Decline of Greco-Roman polytheism
Religion in the Greco-Roman world at the time of the Constantinian shift comprised three main currents: the traditional religions of ancient Greece and Rome. Early Christianity grew in Rome and the Roman Empire from the 1st to 4th centuries. In 313 it was tolerated and in 380 it became the state church of the Roman Empire with the Edict of Thessalonica. Hellenistic polytheistic traditions survived in pockets of Greece throughout Late Antiquity until they diminished after the triumph of Christianity; the Romans tended towards syncretism, seeing the same gods under different names in different places of the Empire, accommodating other Europeans such as the Hellenes and Celts, Semitic and other groups in the Middle East. Under Roman authority, the various national myths most similar to Rome were adopted by analogue into the overall Roman mythos, further cementing Imperial control; the Romans were tolerant and accommodating towards new deities and the religious experiences of other peoples who formed part of their wider Empire.
The more philosophical outlook of the Hellenic parts of the Roman empire led to a renaissance of intellectual religious thought around the start of the 2nd century. Writings pseudepigraphically attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, discussing esoteric philosophy and alchemy, began to spread from Roman Egypt throughout the empire. Although such hermetica was written with the theological aim of spiritual improvement, each text had an anonymous and spontaneous origin, rather than being part of an organised movement. A more organised form of alatrist henotheistic panentheism emerged in parallel to Hermetism. In the 1st century BC Cicero's friend Nigidius Figulus made an attempt to revive Pythagorean doctrines, an effort, successful under Apollonius of Tyana in the 1st century. At least one major meeting place for followers of this neopythagoreanism was built in Rome itself, near Porta Maggiore, to a design similar to Christian churches, though subterranean. In the 2nd century, Numenius of Apamea sought to fuse additional elements of Platonism into Neopythagoreanism, a direction which Plotinus continued, forming neoplatonism, a religion of theistic monism.
Neoplatonism began to be adopted by prominent scholars such as the Christian theologian Origen and the anti-Christian Porphyry. During the rule of Gallienus, the imperial family themselves gave patronage to Plotinus, encouraged his philosophical activities. Neoplatonism was further developed by Iamblichus, who believed that physical invocations would be able to produce soteriological results, therefore added religious ritual to the philosophy. Emperor Julian tried to unify traditional Roman religion by mixing it with Iamblichus' form of neoplatonism. At some time around the first century, the members of the Roman military began to adopt the mystery cult of Mithraism; as the Roman legions moved around, so too Mithraism spread throughout the Roman Empire. Mithraism wasn't exclusive - it was possible and common to follow Mithraism and other cults simultaneously, it became popular within Rome itself gaining members among the more aristocratic classes, counting some of the Roman senators as adherents.
Although, for reasons unknown, Mithraism excluded women, by the third century it had gained a wide following. From the reign of Septimius Severus, less gender-specific, forms of sun-worship increased in popularity throughout the Roman Empire. Elagabalus used his authority to install El-Gabal as the chief deity of the Roman pantheon, merging the god with the Roman sun gods to form Deus Sol Invictus, meaning God - the Undefeated Sun, making him superior to Jupiter, assigning either Astarte, Urania, or some combination of the three, as El-Gabal's wife, he rode roughshod over other elements of traditional religion, marrying a Vestal Virgin, moved the most sacred relics of Roman religion to a new temple dedicated to El-Gabal. As much as the religiously conservative senators may have disapproved, the lavish annual public festivals held in El-Gabal's honour found favour among the popular masses on account of the festivals involving the wide distribution of food. Nearly half a century after Elagabalus, Aurelian came to power.
He was a reformer, strengthening the position of the sun-god as the main divinity of the Ro
Glossary of ancient Roman religion
The vocabulary of ancient Roman religion was specialized. Its study affords important information about the religion and beliefs of the ancient Romans; this legacy is conspicuous in European cultural history in its influence on juridical and religious vocabulary in Europe of the Western Church. This glossary provides explanations of concepts as they were expressed in Latin pertaining to religious practices and beliefs, with links to articles on major topics such as priesthoods, forms of divination, rituals. For theonyms, or the names and epithets of gods, see List of Roman deities. For public religious holidays, see Roman festivals. For temples see the List of Ancient Roman temples. Individual landmarks of religious topography in ancient Rome are not included in this list; the verb abominari was a term of augury for an action that rejects or averts an unfavourable omen indicated by a signum, "sign". The noun is abominatio. At the taking of formally solicited auspices, the observer was required to acknowledge any bad sign occurring within the templum he was observing, regardless of the interpretation.
