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 When the Pompeians learned what had happened (and an astonishing number showed themselves to be of that party), they exclaimed that their ancestral freedom had at last been regained, and they each offered sacrifices. Decemvirs were chosen to examine the accounts of Antony's magistracy. This was a preliminary step to annulling Cæsar's arrangements, for Antony had done little or nothing himself, but had conducted all the affairs of state in accordance with Cæsar's memoranda.1 The Senate knew this well, but it hoped that by finding a pretext for annulling a part of the measures it should be enabled in the same way to annul the whole. The decemvirs gave public notice that whoever had received anything from Antony's government should make it known in writing immediately, and threatened any who should disobey. The Pompeians also sought the consulship for the remainder of the year in place of Hirtius and Pansa. But Octavius also sought it, applying not to the Senate, but to Cicero privately, whom he urged to become his colleague, saying that Cicero should carry on the government, as he was the elder and more experienced, and that he (Octavius) would enjoy the title only, by which means he could dismiss his army in a becoming manner, for which reason he had previously asked the honor of a triumph. Cicero, whose desire for office was excited by this proposal, said to the Senate that he understood that a negotiation was on foot among the generals commanding the provinces, and he advised that they should conciliate the man whom they had treated with disdain and who was still at the head of a large army, and allow him to hold office in the city, notwithstanding his youth, rather than that he should remain under arms in a hostile attitude. But lest he should do anything contrary to the interest of the Senate, Cicero proposed that some man of prudence from among the older ones should be chosen as his colleague as a firm check upon the immaturity of Octavius. The Senate laughed at Cicero's ambition, and the relatives of the conspirators especially opposed him, fearing lest Octavius, as consul, should bring the murderers to punishment."2
1 This is very far from the truth. Appian's partiality for Antony is equal to all emergencies.
2 Plutarch says that "Octavius sent friends to Cicero to beg and persuade him to obtain the consulship for both of them, saying that he (Cicero) might conduct the business in whatever way he chose after entering upon the office, and might govern him, as he was a young man solicitous only for the name and the honor. Octavius himself acknowledges that, as he was fearful of being ruined and in danger of being deserted, he made use of Cicero's desire for office by persuading him to seek the consulship in coöperation with himself, and to assist him in the canvass. Thereupon Cicero, although now an old man, was allured by the young man and cheated by him, for he aided Octavius in this canvass for the consulship, and brought the Senate over to his side; but being presently blamed by his friends, he perceived a little later that he was undone, and that he had betrayed the liberty of the people." (Life of Cicero, 45 and 46.) It seems that Plutarch drew his information, either directly or indirectly, from the memoirs of Octavius, which were extant in his time. It is probable that Appian drew from the same source, as he refers to it in his Illyrian history, Sec. 14. Both Dr. Middleton and Mr. Strachan-Davidson, in their respective biographies of Cicero, doubt this tale, and I agree with them. Yet its truth might be conceded without discredit to Cicero. That he was hoodwinked disastrously by Octavius is well known. In the fifth Philippic (18) he had pledged himself to the Senate in the most fervent terms for the fidelity of Octavius to the republic, and he might well have reasoned that the latter would allow him to guide the republic, whose fate was then trembling in the balance. The death of the two consuls had left Rome at the mercy of half a dozen commanders in the field, who could not be controlled by the Senate. Under such circumstances Cicero might have grasped at the consulship in conjunction with Octavius, without the motive of personal ambition. But the whole story is incongruous with known facts. The Epitome of Livy makes no mention of it.
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