Eight Days that Made Rome: Rome’s First Emperor

Presenter Bettany Hughes explores the day in 32BC when Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, stole the secret will of Mark Antony, his most dangerous political rival.

Presenter Bettany Hughes explores the day in 32BC when Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, stole the secret will of Mark Antony, his most dangerous political rival. The document’s release gave Octavian crucial support in the civil war that followed and allowed him to establish himself as Rome’s first emperor, Augustus.


 

Bettany Hughes focuses on the day in 32BC when Octavian stole the secret will of his most dangerous political rival, Mark Antony. It is a moment that casts a light on what it took to win in Roman politics, as the cunning, brilliant subterfuge required paved Octavian’s path to power by undermining Antony’s popularity and giving Octavian the crucial support of Rome’s Senate and people in the civil war that followed. Dramatisations featuring Jack Morris, Nathan Dean Williams and Taniel Yusef bring the key moments to life.

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Rome’s First Emperor : Augustus

Augustus (Latin: Imperātor Caesar Dīvī Fīlius Augustus; 23 September 63 BC – 19 August 14 AD) was the founder of the Roman Principate and considered Rome’s First Emperor, controlling the Roman Empire from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. He was born Gaius Octavius into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia.


His maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, and Octavius was named in Caesar’s will as his adopted son and heir, then known as Octavianus (Anglicized as Octavian). He, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators. The Triumvirate was eventually torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC.

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