For a short time the supremacy of Antony over the Caesar party was readily acquiesced in and allowed. At length, however, and before his arrangements were finally matured, he found that he had two formidable competitors upon his own side. These were Octavius and Lepidus.
Octavius, who was the nephew of Caesar, already alluded to, was a very accomplished and elegant young man, now about nineteen years of age. He was the son of Julius Caesar’s niece.
[Footnote 1: This Octavius on his subsequent elevation to imperial power, received the name of Augustus Caesar, and it is by this name that he is generally known in history. He was, however, called Octavius at the commencement of his career, and, to avoid confusion, we shall continue to designate him by this name to the end of our narrative.]
He had always been a great favorite with his uncle. Every possible attention had been paid to his education, and he had been advanced by Caesar, already, to positions of high importance in public life. Caesar, in fact, adopted him as his son, and made him his heir. At the time of Caesar’s death he was at Apollonia, a city of Illyricum, north of Greece. The troops under his command there offered to march at once with him, if he wished it, to Rome, and avenge his uncle’s death. Octavius, after some hesitation, concluded that it would be most prudent for him to proceed thither first himself, alone, as a private person, and demand his rights as his uncle’s heir, according to the provisions of the will. He accordingly did so. He found, on his arrival, that the will, the property, the books and parchments, and the substantial power of the government, were all in Antony’s hands. Antony, instead of putting Octavius into possession of his property and rights, found various pretexts for evasion and delay. Octavius was too young yet, he said, to assume such weighty responsibilities. He was himself also too much pressed with the urgency of public affairs to attend to the business of the will. With these and similar excuses as his justification, Antony seemed inclined to pay no regard whatever to Octavius’s claims.
Octavius, young as he was, possessed a character that was marked with great intelligence, spirit, and resolution. He soon made many powerful friends in the city of Rome and among the Roman Senate. It became a serious question whether he or Antony would gain the greatest ascendency in the party of Caesar’s friends. The contest for this ascendency was, in fact, protracted for two or three years, and led to a vast complication of intrigues, and maneuvers, and civil wars, which can not, however, be here particularly detailed.