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VI. The Identification of Augustus with Romulus—Quirinus



In this paper I wish to give the results of an investigation which had as its object the collection and study of the evidence for the identification of the emperor Augustus with the deified Romulus. Let me first say a word about the cult of the founder of a city in the Hellenistic kingdoms.

The cult of the йрws ктiστηs was a definite part of the religious system of the east from the time of Alexander. That monarch was the deified founder of Alexandria, Ptolemy I of Ptolemais, Seleucus I of Seleucia, and probably Antiochus, the father of Seleucus, of Antioch. The elaborate development of the cult of the founder of a city shows that the Hellenistic rulers considered it of great political importance.

Rome, with its conquest of these eastern kingdoms, was likewise faced with the problems with which the Ptolemies and the other houses which ruled the divided empire of Alexander had to cope, and it seems that Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula desired to pose as second founders of Rome and that they were compared to Romulus by flatterers and admirers. In an identification with the founder of the state there appear to be two outstanding advantages, (a) an authorization, divine in character, for the control of the state, and (b) the opportunity of deification for services to the city and empire. I shall first deal very briefly with the connection between Julius Caesar and Romulus.

Julius Caesar was without doubt planning a world empire, a Graeco-Roman kingdom on the Hellenistic plan,2 but at the same time he allowed or encouraged a certain Roman 1 E. Kornemann, "Zur Geschichte der antiken Herrscherkulte," Klio, 1 (1902), 69.

2 Cf. E. Schwartz, "Berichte üb. d. Catilinarische Verschwörung," Hermes, XXXII (1897), 573; Pauly-Wissowa, Supplementband iv (1924), 816.

coloring for his religious policy. Let us suppose that, like the Hellenistic kings, he wished to be identified in the minds of his western subjects with some Roman demigod who would correspond to the eastern Dionysus, Castor, Pollux, or Heracles, and who, like these, had risen from the ranks of men by his efforts in behalf of mankind. There was among the Roman divinities but one who would suit his purpose, and that one was Quirinus, the deified Romulus.

Now Caesar adopted the same manner of dress to which Romulus had been accustomed,3 and his statue bearing the inscription DEO INVICTO was set up in the temple of Quirinus. The erection and inscription of this statue seem to have made a considerable impression on Cicero, for in a letter to Atticus he makes the bitter remark: De Caesare vicino scripseram ad te, quia cognoram ex tuis litteris. Eum σúvvaov Quirini malo quam Salutis; 5 and again he writes to Atticus, who had a house on the Quirinal: Domum tuam pluris video futuram vicino Caesare. Also when he has been considering the writing of a letter to Caesar he asks Atticus: Quid? tu hunc de pompa, Quirini contubernalem, his nostris moderatis espistolis laetaturum putas? Doubtless this placing of Caesar's statue in the temple of Quirinus was carried out as Drumann says, "um ihn auch dadurch als den zweiten Gründer der Stadt zu ehren.” 8


Dio informs us that because the news of Caesar's victory in Spain arrived the day before the Parilia, this festival was celebrated in honor of the news of the victory, and not because it was the birthday of the city. It seems possible that this


3 Plut. Rom. 26, 2; Dio C. XLIV, 6 and XLIII, 43, 2; Serv. ad Aen. vII, 612; Zonaras, 7, 8. Cf. Pauly-Wissowa, x, 250.

4 Dio C. XLIII, 45, 3; Val. Max. 1, 6, 13.

5 Cic. Att. XII, 45, 3. Cf. Holmes, The Roman Republic and the Founder of

the Empire, Oxford, 1923, III, p. 316.

6 Cic. Att. XII, 47, 3.

7 Cic. Att. XIII, 28, 3.

8 Drumann, Geschichte Roms, Leipzig, 1906, III, p. 581.

9 Dio C. XLIII, 42, 3. Cf. Heinen, "Zur Begründung des römischen Kaiserkultes," Klio, XI (1911), 131.

act connected Caesar with Romulus and tended to cause the populace to consider him as a second founder and father of the city. As a parallel (in some respects, at least) there is found in Suetonius, Calig. 16, 4, the following statement: decretum autem ut dies quo cepisset imperium Parilia vocaretur, velut argumentum rursus conditae urbis.


Indeed the title pater patriae was actually given to Julius,1 and after his death his statue was set on the rostrum with the inscription PARENTI OPTIME MERITO." It is probable that the title pater, which had first been given to Romulus,12 and that of parens were honors intended to distinguish Julius as the new founder of the state and as a second father of the Roman people.


Let me now turn to Caesar's adopted son and the significance of the title Augustus. It has been conjectured that this name was derived from the consecration of a site by augury," or that it was suggested by the abbreviation AVG (for augur) on the coins of Marcus Antonius,14 or by the famous line of Vergil, Aen. VIII, 678:

Hinc augustus agens Italos in proelia Caesar.15

Miss L. R. Taylor in the Classical Review, 1918, 158-161, suggests that Augustus needed a religious title that would be an aid in legalizing his power.16 The word augustus, connected with augere and perhaps with augur, had often been used, but never with reference to a human being, as more or less of a synonym for sanctus and religiosus, and it was the acceptance by Octavian of the title Augustus which

10 Dio C. XLIV, 4; App. B.C. II, 106; Livy, Per. cxv1; Suet. Jul. 85. Cf. Heinen, op. cit. 134.

ii Cic. Fam. XII, 3, 1.

