making war upon one another, to lay down their arms, he assumed the title of imperator, though he had not struck a blow. On his return to Rome b. c. 47, Caesar gratified his vanity with a triumph, though the only trophies he could display, says Dion Cassius (xliii. 1), was the money of which he had robbed the province. In the course of the same year Caesar made him his magister equitum, and in the next year, b. c. 46, his colleague in the consulship. He was likewise nominated magister equitum by Caesar for the second and third times in b. c.. 45 and 44.
In b. c. 44 Lepidus received from Caesar the government of Narbonese Gaul and Nearer Spain, but had not quitted the neighbourhood of Rome at the time of the dictator's death. He was then collecting troops for his provinces, and the conspirators had therefore proposed to murder him as well as Antony with the dictator ; but this project was overruled. On the evening before the fatal 15th of March Caesar had supped with Lepidus (Appian, B. C. ii. 115), and he was present on the following day in the curia of Pompey, in the Campus Martius, and saw Caesar fall by the daggers of his assassins. (Plut. Caes. 67 ; the statement of Appian, B. C. ii. 118, and Dion Cassius xliv. 22, that Lepidus was not present, is less probable). Lepidus hastily stole away from the senate house with the other friends of Caesar, and after concealing himself for a few hours, repaired to his troops, the possession of which in the neighbourhood of Rome, seemed almost to place the supreme power in his hands. Accordingly, in the night of the 15th of March, he took possession of the forum with his soldiers, and on the following morning addressed the people to exasperate them against the murderers of the dictator. Antony, however, dissuaded him from resorting to violence, and in the negotiations which followed with the aristocracy Lepidus adopted all the views of the former. He was, therefore, a party to the hollow reconciliation which took place between the aristocracy and Caesar's friends. In return for the support which Antony had received from Lepidus, he allowed the latter to be chosen pontifex maximus, which dignity had become vacant by Caesar's death ; and, to cement their union still more closely, Antony betrothed his daughter to the son of Lepidus. As Antony had no further occasion for Lepidus in Rome, he now repaired to his provinces of Gaul and Spain, with the special object of effecting a reconciliation between Sex. Pompey and the new rulers at Rome. This was proposed at Antony's suggestion, who was anxious to withdraw Pompey from Spain and induce him to come to Rome, that he might thus have deprived the senate of a considerable part of their forces, in case of the civil war breaking out again. The senate did not see through Antony's design ; Lepidus succeeded in his mission, and accordingly received marks of honour from both parties ; the senate on the 28th of November, on the proposition of Antony, voted him a supplicatio.Shortly afterwards an open rupture occurred between Antony and the senate. Antony had obtained from the people the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which D. Brutus then held, and which he refused to surrender to him [Brutus, No. 17]. Antony accordingly marched against him, and as the latter was unable to resist him in the field, he threw himself into Mutina, which was forthwith besieged by Antony. The senate espoused the side of Brutus, and were now exceedingly anxious to induce Lepidus to join them, as he had a powerful army on the other side of the Alps, and could easily crush Antony if he pleased. Under the pretence, therefore, of showing him additional marks of honour on account of his inducing Pompey to lay down his arms, the senate, on the proposition of Cicero, voted an equestrian statue of Lepidus, and conferred upon him the title of imperator. Lepidus, however, hesitated what part to take, and seems to have been anxious to wait the result of the contest between Antony and the senate, before committing himself irrevocably to either party. He did not even thank the senate for their decree in his honour ; and when they requested him to march into Italy and assist the consuls Hirtius and Pansa, in raising the siege of Mutina, he only sent a detachment of his troops across the Alps under the command of M. Silvanus, and to him he gave such doubtful orders that Silvanus thought it would be more pleasing to his general that his soldiers should fight for rather than against Antony, and accordingly joined the latter. Meantime, Lepidus incurred the displeasure of Cicero and the aristocracy, by writing to the senate to recommend peace. Shortly afterwards, in the latter half of the month of April, the battles were fought in the neighbourhood of Mutina, which compelled Antony to raise the siege and take to flight. He crossed the Alps with the remains of his troops, and proceeded straight to Lepidus, who finding it impossible to maintain a neutral position any longer, united his army to that of Antony on the 28th of May. The senate, therefore, on the 30th of June, proclaimed Lepidus a public enemy, and ordered his statue to be thrown down. The young Octavian still continued to act nominally with the senate ; but with his usual penetration he soon saw that the senate would be unable to resist the strong force that was collecting on the other side of the Alps, and therefore resolved to desert the falling side. For besides their own troops Lepidus and Antony were now joined by Asinius Pollio, the governor of Further Spain, and by L. Munatius Plancus, the governor of Further Gaul, and were preparing to cross the Alps with a most formidable army. In August Octavian compelled the senate to allow him to be elected consul, and likewise to repeal the decrees that had been made against Lepidus and Antony ; and towards the latter end of October he had the celebrated interview at Bononia, between Lepidus and Antony, which resulted in the formation of the triumvirate. [Augustus, p. 425, b.] In the division of the provinces among the triumvirs, Lepidus obtained Spain and Narbonese Gaul, which he was to govern by means of a deputy, in order that he might remain in Italy next year as consul, while the two other triumvirs prosecuted the war against Brutus and Cassius. Of his large army he was only to retain three legions for the protection of Italy ; the remaining seven were divided between Octavian and Antony. Thus Lepidus was to play only a secondary part in the impending struggle between the triumvirs and the senate ; and with this he seems to have been contented, for he never displayed any love of enterprise. In the proscription-lists which were published on the return of the triumvirs to Rome, Lepidus placed the name of his own brother Paullus, as has been already related. [See above, p. 766, a.] Shortly afterwards,