Gaius Octavius (proconsul)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Head of statue, thought to be Gaius Octavius, ca. 60 BC, Munich Glyptothek

Gaius Octavius[1] (about 100 – 59 BC) was a Roman politician.

He was an ancestor to the Roman Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was the father of the Emperor Augustus, step-grandfather of the Emperor Tiberius, great-grandfather of the Emperor Claudius, great-great grandfather of the Emperor Caligula, and great-great-great grandfather of the Emperor Nero. Hailing from Velitrae, he was a descendant of an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the gens Octavia. Despite being from a wealthy family, his family was plebeian, rather than patrician. As a novus homo ("new man"), he was not of a senatorial family. His grandfather, Gaius Octavius, fought as a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His father, Gaius Octavius, was a municipal magistrate who lived to an advanced age.

Personal life[edit]

Octavius' first wife was named Ancharia. The two had a child named Octavia Major. It is not known how the marriage ended, although it is possible that Ancharia died during child birth. Octavius later married the niece of Julius Caesar, Atia Balba Caesonia. How they met is not known, although Atia's family on her father's side (the Atii Balbi) lived close to Velitrae, which was the ancestral home of the Octavii. They had two children: Octavia Minor (b. 69 BC) and Gaius Octavius (b. 63 BC), who became Roman Emperor Augustus.

Political career[edit]

Around 70 BC, Octavius was elected quaestor. In 61 BC, he was elected praetor. In 60 BC, after his term as praetor had ended, he was appointed propraetor, and was to serve as governor (praefectus pro praetor) of Macedonia. However, before he left for Macedonia, the senate sent him to put down a slave rebellion in Thurii. These slaves had previously taken part in the rebellions led by Spartacus and Catiline. Octavius then left for Macedonia and proved to be a capable administrator, governing "courageously and justly". His deeds included leading the Roman forces to victory in an unexpected battle against the Thracian Bessian tribe. Cicero had high regard for Octavius' diplomatic dealings. Because of his successful term as governor of Macedonia, Octavius won the support necessary to stand for election as consul.

In 59 BC, Octavius sailed to Rome, to stand for election as consul. However, he died in Nola, before arriving in Rome. His career is summarized in an inscription erected by his son on the forum he built in Rome:[2]

C(aius) Octavius C(ai) f(ilius) C(ai) n(epos) C(ai) pr[on(epos)]
pater Augusti
tr(ibunus) mil(itum) bis q(uaestor) aed(ilis) pl(ebis) cum
C(aio) Toranio iudex quaestionum
pr(aetor) proco(n)s(ul) imperator appellatus
ex provincia Macedonia
“Gaius Octavius, son, grandson and great-grandson of Gaius,
father of Augustus,
twice military tribune, quaestor, aedile of the plebs together with
Gaius Toranius, judge,
praetor, proconsul, proclaimed imperator
in the province of Macedonia”

Family tree of the Octavii Rufi[edit]

Legend
Orange
Emperor
Green
Consul
Cn. Octavius Rufus
q. c. 230 BC
Cn. Octavius
pr. 205 BC
C. Octavius
eq.
Cn. Octavius
cos. 165 BC
C. Octavius
tr. mil. 216 BC
Cn. Octavius
cos. 128 BC
M. Octavius
tr. pl. 133 BC
C. Octavius
magistr.
Cn. Octavius
cos. 87 BC
M. Octavius
tr. pl.
C. Octavius
procos. MAC. 60 BC
L. Octavius
cos. 75 BC
Cn. Octavius
cos. 76 BC
C. Octavius (Augustus)
imp. ROM. 27 BC–AD 14
M. Octavius
aed. 50 BC



Since the last Gaius Octavius (Augustus) was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar and became one of the Julii Caesares, the family's original nomen gentile was not inherited by his only daughter (i.e. Julia the Elder) and adopted sons (i.e. Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Tiberius, Agrippa Postumus), which meant the end of the Octavii Rufi's male line.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ No ancient source uses a cognomen (surname). The surname Rufus had belonged to his ancestor, Gnaeus Octavius, quaestor circa 230 BC. It was occasionally used (but more often ignored) by his descendants.
  2. ^ CIL VI, 41023

Sources[edit]

  • Suetonius - The Twelve Caesars - Augustus vs. 1-8
  • Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor; by Anthony Everitt