12 Livy, 1, 16.

13 Richmond, "The Palatium," J. R. S. IV (1914), 216.

14 Haverfield, J. R. S. v (1915), 249-50; Class. Rev. XXXIII (1919), 65–6.

15 W. Warde Fowler, Aeneas at the Site of Rome, Oxford, 1917, pp. 109-11.

16 Cf. W. S. Ferguson, "Legalized Absolutism en Route from Greece to Rome," American Historical Rev. XVIII (1912), 29-47, and Greek Imperialism, Boston-New York, 1913, pp. 146-8.

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brought about the use of this word in passages in Livy written shortly after 27 B.C.17 as meaning a contrast to humanus, especially in regard to outward appearance and majesty. In other words, Livy tried to explain and define by his use of augustus the title which had been given to Octavian. I am quite convinced by Miss Taylor's argument, but I believe that there was something more than the connotation of sanctus and religiosus in the word that led to its choice as the title for the princeps.

In an article on the Monumentum Antiochenum in Klio, XIX, 189–213, Ehrenberg has indicated a further reason for the choice of the name Augustus, a reason which had occurred to me before Ehrenberg's study came to my attention. The name Romulus would, it seems, have been very acceptable to Augustus, but the connection of Julius Caesar with Romulus gave a rather unpleasant flavor to such a title.18 Ehrenberg believes that Augustus perhaps was selected because of the famous line of Ennius (Vahlen 502):

Augusto augurio postquam inclita condita Roma est

and because of the common designation of augurium as augustum, which by its meaning and connection with Romulus (I refer to the famous augury of the twelve vultures, which gave the supremacy to Romulus) bore the significance desired by Octavian.19

At this point it seems advisable to give the most important passages dealing with the granting of the title "Augustus." From them we may draw some information as to the derivation of the word and the reasons for its selection:

17 Cf. H. Dessau, Die Vorrede des Livius in Festschrift zu O. Hirschfelds sechzigstem Geburtstage, 1903, p. 465.

18 Cf. Domaszewski, Philologus, LXVII (1908), 1-2; Heinen, op. cit. 131; Riewald, De Imperatorum Romanorum cum certis Dis et Comparatione et Aequatione, Diss. Halle, 1912, p. 266.

19 Cf. Hardy, Monumentum Ancyranum, London, 1923, p. 159; "Augustus seems to have regarded his mission as that of a second Romulus, and since to assume a name with so monarchical a ring was impossible, he found 'Augustus' with its sacred and dignified connotation exactly suited to his purpose."

1. Monum. Ancyr. c 34, In consulatu sexto et septimo, bella ubi civilia extinxeram per consensum universorum potitus rerum omnium, rem publicam ex mea potestate in senatus populique Romani arbitrium transtuli. Quo pro merito meo senatus consulto Aug. appellatus sum (1).

2. Livy, Periochae, cxxxiv, C. Caesar rebus conpositis et omnibus provinciis in certam formam redactis Augustus quoque cognominatus est.

3. Ovid, Fasti 1, 608 ff.,

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.

4. Suet. Aug. 7, Postea Gai Caesaris et deinde Augusti cognomen assumpsit, alterum testamento maioris avunculi, alterum Munati Planci sententia, cum, quibusdam censentibus Romulum appellari oportere quasi et ipsum conditorem urbis, praevaluisset, ut Augustus potius vocaretur, non tantum novo set etiam ampliore cognomine, quod loca quoque religiosa et in quibus augurato quid consecratur augusta dicantur, ab auctu vel ab avium gestu gustuve, sicut etiam Ennius docet scribens:

Augusto augurio postquam inclita condita Roma est.

5. Dio C. LIII, 16, 6-8,

ἐπεὶ δὲ καὶ τῷ ἔργῳ αὐτὰ ἐπετέλεσεν, οὕτω δὴ καὶ τὸ τοῦ Αὐγού στου ὄνομα καὶ παρὰ τῆς βουλῆς καὶ παρὰ τοῦ δήμου ἐπέθετο. βουληθέντων γάρ σφων ἰδίως πως αὐτὸν προσειπεῖν, καὶ τῶν μὲν τὸ τῶν δὲ τὸ καὶ ἐσηγουμένων καὶ αἱρουμένων, ὁ Καῖσαρ ἐπεθύμει μὲν ἰσχυρῶς ‘Ρωμύλος ὀνομασθῆναι, αἰσθόμενος δὲ ὅτι ὑποπτεύεται ἐκ τούτου τῆς βασιλείας ἐπιθυμεῖν, οὐκέτ ̓ αὐτοῦ ἀντεποιήσατω, ἀλλὰ Αὔγουστος ὡς

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