He might, take certain actions in order to ignore the signa, including avoiding the sight of them, interpreting them as favourable. The latter tactic required promptness and skill based on discipline and learning, thus the omen had no validity apart from the observation of it. The aedes was the dwelling place of a god, it was thus a structure that housed the deity's image, distinguished from the templum or sacred district. Aedes is one of several Latin words that can be translated as "shrine" or "temple". For instance, the Temple of Vesta, as it is called in English, was in Latin an aedes. See the diminutive aedicula, a small shrine. In his work On Architecture, Vitruvius always uses the word templum in the technical sense of a space defined through augury, with aedes the usual word for the building itself; the design of a deity's aedes, should be appropriate to the characteristics of the deity. For a celestial deity such as Jupiter, Sol or Luna, the building should be open to the sky, thus in theory, though not always in practice, architectural aesthetics had a theological dimension.
The word aedilis, a public official, is related by etymology. The temple of Flora, for instance, was built in 241 BC by two aediles acting on Sibylline oracles; the plebeian aediles had their headquarters at the aedes of Ceres. In religious usage, ager was terrestrial space defined for the purposes of augury in relation to auspicia. There were five kinds of ager: Romanus, peregrinus and incertus; the ager Romanus included the urban space outside the pomerium and the surrounding countryside. According to Varro, the ager Gabinus pertained to the special circumstances of the oppidum of Gabii, the first to sign a sacred treaty with Rome; the ager peregrinus was other territory, brought under treaty. Ager hosticus meant foreign territory; the powers and actions of magistrates were based on and constrained by the nature of the ager on which they stood, ager in more general usage meant a territory as defined or politically. The ager Romanus could not be extended outside Italy; the focal point of sacrifice was the altar.
Most altars throughout the city of Rome and in the countryside would have been simple, open-air structures. An altar that received food offerings might be called a mensa, "table."Perhaps the best-known Roman altar is the elaborate and Greek-influenced Ara Pacis, called "the most representative work of Augustan art." Other major public altars included the Ara Maxima. A tree was categorized as felix; the adjective felix here means not only "fruitful" but more broadly "auspicious". Macrobius lists arbores felices as the oak, the birch, the hazelnut, the sorbus, the white fig, the pear, the apple, the grape, the plum, the cornus and the lotus; the oak was sacred to Jupiter, twigs of oak were used by the Vestals to ignite the sacred fire in March every year. Among the felices were the olive tree, a twig of, affixed to the hat of the Flamen Dialis, the laurel and the poplar, which crowned the Salian priests. Arbores infelices were those under the protection of chthonic gods or those gods who had the power of turning away misfortune.
As listed by Tarquitius Priscus in his lost ostentarium on trees, these were buckthorn, red cornel, black fig, "those that bear a black berry and black fruit," holly, woodland pear, butcher's broom and brambles." The verb attrectare referred in specialized religious usage to touching sacred objects while performing cultic actions. Attrectare had a positive meaning only in reference to the action
A libation is a ritual pouring of a liquid, or grains such as rice, as an offering to a god or spirit, or in memory of the dead. It continues to be offered in cultures today. Various substances have been used for libations, most wine or other alcoholic drinks, olive oil, in India, ghee; the vessels used in the ritual, including the patera had a significant form which differentiated them from secular vessels. The libation could be poured onto something of religious significance, such as an altar, or into the earth. In East Asia, pouring an offering of rice into a running stream, symbolizes the unattachment from karma and bad energy. Libation was part of ancient Egyptian society where it was a drink offering to honor and please the various divinities, sacred ancestors, humans present and not present, as well as the environment, it is suggested that libation originated somewhere in the upper Nile Valley and spread out to other regions of Africa and the world. According to Ayi Kwei Armah, “his legend explains the rise of a propitiatory custom found everywhere on the African continent: libation, the pouring of alcohol or other drinks as offerings to ancestors and divinities.”
