Appian’s Roman History

Appian’s Roman History is a collection of five books that describe the events between the year 133 B.C. and 35 B.C. The focus is on the events in the Roman Empire and the struggles that the people of the era had experienced. More specifically, book IV is telling the story of the Second Triumvirate and the defeat at the battle of Philippi. In the piece, dedicated to the second Triumvirate Appian provides a brief characteristic of the three historical figures – Marcus Antonius, Octavian, and Lepidus.

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Then, the depiction of the three seizing power over the ruling of the Roman Empire is shown. After this, the men subjected many of their enemies to the death penalty. Finally, Appian provides a portrayal of the murderers of Caesar – Brutus, and Cassius, stating that they were in charge of the land from Syria to Macedonia. Therefore, Appian’s Book IV is a work that provides details about the historical events of the murder of Caesar, the formation of the Second Triumvirate, and the battle of Philippi.

The formation of the Second Triumvirate is an essential event in Roman history as it marks an alliance of the three politically significant figures. The aim was to defeat the two men who had murdered Julius Caesar and to divide the empire. Caesar had previously employed this type of agreement when the First Triumvirate was formed, although the aims of the two differ significantly. Appian depicts the Triumvirs Marcus Antonius, Octavian, and Lepidus when describing their meeting on an island near Mutina.

When the three set down for a meeting, Octavian was described as the chair for the event, as he sat in the middle. Thus, he was the most important figure among the three in the Triumvirate. Octavian and Antonius had a significant position within the Roman society as they had armies. When describing the two, Appian states, “each had five legions” (p. 210). Little was written to describe Lepidus, except that he went ahead of everybody to search the place of the meeting in person.

In the meeting, the three decided to divide the territory of the Roman Empire, excluding the land that belonged to Cassius and Brutus. Additionally, they have chosen to illuminate their enemies after they have gained control over the empire. Their aim vividly characterizes the three as they were willing to sacrifices their friends and people close to them in exchange for having the possibility to punish an enemy.

When the Triumvirs seized power in Rome against their senatorial opponents, they condemned to death over three hundred people, as the three required a significant amount of money that would be spent on war. Thus, many people were subjected to be a part of their list, for being rude to one of the leaders or for other reasons. As Appian states, “extra names were constantly added to the list, some from enmity, others only because they had been a nuance” (p. 214).

Thus, the three appeared to use personal motives and resolved their issues utilizing the power they had seized. After winning the Philippi battle, the three had divided the lands. Overall, the focus of the three was on diminishing the possible enemies of the empire while collecting their wealth. This was done as the opponents Brutus and Cassius received funds from taxes they collected in Asia, making it easier for them to prepare for war.

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Appian depicts the chief assassins of Julius Caesar – Brutus and Cassius as the masters of the land from Syria to Macedonia. The author states that the two had to face retribution for their actions against Caesar. Their speeches had an essential influence as they had a specific platform on which they set together with their senators. Their statements shed light on their actions as they encouraged their soldiers and gave them hope before the battle.

They assured the soldiers that they would be given what was promised. Additionally, Cassius stated that the reason why they had assassinated Caesar was that the latter went against the laws. Thus, in his speech, Cassius explained the motive behind the murder while encouraging the army before the battle.

Fate played a role in the demise of Brutus and Cassius as it was a contributor to them being defeated in the war. It can be argued that the cruel act against Caesar had been essential in the battle of Philippi. Because the crime was committed against a friend and brutally, fate has influenced the outcomes of the battle. Appian states that they were warned about their doom. Therefore, fortune had been one of the factors that affected the deaths of Brutus and Cassius.

Overall, Appian and the translator John Carter present a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the story of the Roman Empire. Book IV depicts an image of the three participants of the second Triumvirate – Antonius, Octavian, and Lepidus. Additionally, Appian describes the events that followed the formation. Finally, the fate of Caesar’s assassins is depicted with their defeat in the battle of Philippi.

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StudyCorgi. "Appian’s Roman History." July 7, 2021.


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