Second Triumvirate

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The Second Triumvirate is the name historians give to the official political alliance of Octavius (later known as Augustus), Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Mark Antony, formed on 26 November 43 BC with the enactment of the Lex Titia, the adoption of which marked the end of the Roman Republic. The Triumvirate existed for two five-year terms, covering the period 43 BC – 33 BC.

Unlike the earlier First Triumvirate, the Second Triumvirate was an official, legally established institution, whose overwhelming power in the Roman state was given full legal sanction and whose imperium maius outranked that of all other magistrates, including the consuls.



Octavian, despite his youth, had extorted from the Senate the post of suffect consul (consul suffectus) for 43 BC. He had been warring with Antony and Lepidus in upper Italia. In October 43 they agreed to unite and seize power; they met near Bononia (now Bologna[2]).[3]

The Triumvirate was legally established in 43 BC as the Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate ("Triumvirs for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power", invariably abbreviated as "III VIR RPC"). It possessed supreme political authority. The only other office which had ever been qualified "for confirming the Republic" was the dictatorship of Lucius Cornelius Sulla. The only limit on the powers of the Triumvirate was the five-year term set by law.

A historical oddity of the Triumvirate is that it was, in effect, a three-man directorate with dictatorial powers which included Antony, who as consul in 44 BC had obtained a lex Antonia which had abolished the dictatorship and expunged it from the Republic's constitutions. As had been the case with both Sulla and Julius Caesar during their dictatorships, the members of the Triumvirate saw no contradiction between holding a supraconsular office and the consulate itself simultaneously (Lepidus was consul in 42 BC, Antony in 34 BC, and Octavian in 33 BC).

In order to refill the treasury, the Triumvirs decided to resort to proscription.[4] As all three had been partisans of Caesar, their choices of targets were somewhat peculiar. The most notable victim, Marcus Tullius Cicero, who had opposed Caesar and excoriated Antony in his Philippics, came as no surprise; nor did the proscription of Marcus Favonius, a follower of Cato and a constant opponent of both triumvirates;[5] but the proscription of Caesar's legate Quintus Tullius Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero's younger brother) seems to be motivated by pure spite. Perhaps the most shocking proscription was that of Caesar's legate Lucius Iulius Caesar, Caesar's first cousin once removed (and Antony's uncle) and one of Caesar's closest friends.

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