CHAPTER XXXV. THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE. - PHILIPPI AND ACTIUM.
Caesar in his will had appointed GAIUS OCTAVIUS, the grandson of his sister Julia, heir to three fourths of his property; and his other relatives were to have the remaining fourth.
Young Octavius was in his nineteenth year when Caesar was murdered. He went at once to Rome to claim his inheritance. Caesar's widow, Calpurnia, had intrusted to Mark Antony all the money in the house, - a large sum, - and had also delivered to his care all the Dictator's writings and memoranda.
Octavius was cool and sagacious, without passion or affection, and showed himself a match for all his opponents. His arrival at Rome was disagreeable to Antony, who was unwilling to surrender Caesar's property. He claimed that he had already expended it for public purposes. Octavius at once paid the dead Dictator's legacies, mostly out of his own fortune, thus making himself very popular among the people. He then joined the party of the Senate, and during the autumn and winter of 44 was its chief champion. He was helped by the eloquent Cicero, who was delivering against Antony his famous fourteen PHILIPPICS, - so called from their resemblance to the great orations of Demosthenes against Philip.
During the spring of 43 Octavius advanced against Antony, who was at Mutina (Modena), and defeated him in two battles. He was then appointed Consul, and, finding it for his interest, he deserted the Senate, made friends with Antony, and with him and Lepidus formed (27 November, 43) the SECOND TRIUMVIRATE, assuming full authority to govern and reorganize the state, and to hold office for five years.
The provinces were divided as follows: Lepidus was to have Spain and Gallia Narbonensis; Antony, the rest of Gaul beyond the Alps and Gallia Cisalpína; Octavius, Sicily, Sardinia, and Africa. A bloody prescription followed. Among its victims were CICERO, who was surrendered to please Antony, 300 Senators, and 2,000 Equites.
PHILIPPI AND ACTIUM.
The Triumvirs could now concentrate their energies upon the East, whither BRUTUS and CASSIUS, the murderers of Caesar, had fled. These two had organized in the provinces of the East an army amounting to 80,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry. They were employed in plundering various towns of Asia Minor, and finally, in the spring of 42, assembled their forces at Sardis preparatory to an invasion of Europe. After marching through Thrace they entered Macedonia, and found Antony and Octavius opposed to them at PHILIPPI, with an army of 120,000 troops. There were two battles at Philippi in November, 42. In the first, Brutus defeated Octavius; but Cassius was defeated by Antony, and, unaware of his colleague's victory, committed suicide. In the second battle, three weeks later, Brutus was defeated by the united armies of the Triumvirs, and, following the example of Cassius, put an end to his life. With Brutus fell the Republic. The absolute ascendency of individuals, which is monarchy, was then established.
The immediate result of Philippi was a fresh arrangement of the Roman world among the Triumvirs. Antony preferred the East, Octavius took Italy and Spain, and Africa fell to Lepidus.
Octavius tried to establish order in Italy, but many obstacles were to be overcome. Sextus Pompeius, who had escaped from Munda, was in command of a strong naval force. He controlled a large part of the Mediterranean, and, by waylaying the corn ships bound for Rome, exposed the city to great danger from famine. Octavius was obliged to raise a fleet and meet this danger. At first he was defeated by Pompey, but later, in 36, in the great sea fight off NAULOCHUS in Sicily, the rebel was overcome. He fled to Asia with a few followers, but was taken prisoner at Milétus by one of the lieutenants of Antony, and put to death.
Lepidus now claimed Sicily as a part of his province, and an equal share in the government of the Roman world with the other Triumvirs. But his soldiers were induced to desert him, and he was obliged to surrender to Octavius. His life was spared, but he was deprived of his power and provinces. He lived twenty years longer (until 13), but ceased to be a factor in public affairs. Having rid themselves of all rivals, Octavius and Antony redivided the Empire, the former taking the West, the latter the East.
Antony now repaired to Alexandría, and surrendered himself to the fascinations of the famous Cleopátra. He assumed the habits and dress of an Eastern monarch, and by his senseless follies disgusted his friends and supporters. He resigned himself to luxury and idleness, and finally divorced himself from his wife Octavia, sister of Octavius, disregarding his good name and the wishes of his friends. Thus gradually he became more and more estranged from Octavius, until finally the rupture resulted in open war.
The contest was decided by the naval battle off Cape Actium, in Greece, September 2, 31. Antony had collected from all parts of the East a large army, in addition to his fleet, which was supported by that of Cleopátra. He wished to decide the contest on land; but Cleopátra insisted that they should fight by sea. The fleet of Octavius was commanded by Agrippa, who had been in command at the sea- fight off Naulochus. The battle lasted a long time, and was still undecided, when Cleopátra hoisted sail and with her sixty vessels hastened to leave the line. Antony at once followed her. The battle, however, continued until his remaining fleet was destroyed, and his army, after a few days' hesitation, surrendered.