6. Cn. Octavius
, son of No. 4.
He was one of the staunch supporters of the aristocratical party, which was perhaps the reason that he failed in obtaining the aedileship. (Cic. pro Planc.
He was consul in B. C. 87 with L. Cornelius Cinna, the year after the consulship of Sulla and the banishment of Marius and his leading partisans. Sulla was now absent in Greece, engaged in the war against Mithridates, and upon Octavius, therefore, devolved the support of the interests of his party. Immediately after Sulla's departure from Italy, Cinna attempted to obtain the power for the Marian party by incorporating the new Italian citizens among the thirty-five tribes. Octavius offered the most vehement resistance, and, in the contentions which ensued, he displayed all amount of eloquence for which previously credit had not been given him. (Cic. Brut. 47
But from words the two parties soon came to blows.
A dreadful conflict took place in the forum, and Cinna was driven out of the city with great slaughter.
The senate followed up their victory by depriving Cinna of his consulship, and appointing L. Cornelius Merula in his stead. But Cinna soon collected a considerable army, with which he marched against Rome, and Marius, as soon as he heard of these changes, returned from Africa and levied some troops, with which he likewise proceeded against the city.
The soldiers of Octavius seem to have had no confidence in their general, and therefore offered to place themselves under the command of Metellus Pius, who had been summoned to Rome by the senate. [METELLUS, No. 19.] But when Metellus refused to take the command, and numbers of the soldiers therefore deserted to the enemy, the senate had no other course left them but submission. Metellus fled from the city, and the friends of Octavius begged him to do the same; but, trusting to the promises of Marius and Cinna, and still more to the assurances of the diviners, that he would suffer no harm, he remained in Rome, declaring that being consul he would not abandon his country. Accordingly, when the troops of Marius and Cinna began to march into the city, he stationed himself on the Janiculum, with the soldiers that still remained faithful to him, and there, seated on his curule throne, was killed by Censorinus, who had been sent for that purpose by the victorious party. His head was cut off and suspended on the rostra.
This is the account of Appian, but the manner of his death is related somewhat differently by Plutarch. Octavius seems, upon the whole, to have been all upright man, but he was very superstitious, slow in action and in council, and did not possess remarkable abilities of any kind. (Appian, App. BC 1.64
; Plut. Mar. 41
; V. Max. 1.6.10
; Dio Cass. Fragm.
117, 118, ed. Reimarus; Liv. Epit. 79
,80; Flor. 3.21.9
; Cic. in Cat. 3.10, de Harasp. Resp. 24, Philipp. 13.1, 14.8, Tuscul. 5.19, pro Sest. 36, de Divin. 1.2, de Nat. Deor. 2.5.