Octavian Augustus in Hispania (in its two thousandth anniversary)
Finally the hot summer has given way to sweeter autumn . The summer lasts June, the month of the goddess Juno, the homologous Roman of the Greek Hera, to September, the seventh month of the initial year of ten months. Between the initial month and the end of summer the months of July and August are threshed day to day. July first was called "Quinctilis", ie, the fifth month, and August "Sextilis", ie, the sixth month. The general or "imperator" Julius Caesar gave his name to the fifth and his nephew and first emperor Octavian Augustus gave the name to the sixth.
Octavian was born in September of the year 63 B.C. and he died in August 14 AD, (regardless of chronological accuracy by difficulty of the changes, adaptations and adjustments of the calendar, that his uncle Julius Caesar reformed until today). So just fulfilled 2,000 years and this may be a good opportunity to discuss any details.
Augustus was one of numerous honorary names that Caesar Octavius accumulated in his person. The word is related to "augeo" which means to increase, grow, gain strength and “augurium”, "omen", "observation and interpretation of the positive messages from the gods". So "august" comes to mean "consecrated by the auguries, with favorable omens, holy, venerable, the chosen or favored by divinity. " Even today in Italian the word “auguri” is used to express "best wishes" to someone. Until Octavius, the term "augustus" was applied only to things and not to people.
The poet Ovid tells us about the meaning of the term. By chanting the festival and ceremonies of January 13 dedicated to Augustus, tells us in his Fasti 1. 607 et seq.
Yet these are human honours bestowed on all.
Augustus alone has a name that ranks with great Jove.
Sacred things are called august by the senators,
And so are temples duly dedicated by priestly hands.
From the same root comes the word augury,
And Jupiter augments things by his power.
May he augment our leader’s empire and his years,
And may the oak-leaf crown protect his doors.
By the god’s auspices, may the father’s omens
Attend the heir of so great a name, when he rules the world.
(Translated by A. S. Kline)
sed tamen humanis celebrantur honoribus omnes:
hic socium summo cum Iove nomen habet,
sancta vocant augusta patres, augusta vocantur
templa sacerdotum rite dicata manu;
huius et augurium dependet origine verbi,
et quodcumque sua Iuppiter auget ope.
augeat imperium nostri ducis, augeat annos,
protegat et vestras querna corona fores,
auspicibusque deis tanti cognominis heres
omine suscipiat, quo pater, orbis onus
According to sources, at least the ones I know, Augustus was three times in Hispania and from the three there are some relevant facts and anecdotes.
The first trip took place in the year 45 BC, when he was just 18. He must have traveled before with his uncle, but illness prevented him from walking. So he came alone without company to be in Tarraco with Julius Caesar. The trip was wrecked to when he arrived, his uncle was not there, so he must to march through hostile enemy territory to Andalusia where he was fighting in the civil war against Pompey's sons.
Nicholas of Damascus tell that in his Life of Augustus, FGrH F 127, ... (10-11)
(10)… Many were eager to accompany him on account of his great promise but he rejected them all, even his mother herself, and selecting the speediest and strongest of his servants he hastened on his journey and with incredible dispatch he covered the long road and approached Caesar, who had already completed the whole war in the space of seven months.
11) When Octavius reached Tarraco it was hard to believe that he had managed to arrive in so great a tumult of war. Not finding Caesar there, he had to endure more trouble and danger. He caught up with Caesar in Spain near the city of Calpia. Caesar embraced him as a son and welcomed him, for he had left him at home, ill, and he now unexpectedly saw him safe from both enemies and brigands. In fact, he did not let him go from him, but he kept him at his own quarters and mess. He commended his zeal and intelligence, inasmuch as he was the first of those who had set out from Rome to arrive. And he made the point of asking him in conversation, for he was anxious to make a trial of his understanding; and finding that he was sagacious, intelligent, and concise in his replies and that he always answered to the point, his esteem and affection for him increased. After this they had to sail for Carthago Nova, and arrangements were made whereby Octavius embarked in the same boat as Caesar, with five slaves, but, out of affection, he took three of his companions aboard in addition to the slaves, though he feared that Caesar would be angry when he found this out. However, the reverse was the case, for Caesar was pleased in that Octavius was fond of his comrades and he commended him because he always liked to have present with him men who were observant and who tried to attain to excellence; and because he was already giving no little thought to gaining a good reputation at home. (Translated by Clayton M. Hall)
The speed and courage with which the young Octavius came and the common sense to responsibility with which he performed during the stay in Hispania impressed favorably Julius Caesar, who probably began to think on him as his heir, as will be found in the opening of his will that the priestess Vestal Maxima had guarded.
