Mark Antony: Co-Consul With Caesar

  • Assassins killed Caesar and said the republic was restored
  • Mark Antony said well I’m in charge
  • He was Caesar’s best friend- Brutus refused (we’re not butchers, were getting rid of a tyrant; we’re not killing all of our opponents)
  • MA was now in charge
  • No one knew what was going to happen- compromise: assassins were immune (wouldn’t be prosecuted) and were given provinces
  • As a tyrant, everything he had done is illegal- had to undo all of these laws but they were good laws that people liked
  • He made other people complicit in his wrongdoing- make a law that benefited him but benefited others too so the law would never be get rid of
  • Caesar’s Will- he left most of his private property to the Roman people (parks), gives every Roman citizen the equivalent of 10, 000 dollars (3 months wages), soldiers more money, and he still has lots of money left over (MA thinks it’ll be him)
  • People went after the assassins because they were willing to put up with Caesar if they got benefits
  • MA had all of the armies, Rome (opponents were gone), and he was Caesar’s second in command (everyone who liked Caesar liked him)- senators couldn’t do anything
  • Except, Octavian shows up- Caesar had adopted him, he was his grand-nephew
  • Caesar left all of his remaining money to Octavian instead of MA
  • In his will he adopted him- his son- that meant that Octavian got a new name

G. Julius Caesar Octavianus (63BC-AD 14)

  • He went to MA and said I want my inheritance and MA kept putting him off and made it clear that he wasn’t going to get it
  • Octavian’s birth parents told him not to go after the money- be content that you have Caesar’s name
  • Octavian, as an 18 year old, was smart enough to realize that MA wouldn’t kill him
  • O says MA won’t give me my money (announced it to everyone), but out of my own money, I am going to pay off the debts of my father, and held games for Caesar, set up statues, portrayed himself as the avenger of his father, portrayed himself as the legitimate son of Caesar
  • Senate thought that MA would kill him (it would make him hated and give the senate an opening)
  • MA and the senate could have crushed Octavian at any minute but no one wanted to do it  because then the Roman people would hate whoever did it
  • Senate used Octavian to stick it to MA because they knew that MA wouldn’t kill O
  • No one can touch him because to hurt him would cause the army and the people to hate whoever touched him
  • The Senate’s dilemma
  • Octavian’s bluff

o   O made his own private army 25, 000 veterans (4 legions), waited until MA left Rome and then O entered Rome with his soldiers and said elect me consul (insane)

o   Sulla and Julius Caesar did this but no one else did this and this 18 year old boy came in

o   Went too far

o   MA came back to Rome and the senate was like I don’t think so O

o   MA kicked him out of Rome but didn’t do any harm to him- MA had 15 legions

o   Senate still wanted MA to kill Caesar’s son but MA wouldn’t do it

o   Meanwhile Brutus and Cassius are gathering soldiers against MA

o   O is in Italy somewhere with a huge private army

  • Year 44 MA is done in office but refuses to give up his armies
  • New consuls gather all the armies they can and they are going to challenge MA
  • O shows up again with 8 legions and says you can use my 8 legions against MA just make me a senator- they say okay
  • Cicero sided with Octavian (43)- use his 8 legions but then get rid of him “praised, honour, give him the boot”
  • 12 + 8 legions- more than MA and they defeated MA
  • O said I would like to run for office and the senate said that wasn’t part of the deal
  • Senate and O drove MA back and O wanted more responsibility- senate said no so O talked to MA and said I’ll switch sides to you and we can march into Rome and be dictators- MA agrees
  • MA and O went in to Rome together and took over
  • Whichever side O went with was the side who was going to win

The 2nd Triumvirate:

  • Antony (East), Octavian (West), and Lepidus (Africa)- for the next five years we have unlimited power to put Rome back on its feet
  • Proscriptions- lists of people who could be killed

o   Property was seized

o   List of opponents

o   Cicero was on the list and he was brutally murdered

o   To seal the deal, Antony married O’s sister

o   MA still could have crushed O but he didn’t want to- he was part of this three part dictatorship, MA thought that Rome and Italy were a mess and thought that I’ll go to the east, fight against the Parthenians, accumulate wealth, military glory, and leave the mess of Spain, Gaul, Italy to O (let him deal with all the problems and then if necessary, come swooping in and save the day)

  • Brutus and Cassius were defeated in Greece, 42 by MA and O – B and C committed suicide rather than be dictated by them
  • O is really disliked now- trying to settle his soldiers on land but the people don’t want them there
  • O had 100, 000 soldiers and he only need 25,000- where is he going to settle his veterans? Riots, demonstrations against them, rebellions, problems, O somehow made it through it all- approval rating gradually elevated
  • MA in the east finds Cleopatra
  • He was married to O’s sister but he had children by Cleopatra- she set up temples to him as a god, tried to have his appear like Alexander the Great, associate him with Greece and Egyptian gods
  • In Italy, O starts spreading propaganda- MA is under the spell of an Egyptian witch, having children with her but he’s married to my sister, spreads rumours (new religion, move capital to Egypt)- spreads fear in the empire against MA, he got his hand on MA’s will (supposed to be sacred, untouched) and inside it said that Cleopatra and her children were to be declared Roman citizens, children inherit his power, people in Egypt were to become Roman citizens- this was the final straw (wrong will at the wrong time)
  • O declared war on Cleopatra
  • Fight in Actium (a coastal city in Greece) battles don’t lead up to the hype- Cleopatra’s ships flee and MA goes with her, his soldiers just surrender and O was just left with all of these troops
  • O pursued them, wanted them captured alive, but Cleopatra and MA killed themselves
  • O was the undisputed master- he now had what MA had before- he was the heir of Caesar, had all of the armies, his opponents were either dead or gone
  • O said it was easy to acquire an empire but it was difficult to rule it/govern it (Sulla couldn’t do it, Caesar didn’t want to- so how is O going to do it?)

