Anthony Vs Octavian Essay, Research Paper
Chronological analysis of the strengthening of Octavius compared with the errors made by Antony.
DATE (BC) Factors affecting Antony Factors affecting Octavius
42BC Battle of Philippi. With Lepidus, Antony led an armed force into Macedonia to face the conspirators who killed Caesar. The “Republican” conspirators had 19 legions at their command (about 120000 men), against the triumvir’s 28 legions (about 170000). The triumvirs won resoundingly, and the leaders (Brutus and Cassius) committed suicide. Triumvirs firmly in control of Roman Government. Lepidus, the weaker triumvir, was clearly friendly towards Antony. This is exemplified by his full support against the conspirators despite Octavius’ absence, and his previous support for Antony during civil war against Octavius. Battle of Philippi. Octavius was sick during the campaign, and did not play a significant role in its events. However, through his triumviral allies he had avenged the death of his uncle.
42/1BC Division of the Empire. Antony received most of Gaul, but Cisalpine Gaul was redefined as part of Italia. Influence over government in Rome, possibly reduced, as Antony was absent in the provinces to collect taxes and appease veteran soldiers. Lepidus (Antony’s ally) was allocated Africa to put him at a distance from Antony and Octavius who divided the European empire between them. Division of the Empire. Octavius received the two Spanish provinces, and Sicily and Sardinia. He settled many of his veterans in Italy, giving him significant influence over the government in the capital. He was also responsible for defeating Sextius Pompey who was causing havoc in Sicily, and a major threat to Rome.
40 Triumvirate strengthened. Antony marries Octavia, sister of the similarly named triumvir. Antony moves East. Power transferred so that he controlled all provinces east of Macedonia (inclusive). Further decrease of influence in Rome as Octavius controls the west, despite the premise of “sharing Italy”. Lepidus further marginalised in triumvirate. Triumvirate strengthened. Genuine(?) move by Octavius to maintain alliance through marriage. Octavius takes all of the west. All provinces west of Illyricium were taken over by Octavius’ legions.
39 Sextius Pompey appeased by being given Sardinia and Sicily. Sextius Pompey appeased by being given Sardinia and Sicily.
38 Antony discouraged by expansion of Octavius. (read the right column first). Possibly disgruntled by Octavius’ acquisition of more territory than was agreed, Antony attacks Octavius’ breaking of the 39BC treaty. However, he still sends help to crush Pompey. Makes his capital in Athens. Decline of influence in Rome. (No evidence to suggest he had visited Rome since 41?) Octavius seeks to improve his standing. A defection by Pompey’s supporters gives Octavius control over Corsica, Sardinia and part of Pompey’s fleet. Despite treaty of 39 giving Pompey part of the Empire (a quadumvirate?), Octavius takes opportunity to boost area under his control and declares war of Pompey. It doesn’t go well. Request for help denied by Lepidus and fulfilled by Antony, despite Octavius not arriving to meet the reinforcements. Forces Livia to marry him. (she was already married at the time). Indicates his presence in Rome, and his maintenance of Roman links.
37-33 Distrust of Octavius. In an agreement, Antony was to provide ships for Octavius’ anti-Pompey campaign in exchange for 20000 troops. Antony delivered his promise. Octavius didn’t. Antony rebukes marriage alliance. Octavia was humiliated when Antony sends her back to Rome. He heads east, and marries Cleopatra despite not divorcing Octavia. Parthian Campaign. Antony succeeds in extending Roman territory in the East (avenges death of Crassus?). Triumph in Alexandria, not Rome. [34BC] Alliance with the alien queen. Cleopatra’s association with Antony completely destroys support for him in Rome. It is widely believed that Antony has fallen under some curse placed by the Egyptian queen. Octavius spreads rumours that Antony was to move the capital from Rome to Alexandria, and that Rome would be subject to an alien queen. Distribution of Roman Territory to Egypt. Cleopatra and Caesarion (illegitimate son of Caesar), along with Antony’s children were given Armenia, Media, Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, Cyrenaica. She was proclaimed Queen of Egypt. This restored much of the ancient Ptolemaic kingdom. Fears grow that Antony wants to co-rule the Roman Republic with Cleopatra from Alexandria. It was well known that Cleopatra desired an empire which was centred on Egypt. Complete loss of support. The donation of Roman territory to Cleopatra was not accepted by the Roman Senate. His previous supporters either supported Octavius, or left Rome to join his army for the impending showdown after Octavius enters the Senate House with an armed guard. Success against Pompey. Seen in Rome as “imperator”. Restores normal food supplies to Rome. Prestige and auctoritas in Rome increases, as influence of Antony declines after news of his association with Cleopatra is released. Removal of Lepidus. Possibly seen as a threat, Octavius absorbed Lepidus’ legions and those of the defeated Sextius Pompey into his army. Lepidus was evicted from Africa which was placed under Octavius’ control. Lepidus was placed under house arrest in Italy. Perhaps saw Lepidus as an ally of Antony who would prevent Octavius from achieving total control of the Roman Republic. Sicily. Restores Roman government after the demise of Pompey. Influence increased in this shipbuilding centre. Immense tributes granted by Senate. “Imperator Caesar divi filius” (Commander Caesar, son of the god). Granted sacrosanctity of a tribune. A golden statue of him was placed in the forum. Hailed continuously as Imperator. He was empowered with the support of the Republicans despite his populare past. Success in Macedonia. Defeated foreign guerilla troops to ensure that passage between Italy and the East was safe. His influence possibly encroached onto Antony’s domain. [35/4BC] Public Works. Cheap (or expensive, if you look at it from a different perspective) attempt to buy popular support using spoils of his campaigns. Successful. Widespread Support. The provincials, Italian allies and Roman people pledged personal support to his cause to eliminate his enemies. This was achieved through the use of propoganda. Yet, it also symbolises that Octavius was closer to Rome (physically and influentially) than Antony, whose actions made him appear closer to the foreign kingdom in Egypt.
33BC heralded the end of the term of the Triumvirate. It was not renewed. From 33BC to 32BC, war preparations were made. The tensions between Antony and Octavius resulted in the Battle Of Actium in 31BC. Octavius made rapid gains by invading Greece and capturing territory near Actium. From here, he used ships from his friend Agrippa, to launch a blockade of Antony’s fleet in all ports of Greece (including Actium). Despite the presence of the Egyptian fleet, Antony was defeated. His troops lacked food, water and morale and were plagued by malaria. Antony and Cleopatra escaped with a small force to Egypt, leaving the rest of his forces to surrender.
Octavius sought to remain close to Rome by controlling areas in the West and maintaining influence in Italy by positioning his troops there. He made friends with Agrippa, resulting in the construction of a large fleet which was the key to success in Actium. Octavius always ensured that the populus Romanus would view him as the defender of the Roman Republic, against the tyrant Antony. He ensured that his competitors (Lepidus, Sextius Pompey) were removed.
Antony became too removed from Rome after he left for Parthia. He made Athens his capital, and slowly migrated further and further away from Rome. His association with Cleopatra was a public relations disaster. His gift of Roman territory to a foreign nation was also a reflection of Cleopatra’s influence over Antony. The Roman people saw that Antony could possibly cause Rome to become subject to a foreign power, with himself as King – two feared outcomes, as Romans were xenophobic and strongly anti-monarchy.