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 the signs in Revelation.

The Julian’s
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. Many 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. His election was downplayed as 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 many 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. 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, such as in Germany with Kaiser, and Czar in Russian). The continued use of the name Caesar by many of the emperors, clearly identifies Julius Caesar’s rank and importance as its first emperor. Therefore, I suggest that the record of the emperors should be taken exactly as they were listed by the early Roman recorders. This is one of those “blinding glimpses of the obvious,” that is often explained away or ignored when there is some other reason to begin or end somewhere else or with someone else, in favor of this theory or that one, 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.

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 last 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 of Ptolemy and the last Pharaoh of Egypt, along with her then current paramour, Marcus Antonius, failed in their attempt to defeat Octavian, hoping to seize power for themselves. They committed suicide following Antony’s defeat in the naval Battle of Actium (BC 31). When Octavian heard the news, he had Cleopatra’s son, 12-year-old Caesarian (father: Julius Caesar), murdered. 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 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 (why is 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. The scholars wrangle over four years. It is unfortunate that God has never worked according to our movable rules.

Jesus of Galilee, the Anointed One: 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 knows exactly when Jesus was born and we ought to leave it at that.

It was widely reported that Octavian was poisoned by his consort Livia.