Libations were part of ancient Judaism and are mentioned in the Bible: And Jacob set up a Pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a Pillar of Stone. Isaiah uses libation as a metaphor when describing the end of the Suffering Servant figure who "poured out his life unto death". Libation was a central and vital aspect of ancient Greek religion, one of the simplest and most common forms of religious practice, it is one of the basic religious acts that define piety in ancient Greece, dating back to the Bronze Age and prehistoric Greece. Libations were a part of daily life, the pious might perform them every day in the morning and evening, as well as to begin meals. A libation most consisted of mixed wine and water, but could be unmixed wine, oil, water, or milk; the form of libation called spondē is the ritualized pouring of wine from a jug or bowl held in the hand. The most common ritual was to pour the liquid from an oinochoē into a phiale, a shallow bowl designed for the purpose. After wine was poured from the phiale, the remainder of the contents was drunk by the celebrant.
A libation is poured any time wine is to be drunk, a practice, recorded as early as the Homeric epics. The etiquette of the symposium required that when the first bowl of wine was served, a libation was made to Zeus and the Olympian gods. Heroes received a libation from the second krater served, "Zeus the Finisher" from the third, supposed to be the last. An alternative was to offer a libation from the first bowl to the Agathos Daimon and from the third bowl to Hermes. An individual at the symposium could make an invocation of and libation to a god of his choice. Libation accompanied prayer; the Greeks stood when they prayed, either with their arms uplifted, or in the act of libation with the right arm extended to hold the phiale. In conducting animal sacrifice, wine is poured onto the victim as part of its ritual slaughter and preparation, afterwards onto the ash and flames; this scene is depicted in Greek art, which often shows sacrificers or the gods themselves holding the phiale. The Greek verb spendō, "pour a libation" "conclude a pact", derives from the Indo-European root *spend-, "make an offering, perform a rite, engage oneself by a ritual act".
The noun is spondē or spondai, "libation." In the middle voice, the verb means "enter into an agreement", in the sense that the gods are called to guarantee an action. Blood sacrifice was performed to begin a war; the formula "We the polis have made libation" was a declaration of peace or the "Truce of God", observed when the various city-states came together for the Panhellenic Games, the Olympic Games, or the festivals of the Eleusinian Mysteries: this form of libation is "bloodless, gentle and final". Libations poured onto the earth are meant for the chthonic gods. In the Book of the Dead in the Odyssey, Odysseus digs an offering pit around which he pours in order honey and water. For the form of libation called choē, a larger vessel is tipped over and emptied onto the ground for the chthonic gods, who may receive spondai. Heroes, who were divinized mortals, might receive blood libations if they had participated in the bloodshed of war, as for instance Brasidas the Spartan. In rituals of caring for the dead at their tombs, libations would include honey.
The Libation Bearers is the English title of the center tragedy from the Orestes Trilogy of Aeschylus, in reference to the offerings Electra brings to the tomb of her dead father Agamemnon. Sophocles gives one of the most detailed descriptions of libation in Greek literature in Oedipus at Colonus, performed as atonement in the grove of the Eumenides: First, water is fetched from a freshly flowing spring. Hero of Alexandria described a mechanism for automating the process by using altar fires to force oil from the cups of two statues; the English word "libation"
Gallo-Roman religion was a fusion of the traditional religious practices of the Gauls, who were Celtic speakers, the Roman and Hellenistic religions introduced to the region under Roman Imperial rule. It was the result of selective acculturation. In some cases, Gaulish deity names were used as epithets for Roman deities, vice versa, as with Lenus Mars or Jupiter Poeninus. In other cases, Roman gods were given Gaulish female partners – for example, Mercury was paired with Rosmerta and Sirona was partnered with Apollo. In at least one case – that of the equine goddess Epona – a native Celtic goddess was adopted by Romans; the Jupiter Column was a distinctive type of religious monument from Roman Gaul and Germania, combining an equestrian Jupiter overcoming a giant with panels depicting many other deities. Eastern mystery religions penetrated Gaul early on; these included the cults of Orpheus, Mithras and Isis. The imperial cult, centred on the numen of Augustus, came to play a prominent role in the public religion of Gaul, most at the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls at Lugdunum.
