The Second Triumvirate

For the moment Caesar's fall produced sheer paralysis. The conspirators imagined that they were going to restore the senatorial republic mid general acclamation. The enemy they had most to fear was Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony, ca. 83-30 BC), consul designate and a favourite lieutenant of the murdered dictator, a man of brilliant, though erratic ability, boundless ambition and a whole-hearted devotion to his dead chief.

There would almost certainly be a duel between the conspirators and Antony. Neither side took much notice of a youngster of eighteen years away in Macedon, whom the childless Caesar had adopted, his great-nephew Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus.

The conflict did not begin at once, for at first there was hollow reconciliation. Antony however secured Caesar's papers and secured from the senate the ratification of Caesar's acts and a public funeral - at which Antony's speech and the reading of Caesar's will produced a violent popular outcry of revulsion against the self-styled 'liberators'.

Under the threat of being lynched by the angry mob, the conspirators hastily left Rome, leaving Antony master of the situation.

The ablest soldier of the conspirators Decimus Brutus (not to be mistaken for the famous Marcus Junius Brutus !), took possession of Cisalpine Gaul.

the military situation was extremely uncertain, which is well reflected in the fact that the two parties were still corresponding with each other at that time.

The young Octavian suddenly appeared on the scene, announcing himself the heir to Caesar's will, ready to make terms with either party - but only his own terms.

Antony feared a rival, the conspirators saw a remorseless enemy.

The Italian legions seemed likely to transfer their allegiance to the one they saw as Caesar's son, Octavian.

Decimus Brutus was in Possession of Cisalpine Gaul, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (d 13BC), Caesar's former chief assistant, was in control of the old Transalpine Province. Caesar himself in his will (of course not knowing of his future assassination) had granted Macedon and Syria to his chief murderers Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius, both of whom left Italy to raise troops for the coming contest.
A time of chaos followed in which Antony besieged Decimus Brutus, suffered defeat, was declared a public enemy after a series of brilliant speeches against him by Cicero, Octavian joined the new consuls Hirtius and Pansa who were soon killed in fighting Antony's troops, Antony then allied with Lepidus and then jointly came to terms with Octavian.

Octavian with his legions then simply marched on Rome and at the age of twenty claimed the consulship for himself, no one daring to deny him. Then he trial Caesar's assassins tried and, of course, condemned to death.

At last the governor's of Spain and Gaul, so far prudently neutral declared their support. Antony, Lepidus and Octavian then met up at Bononia (Bologna) and constituted themselves (officially by decree of a powerless senate) Triumvirs, joint rulers of the Republic.

A part of this joint programme was, as with Sulla, a merciless proscription, Cicero being the most distinguished of their victims. Then the Triumvirs went about appointing their shares of the empire, with little regard for Lepidus.


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