Page:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) - Volume 2.djvu/782

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


on the 31st of December, Lepidus celebrated a triumph as a consequence of the supplicatio which the senate had voted a year previously.

In b. c. 42 Lepidus remained in Rome as consul ; and in the fresh division of the provinces, made between Octavian and Antony, after the battle of Philippi at the close of this year, Lepidus was deprived of his provinces, under the pretext of his having had treasonable intercourse with Sex. Pompey ; but it was arranged that, in case he should be proved innocent of the crime laid to his charge, he should receive Africa as a compensation for the provinces taken from him : so soon did Octavian and Antony make him feel that he was their subject rather than their equal. The triumvirs were unable to prove anything against Lepidus, but it was not till after the Perusinian war in b. c. 40, that Octavian allowed Lepidus to take possession of his province, and he probably would not have obtained it even then, had not Octavian been anxious to attach Lepidus to his interests, in case of a rupture between himself and Antony. Lepidus remained in Africa till b. c. 36. On the renewal of the triumvirate in b. c. 37, for another five years, Lepidus had been included, though he had now lost all real power. In the following year, b. c. 36, Octavian summoned him to Sicily to assist him in the war against Sex. Pompey. Lepidus obeyed, but tired of being treated as a subordinate, he resolved to make an effort to acquire Sicily for himself and regain his lost power. He left Africa on the 1st of July, b. c. 36, and on his arrival in Sicily proceeded to act on his own account, without consulting Octavian. He first subdued Lilybaeum and the neighbouring towns, and then marched against Messana, which he also conquered. The eight Pompeian legions, which formed the garrison of the latter town, joined him, so that his array now amounted to twenty legions. Lepidus, therefore, felt himself strong enough to assume a threatening position, and accordingly, on the arrival of Octavian, claimed Sicily for himself, and an equal share as triumvir in the government of the state. A civil war seemed inevitable. But Lepidus did not possess the confidence of his soldiers; Octavian found means to seduce them from their allegiance, and at length, feeling sure of support from a numerous body of them, adopted one day the bold resolution of riding into the very camp of Lepidus, and calling upon his troops to save their country from a civil war. Although this daring attempt did not immediately succeed, and Octavian was obliged to retire with a wound in his breast, yet it had eventually the desired effect. Detachment after detachment deserted Lepidus, who found himself at last obliged to surrender to Octavian. All his courage now forsook him. He put on mourning, and threw himself before the knees of Octavian, begging for his life. This Octavian granted him, but he deprived him of his triumvirate, his army, and his provinces, and commanded that he should live at Circeii, under strict surveillance. He allowed him, however, to retain his private fortune, and his dignity of pontifex maximus.

Thus ended the public life of Lepidus. After the conspiracy of his son against the life of Augustus at the time of the battle of Actium (see below), Lepidus was ordered to return to Rome ; and, though he had not been privy to it, he was treated by Augustus with the utmost indignity. Still the loss of honour and rank, and the insults to which he was exposed, did not shorten his life, for he survived till b. c. 13. Augustus succeeded him as pontifex maximus.

Lepidus was one of those men who have no decided character, and who are incapable of committing great crimes for the same reason that they are incapable of performing any noble acts. He possessed great wealth, and, like almost all his contemporaries, was little scrupulous about the means of acquiring it. Neither in war nor in peace did he exhibit any distinguished abilities ; but that he was not so contemptible a character, as he is drawn by Drumann, seems pretty certain from the respect with which he was always treated by that great judge of men, Julius Caesar. It seems clear that Lepidus was fond of ease and repose, and it is not improbable that he possessed abilities capable of effecting much more than he ever did.

His wife was Junia, the sister of the M. Brutus who killed Caesar. [Junia, No. 2.]

(The passages of Cicero referring to Lepidus are given in Orelli, Onom. Tull. vol. ii. pp. 14, 15 ; Appian, B. C. lib. ii. iii. v. ; Dion Cass. lib. xli — xlix.; Vell. Pat. ii. 64, 80; Flor. iv. 6, 7 ; Liv. Epit. 119, 120, 129 ; Suet. Octav. 16, 31 ; Sen. de Clem. i. 10.)

Aemilia22.jpg
COIN OF M. LEPIDUS, THE TRIUMVIR.


18. Scipio, a brother of the two preceding [Nos. 16 and 17], and a son of No. 13, must have been adopted by one of the Scipios. He fell in battle in the war of his father against the aristocratical party, b. c. 77. (Oros. v. 22.)


19. Paulus Aemilius L. f. M. n. Lepidus, the son of L. Aemilius Paullus [No. 16], with whom he is frequently confounded. His name is variously given by the ancient writers Aemilius Paullus, or Paullus Aemilius, or Aemilius Lepidus Paullus, but Paullus Aemilius Lepidus seems to be the more correct form. He probably fled with his father to Brutus, and seems to have been entrusted by the latter with the defence of Crete; for we find him after the death of Brutus joining the remnants of the republican party with the Cretan troops, and sailing with them into the Ionian sea. He must subsequently have made his peace with the triumvirs, as we find him accompanying Octavian in his campaign against Sex. Pompey in Sicily in b. c. 36. In b. c. 34 he obtained the consulship, but only as consul suffectus, on the 1st of July, and dedicated the basilica Aemilia, which had been originally erected by his father [see p. 766], but which he had rebuilt. In b. c. 22 he was censor with L. Munatius Plancus, with whom he could not agree, and died while holding this dignity. Dion Cassius seems to have confounded him with his father in saying that the censor had been formerly proscribed ; it is not impossible, however, that the son may have been proscribed along with his father, although no other writer mentions the fact. (Appian, B. C. v. 2; Suet. Octav. 16; Dion Cass. xlix. 42, liv. 2 ; Vell. Pat. ii. 95 ; Propert. iv. 11. 67.)