Roman religious practices such as offerings of incense and animal sacrifice, dedicatory inscriptions, naturalistic statuary depicting deities in anthropomorphic form were combined with specific Gaulish practices such as circumambulation around a temple. This gave rise to a characteristic Gallo-Roman fanum, identifiable in archaeology from its concentric shape. Roman Gaul Gallo-Roman culture Interpretatio romana Celtic mythology Burnand, Y.. "Notes sur le vocabulaire épigraphique de la représentation de la divinité en Gaule romaine" in Signa deorum: L'iconographie divine en Gaule romaine. Communications présentées au colloque organisé par le Centre Albert Grenier d'antiquité nationale de l'Université de Nancy II et la direction d'études d'antiquités de la Gaule romaine de la IVe section de l'École pratique des hautes études. Y. Burnand and H. Lavagne. Paris, De Boccard. Debal, J. "Vienne-en-Val, divinités et sanctuaires." Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique de l'Orléanais, 42 Deyts, S..
À la rencontre des Dieux gaulois, un défi à César. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux. Faudet, I. Les temples de tradition celtique en Gaule Romaine. Paris, Éditions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-074-8 Green, M. Gods of the Celts. Stroud: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-1581-1. Jufer, N.. Paris, Éditions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-200-7 Weisgerber, G.. Das Pilgerheiligtum des Apollo und der Sirona von Hochscheid im Hunsruck. Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Press. Woolf, G.. Becoming Roman: the origins of provincial civilization in Gaul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Ancient Greek religion
Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared similarities. Most ancient Greeks recognized the twelve major Olympian gods and goddesses:, although philosophies such as Stoicism and some forms of Platonism used language that seems to assume a single transcendent deity; the worship of these deities, several others, was found across the Greek world, though they have different epithets that distinguished aspects of the deity, reflect the absorption of other local deities into the pan-Hellenic scheme. The religious practices of the Greeks extended beyond mainland Greece, to the islands and coasts of Ionia in Asia Minor, to Magna Graecia, to scattered Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean, such as Massalia. Early Italian religions such as the Etruscan were influenced by Greek religion in forming much of the ancient Roman religion.
While there were few concepts universal to all the Greek peoples, there were common beliefs shared by many. Ancient Greek theology was polytheistic, based on the assumption that there were many gods and goddesses, as well as a range of lesser supernatural beings of various types. There was a hierarchy of deities, with Zeus, the king of the gods, having a level of control over all the others, although he was not almighty; some deities had dominion over certain aspects of nature. For instance, Zeus was the sky-god, sending thunder and lightning, Poseidon ruled over the sea and earthquakes, Hades projected his remarkable power throughout the realms of death and the Underworld, Helios controlled the sun. Other deities ruled over abstract concepts. All significant deities were visualized as "human" in form, although able to transform themselves into animals or natural phenomena. While being immortal, the gods were not all-good or all-powerful, they had to obey fate, known to Greek mythology as the Moirai, which overrode any of their divine powers or wills.
For instance, in mythology, it was Odysseus' fate to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, the gods could only lengthen his journey and make it harder for him, but they could not stop him. The gods had human vices, they would interact with humans, sometimes spawning children with them. At times certain gods would be opposed to others, they would try to outdo each other. In the Iliad, Aphrodite and Apollo support the Trojan side in the Trojan War, while Hera and Poseidon support the Greeks; some gods were associated with a certain city. Athena was associated with the city of Athens, Apollo with Delphi and Delos, Zeus with Olympia and Aphrodite with Corinth, but other gods were worshipped in these cities. Other deities were associated with nations outside of Greece. Identity of names was not a guarantee of a similar cultus. Though the worship of the major deities spread from one locality to another, though most larger cities boasted temples to several major gods, the identification of different gods with different places remained strong to the end.
