By Gregory Aldrete, Ph.D., university of Wisconsin, eco-friendly Bay

How go the Roman realm end up with so plenty of maniacal leaders? The price lies in the actions of Rome’s very an initial emperor, Augustus, and the precedent he developed for how emperors were selected.

You are watching: When augustus died, who chose his successor?

*
(Image: Cris Foto/Shutterstock)

Augustus (63 B.C.-14 A.D.) brilliantly thrived in figuring out exactly how to single-handedly rule Rome there is no overtly seeming choose a king. Regardless of this, his reign was marked by numerous other spectacular achievements.

Augustus carried peace and stability to the Roman civilization after one era that chaos and civil war. The patronized art and also artists such together Virgil and also Ovid, secured the borders and reformed the army, and reorganized roman society, passing numerous laws intended to gain back morality. He generally rebuilt the city of Rome, in his own words “inheriting a city that brick, however leaving one built of marble.” Augustus came to be the inspiration and model for succeeding leaders.

However, there to be one significant flaw in his settlement of the empire: the problem of succession.

This is a transcript indigenous the video collection The roman inn Empire: from Augustus come the autumn of Rome. Watch it now, Wondrium.

The concern of Succession

Since there to be no official position of emperor, there to be nothing concrete to move to the next person. Even over the inquiry of just how to happen on the empire, there was the in addition vexing trouble of how to pick the best-qualified ruler.

What was the ideal technique for selecting the following emperor? For far better or worse, Augustus cleared up on the principle of heredity. The following emperor would certainly be the nearest masculine blood family member to the ahead one.

Augustus’s choice of heredity together the mechanism for succession was somewhat curious as he had no close masculine relatives. He had actually no sons from any of his three marriages, nor did that have any type of brothers. What he had actually to work-related with were three women: his sister, Octavia; his daughter, Julia; and also his 3rd wife, Livia.

Learn an ext about Marcus Aurelius and Rome’s various other “good emperors”

Promising Heirs: Marcellus andAgrippa

Augustus looked an initial to his sister Octavia, who had a promise heir in she teenage son, Marcellus. Come solidify Marcellus as his heir, Augustus compelled his 14-year-old daughter Julia to marry Marcellus in 25 B.C. Augustus then started grooming Marcellus to take over, appointing him—despite his youth—to several federal government posts, so the he would acquire experience and respect together a leader.

Marcellus was bright and popular, and his future seemed promising. 2 years later, however, Marcellus caught an illness, and unexpectedly died when the was simply 19 years old.


Marcus Vipsaniuns Agrippa to be the second heir come Augustus. (Image: http://www.aeria.phil.uni-erlangen.de/Public domain)

Augustus next focused his fist on his loyal friend and general, Agrippa, who had actually played a crucial role in Augustus’s climb to power and also had properly served as his second-in-command. Eighteen-year-old Julia to be compelled come marry 43-year-old Agrippa, making the basic Augustus’s heir.

Even though the two males were the very same age, anyone assumed that Agrippa would outlive the existing emperor. Augustus had constantly been sickly, conversely, Agrippa had a robust constitution. Agrippa was extremely competent, very experienced, and widely respected.

Everything once again appeared fine—until Agrippa unexpectedly passed away in 12 B.C.

Learn an ext about how Emperor Augustus offered art together propaganda

Adopted Sons: Gaius and also Lucius


Gaius Caesar (Image: HOWI – Horsch, Willy – roman inn Germanic Museum/Public domain)

All was not lost, however, since the union that Agrippa and Julia had created two sons, Gaius and also Lucius.

Augustus was really fond of these grandsons. He pushed the Senate to provide them particularly honors. The guys were featured ~ above coins, touted as the “young principes,” and also given important military and political posts. Gaius to be appointed come the consulship, the highest office in the government, in ~ the tender age of 20.

