remarried, and the young Octavius passed under her care to that of his stepfather, L. Marcius Philippus. At the age of twelve (51 B.C.) he delivered the customary funeral panegyric on his grandmother Julia, his first public appearance. On the 18th of October 48 (or ? 47) B.C. he assumed the “toga virilis” and was elected into the pontifical college, an exceptional honour which he no doubt owed to his great-uncle, now dictator and master of Rome. In 46 B.C. he shared in the glory of Caesar’s African triumph, and in 45 he was made a patrician by the senate, and designated as one of Caesar’s “masters of the horse” for the next year. In the autumn of 45, Caesar, who was planning his Parthian campaign, sent his nephew to study quietly at the Greek colony of Apollonia, in Illyria. Here the news of Caesar’s murder reached him and he crossed to Italy. On landing he learnt that Caesar had made him his heir and adopted him into the Julian gens, whereby he acquired the designation of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. The inheritance was a perilous one; his mother and others would have dissuaded him from accepting it, but he, confident in his abilities, declared at once that he would undertake its obligations, and discharge the sums bequeathed by the dictator to the Roman people. Mark Antony had possessed himself of Caesar’s papers and effects, and made light of his young nephew’s pretensions. Brutus and Cassius paid him little regard, and dispersed to their respective provinces. Cicero, much charmed at the attitude of Antonius, hoped to make use of him, and flattered him to the utmost, with the expectation, however, of getting rid of him as soon as he had served his purpose. Octavianus conducted himself with consummate adroitness, making use of all competitors for power, but assisting none. Considerable forces attached themselves to him. The senate, when it armed the consuls against Antonius, called upon him for assistance; and he took part in the campaign in which Antonius was defeated at Mutina (43 B.C.). The soldiers of Octavianus demanded the consulship for him, and the senate, though now much alarmed, could not prevent his election. He now effected a coalition with Antonius and Lepidus, and on the 27th of November 43 B.C. the three were formally appointed a triumvirate for the reconstitution of the commonwealth for five years. They divided the western provinces among them, the east being held for the republic by Brutus and Cassius. They drew up a list of proscribed citizens, and caused the assassination of three hundred senators and two thousand knights. They further confiscated the territories of many cities throughout Italy, and divided them among their soldiers. Cicero was murdered at the demand of Antonius. The remnant of the republican party took refuge either with Brutus and Cassius in the East, or with Sextus Pompeius, who had made himself master of the seas.
Octavianus and Antonius crossed the Adriatic in 42 B.C. to reduce the last defenders of the republic. Brutus and Cassius were defeated, and fell at the battle of Philippi. War soon broke out between the victors, the chief incident of which was the siege and capture by famine of Perusia, and the alleged sacrifice of three hundred of its defenders by the young Caesar at the altar of his uncle. But peace was again made between them (40 B.C.). Antonius married Octavia, his rival’s sister, and took for himself the eastern half of the empire, leaving the west to Caesar. Lepidus was reduced to the single province of Africa. Meanwhile Sextus Pompeius made himself formidable by cutting off the supplies of grain from Rome. The triumvirs were obliged to concede to him the islands in the western Mediterranean. But Octavianus could not allow the capital to be kept in alarm for its daily sustenance. He picked a quarrel with Sextus, and when his colleagues failed to support him, undertook to attack him alone. Antonius, indeed, came at last to his aid, in return for military assistance in the campaign he meditated in the East. But Octavianus was well served by the commander of his fleet, M. Vipsanius Agrippa. Sextus was completely routed, and driven into Asia, where he perished soon afterwards (36 B.C.). Lepidus was an object of contempt to all parties, and Octavianus and Antonius remained to fight for supreme power.
The five years (36-31 B.C.) which preceded the decisive encounter between the two rivals were wasted by Antony in fruitless campaigns, and in a dalliance with Cleopatra which shocked Roman sentiment. By Octavian they were employed in strengthening his hold on the West, and his claim to be regarded as the one possible saviour of Rome and Roman civilization. His marriage with Livia (38 B.C.) placed by his side a sagacious counsellor and a loyal ally, whose services were probably as great as even those of his trusted friend Marcus Agrippa. With their help he set himself to win the confidence of a public still inclined to distrust the author of the proscriptions of 43 B.C. Brigandage was suppressed in Italy, and the safety of the Italian frontiers secured against the raids of Alpine tribes on the north-west and of Illyrians on the east, while Rome was purified and beautified, largely with the help of Agrippa (aedile in 33 B.C.). Meanwhile, indignation at Antony’s un-Roman excesses, and alarm at Cleopatra’s rumoured schemes of founding a Greco-Oriental empire, were rapidly increasing. In 32 B.C. Antony’s repudiation of his wife Octavia, sister of Octavian, and the discovery of his will, with its clear proofs of Cleopatra’s dangerous ascendancy, brought matters to a climax, and war was declared, not indeed against Antony, but against Cleopatra.
The decisive battle was fought on the 2nd of September 31 B.C. at Actium on the Epirot coast, and resulted in the almost total destruction of Antony’s fleet and the surrender of his land forces. Not quite a year later (Aug. 1, 30 B.C.) followed the capture of Alexandria and the deaths by their own hands of Antony and Cleopatra. On the 11th of January 29 B.C. the restoration of peace was marked by the closing of the temple of Janus for the first time for 200 years. In the summer Octavian returned to Italy, and in August celebrated a three days’ triumph. He was welcomed, not as a successful combatant in a civil war, but as the man who had vindicated the sovereignty of Rome against its assailants, as the saviour of the republic and of his fellow-citizens, above all as the restorer of peace.
He was now, to quote his own words, “master of all things,” and the Roman world looked to him for some permanent settlement of the distracted empire. His first task was the re-establishment of a regular and constitutional government, such as had not existed since Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon twenty years before. To this task he devoted the next eighteen months (Aug. 29-Jan. 27 B.C.). In the article on Rome: History (q.v.), his achievements are described in detail, and only a brief summary need be given here. The “principate,” to give the new form of government its most appropriate name, was a compromise thoroughly characteristic of the combination of tenacity of purpose with cautious respect for forms and conventions which distinguished its author. The republic was restored; senate, magistrates and assembly resumed their ancient functions; and the public life of Rome began to run once more in the familiar grooves. The triumvirate with its irregularities and excesses was at an end. The controlling authority, which Octavian himself wielded, could not indeed be safely dispensed with. But henceforward he was to exercise it under constitutional forms and limitations, and with the express sanction of the senate and people. Octavian was legally invested for a period of ten years with the government of the important frontier provinces, with the sole command of the military and naval forces of the state, and the exclusive control of its foreign relations. At home it was understood that he would year by year be elected consul, and enjoy the powers and pre-eminence attached to the chief magistracy of the Roman state. Thus the republic was restored under the presidency and patronage of its “first citizen” (princeps civitatis).
In acknowledgment of this happy settlement and of his other services further honours were conferred upon Octavian. On the 13th of January 27 B.C., the birthday of the restored republic, he was awarded the civic crown to be placed over the door of his house, in token that he had saved his fellow-citizens and restored the Republic. Four days later (Jan. 17) the senate conferred upon him the cognomen of Augustus.
But it was not only the machinery of government in Rome that needed repair. Twenty years of civil war and confusion had disorganized the empire, and the strong hand of Augustus,