Augustan Chronology

The chronology offered here is not a replacement for a narrative biography of Augustus. It is intended to aid the reader trying to see the big picture and keep track of Augustan dates while studying the first emperor's life. For that reason, and because I sought to preserve visual simplicity, I have streamlined the data in the entries and extensively pipelinked to detailed explanations.

As an example of what can be seen in such a chronological outline, consider Augustus' strategies for holding power. He begins with triumviral power (effectively dictatorial, though shared) for 10 years (43-33). He gets through 32 by whipping the people up into a war-posture against Antony and Cleopatra and driving out Antony's friends, including both consuls. In 31 he begins an unbroken series of 9 consulships, granting his consular colleague equal status only in 28--when his colleague was his right-hand man Agrippa.

Though Augustus did not hold the consulship for the entirety of every year, he was effectively monopolizing 50% of the chief perks of his "restored" republican government, and historians have pointed to the coincidence of a series of conspiracies (as the Augustan press called them) and a lightening of his grip in the so-called "second settlement" of 23. In that year, he ceased holding the consulship (except for ceremonial purposes) and contented himself with more subtle (but in reality much stronger) powers.


63.     23 September. Born Gaius Octavius.
59.     Father dies. Taken into household of L. Marcius Philippus, cos. 56.
51.     Gives funeral oration for his maternal grandmother, Caesar's sister.
47.     Made pontifex under Caesar.
45.     In Spain with Caesar; made patrician;
          13 September Caesar makes his will adopting Octavius.
44.     Octavius becomes Caesar's principal heir after the Ides. Adopts name C. Iulius Caesar Octavianus.
43.     7 January. Octavian given praetorian imperium.
          19. August. Elected consul after marching on Rome. Soon thereafter his adoption formalized.
          27 November. Lex Titia establishes triumvirate. Proscriptions get underway.
          7 December. Cicero killed.
42.     1 January. Caesar deified. Octavian becomes C. Iulius divi f. Caesar Octavianus, 'son of the god'.
          October-November. Battles at Philippi. Cassius, then Brutus kill themselves.
40.     Late winter. Perusia falls ending resistance of Lucius Antonius and Fulvia. Octavian siezes Gaul.
          Fall. Antony returns to Italy. Peace of Brundisium. Antony marries Octavia.
39.     Peace with Sextus Pompey. Return of exiles.
          Octavian divorces Scribonia, marries Livia.
          Julia, daughter of Octavian and Scribonia, born.
38.     War with Sextus Pompey. By now, Octavian unofficially using name 'Imperator'.
          31 December. Triumviral powers nominally lapse.
37.     Antony returns again.
          Peace of Tarentum.
          Triumvirate renewed for 5 years, until 31 December 33.
          Agrippa consul I.
36.     Sextus Pompey and Lepidus eliminated.
          Octavian possibly receives tribunician sacrosanctitas.
          Temple of Apollo on Palatine begun.
33.     Octavian consul II.
          Agrippa aedile: building projects, refurbishing aqueducts of Rome, builds Aqua Julia.
          31 December. End of triumvirate.
32.     Antony's friends (including both consuls) driven from Rome.
          Antony's will published.
          'All Italy' (tota Italia) swears an oath of allegiance to Octavian.
          Antony divorces Octavia.
31.     Octavian consul III.
          2 September. Battle of Actium. Antony loses balance of fleet, flees with Cleopatra to Egypt.
30.     Octavian consul IV.
          August. Egypt falls. Antony, Cleopatra commit suicide. C. Cornelius Gallus equestrian prefect.
29.     Octavian consul V.
          April. C. Cornelius Gallus erects his tablet commemorating his achievements in Egypt.
          August. Octavian's triple triumph over Illyricum, Actium, Egypt.
          Triple triumphal arch of Octavian built. Construction of mausoleum begun this or next year.
28.     Octavian consul VI, Agrippa consul II.
          Nominal equality given to Octavian's consular colleague.
          Amnesty granted. All illegal orders given during triumvirate rescinded.
