Why did Octavius Caesar change his name ?

gaius valerius

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Belgium
The name means something in the sense of "ascended" (in a moral sense that would be), it was bestowed to honour Octavian, more-over it was given after Octavian had ended the civil wars and reunited the Roman empire, you know, new era, new name.
 
Oct 2011
93
Denmark
The name means something in the sense of "ascended" (in a moral sense that would be), it was bestowed to honour Octavian, more-over it was given after Octavian had ended the civil wars and reunited the Roman empire, you know, new era, new name.

Exactly, it means the "ascended" or "exalted" and it was given by the Senate.
 
Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
Well it was given by Octavian to himself through senate. It was mere public theatre. As far as I know he choose it carefully.
 

gaius valerius

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Belgium
Symbols are a powerful medium, especially in the ancient world which lacked our visual media things like a name, a title, coins, etc were the powerful tools to speak to the minds of men. To us it may read just like a name but contemporaries very well understood the meaning of all these symbols.
 
Sep 2011
162
There is no better way to separate yourself from your rather unsavoury past than by changing your name.

Initially he could have been renamed Romulus, but that didn't come to pass.
 

pixi666

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
2,534
The Great Indoors
He was never called 'Octavius Caesar'. He was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus. We refer to him here as Octavius. When he was adopted by Julius Caesar, he changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar. At this point, his name should have been Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, as it was customary to keep your former family name, changing the ending to '-anus', when you were adopted. But he wanted to cut off all links to his past, so he didn't keep 'Octavianus'. However, we call him Octavian so as not to confuse him with the original Gaius Julius Caesar. When he became Emperor, he became Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. We call him Augustus here.

It's rather complicated :lol:

And it doesn't answer your question either :p
 
Nov 2010
1,681
Londinium
There is no better way to separate yourself from your rather unsavoury past than by changing your name.

Initially he could have been renamed Romulus, but that didn't come to pass.
If he had taken the name Romulus, he would have ended up like his great-uncle: with a knife in his back. Rome hated kings with a passion. He had to find a name that was acceptable to the people if he was to succesfully pull the wool over their eyes. He presented himself as the first among equals even though he was slowly and steadly taking more power for himself and he accepted the name Augustus for it's peacful tone and religious meaning.

Today we would call it political spin.
 
Jul 2011
596
Were the names princeps and divi filius actual names he used? IIRC I read somewhere that is full name was: Gaius Julius Caesar divi filius Augustus. But that people in the streets were allowed to call him princeps..
 
Dec 2009
19,933
Nope.

His original name was Caius Octavius Thurinus (the latter cognomen was reportedly earned by his father from a victory over runaway slaves close to the city of Thurii)
His family was a minor branch of the plebeian noble Gens Octavia.

By posthumous adoption after the Idus (15) of March DCCX AUC / 44 BC, he changed his full patrician tria nomina for those of the late Perpetual Dictator; Caius Julius Caesar.

Contrary to common belief, he never used the surname Octavianus (as expected from the aforementioned adoption) for obvious political reasons.

The later and entirely brand new cognomen Augustus was adopted by decree of the Senate from the petition by his friend Lucius Munatius Plancus on January 13, DCCXXVII AUC / 27 BC (the so-called "first settlement").
As any other cognomen, it was transmitted to his wife & offspring.

Augustus means "venerable, majestic, magnificent, noble" and is a cognate of the Latin augur and derived from the Old Latin augos, "increase".

The pragmatic political strategy was to identify his entirely new and unheard power position with an equally new honorific strictly personal denomination not related with any former ominous implication, like "king" or "dictator".
 
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