To make the sequence even clearer, Augustus adopted Gaius and also Lucius as his own. Despite their privileged upbringing, both boys appeared stable and promising.

In 2 A.D., when en path to Spain come gain additional military experience, Lucius dropped ill and died in ~ the period of 19. There to be still his brother, Gaius, that had currently served in countless military and government posts. However, simply 18 month later, Gaius to be slightly hurt in a skirmish in Armenia. Though not serious, the injury did no heal properly. Gaius dropped ill and shortly thereafter, died in 4 A.D. In ~ the age of 23 years old.

Learn much more about Emperor Constantine’s motivations because that converting come Christianity

Choosing Tiberius

Augustus had actually to start again and select another heir. By now it to be an problem of part urgency because Augustus himself was 66 years old and also had never been an especially healthy.

All do the efforts by Augustus to discover an heir had thus much focused top top his family, the Julian family. Now, he had actually run the end of close male Julians. The only remaining male even remotely associated to Augustus to be his stepson native Livia: Tiberius Claudius Nero.


Tiberius Claudius Nero was the embraced heir that Augustus indigenous the Claudian family. (Image: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek,Copenhagen /Public domain)

After the fatality of Agrippa, Augustus forced Tiberius to divorce his mam Vipsania, Agrippa’s daughter, whom he loved, come marry the widowed Julia. The hapless Julia was additionally less 보다 thrilled with this arrangement. Augustus disliked Tiberius, yet he now had actually little an option but to embrace Tiberius together his son and promote him together heir come the throne.

Resentful of gift repeatedly used as a dynastic pawn, Julia sought happiness by having numerous affairs. This enraged the image-conscious Augustus since her habits undermined his desire to existing his own family members as a model of propriety. He responded by banishing his daughter come a tiny island much less than a square mile in area.

By marrying Julia, Tiberius came to be at the exact same time Augustus’s boy by adoption, his stepson by marriage, and his son-in-law by marriage. It was additionally a union in between stepsiblings. By this convoluted path, Augustus finished up cultivating a member of the Claudian family, rather than the Julian one, as his heir.

Learn an ext about exactly how Diocletian drove earlier the barbarians and stabilized the faltering Empire

Augustus to adjust a Precedent

Throughout all of this, Augustus steadfastly persisted in basing the succession on the principle of heredity. Thus, he collection the precedent for just how future emperors would be chosen. They would be the nearest male blood relative, one more characteristic that a monarchy.

Augustus surprised anyone by life a lengthy time. The finally died in 14 A.D. The natural reasons at the ripe period of 75.

The moment of Augustus’s death was perhaps the ideal opportunity to reclaim the roman inn Republic. However, Augustus had actually ruled so lengthy that nobody was left lively who can remember the old Republic.

The sheer size of Augustus’s reign is one of the key reasons why the system he set up took organize so strongly and became the model for future rulers that Rome.

Common Questions about Roman Emperor Augustus


Q: just how did Augustus come to be the an initial Roman Emperor?

Augustus came to be the an initial Roman Emperor after beating Antony and Cleopatra in the fight of Actium. Together he to be heir come Julius Caesar, he had actually a claim.

See more: Does Nf3 Have A Dipole Moment, Does Nf3 Have A Permanent Dipole Moment


Q: walk Augustus make any significant contributions to the roman inn Empire?

Augustus’ best contributions to be to hold together the countries of Rome under Pax Romana, finishing the civil wars, and to create civil services such together fire fighting and police jobs easily accessible to any type of citizen who could do them. That made roads and also established a stand army.


Q: who was Augustus’ heir?

Augustus insisted on first male heirs as followers to Emperorship. He can find no an initial males in the Julius family and so instead chose his stepson Tiberius.


This write-up was updated on November 26, 2019

Keep ReadingThe duty of women in old Rome—Piecing together A historic PictureThe make of Constantinople: Constantine’s “New Rome”Virgil and also Ovid: roman inn Poetry in the golden age of Rome