Art and Literature in Augustan Rome

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Art and Literature in Augustan Rome

The beginning of this time period comes with the death of Julius Caesar and the rise to power of his nephew, Octavius. He was in the Second Triumvirate that was formed to maintain order in Rome. Octavian, Marcus Lepidus, and Marc Antony ruled formally unlike the informal triumvirate of Julius Caesar. The triumvirate set out to execute members of the conspiracy against Julius Caesar. In 42 BC, Brutus and Cassius were finally defeated. In the following years the triumvirate diminished. In 36 BC, Lepidus retired. Marc Antony began to have affairs with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt. These affairs briefly came to a pause when Antony married Octavian’s sister Octavia. Marc Antony later returns to Egypt and marries Cleopatra. This causes Octavian and Antony to break out into war. He then takes his great-uncles name of Augustus and claims his leadership over Rome by defeating Mark Antony. Much art and literature was dedicated to the support of Augustus, which helped to bring together his empire. The Aeneid is an example of such propaganda in favor of Augustus, which people often find parallels between Aeneas and Augustus. In order for Augustus to maintain his newly gained power he uses such art and literature to influence his people. This form of media, which propaganda was a key part, plays an important role in his plan to maintain power.

Augustus, known first to history as Gaius Octavius, was born in 63 BC. His relation to Julius Caesar comes from his grandmother Julia, who was Caesar’s sister. His great-uncle encourages him, for he sees talent in him, and even puts him in his will as his successor, along with three quarters of his estate. In 44 BC Caesar is assassinated and Augustus heads to Rome to pay his respects and to take his throne. He has to battle against Mark Antony, who was one of Caesar’s most trusted lieutenants. After ultimately causing Antony and his second wife Cleopatra to commit suicide, Augustus returns to...
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