Reactions to the Assassination of Caesar

  • Much depended on Mark Antony, his co-consul and the leader of the troops in Rome Aemilius Lepidus
  • No action would be taken against the assassins but all of Caesar’s measure and appointments would remain valid
  • Public loved Caesar more because in his will he gave everyone his land across the Tiber and every citizen 300 sesterces; angry at the assassins so much that Brutus and Cassius were driven out of Rome
  • Lepidus made himself pontifex maximus in Caesar’s place (Antony gave him his support)
  • Caesar’s eighteen year old grandnephew Gaius Octavius travelled to Rome
  • He learned that Caesar had adopted him and made him his principle heir- he took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus – referred to us as Octavian
  • Octavian was succeeding to displace Antony as leader of Caesar’s friends and supporters, especially among the city populace and the veterans
  • Antony would not give Octavian the money he inherited to pay the citizens. Octavian won tremendous popularity by selling off his own property in order to pay each citizen
  • Cicero proposed that the senate at last assert itself by eliminating Antony
  • Senate offered Octavian (he accepted) imperium subordinate to that of the consuls and membership of the senate with the right to be called on to speak among ex-consuls

Emergence of a Second Triumvirate

  • Octavian insisted that his priority was to secure appropriate rewards for his men from the senate and that only his election to one of the vacant consulships (they had just died) would ensure these rewards- the senate would not even hear of an nineteen year old becoming consul but they rethought it later when Octavian marched on Rome at the head of eight legions. Later that month he became consul with Caesar’s nephew.
  • Octavian sought a reconciliation with Antony and the Second Triumvirate was formally legal
  • The Triumvirs (dictators in all but name) gained authority to make laws without reference to the senate or people, to exercise jurisdiction without appeal and to nominate all magistrates- some consultation of the senate and people did occur and there were some elections.
  • Triumvirate’s priority was to pursue and punish Caesar’s assassins but they lacked the money to pay their legions without rapidly acquiring land and cash on an extensive scale. (resorted to confiscations and proscriptions like Sulla had done)
  • Antony insisted on proscribing Cicero who was killed

Battle of Philippi

  • Julius Caesar became a god by the senate and the month of his birth was renamed July
  • Octavian and Antony moved against Brutus and Cassius
  • Brutus won one battle against Octavian but Antony routed Cassius’s troops and Cassius committed suicide.
  • Brutus killed himself and it is his death that marks the end of the Republican cause.
  • Octavian had to settle the veterans but the entire settlement process was plagued by injustices and inconsistencies. At the same time Sextus Pompey had rebuilt a fleet to block grain imports from overseas and this further pressure led to riots in Rome which escalated to civil war

Perusine War

  • Octavian destroyed Perusia during a campaign
  • Octavian took over Gaul and its garrison which caused Antony to meet with Octavian where they reached an agreement and sealed it with the marriage of Antony to Octavian’s sister Octavia

Elimination of Sextus Pompey and Lepidus

  • Sextus Pompey took offense when Octavian divorced Scribonia who was the sister of Sextus Pompey’s father-in-law and when Antony delayed handing over the Peloponnese to him
  • Octavian and Antony joined together and renewed the Triumvirate and were helped by Agrippa and Lepidus and they destroyed Pompey’s army and Sextus was executed
  • Octavian removed Lepidus from the Triumvirate and forced him to live in exile because he had tried to displace Octavian by demanding that Sextus Pompey’s forces surrender to him

Antony in the East

  • Established good relations with Cleopatra, queen of Egypt for financial reasons (paying troops, settling veterans, disloyal rulers had to be replaced) but their relationship became personal
  • She had twins and another son by him and he spent the winter in Alexandria with her but he was still married to Octavia
  • Antony had a lack of concern for the impression made upon his wife, Octavian, and the Roman public opinion in general
  • If he should even divorce Octavia, as a Roman citizen he could never contract a marriage recognized in Roman law with a non-Roman like Cleopatra

Clash Between Antony and Octavian

  • Octavian intensified his hostile propaganda against Cleopatra and Antony because he believed that their divided rule wouldn’t continue- struggle for sole power
  • Antony was slow to react to Octavian because he was preoccupied with the situation on the eastern edge of his territory (Armenia)
  • He distributed eastern lands (some Roman provinces) to Cleopatra, her children by him and her son by Julius Caesar
  • Finally divorced Octavia
  • Octavian actually descended to the shameless illegality of seizing Antony’s will and publicising its provisions (included arrangements to be buried in Alexandria and gifts to his children by Cleopatra)
  • Octavian even arranged for civilians throughout the West to swear a personal oath of loyalty to him in the war that was declared against Cleopatra (not Antony, just Cleopatra)
  • Mounted a full scale assault against Alexandria and the city fell with almost no resistance
  • Antony’s fleet deserted and he committed suicide
  • Cleopatra was captured and spared but she killed herself to and her son by Julius Caesar was executed
  • Egypt’s wealth came into Octavian’s hands and the kingdom became a Roman province
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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