Treaty of Brundisium

Octavian Chronicle #7, Treaty of Brundisium-40 BC, tells the whole story.
In September 40 BC, Mark Antony and Octavian met in Brundisium, a port city on the lower east coast of Italy. A series of misunderstandings had brought them to the brink of a civil war.
Antony had been unaware that his wife, Fulvia, and his brother, Lucius, had started and fought a civil war against Octavian in Italy.
The primary motivation for the war was Fulvia’s jealousy of Cleopatra. Antony was living with her in Egypt. Fulvia thought the war would bring him home to her in Rome, but it didn’t. She and Lucius lost the war to Octavian.

When Antony heard about it, he sailed to Athens to  meet with the already distraught Fulvia. After severely chastising her, he sailed to Brundisium. When he arrived, Octavian’s soldiers and the citizens of Brundisium blocked him from him entering their port. Antony became furious. He put Brundisium under siege and sent his legions into Italy to confront Octavian’s men. 

After a few skirmishes, cooler heads prevailed. The soldiers in both their armies did not want to fight a war that was a feud between their two leaders rather than an enemy of Rome. Finally, Octavian and Antony sat down to discuss their grievances, one against the other.


“Alright, let’s put that behind us,” said Antony. “I’ll concede that it was a misunderstanding. Your army and the people of Brundisium didn’t know I was coming, but what about your taking control of Calenus’ legions? How do you explain that?”

“I answer that three ways,” said Octavian. “The first is that your brother and your wife started an unnecessary war with me. When Calenus died, Ventidius and your friend here, Ahenobarbus, were in northern Italy. I didn’t want them to take control of those legions and take up arms against me.”

“I can understand that,” said Antony, rubbing the whiskers on his chin.

“Another reason that I took them over was that I didn’t want them to be leaderless. If they were, Sextus could’ve easily sailed up there from Sicily and taken them over.”

Antony nodded in agreement.

Octavian finished with his third point. “Finally, I took those legions over for you.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?” asked Antony, in a voice nearly hysterical with sarcasm.

Octavian raised his voice. “Is your brother, Lucius, still alive? Why would I spare your brother’s life even though he attacked me if I wasn’t your ally? Besides, you can have those legions and Gaul if you want them. If we have a true alliance, it doesn’t matter which of us has control of them. Besides, I have my hands full getting the soldiers settled.” Octavian sat back in his chair.

“That’s true, lad,” Antony answered thoughtfully. “If we have an alliance, then it doesn’t matter, does it?”

“Let me make one more point about all of this,” said Octavian. “When the war was over with Lucius and Fulvia, Plancus’ cavalry went over to Sextus, so Agrippa took over the two legions that Plancus had left unattended before they, too, went over to Sextus.”

Antony turned around and looked at Plancus. “I can’t fault you for that, lad, can I?”

Maecenas spoke up, “In fairness to Plancus, he had to leave the cavalry unattended in order to move quickly to protect Fulvia. He arranged for her protection and accompanied her all the way to Athens.”

“You’re right, Maecenas,” said Antony.

All of a sudden, the room was quiet.

Then Asinius said, “So, the question is, what do we do now?”

Maecenas looked at Asinius and said, “I think we need Antony and Caesar to declare an amnesty on their past grievances and begin to consider the renewal of the triumvirate.”

Antony stood and extended his hand across the table to Octavian. “I’m ready to agree to that.”

“So am I,” said Octavian. He stood, and when they shook hands, everyone applauded.