This information is also offered by Suetonius in his Life of Augustus VIII:
Upon his uncle's expedition to Spain against the sons of Pompey, he was followed by his nephew, although he was scarcely recovered from a dangerous sickness; and after being shipwrecked at sea, and travelling with very few attendants through roads that were infested with the enemy, he at last came up with him. This activity gave great satisfaction to his uncle, who soon conceived an increasing affection for him, on account of such indications of character. (Translated by Alexander Thomson, Ed.)
profectum mox auunculum in Hispanias aduersus Cn. Pompei liberos uixdum firmus a graui ualitudine per infestas hostibus uias paucissimis comitibus naufragio etiam facto subsecutus, magno opere demeruit, approbata cito etiam morum indole super itineris industriam.
And Veleius Patérculus, 2.59.3 reminds us how his uncle Caesar took him to Hispania at eighteen and kept it with him, even by mounting his chariot.
Though he had been reared in the house of his stepfather, Philippus, Gaius Caesar, his great-uncle, loved this boy as his own son. At the age of eighteen Octavius followed Caesar to Spain in his campaign there, and Caesar kept him with him thereafter as his p179companion, allowing him to share the same roof and ride in the same carriage, and though he was still a boy, honoured him with the pontificate. (Translated by Frederick W. Shipley, in the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1924)
Quem C. Caesar, maior eius avunculus, educatum apud Philippum vitricum dilexit ut suum, natumque annos duodeviginti Hispaniensis militiae adsecutum se postea comitem habuit, numquam aut alio usum hospitio quam suo aut alio vectum vehiculo, pontificatusque sacerdotio puerum honoravit.
The second trip was made between 27 and 24 BC and he went to Spain to direct personally the war against the Cantabrian and Asturian. In 26 he retired ill himself to Tarraco , having suffered before a mishap of enormous importance to a Roman citizen.
During a night march, (Augustus preferred to travel at night) it is triggered a major storm and one lightning, thrown undoubtedly by the mighty Jupiter, killed one of the bearers of his litter, leaving perhaps unconscious or seriously damaged Octavius himself . This lightning left him forever aftermath , apparently a kind of trembling that occasionally was present on him.
Suetonius tells us how Octavius dedicated a temple to Iuppiter Tonans, Jupiter the Thunderer on the Capitol for having rid of this lightning. Thunderer is precisely the adjective expressing the superstitious terror that Iuppiter makes to Roman citizen with his thunder and lightning. Of all the epithets given to Jupiter, none conveyed more terror to superstitious minds than that of the Thunderer.
In the Life of Augustus, 29, 3
He dedicated the temple to Jupiter Tonans in acknowledgment of his escape from a great danger in his Cantabrian expedition; when, as he was travelling in the night, his litter was struck by lightning, which killed the slave who carried a torch before him. (Translated by Alexander Thomson, Ed.)
Tonanti Iovi aedem consecravit liberatus periculo,cum expeditione Cantabrica per nocturnum iter lecticam eius fulgur praestrinxisset servumque praelucentem exanimasset.
Suetonius refers to disease that pushed him to Tarraco, perhaps a result of the lightning that almost killed him. Life of Augustus, 81, 1:
During the whole course of his life, he suffered, at times, dangerous fits of sickness, especially after the conquest of Cantabria; when his liver being injured by a defluxion upon it, he was reduced to such a condition, that he was obliged to undergo a desperate and doubtful method of cure: for warm applications having no effect, Antonius Musa1 directed the use of those which were cold. (Translated by Alexander Thomson, Ed.)
Graues et periculosas ualitudines per omnem uitam aliquot expertus est; praecipue Cantabria domita, cum etiam destillationibus iocinere uitiato ad desperationem redactus contrariam et ancipitem rationem medendi necessario subiit: quia calida fomenta non proderant, frigidis curari coactus auctore Antonio Musa
Dio Cassius in History of Rome in 53, 25 reminds us of the coming of Augustus from Gaul to Spain "to restore order" in 27 BC and how he personally directed the war:
Augustus was planning an expedition into Britain, since the people there would not come to terms, but he was detained by the revolt of the Salassi and by the hostility of the Cantabri and Astures. The former dwell at the foot of the Alps, as I have stated, whereas both the other tribes occupy the strongest part of the Pyrenees on the side of Spain, together with the plain which lies below.
Augustus himself waged war upon the Astures and upon the Cantabri at one and the same time. But these peoples would neither yield to him, because they were confident on account of their strongholds, nor would they come to close quarters, owing to their inferior numbers and the circumstance that most of them were javelin-throwers, and, besides, they kept causing him a great deal of annoyance, always forestalling him by seizing the higher ground whenever a manoeuvre was attempted, and lying in ambush for him in the valleys and woods. Accordingly Augustus found himself in very great embarrassment, and having fallen ill from over-exertion and anxiety, he retired to Tarraco and there remained in poor health. Meanwhile Gaius Antistius fought against them and accomplished a good deal, not because he was a better general than Augustus, but because the barbarians felt contempt for him and so joined battle with the Romans and were defeated. In this way he captured a few places, and afterwards Titus Carisius took Lancia, the principal fortress of the Astures, after it had been abandoned, and also won over many other places. (Translation by Earnest Cary).
