Fall of the Roman Republic 78-31 BC

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Impact of Caesar's assassination

from Booklet 2:
pp.30-31: Caesar's plans for the immediate future
  • Having established his dictatorship for life, what were Caesar's plans for the future?

pp.31-32: The assassination of Caesar
  • Why was Caesar assassinated?
  • Who was involved in the conspiracy?

from Booklet 3:
pp.1-3: Marcus Antonius' reaction to Caesar's assassination
  • Why were Antony and Lepidus Caesar's political heirs?
  • What compromise did Antony reach with the senate?
  • What were the contents of Caesar's will?
  • What was the impact of Antony's funeral oration?
  • How did Antony behave initially with his power?
  • How did Antony begin to consolidate his power?

pp.3-6 Gaius Octavius (Octavian), Caesar's heir

  • At his death, Antony was Caesar’s co-consul and Lepidus was Caesar’s Master of the Horse.
  • As Consul, Antony took control of the situation.
    • Obtained Caesar’s papers and money from Calpurnia.
    • Negotiated an amnesty for the conspirators in return for keeping all Caesar’s reforms.
    • Plutarch: a vote of thanks by the senate to Antony for having averted civil war.
  • Will: Publicly read. Octavius was adopted by Caesar and named as heir to ¾ of Caesar’s estate. 75 denarii to every plebeian (in receipt of corn dole) and use of his gardens.
  • Funeral: Antony displayed Caesar’s blood-stained toga which caused rioting. The conspirators fled. Plutarch: Brutus committed a serious blunder in allowing the funeral oration.
  • Antony in control:
    • Abolished dictatorship.
    • Remained conciliatory towards assassins.
    • Convinced Lepidus to leave for his Spanish province.
    • Provided land for Caesar’s veterans.
    • Had Transalpine Gaul and Cisalpine Gaul transferred from D. Brutus to him. Retained Macedonia.
    • Extended provincial commands (against Caesar’s reforms).
    • Cicero: Antony annulled Caesar’s good laws to upset the constitution. “The recovery of freedom did not mean the revival of free government.”

  • Octavius was in Macedonia at time of assassination. Learnt of inheritance when he returned to Rome. Changed name: Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian). Two aims: revenge his father’s death; surpass his achievements.
  • Octavian achieved popularity by borrowing money to honour Caesar’s bequest of 75 denarii to the plebs, and to hold games.
  • Octavian raised an army from Caesar’s veterans.
  • Antony went to Cisalpine Gaul to take the province from D. Brutus. Senate resolved to support Brutus but Octavian was the only one with troops in Italy. Cicero argued for Octavian to be granted propraetorian imperium to support consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, against Antony.
  • Antony was defeated and fled, but the consuls were killed leaving Octavian in command with imperium.
  • Senate declared Antony a public enemy; granted D. Brutus a triumph; gave command of eastern provinces to M. Brutus and Cassius.
  • Octavian now realised that to continue opposing Antony was to give victory to his father’s murderers. He refused to cooperate with D. Brutus against Antony and demanded consulship.
  • Brutus’ troops mutinied. He was killed.
  • Octavian marched on Rome, seized the treasury and arranged consular elections. He was elected consul for the remainder of 43. Decree against Antony was revoked. Octavian’s adoption was legalised. Caesar’s assassins were tried in absentia.