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"The rise of Octavian owed more to luck, and the mistakes of his enemies, rather than his own political abilities. Discuss."

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"The rise of Octavian owed more to luck, and the mistakes of his enemies, rather than his own political abilities. Discuss." Octavian's famous claim that he 'found Rome a brick and left it as marble1' is by no means unfounded. It is true that under his reign, Rome grew steadily towards peace and prosperity unlike ever before. But was his eventual ascension to leadership brought about by his own political abilities, or was it more to do with the mistakes of his enemies? Octavian has always maintained the mantle of being 'delicate in health2' to some affect and in his youth he was said to have 'scarcely recovered from a dangerous sickness3', and it has been rightfully said that he was not known for 'grand feats of arms4,' but it seems very hard to deny that he was, in his own right, a masterful statesman. Of course, when he inherited three-quarters his great uncle's estate, as well as his name, it is easy to forget that Octavian was not yet even 20 years of age. The explanation for this is because before Octavian reached that age, in very little time he seemed to achieve more than any other man did so in the Roman era. But to what can this be attributed to? ...read more.


Both wanted to avenge his death, and Antony already shown this previously, but on that occasion Brutus had had the defence of both the senate and the consular armies. Nevertheless, he had joined forces with Caesar veteran Lepidus, and two other generals loyal to the dead dictator. Cicero's reaction was to promptly label both Lepidus and Antony outlaws. But Octavian dispelled this label, and decided to join forces with the two to form the Second Triumvirate. With 43 legions between them, their power was unquestionable, and the senate had little choice but to take the back seat. But the three took it further, and drew up a list of 300 senators and 2000 equites to be disposed of. While it seems unlikely that the three would have been worried about the senate sufficiently to wipe them out completely, it is important to remember that the estates that could be seized from them would have amounted to considerable wealth - and thus Octavian would be 'enabled to fulfil his promises to the veteran soldiers. 11' Of course, this also left Octavian 'wholly unopposed, 12' as those who remained 'preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past. 13' With the aid of Lepidus and Antony, Octavian finally got his chance to avenge those whom had murdered Caesar. ...read more.


While Antony was rash in his decisions, Octavian was often more calculated, he made sure he was the one in Rome as the Triumvirate came to its legal end and although he didn't assume any title straight away, his authority was what carried him over. Another considerable advantage of Octavian's had to be his youth. It proved so because everyone around him saw it as a disadvantage, a weakness that many, including Cicero and Antony assumed he could be easily dealt with if necessary. But Octavian asserted himself wonderfully, in almost every political situation, which ensured his power. His wise decisions in choosing able generals to fight his battles for him was also a swift move, lesser men would have found it hard to turn to others for help when they obviously needed it. Although both luck and the mistakes of others proved instrumental in Octavian's rise, it seems difficult to deny that he would have continued his rise with the abilities he undoubtedly did possess. 1 From the Gracchi to Nero H.H. Scullard 2 From the Gracchi to Nero H.H. Scullard 3 Lives of the Twelve Caesars Seutonius 4 The Grandeur that was Rome Sidgewick & Jackson 5 Marc Antony Plutarch 6 Lives of the Twelve Caesars Seutonius 7 Lives of the Twelve Caesars Seutonius 8 From the Gracchi to Nero H.H. ...read more.

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