The Second Triumvirate

Octavian Chronicle #4, Second Triumvirate-43 BC, tells the whole story.
In November 43 BC, Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus met on an island called Reni in the Lavinius River, northwest of Bologna, Italy. Here, they formed an uneasy alliance called the Second Triumvirate They joined their forces in preparation for a civil war against Marcus Brutus and Cassius Longinus who were in the east raising armies to come back and defeat them.

“I’m glad it’s warm today,” said Octavian. “I don’t know if I could suffer a meeting with Antony in the cold.” He turned to Cornelius. “So, what’s the plan for today?”

“We’ll ride north with five legions until we reach the island. When we get there, our five legions will line up on the east side of the river. Antony’s five legions will line up on the west. Then you’ll each approach the bridge.”

“Do you trust this?” asked Octavian.

“Pollonius and a group of his soldiers have been watching the island ever since we decided on it. They’re there right now,” said Cornelius. “I trust it.”

“That’s good enough for me,” said Octavian.

Later that day, Octavian walked toward the bridge. Antony and Lepidus did the same from their side, accompanied by Calenus. As planned, Lepidus walked out onto the island first to look the area over. He waved to some soldiers on his side of the river. They brought out a table and three chairs and placed them in a center spot on the island. Lepidus then waved his cloak, signaling Antony and Octavian to come over.

As they approached each other, Antony said, “How are you, lad?”

“I’m well, Marcus.” They gripped each other’s arms and embraced. After Octavian shook hands with Lepidus, Antony made a gesture toward the seat at the head of the table. “There, lad, sit there. You’re the consul.” Then he took the seat to Octavian’s right, and Lepidus sat to his left.

It was late afternoon when the meeting ended. After he came back over the bridge, Octavian said to Cornelius, “The meeting will have to continue tomorrow.”

“I’ll go and tell the men. We’ll make camp nearby.”

“How did it go?” Agrippa asked.

“The way we thought. Antony, Lepidus, and I will form a triumvirate to rule for the next five years. We’ll use the law, the Lex Titia, to make it legal, and we’ll pick all the magistrates in advance, including the consuls.

“We decided how we’ll split the Republic. Once we defeat Brutus and Cassius, we’ll talk again. For now, Antony will rule Gaul. I’ll rule Africa, Sicily, Sardinia and the other islands off the west coast of Italy. Lepidus will become consul. He’ll rule in Rome next year while Antony and I campaign against Brutus and Cassius. Lepidus will also rule Spain and that part of Gaul near Spain on the other side of the Pyrenees. He’ll do this through a magistrate.”

“Makes sense,” said Maecenas.

Octavian nodded and continued, “As far as the legions, three will remain with Lepidus to maintain order in Rome. Ten will be led by Antony, and ten will be led by me. The rest will remain in the west to protect our positions here.

“Here’s what we decided for the soldiers. Assuming we achieve total victory, we’ll divide the spoils of war accordingly. We’re going to grant them houses and land from the best towns in Italy, eighteen in total. Among these will be Capua, Rhegium, Venusia, Beneventum, Buceria, Ariminum and Vibo.”

Maecenas said, “That’s going to cause a big problem with the people who live there now and work that land, isn’t it?”

“I know,” said Octavian, “but there’s going to be a proscription. We’re going to list our enemies and put them to death early. We’ll use their wealth to help finance the war. The point is that we can’t afford to have wealthy enemies here in Italy spending money against us while we’re off fighting a war in the east.”

“Sounds like a lot of blood will be spilled,” said Agrippa, shaking his head.

“I’m sure there will be, Marcus,” said Octavian. “I know Antony will put Cicero at the top of the list.”

“Are you going to try to save Cicero?” asked Maecenas.

“I’m going to try tomorrow.” Octavian put his head down.