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The Second Triumvirate was a political association of convenience between three of Rome’s most powerful figures – Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian – in the 1st century BC.
See the fact file below for more information on the Second Triumvirate or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Second Triumvirate worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ORIGIN – FIRST TRIUMVIRATE
- Triumvir, or tresvir, is a Roman word meaning a member of a college of three members.
- The group of three has seen historical significance throughout the years, especially in ancient Rome.
- Roman political order was in chaos. There was street violence and rioting, and people with political goals began plotting to overthrow the Roman government.
- In order to prevent that from happening, three men converged to retain power. They were Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar.
- Pompey was the one who kept the group together. Crassus agreed to be part to make sure that he got everything he wanted when he wanted despite his obvious dislike for Pompey.
- Caesar needed Crassus and Pompey to support him politically to consolidate his power and accomplish what he wanted in Rome.
- The First Triumvirate however abruptly ended following the assassination of Julius Caesar believing his death would resurrect the old Roman spirit and faith in the Republic would be restored.
THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE
- After Caesar had been killed, Mark Antony controlled the republic.
- He then appointed Brutus and Cassius, Julius Caesar’s assassins, as governors of provinces in the East despite the Senators’ plea for a compromise and amnesty.
- This did not sit well with Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian. He then launched a war against Antony, who was defeated at Modena in northern Italy.
- Meanwhile, Lepidus and Mark Antony were also warring against Octavius.
- The triumvirate was officially formed as a legal entity with the establishment of the Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate, or “Triumvirs for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power”.
- The three rulers were allowed to serve for five years at a time. At the end of the term, they must be re-confirmed in order to keep their position.
- According to some historians, the triumvirate was an unstable alliance. Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian) were all men of strong character.
- Their first mission was to avenge Julius Caesar’s death by hunting the masterminds of assassination.
- Although not directly involved, Cicero was identified. Further, his firm belief that Antony was an enemy of the state and should have been killed alongside Caesar earned him more hatred.
- He was then captured. Cicero’s hands were cut off while his head was cut off and sent to Rome.
- The others – Decimus, Brutus, Cassius, and Sextus Pompey – were slowly cornered and eliminated.
REIGN AND DISCORD
- Mark Antony and Octavian each believed himself to be the rightful leader of the government. However, Octavian later emerged as the stronger competitor.
- Lepidus ruled over the provinces of Hispania and Narbonese Gaul in exchange for sending seven legions to Octavian and Antony to continue the struggle against Brutus and Cassius.
- Antony retained Cisalpine Gaul and hegemony over Gaul itself, and Octavian held Africa and was given nominal authority over Sicily and Sardinia.
- This division of power humiliated Octavian, so he slowly devised plans to grab sole authority over Rome.
END OF THE TRIUMVIRATE
- In 37 BC, Lepidus was kept out of the renewal of the coalition, partly due to his continuous losses in his battles. Octavian then banished him to Circei the following year.
- Octavian found out about Antony’s affair with the Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra, and used it to his advantage.
- He exposed the relationship and Antony’s will, which stated that his inheritance would go to Cleopatra’s children, not those of Octava, his legitimate wife.
- He also wanted to be buried in Egypt, which Octavian made sure the Romans found out about.
- Octavian successfully managed to stir up Rome against him. In the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, Antony and Cleopatra both committed suicide following bitter naval and ground warfare.
- Soon after, Octavius returned as a Roman hero and sole ruler, now called Augustus, the first emperor of the new Roman Empire.
- He assumed imperial authority far beyond the intent of the Senate, including sole powers to command an enormous amount of wealth and most of the Roman legions.
- Augustus reigned until 14 AD, founding an empire that would remain in power for nearly 1,500 years. He is considered by historians to be the greatest of all Rome’s many emperors.
Second Triumvirate Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Second Triumvirate across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Second Triumvirate worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Second Triumvirate which was a political association of convenience between three of Rome’s most powerful figures – Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian – in the 1st century BC.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Second Triumvirate Facts
- Picturing the Trio
- The Foundation
- Mark Antony
- Latin Maxims
- The Rulers
- Power of Three
- Rome Now from Then
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Use With Any Curriculum
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