LVI

EARLY NOVEMBER 43 B.C.

THE TRIUMVIRATE AND THE PROSCRIPTION

There was a low island in the middle of the Lavinius River, not far from Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul. On a spring morning, ten legions drew up on the riverbanks facing each other. Five legions belonged to Octavian, five to Antony and Lepidus. Octavian advanced to a bridge to the island with three hundred men. Antony and Lepidus did likewise at a second bridge. Lepidus then crossed to the island alone, and when satisfied that it was secure, he waved his cloak and was joined by Antony and Octavian. The trio sat down together, “with Octavian in the center presiding, because of his office” as consul.¹

For three days the leaders conferred, from dawn till dusk on the first two days. Mirroring the alliance among Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus that had ended a decade earlier, these three formed the Board of Three for the Ordering of State; this became known as the Triumvirate, and the three leaders as the Triumvirs. They agreed that their alliance would last five years, with each man wielding consular power. They distributed the provinces among themselves—Antony received Gaul, except for Narbon Gaul, which Lepidus retained along with Spain; Octavian took Africa, Sicily, and Sardinia. They agreed that in the new year, Lepidus would take charge at Rome with three legions, while Antony and Octavian went to the East with their combined armies to take on Brutus and Cassius.²

Finally, the trio agreed to draw up a list of two hundred opponents, proscribing them for summary execution. According to Appian, that list would grow to three hundred senators and fifteen hundred Equestrians. Lepidus put his own brother, Paulus, at the top of his list. Octavian named a number of men, including the juror who voted to acquit Caesar’s murderers. And Antony was quick to nominate his uncle, Lucius Caesar. But the first name on Antony’s list was that of Cicero. Octavian resisted approving Cicero’s execution, and for two days held out to save him, “but on the third day yielded,” with Antony making it clear that the fate of their alliance hung on Cicero’s demise.³ The names of Cicero and many of his relatives and friends were added to the execution list.

Legionaries and Praetorians were soon marching into Italy bearing copies of the death list, knowing that the Triumvirs would pay twenty-five thousand sesterces for the head of each proscribed man. Within ten days of the Triumvirs agreeing on their pact, the executions began.

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