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L. Munatius Plancus and M. Aemilius Lepidus.

PLANCUS was only accidentally of interest to Cicero. He was one of Caesar's legati in Gaul who stood by him in the Civil War. He fought with success at Ilerda in B.C. 49 (Caes. B. C. i. 40) and in the African Campaign of B.C. 46 (Caes. Afr. iv.), and was to be rewarded by the governorship of Celtic Gaul in B.C. 44-43, and the consulship in B.C. 42. His connexion with Antony afterwards, his long residence with him in Egypt, and his ultimate betrayal of his secrets to Augustus made the court historian Paterculus particularly fierce in denouncing him as inflicted with a kind of disease of treason, and as the most shifty of men. His letters to Cicero do not do much to relieve his character, clever and graphic as they are. He was influenced, it seems, almost entirely by personal considerations. If he did not resist Antony, he feared he should lose his province; if he did so unsuccessfully, he feared he might lose the consulship of B.C. 42. He therefore is vehement in his professions of loyalty to the senate, as long as it seemed that their generals were winning. He allowed Decimus Brutus to join forces with him, and was urgent that Octavian should do the same. But when he found that Antony had been joined by Lepidus and Pollio, he accepted the compromise offered him, and saved his consulship, if not his honour.

LEPIDUS was another man whom the chances of civil war had brought to a higher position than he had strength or character to maintain. He happened to be praetor in B.C. 49, and to do Caesar some service in securing his nomination as Dictator to hold the consular election. He was rewarded by the governorship of Hispania Citerior in B.C. 48-47, and the consulship of B.C. 46 as colleague of Caesar himself. Caesar does not seem to have employed him in a military capacity, but to have left him at home to keep order in Rome: and when Caesar was again appointed Dictator after Thapsus, and again for life after Munda, Lepidus was named his second in command or Master of the Horse. Though he still held that office in B.C. 44, he was not to accompany Caesar in the Parthian War, but was to hold the combined provinces of Narbonensis and Hispania Citerior. He used the troops collected for those provinces to keep order in Rome after the assassination. He did not, however, stay long in Rome. Having secured his own election as Pontifex Maximus in succession to Caesar, he went to his province. Whether he had any understanding with Antony or not, he seems at first to have been engaged in negotiations with Sext. Pompeius ostensibly in the interests of the senatorial party. From the proceedings of Antony in B.C. 44, and his ultimate determination to oust Decimus Brutus from Gallia, he stood aloof. When the siege of Mutina began he seems to have sent officers nominally to communicate with Brutus, but with secret orders not to take part in the struggle; and when Antony entered Narbonensis, after his retreat from Mutina, his officers at the frontier made no resistance, and though he feigned to be displeased and to punish them, they evidently were acting with his connivance. He was—says Decimus Brutus—"the shiftiest of men" (homo ventosissimus1), and his letters to Cicero and the senate professing loyalty, when on the eve of joining forces with Antony, are curious for their laboured treason.2 Like turncoats generally, he was little valued by the side which he thus joined. Antony and Octavian found it convenient to admit him to the triumvirate, but he was always treated with contempt by his two colleagues, and after his futile attempt in B.C. 36 to undermine Octavian's authority in Sicily, he was compelled to live in ignominious retirement till his death in B.C. 13. Cicero did his best by flattery and exhortation to keep him loyal, but never thought highly of him.3


1 p 121; Cicero speaks of him as levissimus ("most unstable"), vol. iv., p. 322.

2 Pp. 265, 291.

3 Vol. ii., p.330.

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