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After The Ides Of March Notes

Classics Notes > Roman History; 46 BC to 54 AD Notes

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After the Ides of March The liberators, once Caesar had been assassinated, had little idea what to do; it seems like they assumed with him dead the old Republic would be miraculously restored. This, however, was clearly not the case and Caesar's prophecy that only civil war would follow his death came true. Marc Antony was the first to seize upon the legacy of Caesar and the war first started between him and Brutus and Cassius on the side of the Republicans. Cicero's strategy was to bring to prominence Caesar's true heir (by virtue of adoption) Octavian and tried to use him as a blunt instrument with which to destroy Antony; this spectacularly failed and helped to bring about the permanent end to his beloved Republic in the form of the Principate. With hindsight we can see that the assassins of Caesar made a crucial error in negotiating with Marc Antony and not killing him; Cicero had advised them to do this and then to seize the power of the state themselves, an illegal act but one which would have, in all likelihood, preserved the Republic and this was all that worried Cicero. They also left Lepidus, the magister equitum of Caesar, in charge of the only troops near Rome, which meant that they had to cower in their homes fearing the mob while the Caesareans were able to consolidate their position. Despite this everything initially went well for the liberators as Antony managed to calm the crowd and proposed a compromise in which they were pardoned, but not praised and the acts of Caesar were ratified. He also abolished the position of dictator and took actions against radicals who sought divine honours and retribution for Caesar; Amatius was executed for setting up an altar worshipping him in the forum. However it was not long before he started to become more radical and used the ratification of Caesar's acts to his advantage and passed things to his own advantage which supposedly had been planned by the dictator. He began to cultivate a massive clientele for himself by granting citizenship and privileges to certain provinces and allotments of land for veterans. He also secured the provinces of Macedonia, Gallia Cisalpina and Comata with four legions for five years once he finished his term as consul; a move which could be interpreted as tyrannical aspirations or merely ensuring he would be safe from legal proceedings, which were politically driven at Rome. Antony was most of all concerned with solidifying the bedrock of the Caesarean faction, the plebs and the veterans; however he had a rival in this, Caesar's heir, Octavian. As soon as he heard the news that he had been made Caesar's son in the will, Octavian rushed to Rome to take up the honour; he even dropped the name Octavianus and became simply Caius Julius Caesar. Suetonius says that along with the name he received three quarters of the dictator's estate and several of the assassins were adopted as his guardians, including Decimus Brutus. (This perhaps later gave Cicero extra impulse to trust Octavian as a tool that could be used to defeat Antony and save the Republic). Appian also records the adoption and adds that when Octavian later entered the city as consul he had this adoption validated by a lex curiata, which was the most legitimate form of adoption and gave him full

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