This historical section is offered to allow those who have little knowledge of these topics to be better able to understand the tenor of the times in which the final book in the scriptures was distributed and how the early history of Rome applies and sets so seamlessly within and around it. I consider it to be of critical value to identifying the intent of the prophesies and many of the signs in Revelation.
As had been 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 BC44. Most modern historians do not regard Caesar as the first Emperor. Like it or not, the records indicate that he was crowned Imperator the year prior to his death, although his election was first downplayed as many others would also be in the future. To most Romans, being crowned Imperator amounted to Caesar 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. But that is exactly what happened. 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 short transitional period and for some time into the reign of Octavius. Caesar survived longer than some of his successors of whom you will soon read.
Following Caesar’s death, a period of civil war ensued interspersed with limited calms that continued until the ascension of Octavius. During his reign, the republican system was fully altered into a dictatorship as the right to elect senators and consuls was removed from citizens and supreme power was grated to the reigning emperor and thereby to the military. This gave Rome a long history and line of ruthless, vicious and self-serving rulers nearly all of whom had been or were members of the Legions. Many of the successors as emperor immediately began to use Caesar’s family name as a title (and this continued in later times and places where the name Caesar has been transliterated into other languages, such as Kaiser in German and Czar in Russian). The continued use of the name Caesar within Rome itself, ought to remind us of Julius Caesar’s importance as its first emperor. Thereby, I both offer and suggest, the record of the emperors should be taken exactly as they were listed by the community of Roman recorders. There would be no elections following Caesar’s ascension, with control passing to a succession of dictators with their political backers and under the Legion’s enforcement. Yet the appointment of Julius Caesar is not considered by modern scholars as the true starting point of the Empire, which is correct, for the right to vote had not then been fully removed from the citizens. The records still exist – if you should care to read them. Any good city library will have all of them available. The histories and writings of Cicero, Tacitus, Suetonius, Tertullian and Cassius Dio are the most telling.
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 Julius Caesar. Octavian was supposedly appointed as chosen successor by his adopted father and great granduncle prior to Caesar’s death. This troubled appointment was followed by periods of civil strife as some consuls and senators questioned the obviously weak line of succession. Octavian had been the leading member of the second and final Triumvirate along with Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.
In quick time the right to vote was suspended; and in the ensuing struggles for power, Lepidus was first defeated as were all others who stood in Augustus’ 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 Augustus, 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 Augustus received the news, he had Cleopatra’s son, 12-year-old Caesarian killed (father: Julius Caesar). This solidified his base and put an end to any continuing rivalries or potential claims to ascension, 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 following the death of Alexander.
Augustus consolidated political control between BC 27 and 31 and was granted or awarded each of the following titles by then powerless senate: Tribune, Proconsul, Pontiff, Imperator and Caesar (or Cesar). He was the first to be given the new title of Augustus which also implied deity. The notion of an emperor was still being publicly downplayed as the masses preferred the illusion that Rome was yet a republic and the Senate the continuing power. However, anyone that did not align with Octavius was quickly neutralized either through political maneuvering or by the military. The ascension of Octavian to Imperator dates to BC 27, when most historians assign the beginning of the Empire. Though now emperor and supreme dictator, he was not formally “awarded” the titles of Caesar and Augustus until BC 31, hence the dates listed by modern historians.
Once his political opponents had been neutralized, Augustus had no further loose ends to consider . 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. However, his reign was the longest and most peaceful of all the Roman emperors.
Jesus of Galilee, was born during the reign of Augustus (Luke 2:1). As noted, the year and date remain unknown. Among most modern scholars, the year of Jesus’ birth is generally listed as BC 4. We should be aware that no one except God Almighty knows exactly when Jesus was born; and we ought to leave it at that. However, Christ’s birth was not a random event at an accidental point in time. It occurred during the start of the Roman Empire, as that was the chosen point for the initiation of God’s plan for the Kingdom of Heaven, the Church of Christ – from the very beginning of time. So, these events are not coincidental. The two “Kingdoms,” God and Christ’s, and the Roman Empire of corruption and murderous immorality, are inalterably linked and at the same time highly contrasted. We might need to pay some attention to these details. It is a large part of what the Revelation is all about.
It was widely reported that Octavian was poisoned by his consort Livia, while he lay dying – to hasten his departure.