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Revelation: The Empire Begins

This historical section is offered to allow those who have little knowledge of this to be better able to understand the tenor of the times in which the final book in the scriptures was written and how the early history of Rome fits seamlessly within it. I consider it to be of critical value to identifying many of the signs in Revelation.

The Julians

As noted: The first titled emperor of Rome was Gaius Julius Caesar, who reigned from BC 48 up to his assassination on the fourteenth of March in 44. Most modern historians reject listing Caesar as the first Emperor. Like it or not, the records indicate that he was crowned Imperator the year prior to his death, though his election was downplayed as many others would be in the future. To most Romans being crowned Imperator amounted to seizing power as a dictator over the Tribunes who by appointment ran the state through the elected senate, and the Consuls who ran the military. This political situation contributed to the ill temper of those who had been Caesar’s early supporters and quickly caused his power base to erode in the final year of his life.

Rome remained a limited republic during this transitional period and for some time into the reign of Octavian. Julius Caesar survived longer than some of his successors of whom you will soon read. Following his death, a period of civil war ensued interspersed with limited calms that continued until the ascension of Octavian. This began a long history and line of ruthless, vicious and self-serving rulers nearly all of whom had been or were members of the Roman Legions. Many if not most of the successors as emperor employed Caesar’s family name as a title (this has continued in other times and places where the family name Caesar has been transliterated in other languages, as with Kaiser in German and into Russian as Czar). The continued use of the name Caesar within Rome itself, clearly identified Julius Caesar’s rank and importance as its first emperor. Therefore, I  offer and suggest that the record of the emperors should be taken exactly as they were listed by the early Roman recorders. There would be no elections following Caesar, with control under the hand of a succession of dictators and their political backers and henchmen. Yet the forced appointment of Julius Caesar is not considered by modern scholars as the true starting point of the Empire. I ask, if it waddles like a duck, has feathers, a bill and webbed feet — what is it? In my view this is a “blinding glimpse of the obvious,” often explained away or ignored to account for a detail, or when there is some other reason to begin or end somewhere else or with someone else, in favor of this theory or that or to devolve into other longer-term formulas. The records are still around – if you should like to “see” them. Any good city library will have most if not all available. The histories of Cicero, Tacitus and Dion Cassius are the most telling. My view is with the recorders: Gaius Julius Caesar was the first appointed Emperor of Rome. Though Rome was not fully formed in empire until the ascension of Octavian.

 Gaius Octavianus, commonly known as Octavius, Octavian, or as he preferred: Augustus, ruled from BC 31 to his death in 17 AD. He was the heir and the adopted great grandnephew of Gaius Julius Caesar. Octavian was appointed as chosen successor by his adopted father and great granduncle just prior to Caesar’s death. This troubled appointment was followed by periods of civil strife as some authorities and senators questioned the shaky line of succession. Octavian had been the leading member of the second and final Triumvirate along with Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.

During the years and in the ensuing struggles for power, Lepidus was first defeated as were all others who stood in Octavian’s way. As an example – Cleopatra, heir to the Ptolemy’s and the last Pharaoh of Egypt, along with her then current paramour, Marc Antony, failed in their attempt to defeat Octavian, hoping to seize the “throne of Rome” for themselves. They each committed suicide following Antony’s defeat in the Battle of Actium (BC 31). When Octavian heard the news, he had Cleopatra’s son, 12-year-old Caesarian killed (father: Julius Caesar). This solidified Octavian’s base and put an end to any continuing rivalries or potential claims to his being emperor coming through either the Ptolemaic or the Julian lines as all challengers, present or potential were now removed. The Ptolemy’s power base had dated back to the division of the Macedonian empire after the death of Alexander.

Octavian had no further loose ends to consider once his primary rivals were gone and his base had been secured. He was popular and considered the most benevolent Roman ruler, yet he was also astute and clever, a self-seeking conniving and murderous politician, as were most of the rest. Yet his reign was the longest and most peaceful of all the Roman emperors.

Octavian consolidated political control between 27 and 31 and was granted or appointed each of the following titles by the now powerless senate: Tribune, Proconsul, Pontiff, Imperator and Caesar (or Cesar). He was the first to be given the title of Augustus which also implied deity. The notion of an emperor was still publicly downplayed as the masses preferred the illusion that Rome was yet a republic and the Senate the continuing power. Anyone that did not align with Octavius was quickly neutralized either through political maneuvering or by the military. The ascension of Octavian to Augustus and Imperator dates to BC 27, when most historians assign the beginning of the Roman Empire (Which has been commented upon already; but also remains beyond my limited comprehension and seems little more than a point for debate). Though now emperor and supreme dictator, he was not “awarded” the titles of Caesar and Augustus until BC 31, hence the dates listed by the modern historians. The scholars concern themselves with the dealings in a little more than four years. It is fortunate that God has never worked according to our highly subjective rules.

Jesus of Galilee, The Christ, was born during the reign of Augustus (Luke 2:1). As noted, the year and date remain unknown. Among most scholars now, the year of Jesus’ birth is generally given as BC 4 or thereabout. We should be aware that no one except God Almighty knows exactly when Jesus was born; and we ought to leave it at that. We should recognize that Christ’s birth was not some random event at some accidental point in time. It occurred during the beginnings of the Roman Empire, as that was the chosen point for the initiation of God’s plan for the Kingdom of Heaven and the Church of Christ – from the beginning. This was not a coincidence. The two “Kingdoms:” God and Christ’s Kingdom of Heaven, and the Roman Empire of godless corruption and immorality, are inalterably linked and at the same time contrasted. God did not “throw a dart” to choose the time. We might need to pay some attention to the details. It is a large part of what the Revelation is all about, whether we pay any mind to the details or not. But, we should…

It was widely reported that Octavian was poisoned by his consort Livia, as he lay dying – to hasten his departure.

This historical section is offered to allow those who have little knowledge of this to be better able to understand the tenor of the times in which the final book in the scriptures was written and how the early history of Rome fits seamlessly within it. I consider it to be of critical value to identifying the signs in Revelation.