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p180 Augustus

Unsigned article on p180 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

AUGUSTUS, a name bestowed upon Octavianus in B.C. 27, by the senate and the Roman people. It was a word used in connection with religion, and designated a person as sacred and worthy of worship; hence the Greek writers translate it by Σεβαστός (Dion Cass. LIII.1618; Suet. Aug. 7; Vell. Pat. II.91; Flor. IV.12; Oros. VI.20; Censorin. 22; Ov. Fast. I.607). It was not a title indicative of power, but simply a surname; and is hence called by Suetonius (Tib. 26) nomen hereditarium. It was, however, borne not only by Tiberius and the other emperors connected with the family of Augustus, but was likewise adopted by all succeeding emperors, as if descended, either by birth or adoption, from the first emperor of the Roman world (in ejus nomen velut quadam adoptione aut jure hereditario succedere, Lamprid. Alex. Sever. 10). The name of Augusta was frequently bestowed upon females of the imperial family, the first instance of which occurs in the case of Livia, who received this title upon her adoption into the Julia gens on the death of her husband Octavianus (Tac. Ann. I.8); but Augustus belonged exclusively to the reigning emperor till towards the end of the second century of the Christian aera, when M. Aurelius and L. Verus both received this surname (Spartian. Ael. Verus, 5, M. Ant. Phil. 7). From this time we frequently find two or even a greater number of Augusti; and though in that and in all similar cases the persons honoured with the title were regarded as participators of the imperial power, still the one who received the title first was looked upon as the head of the empire. When there were two Augusti we find on coins and inscriptions Avgg, and when three Avggg. From the time of Probus the title became perpetuus Augustus, and from Philippus or Claudius Gothicus semper Augustus, the latter of which titles was borne by the so‑called Roman emperors in Germany (Eckhel, vol. VIII p354, &c.). [Caesar.]


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