          9 October. Temple of Palatine Apollo dedicated.
          M. Licinius Crassus claims spolia opima for defeating an enemy king in single combat. Claim disallowed.
27.     Octavian consul VII, Agrippa consul III.
          13 January. First settlement. Octavian gains huge province for 10 years, "restores republic".
          16 January. Given title AUGUSTUS. Shield of the virtues, laurel wreaths, civic crown awarded.
          Pantheon of Agrippa begun this year or next.
26.     Augustus consul VIII.
          Augustus departs for western provinces. Tour of Gaul, then wars in Spain, down to 24.
          Agrippa dedicates refurbished Saepta Iulia.
25.     Augustus consul IX.
          Julia, daughter of Augustus, married to M. Claudius Marcellus.
24.     Augustus consul X.
          Aug. returns to Rome.
23.     Augustus consul XI.
          So-called "second settlement".
          Augustus receives tribunician power (tribunicia potestas), which will be renewed at yearly intervals until his death.
          Given imperium maius (supreme command) over all provinces, though the division between senatorial and imperial provinces remains intact.
          Augustus resigns consulship, 1 July. Becomes seriously ill.
          Conspiracy of Fannius Caepio and Varro Murena.
          Late in year: Marcellus dies.
22.     Problems with the food supply. Augustus offered a dictatorship. Settles for cura annonae, "oversight of the grain supply".
          Augustus departs for the east.
21.     Augustus in east. People elect only one consul, leaving a place for Augustus. Agrippa persuades them to elect another.
          Agrippa marries Julia.
20.     Augustus in east: carries out negotiations with Parthians.
          Gaius Caesar, son of Agrippa and Julia born.
19.     People again leave the consulship open for Augustus: he refuses.
          Augustus returns from east with lost standards and prisoners from Crassus' and Antony's expeditions.
          Augustus' Parthian arch built. Standards deposited in Forum of Augustus.
          Augustus granted consular insignia and right to sit between consuls as though a third colleague.
          Conspiracy of Egnatius Rufus.
          Agrippa completes Aqua Virgo and his baths.
          The poet Vergil dies, asking that his Aeneid, 99 % complete at his death, be burned: it is not, at Augustus' orders.
18.     Augustus’ provincial imperium renewed for five years.
          Agrippa made Augustus' colleague in imperium and tribunician power for five years.
          Probable date of:
               lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus (Augustan marriage ordinances);
               lex Iulia de adulteriis coercendis (anti-adultery legislation);
17.     Secular games celebrating new age.
           Lucius Caesar, son of Agrippa and Julia born.
           Gaius and Lucius Caesar adopted by Augustus.
16.     Augustus departs for another tour of the provinces.
13.     Agrippa made colleague in imperium and tribunician power for another 5 years.
           4 July: Ara Pacis Augustae vowed.
12.     Agrippa dies. Lepidus the triumvir dies, and Augustus becomes pontifex maximus.
11.     Tiberius marries Julia.
9.       30 January: Ara Pacis dedicated.
6.       Tiberius made colleague in tribunician power and imperium for 5 years.
          Tiberius goes into voluntary exile in Rhodes because Gaius and Lucius are preferred by Augustus.
5.       Augustus consul XII to introduce Gaius Caesar to public life.
2.       Augustus consul XIII to introduce Lucius Caesar to public life.
          Augustus named Pater Patriae ("father of the fatherland", or "father of his country").
          Augustus dedicates his Forum with the temple of Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger).
          Julia implicated in a far-reaching adultery scandal. Banished to the island of Pandateria.


2.       Tiberius returns from Rhodes.
          Lucius Caesar dies.
4.       Gaius Caesar dies.
          Augustus adopts Tiberius. Tiberius made colleague in tribunician power.
6.       Pannonian revolt.
9.       P. Quinctilius Varus defeated in Germany with loss of three legions.
14.     19 August. Death of Augustus. Publication of the Res Gestae.

An E2 quest could profitably be run to fill in the many gaps concerning Augustus.