Who Was Caesar’s Adopted Son?

In this blog post, we will answer the question, “who was Caesar’s adopted son?”. Throughout the article, we will tell you about Caesar’s history, the reasons behind his adoption, his struggle for power, and a few things you might not know about history’s great emperor. 

Who was Caesar’s Adopted son? 

Augustus, sometimes known as Caesar Augustus or Octavian, was Julius Caesar’s great-nephew, whom the Roman emperor Julius Caesar adopted as his son and successor. Augustus, who was born Gaius Octavius on September 23, 63 BCE, was a distant cousin of Caesar. Augustus was the son of Atia, Julius Caesar’s younger sister Julia the Younger (101–51 BCE), and her husband Marcus Atius, the son of Octavius, a praetor from the Roman town of Velitrae.

Augustus (63 BCE–14 CE), a fascinating and divisive person, may have been the most significant individual in Roman history, outlasting and superseding his great-uncle Julius in terms of lifespan and power. 

The faltering Republic was transformed into a Principate that would last for centuries throughout Augustus’ lengthy reign.

What Was the Reason for Julius Caesar’s Adoption of Gaius Octavius (Octavian)?

Julius Caesar was in dire need of a successor by the middle of the first century BCE. 

He didn’t have a son, although Julia Caesaris (76–54 BCE) was his daughter. Julia only had one child, who died at delivery with her mother in 54 BCE, despite being married multiple times, the final time to Caesar’s old enemy and friend Pompey. 

That put an end to her father’s dreams for a direct-line heir (and incidentally ended the possibility of a truce with Pompey).

So, as was customary in ancient Rome at the time and subsequently, Caesar looked for a male cousin to adopt as his own son. The young man in question was Gaius Octavius, whom Caesar took under his wing in his later years. 

Gaius Octavius accompanied Caesar to Spain to combat the Pompeians in 45 BCE. Caesar selected Gaius Octavius as his principal lieutenant or Magister Equitum (Master of the Horse) for 43 or 42 BCE, preparing the timetable ahead of time.

Caesar was slain in 44 BCE, and in his will, he named Gaius Octavius as his successor.

Julius Caesar may have named his great-nephew Octavius as his successor before his assassination, but Octavius did not find out until after Caesar’s death. 

Thanks to the support of Caesar’s own soldiers, Octavius chose the name Julius Caesar Octavianus at this time. He was known as C. Julius Caesar Octavianus or Octavian (or just Caesar) until January 16, 17 BCE, when he was proclaimed Imperator Caesar Augustus.

What Happened to Octavian After He Became Emperor?

At the age of 18, Octavian seized Caesar’s political mantle by inheriting his great-name. uncle’s Julius Caesar was a brilliant general, ruler, and leader, but he was not an emperor. 

When he was killed by Brutus and other members of the Roman Senate, he was in the midst of making massive political changes to decrease the Senate’s authority and raise his own.

Being the adoptive son of Julius Caesar had little political clout at first. The individuals who led the group that assassinated Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, as well as Caesar’s companion Marcus Antonius, were still in power in Rome (better known to modernity as Marc Antony).

The Triumvirate and Augustus

As a result of Julius Caesar’s death, Antony assumed power and Augustus had to wait several years to secure his authority. 

Cicero’s endorsement of Octavian, which he planned to use as a power move to separate Caesar’s heirs, led to Antony’s rejection and, eventually, Octavian’s acceptance in Rome. 

Even though Octavian received the Senate’s approval, he was not declared dictator or emperor immediately.

Despite Cicero’s efforts, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian created the Second Triumvirate (triumviri rei publicae constituendae) in 43 BCE, a five-year contract that ended in 38 BCE. 

The three men divided the provinces among themselves, issued proscriptions, and (at Philippi) battled the liberators, who eventually committed suicide, all without consulting the Senate.

Antony had married Octavian’s sister and then rejected her for his adored Cleopatra VII, Pharaoh of Egypt, before the conclusion of the triumvirate’s second term, which concluded in 33 BCE.

The Struggle for Rome’s Possession

Augustus led Roman armies against Antony in a war for control of Rome and the legacy Caesar left behind, accusing him of establishing a power base in Egypt in order to threaten Rome. 

The destiny of Rome was determined in 31 BCE when Octavian and Marc Antony met at the Battle of Actium. Antony and his fiancée, Cleopatra, both committed suicide after Octavian won the battle.

But it took Octavian several more years to establish himself as emperor and leader of the Roman faith. The approach was complicated, involving political as well as military dexterity. 

On the surface, Augustus restored the Republic, referring to himself as Princeps Civitas, or First Citizen of the State, but in reality, he remained Rome’s military ruler.

With all of Octavian’s strong opponents dead, the civil wars over, and the troops paid with the gold won from Egypt, Octavian seized leadership and served as consul every year from 31 to 23 BCE, with unanimous support.

