|San José State University|
& Tornado Alley
In the days of Julius Caesar, it was Marcus Antonius who was the second most powerful figure in Roman politics. He was a subordinate to Caesar in the command of his armies and he was an influential figure in Roman politics. By all rational expectations Antonius was the logical figure to succeed Caesar in power. As it turned out that was not to be. Caesar did not choose Antonius to be his heir, apparently knowing Antonius' flaws. Instead Caesar chose his great nephew, Octavian, a teenage student. Against all odds, 18 year old Octavian not only survived the power struggle with the politically and militarily experienced Antonius, who was in his forties, but defeated Antonius and went on to reorganize and rule the Roman empire for forty years. It reveals the astuteness of Julius Caesar's intellect that he chose Octavian to be his successor rather than Antonius.
Civil war breaks out between Caesar and his co-triumvir Pompey. Antonius flees Rome as a result of serious threats.
Caesar's will called for games for the entertainment of the public. Such things require funds, but Marcus Antonius controls Caesar's funds and refuses to grant Octavian access to those funds. Octavian borrowed funds to comply with Caesar's will and his efforts garnered public support for Octavian. His efforts to fulfill Caesar's will gains him considerable support among the troops of Caesar.
Marcus Antonius was defying the will of the Senate and the Senate, led by Circero, called upon Octavian for support against Antonius. The Senate makes Octavian a senator even though he is far too young to qualify. The troops of Octavian joined with troops which the Senate has at its command. The combined forces drove Antonius out of Italy into Gaul.
In the battle with Anthony's forces the two elected Consuls of Rome were killed. Octavian's troops demanded that the Senate confer the title of Consul on Octavian. Octavian was officially recognized as the son of Julius Caesar. He then took the name Gaius Julius Caesar (Octavianus). He was more generally known as Octavian during this period.
Octavian and Antonius agreed to a sharing of power. They, along with Lepidus who was the Pontifex Maximus, are designated by the Senate as a Triumvirate with dictatorial powers for five years. Octavian, Antonius and Lepidus agreed to eliminate those Senators and members of the Roman aristocracy whom any one of the three considered a threat to public order. Altogether 300 senators and two thousand lesser level aristocrats are executed. Cicero, a supporter of Octavian, was designated for execution by Antonius under this arrangement.
Antony and Octavian undertook a military expedition to the east to defeat Brutus and Cassius. In two battles at Philippi the troops of Brutus and Cassius are defeated and Brutus and Cassius kill themselves. The Triumvirate then divide up the Empire. Anthony gets the east and Gaul. Lepidus gets Africa and Octavian gets the west except for Italy which was to be under common control of the three.
In Italy Octavian faced a local war where he intended to grant land for settlement to the soldiers of his army. His forces defeated the local opposition at the city now known as Perugia.
The island of Sicily was under the control of the son of Pompey, Sextus Pompeius, which gave him command of the shipping lanes. Octavian tried to defuse conflict with Sextus by entering into a marriage with Scribonia, a relative of Sextus. This ploy did not work. Sextus tried to establish an agreement with Antonius against the interests of Octavian. Antonius rejected Sextus' offer of an alliance. Octavian later divorced Scribonia.
The allianace of Octavian and Antonius was renewed and further confirmed by Antonius marrying the sister of Octavian, Octavia. This political marriage also did not endure. Antonius was still enamored of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
The Parthians attack Roman territory in Syria. Antonius and Octavian meet Herod who had been driven out of Judea by the Partians and their allies. Antonius and Octavian agree to return Herod to power. This is the beginning of a long term friendship of Herod and Antonius.
Lepidus the member of the Triumvirate who controlled the Roman territories in African attempted to challenge Octavian. Lepidus was defeated but forced into retirement instead of being executed.