The future emperor Augustus was born into an equestrian family as Gaius Octavius at Rome on 23 September 63 BC. His father, Gaius Octavius, was the first in the family to become a senator, but died when Octavian was only four. It was his mother who had the more distinguished connection. She was the daughter of Julia, sister to Julius Caesar. He was of short stature, handsome and well proportioned and he possessed that commodity so rare in rulers - grace. Though he suffered from bad teeth and was generally of feeble health. His body was covered in spots and he had many birthmarks scattered over his chest and belly. As for his character it is said that he was cruel when young, but became mild later on. This, however, might just be because, as his position became more secure, the need for brutality became less. For he was still prepared to be ruthless when necessary. He was tolerant of criticism, possessed a good sense of humour, and had a particular fondness for playing dice, but often provided his guests with money to place bets.
Although unfaithful to his wife Livia Drusilla, he remained deeply devoted to her. His public moral attitudes were strict (he had been appointed pontifex (priest) at the age of fifteen or sixteen) and he exiled his daughter and his grand-daughter, both named Julia, for offending against these principles. Octavian served under Julius Caesar in the Spanish expedition of 46 BC despite his delicate health. And he was to take a senior military command in Caesar's planned Parthian expedition of 44 BC, although at the time being only 18 years old.
But Octavian was with his friends Marcus Agrippa and Marcus Salvidienus Rufus in Apollonia in Epirus completing his academic and military studies, when news reached him of Caesar's assassination.
At once he returned to Rome, learning on the way that Caesar had adopted him in his will. No doubt this only increased his desire to avenge Caesar's murder. Though when he arrived Octavian found power in the hands of Mark Antony and Aemilius Lepidus. They were urging compromise and amnesty. But Octavian refused to accept this attitude. With his determined stand he soon succeeded in winning over many of Caesar's supporters, including some of the legions.
Though he failed to persuade Marc Antony to hand over Caesar's assets and documents. Therefore Octavian was forced to distribute Caesar's legacies to the Roman public from whatever funds he was able to raise himself.
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