Second Triumvirate

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Coin with face and inscription
From left to right, Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus portrayed in Roman coins. The legend III vir r(ei) p(ublicae) c(onstituendae) translates to "one of three men for the regulation of the republic".[1]

The Second Triumvirate (43–32 BC) was a political alliance formed after the Roman dictator Julius Caesar's assassination, comprising Caesar's adopted son Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) and the dictator's two most important supporters, Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. The triumvirate for organizing the republic (Latin: tresviri rei publicae constituendae),[2] as it was formally known, ruled the Roman Republic essentially as a military dictatorship, with each of the triumvirs assuming charge of an individual set of provinces. Unlike the earlier First Triumvirate (Caesar, Pompey and Crassus),[3][4] the Second was an official, legally established institution, whose overwhelming power in the Roman state was given full legal sanction and whose authority outranked that of all other magistrates, including the consuls.

The triumvirate was formally recognized by the Senate in the Lex Titia in November of 43 BC, granting the trio supreme authority for five years (until 1 January 37 BC), and assigning them the important task of hunting down the conspirators involved in Caesar's assassination, especially Brutus and Cassius. [5] It formally deified Caesar as Divus Iulius in 42 BC, and Caesar Octavian henceforth became Divi filius ("Son of the Divine").[6] To cement the alliance, Antony gave his stepdaughter Claudia to Octavian in marriage and Rome's territories were divided between the triumvirs. Seeing that Caesar's clemency had resulted in his murder, the Second Triumvirate brought back proscription, abandoned since Sulla.[7] It engaged in the legally sanctioned murder of a large number of its opponents in order to fund its forty-five legions in the second civil war against Brutus and Cassius.[8] Antony and Octavian defeated them at Philippi.[9] Around this time, Antony married Octavian's sister, Octavia.

The Second Triumvirate was ultimately unstable and could not withstand internal jealousies and ambitions. Antony detested Octavian and spent most of his time in the East, while Lepidus favoured Antony but felt himself obscured by both his colleagues. Following the war against Sextus Pompeius, a dispute between Lepidus and Octavian regarding the allocation of lands broke out. Octavian accused Lepidus of usurping power in Sicily and of attempted rebellion and, in 36 BC, Lepidus was forced into exile in Circeii and stripped of all his offices except that of Pontifex Maximus. His former provinces were awarded to Octavian. Antony, meanwhile, married Caesar's lover, Cleopatra, intending to use the fabulously wealthy Egypt as a base to dominate Rome. A third civil war subsequently broke out between Octavian on one hand and Antony and Cleopatra on the other. This final civil war culminated in the latter's defeat at Actium in 31 BC; Octavian's forces would then chase Antony and Cleopatra to Alexandria, where they would both commit suicide in 30 BC. With the complete defeat of Antony and the marginalisation of Lepidus, Octavian, having been restyled "Augustus", a name that raised him to the status of a deity, in 27 BC, remained as the sole master of the Roman world and proceeded to establish the Principate as the first Roman "Emperor".[10]

Origin and nature

Octavian, despite his youth (20 years old), extorted from the Senate the post of suffect consul (consul suffectus) for the year 43 BC.[11] He had been warring with Antony and Lepidus in upper Italia, but in October 43 BC the three agreed to unite and seize power and so met near Bononia (now Bologna).[12][13]

This triumvirate of new leaders was established in 43 BC as the Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate (Triumvirs for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power, abbreviated as III VIR RPC). Where the first triumvirate was essentially a private agreement, the second was embedded in the constitution formally joining Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus in shared rule over Rome.[14] The only other office which had ever been qualified "for confirming the Republic" was the dictatorship of Lucius Cornelius Sulla; the only limit on the powers of the Triumvirate was the five-year term set by law.

A historical oddity of the Triumvirate is that it was, in effect, a three-man directorate with dictatorial powers; it included Antony, who as consul in 44 BC had obtained a

At the foundation of the Triumvirate (43 BC).