Head of Augustus. From Enc. Britt.: born Sept. 23, 63 BC, died Aug. 19, AD 14, Nola, near Naples. Also called (until 27 BC) Octavian, original name Gaius Octavius, adopted name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. First Roman emperor, following the republic, which had been finally destroyed by the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, his great-uncle and adoptive father. His autocratic regime is known as the principate because he was the princeps, the first citizen, at the head of that array of outwardly revived republican institutions that alone made his autocracy palatable. With unlimited patience, skill, and efficiency, he overhauled every aspect of Roman life and brought durable peace and prosperity to the Greco-Roman world.
Gaius Octavius was born on September 23, 63 BC, of a prosperous family that had long been settled at Velitrae (Velletri), southeast of Rome. His father, who died in 59 BC, had been the first of the family to become a Roman senatorand was elected to the high annual office of the praetorship, which ranked second in the political hierarchy to the consulship. Gaius Octavius' mother, Atia, was the daughter of Julia, the sister of Julius Caesar; and it was Caesar who launched the young Octavius in Roman public life. At the age of 12 he made his debut by delivering the funeral speech for his grandmother Julia. Three or four years later he received the coveted membership of the board of priests(pontifices). In 46 he accompanied Caesar, now dictator, in his triumphal procession after his victory in Africa over his opponents in the Civil War; and in the following year, in spite of ill health, he joined the dictator in Spain. He was at Apollonia (now in Albania), completing his academic and military studies when, in 44 BC, he learned that Julius Caesar had been murdered.