From a Power Behind the Scenes, to Top Dog
All underestimated Octavius. He paid for public games in honor of his adoptive father to gain recognition and popularity, and wooed Caesar’s veteran soldiers to his side. Cicero’s faction sought Octavius’ aid, bent the rules to appoint him a senator despite his youth, and sent him against Mark Antony, who was forced to retreat from Italy to Gaul. The consuls in official command of the forces arrayed against Mark Antony were killed, so Octavius compelled the Senate to appoint him to a vacant consulship despite his youth. He then double crossed the Senate, cut a deal with Mark Antony, and joined him in a power sharing dictatorship. The duo then launched a massive purge that executed thousands of suspected opponents, including Cicero.
They then went after Caesar’s assassins, defeated them, and exacted revenge. The duo swore friendship, and to seal the bargain, Antony married Octavius’ sister. They then divided the Roman Empire: Antony ruled the east, while Octavius stayed in Rome and ruled the west. Things soured when Antony fell in love with Queen Cleopatra in Egypt, married her, and abandoned Octavius’ sister. Octavius used that as a pretext to attack Antony, whom he defeated in 31 BC. He then seized Egypt and the eastern provinces, and finally brought the entire Roman realm under his control. After his victory, Octavius engaged in a round of king-making in the Eastern Mediterranean, nearly as extensive as that of Pompey the Great a generation earlier.