In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC.
Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar's adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.
Antony and Octavian's division of the Roman world between themselves did not last and Octavian's forces defeated those of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, ending the Final War of the Roman Republic.
In 27 BC the Senate and People of Rome made Octavian princeps ("first citizen") with proconsular imperium, thus beginning the Principate (the first epoch of Roman imperial history, usually dated from 27 BC to 284 AD), and gave him the name "Augustus" ("the venerated").
The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople.
Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople (Byzantium in Ancient Greek) following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus.
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A period of increasing trouble and decline began with the reign of Commodus.
In the 3rd century, the Empire underwent a crisis that threatened its existence, but was reunified under Aurelian.