The Caesars: Might and Madness Head of Caesar statue in red and orange colors


Four Thursdays • 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. • Mackey Auditorium

September 21 • October 5 • November 16 • December 7

Instructor: Judge Luis Cardenas         Coordinator: Len Leventhal

Caesar’s Assassination and the Rise of Augustus

September 21 and October 5

We conclude the story of Julius Caesar with his final years and assassination on March 15, 44 B.C.

Gaius Octavian, also known by the honorific title Augustus, was born in 63 B.C. He was the grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, and to everyone’s surprise, he was named in Caesar’s will as his heir.

At age 18, Octavian inherited the daunting task of avenging the assassination of Caesar. His chief rival was Mark Antony, Caesar’s friend and top general. At first they united purposes in hunting down and executing the conspirators responsible for Caesar’s death. They both wanted to run the empire and to avoid civil war, so they divided the Roman world, with Antony taking the east, and Octavian remaining in the west. Antony replaces Caesar as the champion and lover of the irresistible Cleopatra. Sharing power was unworkable as there was no room in the Roman Empire for the egos of Antony and Octavian. In 31 B.C., Octavian’s admiral, Agrippa, defeated the combined naval forces of Antony and Cleopatra. Antony committed suicide and Cleopatra followed him in death a year later.

Augustus and the Pax Romana

November 16 and December 7

As the new sole ruler of the Roman world, Augustus, and his wife Livia, proved to be talented, energetic and skillful administrators. They created the Roman Peace (Pax Romana) and set up the constitutional system of imperial government that would last for 1500 years. During his long reign, the first emperor of the Roman Empire perfected the artifice of pretending he was Rome’s “first citizen” and not its monarch. The populace readily accepted the benefits of this charade as it brought peace and prosperity. The Senate grudgingly relinquished its cherished traditions and power because it had no choice. Augustus set about preserving his legacy with a grand building program, where he vowed to change Rome from a city of “brick” to “gold.” Far-reaching reforms reduced the corruption in government and increased the efficiency of the administrative process which reached the far corners of empire.