearing off the scene for several years. Will Fenshall and Karl finally get their man – or will he mount another spectacular disappearance?
And who will save their relationship, who will fail – and who will lose the love of their life?
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