One of the main postulates of the Christian understanding of history is denying that any historical event is accidental. Rather, history is unfolding according to the divine plan for humankind. This holds true not only for the Old Testament events, but also for secular history, which was ‘Christianised’ by Christian authors. For this reason, the New Testament’s passing reference to Emperor Octavian Augustus in the Gospel account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1), did not remain unnoticed by later Christian writers.

Focusing on the evidence of Byzantine chronicles, church rhetoric and hymnographic writings, the aim of my paper is to show how the Byzantine authors used references to Emperor Augustus especially in the evolving relationship between church and state from the fourth to the ninth centuries. The Byzantine treatment of the first Roman emperor will be scrutinised in relation to three critical periods of Byzantine history, namely, the formative stage of the Christian empire in the first half of the fourth century, its peak in the sixth century, and the era of the imperial revival in the ninth century.