Treaty of Misenum

From eBook; Octavian Chronicle #8, Treaty of Misenum-39 BC
In the spring of 39 BC, Octavian and Mark Antony, accompanied by Maecenas, Asinius, and Plancus, met with Sextus Pompey and his advisors at the port city of Misenum on the north shore of the Bay of Naples. Sextus had taken control of Sicily and was using his powerful navy to block the grain ships sailing to Rome from the east. He was starving Italy. Octavian wanted to reach an agreement solely to buy time to build up his navy in preparation for a war against him.

Later in the day, after some discussion, Maecenas, Asinius, and Plancus came back to the headquarters tent and sat with Antony and Octavian.

Maecenas said, “Sextus wants all the Pompeians who’ve fled to him to be allowed to return to Italy in safety and get their property back.”

Antony looked at Octavian and asked, “What do you think?”

“He’s asking for too much. We have little property to spare because we need it for our soldiers who fought for us at Philippi.”

“We’re going to have to do something,” said Maecenas. “What if we agree to give them back half of their property? Most of their farms are large. One-half should satisfy them.”

“Alright,” said Octavian. “Let’s offer them one-quarter of their property.” Maecenas was about to protest, but Octavian put up his hand and continued, “Instead of offering it to Sextus, we’ll put the offer in writing directly to the Pompeians. They must be nervous about his trustworthiness since the murder of Murcus.”

Asinius was surprised. “Murcus was murdered! When did that happen? He served Sextus well.”

“Not long ago. They were having disagreements,” said Maecenas, “so Murcus retired and went to Syracuse. Then, at Menodorus’ urging, he sent agents to kill Murcus.”

Plancus said, “When you consider that Sextus had Bithynicus murdered too, the Pompeians surely could be worried that Sextus might keep the properties for himself.”

Antony said to Octavian, “Why don’t we have the documents drawn up, and we’ll sign them right away?”

“Alright,” said Octavian, “but they are to be handed to Libo not Sextus.”

“I agree,” said Antony.

Hours went by. It was nearly dark when Asinius, Maecenas, and Plancus returned. Antony smiled and said, “Come in, lads. Sit down. We’re anxious to hear what you have to say.” Then he turned to his servant and said, “Bring us some wine.”

Asinius spoke first. “You were right, Caesar. Libo told us that Sextus became angry when he handed the signed documents directly to the Pompeians instead of to him. He accused everyone except Menodorus of being a traitor. But the Pompeians accepted the offer and urged Sextus to agree to it.”

Antony smiled at Octavian. “So the Pompeians were suspicious of him just like our Caesar thought. Good thinking, lad.”

Octavian nodded. He had that familiar gleam in his eye.