The Greeks believed in an underworld. One of the most widespread areas of this underworld was ruled over by Hades, a brother of Zeus, was known as Hades. Other well known realms are Tartarus, a place of torment for the damned, Elysium, a place of pleasures for the virtuous. In the early Mycenean religion all the dead went to Hades, but the rise of mystery cults in the Archaic age led to the development of places such as Tartarus and Elysium. A few Greeks, like Achilles, Amphiaraus Ganymede, Melicertes, Peleus, a great number of those who fought in the Trojan and Theban wars, were considered to have been physically immortalized and brought to live forever in either Elysium, the Islands of the Blessed, the ocean, or beneath the ground; such beliefs are found in the most ancient such as Homer and Hesiod. This belief remained strong into the Christian era. For most people at the moment of death there was, however, no hope of anything but continued existence as a disembodied soul; some Greeks, such as the philosophers Pythagoras and Plato embraced the idea of reincarnation, though this was only accepted by a few.
Epicurus taught that the soul was atoms which dissolved at death, so there was no existence after death. Greek religion had an extensive mythology, it consisted of stories of the gods and how they interacted with humans. Myths revolved around heroes and their actions, such as Heracles and his twelve labors and his voyage home and the quest for the Golden Fleece and Theseus and the Minotaur. Many species existed in Greek mythology. Chief among these were the gods and humans, though the Titans frequently appeared in Greek myths. Lesser species included the half-man-half-horse centaurs, the nature based nymphs and the half man, half goat satyrs; some creatures in Greek mythology were monstrous, such as the one-eyed giant Cyclop
Interpretatio graeca is a discourse in which ancient Greek religious concepts and practices and myths are used to interpret or attempt to understand the mythology and religion of other cultures. It is thus a comparative methodology that looks for shared characteristics; the phrase may describe Greek efforts to explain others' beliefs and myths, as when Herodotus describes Egyptian religion in terms of perceived Greek analogues, or when Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Plutarch document Roman cults and practices under the names of equivalent Greek deities. Interpretatio graeca may describe non-Greeks' interpretation of their own belief systems by comparison or assimilation with Greek models, as when Romans adapt Greek myths and iconography under the names of their own gods. Interpretatio romana is comparative discourse in reference to ancient Roman religion and myth, as in the formation of a distinctive Gallo-Roman religion. Both the Romans and the Gauls reinterpreted Gallic religious traditions in relation to Roman models Imperial cult.
Jan Assmann considers the polytheistic approach to internationalizing gods as a form of "intercultural translation": The great achievement of polytheism is the articulation of a common semantic universe.... The meaning of a deity is his or her specific character as it unfolded in myths, rites, so on; this character makes a deity comparable to other deities with similar traits. The similarity of gods makes their names mutually translatable. … The practice of translating the names of the gods created a concept of similarity and produced the idea or conviction that the gods are international. Pliny the Elder expressed the "translatability" of deities as "different names to different peoples"; this capacity made possible the religious syncretism of the Hellenistic era and the pre-Christian Roman Empire. Herodotus was one of the earliest authors to engage in this form of interpretation. In his observations regarding the Egyptians, he establishes Greco-Egyptian equivalents that endured into the Hellenistic era, including Amon/Zeus, Osiris/Dionysus, Ptah/Hephaestus.
In his observations regarding the Scythians, he equates their queen of the gods, Tabiti, to Hestia and Api to Zeus and Gaia and Argimpasa to Aphrodite Urania, whilst claiming that the Scythians worshipped equivalents to Herakles and Ares, but which he doesn't name. Some pairs of Greek and Roman gods, such as Zeus and Jupiter, are thought to derive from a common Indo-European archetype, thus exhibit shared functions by nature. Others required more expansive theological and poetic efforts: though both Ares and Mars are war gods, Ares was a minor figure in Greek religious practice and deprecated by the poets, while Mars was a father of the Roman people and a central figure of archaic Roman religion; some deities dating to Rome's oldest religious stratum, such as Janus and Terminus, had no Greek equivalent. Other Greek divine figures, most notably Apollo, were adopted directly into Roman culture, but underwent a distinctly Roman development, as when Augustus made Apollo one of his patron deities.
In the early period, Etruscan culture played an intermediary role in transmitting Greek myth and religion to the Romans, as evidenced in the linguistic transformation of Greek Heracles to Etruscan Hercle to Roman Hercules. The phrase interpretatio romana was first used by the Imperial-era historian Tacitus in the Germania. Tacitus reports that in a sacred grove of the Nahanarvali, "a priest adorned as a woman presides, but they commemorate gods who in Roman terms are Castor and Pollux." Elsewhere, he identifies the principal god of the Germans as Mercury referring to Wotan. Some information about the deities of the ancient Gauls, who left no written literature other than inscriptions, is preserved by Greco-Roman sources under the names of Greek and Latin equivalents. A large number of Gaulish theonyms or cult titles are preserved, for instance, in association with Mars; as with some Greek and Roman divine counterparts, the perceived similarities between a Gallic and a Roman or Greek deity may reflect a common Indo-European origin.
