Ancient Rome, Octavian and the Second Triumvirate

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Caesar's assassination caused political and social turmoil in Rome; without the dictator's leadership, the city was ruled by his friend and colleague, Mark Antony. Soon afterward, Octavius, whom Caesar adopted through his will, arrived in Rome. Octavian (historians regard Octavius as Octavian due to the Roman naming conventions) tried to align himself with the Caesarian faction. In 43 BC, along with Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Caesar's best friend, he legally established the Second Triumvirate. This alliance would last for five years. Upon its formation, 130–300 senators were executed, and their property was confiscated, due to their supposed support for the Liberatores.

In 42 BC, the Senate deified Caesar as Divus Iulius, (note that Divus means "deified", and not "god". The Latin word for god is Deus; this word is used for real deities as Jupiter and Apollo. However, a Divus is not a deity, but a remarkable person who was as important to Rome as Romulus was.) Octavian thus became Divi filius, the son of the deified. In the same year, Octavian and Antony defeated both Caesar's assassins and the leaders of the Liberatores, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, in the Battle of Philippi.

The Second Triumvirate was marked by the proscriptions of many senators and equites: after a revolt led by Antony's brother Lucius Antonius more than 300 senators and equites involved were executed on the anniversary of the Ides of March, although Lucius was spared. The Triumvirate proscribed several important men, including Cicero, whom Antony hated; Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of the orator; and Lucius Julius Caesar, cousin and friend of the acclaimed general, for his support of Cicero. However, Lucius was pardoned, perhaps because his sister Julia had intervened for him.

The Triumvirate divided the Empire among the triumvirs: Lepidus was left in charge of Africa, Antony, the eastern provinces, and Octavian remained in Italia and controlled Hispania and Gaul.

The Second Triumvirate expired in 38 BC but was renewed for five more years. However, the relationship between Octavian and Antony had deteriorated, and Lepidus was forced to retire in 36 BC after betraying Octavian in Sicily. By the end of the Triumvirate, Antony was living in Egypt, an independent and rich kingdom ruled by Antony's lover, Cleopatra VII. Antony's affair with Cleopatra was seen as an act of treason, since she was queen of another country. Additionally, Antony adopted lifestyle considered too extravagant and Hellenistic for a Roman statesman.

Following Antony's Donations of Alexandria, which gave to Cleopatra the title of "Queen of Kings", and to Antony's and Cleopatra's children the regal titles to the newly conquered Eastern territories, the war between Octavian and Antony broke out. Octavian annihilated Egyptian forces in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Now Egypt was conquered by the Roman Empire, and for the Romans, a new era had begun.

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External Links

  • WikipediaAncient RomeHistory of ancient RomeGallery of the Ancient Art: Ancient RomeLacus CurtiusLivius.Org

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