Other historians such as Florus, in his Epitome Rerum Romanorum 2,33,12, 46 ff. and Orosius in his "Historiae adversus paganos" 6, 20-21 also remind the Cantabrian Wars and how after they are finished, as it is determined by Augustus in 24, but they were extended until 19 BC, the doors of temple of Janus in Rome were closed after two hundred years, because they must to remain open during wartime. Thus began the "peace of Augustus" (pax augusta) ..
Precisely during this trip Dio Cassius tells us how 25 BC Augustus disbanded veterans soldiers and he founded Augusta Emerita, the modern city of Mérida.
Dio Cassius 53, 26, 1
26 1 Upon the conclusion of this war Augustus discharged the more aged of his soldiers and allowed them to found a city in Lusitania, called Augusta Emerita. For those who were still of military age he arranged some exhibitions in the very camps, under the direction of Tiberius and Marcellus, since they were aediles. (Translation by Earnest Cary).
The third trip took place between 16 and 13 BC. First he went to Gaul and Hispania them from there.
In Narbonne, in February of the year 15 B.C. Augustus issued edicts referred to "Paemeiobrigenses" and "Aiiobrigiaecini", both in the Bierzo, which appear in the" tessera Paemeiobrigensis "or Edict of the Bierzo. They rewarded people who remained faithful in the Cantabrian wars. No doubt these decrees and many other measures concerning the promotion of the status of many cities in Hispania in recent years are related to the fact Augustus came to Spain for the third time, although sources does not prove it directly.
Just after return to Rome, the Senate decided to build an altar to peace, the famous Ara Pacis, which seems to refer Dio Cassius in his History of Rome, 54, 25:
25 1 Now when Augustus had finished all the business which occupied him in the several provinces of Gaul, of Germany and of Spain, having spent large sums from others, having bestowed freedom and citizenship upon some and taken them away from others, he left Drusus in Germany and returned to Rome himself in the consulship of Tiberius and Quintilius Varus. 2 Now it chanced that the news of his coming reached the city during those days when Cornelius Balbus was celebrating with spectacles the dedication of theatre which is even to day called by his name; and Balbus accordingly began to put on airs, as if it were he himself that was going to bring Augustus back, — although he was unable even to enter his theatre, except by boat, on account of the flood of water caused by the Tiber, which had overflowed its banks, — and Tiberius put the vote to him first, in honour of his building the theatre. 3 For the senate convened, and among its other decrees voted to place an altar in the senate-chamber itself, to commemorate the return of Augustus, and also voted that those who approached him as suppliants while he was inside the pomerium should not be punished. (Translation by Earnest Cary).
Augustus himself refers to it in his Res Gestae divi Augusti (Monumnetum Ancyranum), 12:
When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul, after having successful operations in those provinces when Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius were consuls, the senate voted for my return the consecration of the altar to Pax Augusta in the Campus Martius, and on this altar it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins to offer annual sacrifices.
Cum ex Hispania Gallaque, rebus in iis provincis prospere gestis, Romam redi Ti. Nerone P. Quintilio consulibus, aram Pacis Augustae senatus pro reditu meo consacrandam censuit ad campum Martium, in qua magistratus et sacerdotes et virgines Vestales anniversarium sacrificium facere iussit.
Ovid also refers to the foundation of the Ara Pacis: Fasti 1 709 ss. He refers to the “Fasti” of the day January 30. These final verses of the book are a celebration of peace, which I would play:
My song has led to the altar of Peace itself.
This day is the second from the month’s end.
Come, Peace, your graceful tresses wreathed
With laurel of Actium: stay gently in this world.
While we lack enemies, or cause for triumphs:
You’ll be a greater glory to our leaders than war.
May the soldier be armed to defend against arms,
And the trumpet blare only for processions.
May the world far and near fear the sons of Aeneas,
And let any land that feared Rome too little, love her.
Priests, add incense to the peaceful flames,
Let a shining sacrifice fall, brow wet with wine,
And ask the gods who favour pious prayer
That the house that brings peace, may so endure.
(Translated by A. S. Kline)
Ipsum nos carmen deduxit Pacis ad aram.
haec erit a mensis fine secunda dies.
frondibus Actiacis comptos redimita capillos,
Pax, ades et toto mitis in orbe mane.
dum desint hostes, desit quoque causa triumphi:
tu ducibus bello gloria maior eris.
sola gerat miles, quibus arma coerceat, arma,
canteturque fera nil nisi pompa tuba.
horreat Aeneadas et primus et ultimus orbis:
si qua parum Romam terra timebat, amet.
tura, sacerdotes, pacalibus addite flammis,
albaque percussa victima fronte cadat,
utque domus, quae praestat eam, cum pace perennet
ad pia propensos vota rogate deos.
This phrase, “domus utque, quae praestat pacem, cum pace perennet”, could be the old version of the maxim: "If you want peace, work for peace."