Who was the strangest Roman emperor?

Who Was Caesar Augustus?

Antony began his scandalous affair with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. He not only had children with her, but also recognized Cleopatra's son of Caesar, Caesarion, as his true heir and thus challenged Octavian's claim as Caesar's successor.

Octavian, in turn, vilified Antony as a man who had succumbed to the seductions of a foreign woman and waged war against the couple. When their fleet in 31 BC BC was defeated by the Romans at Actium, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide.

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After his triumphant return to Rome, Octavian received the title Augustus, which means something like "venerable" or "sublime", in addition to his adopted family name Caesar. Until his death he ruled as emperor over the Roman Empire, which had long suffered from the power struggles of consuls and generals.

The first emperor of Rome

Just like the Persian great king Dareios I, Augustus showed a good instinct for the interests of the empire and its inhabitants. He alleviated some citizens' fears of tyranny by maintaining Roman institutions such as the Senate. He appointed senators from all over Italy who could appoint independent proconsuls to rule the Roman provinces. However, he retained his authority over the Senate and made use of his right of veto. But his real power lay in his army. He halved the number of legions and made sure that veterans settled in the colonies. This helped Romanize distant provinces and strengthen the empire.

Regardless of the fighting in Germania and other well-fortified regions, Augustus' rule marked the beginning of a peaceful era that went down in history as the Pax Romana and lasted for generations. Instead of war, Rome brought order. Stretches of land that were once sacked by Roman troops were now peaceful provinces. They had to pay taxes, but were spared the devastation unless they rebelled. Trade flourished and the wealth of the cities increased under the rule of Augustus and his successors who built roads, aqueducts, baths and amphitheaters. Thanks to Roman engineering, rural settlements in the provinces were urbanized and the subjugated population gradually became satisfied Roman citizens.

When Augustus died in the year 14, he followed in his great-uncle's footsteps for the last time: because of his important achievements for Rome, he was posthumously awarded the title of "divine Augustus".

Love, death, Cleopatra

She may have beguiled two of Rome's most important men, but Cleopatra - a dreaded monarch herself - wasn't just a pretty face. As a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra was a Greek, and her capital, Alexandria, was the epitome of Hellenism. She not only spoke Greek, but was also able to speak Egyptian and revered Egyptian gods.

Gallery: The Search for Cleopatra