Lugus was identified with Nodens with Mars as healer and protector, Sulis with Minerva. In some cases, however, a Gallic deity is given an interpretatio romana by means of more than one god, varying among literary texts or inscriptions. Since the religions of the Greco-Roman world were not dogmatic, polytheism lent itself to multiplicity, the concept of "deity" was expansive, permitting multiple and contradictory functions within a single divinity, overlapping powers and functions among the diverse figures of each pantheon; these tendencies extended to cross-cultural identifications. In the Eastern empire, the Anatolian storm god with his double-headed axe became Jupiter Dolichenus, a favorite cult figure among soldiers. Roman scholars such as Varro interpreted the monotheistic god of the Jews into Roman terms as Caelus or Jupiter Optimus Maximus; some Greco-Roman authors seem to have understood the Jewish invocation of Yahweh Sabaoth as Sabazius. Interpretatio germanica is the practice by the Germanic peoples of identifying Roman gods with the names of Germanic deities.
According to Rudolf Simek, this occurred around the 1st century AD, when both cultures came into closer contact. Some evidence for interpretatio germanica exists in the Germanic translations of the Roman names for the days of the week: Sunday, the day of Sunnǭ, the sun, was earlier the day of Sol Invictus, th
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history; the reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession. Augustus was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. Along with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators.
The Triumvirate was torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC. After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus restored the outward façade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, the executive magistrates, the legislative assemblies. In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command, those of tribune and censor, it took several years for Augustus to develop the framework within which a formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He rejected monarchical titles, instead called himself Princeps Civitatis; the resulting constitutional framework became known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire. Augustus enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Pannonia and Raetia, expanding possessions in Africa, completing the conquest of Hispania, but suffered a major setback in Germania.
Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, rebuilt much of the city during his reign. Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75 from natural causes. However, there were unconfirmed rumors, he was succeeded as emperor by his adopted son Tiberius. As a consequence of Roman customs and personal preference, Augustus was known by many names throughout his life: Gaius Octavius Thurinus: He received his birth name, after his biological father, in 63 BC. "Gaius" was his praenomen, "Octavius" was his nomen, "Thurinus" was his cognomen. His rival Mark Antony used the name "Thurinus" as an insult, to which Augustus replied, surprised that "using his old name was thought to be an insult".
Gaius Julius Caesar: After he was adopted by Julius Caesar, he adopted Caesar's name in accordance with Roman naming conventions. While he dropped all references to the gens Octavia, people colloquially added the epithet Octavianus to his legal name, either to differentiate him from his adoptive father or to highlight his more modest origins. Modern historians refer to him using the anglicized form "Octavian" between 44 BC and 27 BC. Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius: Two years after his adoption, he founded the Temple of Caesar additionally adding the title Divi Filius to his name in attempt to strengthen his political ties to Caesar's former soldiers, following the deification of Caesar. Imperator Caesar Divi Filius: From 38 BC, Octavian opted to use Imperator, the title by which troops hailed their leader after military success, his name is translated as "Commander Caesar, Son of the Divine". Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus: Following his 31 BC defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra on his own insistence, the Roman Senate granted him the additional name, "Augustus", which he added to his previous names thereafter.
Historians use this name to refer to him from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. While his paternal family was from the town of Velletri 40 kilometres from Rome, Augustus was born in the city of Rome on 23 September 63 BC, he was born at Ox Head, a small property on the Palatine Hill close to the Roman Forum. He was given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus, his cognomen commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves. Suetonius wrote: "There are many indications that the Octavian family was in days of old a distinguished one at Velitrae; this man was leader in a war with a neighbouring town..." Due to the crowded nature of Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to his father's home village at Velletri to be raised. Octavius mentions his father's equestrian family only in his memoirs, his paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His grandfather had served in several lo