The Imprint of Augustus Caesar

C. Julius Caesar Octavianus or Octavian (or simply Caesar) was crowned Emperor of Rome as Imperator Caesar Augustus on January 16, 17 BCE, after finally shedding his old name.

Octavian, a deft politician, had a greater influence on Roman history than Julius. Octavian was able to install himself as emperor with the help of Cleopatra’s riches, ultimately destroying the Roman Republic. 

Under the name Augustus, Octavian transformed the Roman Empire into a powerful military and governmental machine, establishing the foundation for the Pax Romana, which lasted 200 years (Roman Peace). Augustus’ Empire lasted over 1,500 years after its founding.

Unknown Things About Late Caesar

Augustus was not his given name when he was born.

Gaius Octavius was his birth name, but after being adopted by his great-uncle, he changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, or Octavian. 

The Senate gave him the name Augustus, which means “Revered One,” seventeen years later. Over the course of his life, he also acquired a number of titles, including pontifex maximus (top priest), princeps (first citizen), imperator (commander in chief), and divi filius (son of a god), the latter of which he assumed following the Senate’s deification of Caesar. 

Augustus was notable for never referring to himself in monarchical or dictatorial terms, and he lived in humble lodgings. Historians refer to him as Rome’s first emperor because he accumulated absolute authority.

His sister married one of his biggest opponents.

Following Caesar’s death, Augustus assembled an army and went to battle with Mark Antony, Caesar’s former deputy who saw himself as the conqueror’s political heir as well. 

Augustus marched to Rome after winning his first battle against Antony and was chosen consul, the highest post in the Roman Republic. 

He then formed the Second Triumvirate, in which he, Antony, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus agreed to divide Rome’s territory among themselves. They linked together to beat Caesar’s assassins as one of their first orders of business. 

Meanwhile, Antony married Augustus’ sister and Augustus married Antony’s stepdaughter to cement the partnership.

However, neither the marriage nor the trio lasted. Augustus used an illegally obtained copy of Antony’s will to rail against him and his high-profile mistress, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in 32 B.C. 

The final break came in 32 B.C., when Augustus used an illicitly obtained copy of Antony’s will to rail against him and his high-profile mistress, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Augustus blockaded Antony’s troops off the western coast of Greece during the civil war that ensued. 

Despite the fact that Antony and Cleopatra escaped to Egypt, the bulk of their army surrendered, and they both committed suicide as Augustus approached them. To add salt to injury, Augustus ordered the assassination of Antony’s heir, as well as a boy Cleopatra had with Caesar.

He grew the empire by nearly doubling its size.

Augustus began solidifying his rule by upgrading Rome’s infrastructure and beautifying the city after defeating his opponents. 

He also wanted to expand the empire’s frontiers, claiming Egypt, northern Spain, the Alps, and much of the Balkans. In Germany, progress was made until three legions were killed out in an ambush in A.D. 9, forcing the Romans to retire west of the Rhine. 

According to a Roman historian, when Augustus learned of the defeat, he repeatedly slammed his head against the wall and roared at the general in command to “give me back my legions.”

Augustus spent years in Spain, Gaul, Greece, and Asia as part of his expansion ambitions. 

Yet he was not much of a combatant himself, frequently falling ill on the night of battle and relying largely on his childhood buddy Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa for tactics.

His potential heirs were dying inexplicably.

Augustus devoted a lot of time and effort cultivating a successor because he didn’t have a kid of his own. Early on, he was preoccupied with his nephew Marcellus, whom he married off to Julia in 25 B.C. 

Marcellus, on the other hand, became sick and died at the age of 21. Augustus, therefore, went to Agrippa, a friend, and commander who, despite being 25 years Julia’s senior, had three sons and two daughters with her.

The two elder boys, Gaius and Lucius, were adopted and raised by Augustus, only for the first to die at the age of 23 after being wounded in Armenia and the second to die at the age of 19 after acquiring an unknown ailment in Gaul.

Julia and Agrippa’s third son, on the other hand, was said to be enraged and exiled. 

Following Agrippa’s death, Augustus compelled Tiberius to divorce his beloved wife Julia and marry Julia instead, although the couple only had one child, who died in infancy. 

With his alternatives dwindling, Augustus reluctantly turned to Tiberius, who would go on to rule Rome from 14 to 37 A.D. 

Rumors circulated that Tiberius’ mother (Augustus’ third and last wife) had murdered the other possible heirs in order for her son to inherit the throne, but no actual evidence of this has ever surfaced.

All five emperors after him were his kin.

Augustus’ image as a restorer of order in Rome was so strong that the emperorship continued in Augustus’ family until Nero committed suicide after being ousted in a coup in A.D. 68. 

Though a brief civil war erupted—four emperors reigned in A.D. 69 alone—it was a small blip in Augustus’ 200-year Pax Romana (Roman Peace). In the meanwhile, the empire would last until the 15th century in some form or another.

References: 

  1. https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/emperor-augustus 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus 

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