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Find a listing of the latest arrivals of books, audio and video items at the Wauwatosa Library, as well as information on upcoming events and staff suggestions for timely information you can use every day on the library's blog.

It's August Already!

Although several owe their names to Roman gods and goddesses, only two months are named after human beings.  The Roman Senate named August in honor of the first of the emperors, Caesar Augustus.  Born Gaius Octavius, he was later adopted by Julius Caesar (after whom July is named), becoming Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus.  Caesar was still a family name and not yet the title it would become.   

Octavian (as he’s usually called in English) ruled as emperor from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D.  It was in 26 B.C. that the Senate awarded him the honorific title “Augustus” (meaning venerable, majestic, worthy of honor) and in 8 B.C. that the Senate changed the name of the month, then called Sextilis, to August (Augustus in its Latin form.)  The original name meant “sixth” as the old Roman calendar started the year with March and by that reckoning, Sextilis was indeed the sixth month of the year. 

To learn more about the calendar and months, try Mapping Time : the Calendar and Its History, by E.G. Richards (529 R39 in the adult library).  For more on Caesar Augustus, the library has Augustus : the life of Rome’s First Emperor, by Anthony Everitt (937 Ev27 in the adult library) as well as numerous other sources.  The emperor is also well represented in fiction, including most famously, Robert Graves’ novel, I, Claudius, which is nearly as much about Augustus and his wife, Livia, as about Claudius. 

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