Sextilis was the original Latin name for the sixth month in the Roman calendar. It was renamed Augustus (August) in 8 BC in honor of the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, for two reasons. It came after the month of July, named after his granduncle, adopted father, and predecessor, Julius Caesar, and secondly because of several fortunate events that occurred in Augustus' life during this month: the Battle of Pharsalus, his first admission to the consulship, his triple triumph, and the deaths of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. It also happened to be the month his grandnephew, the future Emperor Claudius, was born, and the month in which Augustus died.
The month reputedly has 31 days because Augustus wanted as many days as Julius Caesar's July, but this idea is a mistake. Sextilis had had 31 days since the time of Julius Caesar and the Julian calendar.
The Senatorial decree (senatus consultum) renaming Sextilis to Augustus reads in part:
- "Whereas the Emperor Augustus Caesar, in the month of Sextilis, was first admitted to the consulate, and thrice entered the city in triumph, and in the same month the legions, from the Janiculum, placed themselves under his auspices, and in the same month Egypt was brought under the authority of the Roman people, and in the same month an end was put to the civil wars; and whereas for these reasons the said month is, and has been, most fortunate to this empire, it is hereby decreed by the senate that the said month shall be called Augustus."