To What Extent Did The Rivalry Between Mark Antony And Octavian And The Civil War That Followed, Result In The Fall Of The Republic?

3026 words - 13 pages

A period of social, military and political upheaval in the first century BCE left the Roman Republic susceptible to rivalries similar to that of Mark Antony and Octavian’s. Their combatting ambitions in hope for individual power appeared to follow in the footsteps of egotistical figures previous, however due to exceptional circumstances made available by the events on the Ides of March, Mark Antony and Octavian’s public rivalry had a significantly larger impact than previously observed. The culmination of such rivalry resulted in a bloody civil war, with Octavian proceeding to proclaim himself victor and progress the republican government into the Augustan principate. The outcome of such had a considerable effect on the transcendence of the republic into an empire, however it was not the exclusive catalyst.

Although it was the rivalry between Mark Antony and Octavian that resulted in a critical progression of Roman government leading to the fall of the republic, the opportunity was borne from a period of upheaval as a result of the failed egotistical actions of ambitious individuals previous. The Roman Republic maintained a balance to which the Greek historian Polybius described as, “the three kinds of government; monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, were all found united in Rome. And… it was no easy thing to determine with assurance whether the entire state was an aristocracy, a democracy or a monarchy”.[footnoteRef:1] Thus, it can be drawn that an overbearing presence of one of these forms of government would be fatal to the durability of the republic. The balance was first manipulated to be in favour of an aristocracy by Roman politician, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, in his attainment of a second consulship in 133 BC. This “segway to an empire”[footnoteRef:2] continued in 84 BC when Sulla marched on Rome and had himself appointed dictator, favouring the monarchy, and continued in its downward spiral in 73 BCE, when Spartacus lead the slave rebellion and altered the social hierarchy structure in favour of a democracy. By 60 BCE, political order in Rome itself was deteriorating, and replaced by violence – thus a progression in the fall of the republican system. [1: Polybius, An Analysis of the Roman Government, Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of Original Sources, Vol. III: The Roman World. P166.] [2: Mary Beard. 2015, SPQR. Profile Books Ltd, London. P216.]

Gaius Julius Caesar was the catalyst and precedent to Octavian’s eventual sole rule, as despite “dictatorships (being) assumed (only) in emergencies”, Caesar successfully manipulated the system to name himself ‘dictator for life’. [footnoteRef:3] [footnoteRef:4] The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BCE was projected to restore the public from the dictatorship he had created, and was exemplary of “murder (being) the weapon of choice against a political opponent”.[footnoteRef:5] However it seems the senators did not possess the foresight to...

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