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The Story of Rome by  Mary Macgregor


 

 

THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE

[405] FOR a short time Brutus had seemed a hero to the citizens of Rome, but Antony's speech had speedily changed their feelings.

It was now Mark Antony whom they wished to rule, and with the help of the people he soon made himself master of Rome.

But he was not left long to enjoy his power undisputed. For Cæsar's heir Octavius came to Rome in the month of May, to claim his inheritance.

Octavius was only eighteen years of age, but he had a will resolute beyond his years. He had already made up his mind to punish the assassins of Cæsar, and to make himself as powerful as might be in the State.

At first he threw his influence on the side of the Optimates, who were doing all they could to curtail Antony's power.

To support his claim to the first place in the kingdom, Antony soon found it necessary to place himself at the head of an army. He determined to besiege Decimus Brutus, who had threatened to seize the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which Antony wished for himself.

Octavius also gathered together an army, with which to attack Antony.

The Senate now declared Antony a public enemy, for taking up arms. When Octavius attacked his camp and forced Antony to flee, the Senate was greatly pleased.

But it was soon disappointed to find that Octavius [406] would not support the claim of Decimus Brutus to Cisalpine Gaul. It had forgotten, if it ever knew, that the young general had vowed to punish all who had betrayed Cæsar, and had not this man enticed the great Dictator to his fate ?

Octavius even refused to pursue Antony, but demanded that the Senate should now see that he, Cæsar's heir, was elected Consul.

When the Senate hesitated, Octavius marched at the head of his army to Rome, first sending a message to Antony to suggest that they should meet and agree to lay aside their quarrel.

With his army to support him, Octavius had no difficulty in being made Consul, or in gaining from the Senate other powers. He then forced it to withdraw the decree which had made Antony a public enemy, before he set out to meet him and Lepidus, who was also at the head of an army.

The three commanders met on a small island in the river Po, and there they formed an alliance which was known as The Second Triumvirate. They then gravely divided among themselves the Roman Empire.

One of the agreements made by the three commanders was this terrible one, that each should be free to put to death those senators or Optimates who had displeased them.

The murderers of Cæsar were already doomed, but a list of seventeen names was drawn up, and in this list was the name of the great orator Cicero.

Cicero had befriended Octavius it is true, but that could not save him after The Second Triumvirate had been formed. For he had drawn upon himself the fierce anger of Antony, by many bitter speeches. So, one day, early in December 43 B.C., Cicero was seized by a band of soldiers and executed by the order of Antony.

When the Triumvirate returned to Rome a reign of terror began. As in the time of Sulla lists were again hung in the Forum, with the names of proscribed persons, until [407] at length two or three thousand were either put to death or forced to flee from the city.

Many of these fugitives joined Brutus and Cassius, who had escaped to the East, and had each assembled a large army. Others fled to Sicily, where Sextus Pompeius was still at the head of a fleet, and threatening to stop the corn supply which reached Rome from Sicily, Africa and other countries.


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