Good men in the Senate dreaded no one so much as Antonius, and put their hope in young Octavianus. Cicero made a set of speeches against Antonius, which are called Philippics, because they denounce him as Demosthenes used to denounce Philip of Macedon, and like them, too, they were the last flashes of spirit in a sinking state; and Cicero, in those days, was the foremost and best man who was trying at his own risk to save the old institutions of his country. But it was all in vain; they were too rotten to last, and there were not enough of honest men to make a stand against a violent unscrupulous schemer like Antonius, above all now that the clever young Octavianus saw it was for his interest to make common cause with him, and with a third friend of Caesar, rich but dull, named Marcus AEmilius Lepidus. They called on Decimus Brutus to surrender his forces to them, and marched against him. Then his troops deserted him, and he tried to escape into the Alps, but was delivered up to Antonius and put to death.
[Illustration: MARCUS ANTONIUS.]
Soon after, Antonius, Lepidus, and Octavianus all met on a little island in the river Rhenus and agreed to form a triumvirate for five years for setting things to rights once more, all three enjoying consular power together; and, as they had the command of all the armies, there was no one to stop them. Lepidus was to stay and govern Rome, while the other two hunted down the murderers of Caesar in the East. But first, there was a deadly vengeance to be taken in the city upon all who could be supposed to have favored the murder of Caesar, or who could be enemies to their schemes. So these three sat down with a list of the citizens before them to make a proscription, each letting a kinsman or friend of his own be marked for death, provided he might slay one related to another of the three. The dreadful list was set up in the Forum, and a price paid for the heads of the people in it, so that soldiers, ruffians, and slaves brought them in; but it does not seem that—as in the other two proscriptions—there was random murder, and many bribed their assassins and escaped from Italy. Octavianus had marked the fewest and tried to save Cicero, but Antonius insisted on his death. On hearing that he was in the fatal roll, Cicero had left Rome with his brother, and slowly travelled towards the coast from one country house to another till he came to Antium, whence he meant to sail for Greece; but there he was overtaken. His brother was killed at once, but he was put into a boat by his slaves, and went down the coast to Formiae, where he landed again, and, going to a house near, said he would rather die in his own country which he had so often saved. However, when the pursuers knocked at the gate, his slaves placed him in a litter and hurried him out at another door. He was, however, again overtaken, and he forbade his slaves to fight for him, but stretched out his throat for the sword, with his eyes full upon it. His head was carried to Antonius, whose wife Fulvia actually pierced the tongue with her bodkin in revenge for the speeches it had made against her husband.