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Arrival of Octavian.

Matters had been farther complicated by the appearance of the young Octavian on the scene. He had been sent by his uncle for the winter to Apollonia, where he might with less interruption than at Rome pursue his studies and perfect his military education. But immediately he received from his mother the news of the Dictator's assassination, he started with a small retinue of friends for Italy. On the 11th of April Cicero writes that he has heard of his arrival and is anxious to know how he has been received.1 On the 18th he came to Naples, saw Balbus, and declared his acceptance of his great-uncle's inheritance, which was sure to cause, Balbus thinks, much bad blood between him and Antony, who had laid hands on much which Octavian would claim, on the ground that it was public money.2 In a letter of the 22nd Cicero decribes a meeting with him at the villa of his stepfather Philippus near Puteoli. He watched to see how he was addressed by his friends. They all called him Caesar, in virtue of his adoption in the will of his great-uncle. But Philippus—who wished him to refuse the inheritance—did not do so. Cicero therefore also refrained, but anxiously observed his disposition towards the party of Antony. The young man appears to have been characteristically cautious, speaking of the existing state of things indeed as "intolerable," but not suggesting his views as to their remedy or committing himself to anything. Cicero was doubtful. He mistrusted the friends surrounding him, who would make it "impossible for him to be a good citizen," and he felt indignant at his being able to go safely to the city from which Brutus and Cassius and the other "heroes" were excluded. Still he could not but acknowledge that Octavian treated him personally with respect,3 and he presently began to cherish a hope that he might use his grievances against Antony to draw him into closer union with the party of the Optimates. But this hope was a good deal dashed early in May by the report of a speech delivered in Rome by Octavian, in which he spoke in glowing terms of his great-uncle, declared his intention of paying the legacies to the citizens, and celebrating the games which he had promised.4 However, Cicero did not give up hope of him, and his final verdict at this period is distinctly rather favourable: “In Octavianus, as I have perceived, there is no little ability and spirit, and he seems likely to be as well disposed to our heroes as I could wish. But what confidence one can feel in a man of his age, name, inheritance, and upbringing may well give us pause. His stepfather, whom I have seen at Astura, thinks none at all. However, we must foster him, and, if nothing else, keep him apart from Antony. Marcellus will be doing admirable service if he gives him good advice. Octavian seemed to me to be devoted to him: but he has no great confidence in Pansa and Hirtius. His disposition is good if it does but last.5

It will be observed that Cicero now speaks of the young man as Octavianus, thus acknowledging his adoption. He also seems now or soon after to have begun a correspondence with him, unfortunately lost, which later on became almost more continuous than he quite relished. For the present he was only one of the agents whom he hoped to use against Antony. Like so many of his hopes, this too was doomed to disappointment. Octavian was determined to maintain his rights against Antony, but in his heart was no thought of permanent friendship with the clique which had murdered his uncle and adoptive father, and was anxious above all things to retain the direction of the state and the wealth of the provinces in its hands.

1 P. 10.

2 P. 18.

3 P.21.

4 Pp.45-46, 52.

5 Pp.71-72.

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