Presentation on theme: "Civil War and the Beginning of the Empire. When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C.E., the conspirators expected to be treated as heroes. They were."— Presentation transcript:
Civil War and the Beginning of the Empire
When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C.E., the conspirators expected to be treated as heroes. They were wrong.
Civil war soon broke out and Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, Octavian sought power. He was only 18 at the time of Julius Caesar’s death.
People underestimated young Octavian during this initial confusing time. The great orator, Cicero, thought he could use Octavian to his own advantage.
Cicero was enemies with Caesar’s tribune, Marc Antony. Cicero was also sympathetic with the conspirators that assassinated Caesar, particularly Brutus.
Oddly, when Caesar was first killed, young Octavian was aligned with Cicero and Brutus against Antony.
Cicero, with the help of other senators, forced Antony out of Rome.
In response, Antony attacked Brutus’ army. To help Brutus, Cicero convinced the senate to send an army led by Octavian to repel Antony’s attack.
Antony was forced to abandon his attack and Cicero convinced the senate to declare Antony a public enemy. Cicero would regret his actions.
However, the senate failed to embrace Octavian as its leader so he was forced to seek support elsewhere.
Antony was conspiring with the governor of Spain, Lepidus. They combined their armies and marched into northern Italy. Octavian and his army were waiting.
Caesar’s troops under the command of Antony and Lepidus could not bring themselves to attack Caesar’s heir so…Octavian, Antony and Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate.
The Second Triumvirate wasted little time establishing power. One of the first victims was Antony’s nemesis, Cicero. His tongue and right hand were nailed to the rostrum in Rome.
The Second Triumvirate packed the senate with their supporters which declared Caesar to be a god.
The Triumvirate was to last for five years. As you know, the problem with Triumvirates is that sooner or later someone wants to take total control.
Octavian and Antony soon forced Lepidus to take an appointment in Africa. Soon thereafter, they attacked and defeated Brutus at Philippi in Greece in 42 B.C.E.
With Brutus out of the way, Octavian and Antony began to maneuver with each other. They reached an agreement in 40 B.C.E. where Antony took the eastern part of the empire and Octavian the west.
To solidify the agreement, Antony married Octavian’s sister, Octavia.
Octavian and Antony began to solidify their respective territories. Antony sought to recreate Alexander’s empire. Joining him in this endeavor was his new love, Cleopatra.
Despite still being married to Octavia, Octavian’s sister, Antony fell in love with Cleopatra. He went so far as to marry her in 37 B.C.E.
Octavian showed how shrewd he was politically as he continued to consolidate his power base. His armies put down numerous rebellions in Gaul and, with the help of Antony and Lepidus, crushed Pompeius, son of Pompey, in 36 B.C.E.
To further consolidate his power, Octavian divorced his wife, Scribonia, on the day she gave birth to their daughter, Julia. He married Livia Drusilla, a noble, who had one son, the future emperor, Tiberius, and was pregnant with another.
Octavian then turned on Antony and Cleopatra as his power and popularity increased.
As the tide turned against Antony, he grew closer to Cleopatra and finally divorced Octavia in 35 B.C.E.
Octavian did not let up. He managed to get a copy of Antony’s will, which well could have been a forgery, and read it to the senate.
In it, Antony recognized Cleopatra as the ruler of Egypt and her son, Caesarion as Caesar’s true heir. Finally, it asked that Antony’s body be buried next to Cleopatra’s in Alexandria.
That was simply too much for Rome to tolerate. Octavian saw his opportunity and pounced. He stripped Antony of his right to command and declared war on Cleopatra.
Antony and Cleopatra put together a large army and waited for Octavian at Actium in Greece.
Although Antony and Cleopatra held a distinct size advantage over Octavian, their troops were tired, their ships large and clumsy and their navy poorly trained. Not a good combination.
In 31 B.C.E., they fought a brief battle at sea during which Octavian crushed Antony.
During the thrashing, Antony saw Cleopatra sailing away so he left his army and followed her. Dumbfounded, Antony’s army surrendered to Octavian.
Octavian pursued them to Alexandria where, in 30 B.C.E. he defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s troops for the last time. In response, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide.
With Antony now out of the way, Octavian was the sole leader of the Roman Empire. The republic was over and the Emperial period had begun.