Lepidus, Marcus Aemilius


Lepidus, Marcus Aemilius
died 13/12 BC

Roman consul (46, 42 BC) and triumvir (43–36).

After the death of Julius Caesar, Lepidus controlled parts of Gaul, Spain, and Africa and wielded great influence. He and Mark Antony opposed the republican conspirators and in 43 formed the Second Triumvirate with Octavian (later Augustus). He acquired a second Spanish province but lost Spain and Gaul to Antony and Octavian, keeping only Africa. After helping defeat Sextus Pompeius (36), he challenged Octavian, but his soldiers defected and he was forced to retire.

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▪ Roman senator [died circa 77 BC]
died c. 77 BC, Sardinia

      Roman senator who attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the constitution imposed by the dictator Sulla (Sulla, Lucius Cornelius).

      Although he had supported Sulla's rise to power and became wealthy in the Sullan proscriptions, Lepidus was elected consul for 78 with the help of Pompey, despite Sulla's opposition. When Sulla died in 78, Lepidus sought to rescind the dictator's measures. He called for the renewed distribution of cheap grain, the recall of exiles, the restoration of confiscated lands, and, ultimately, the reestablishment of the office of tribune. When his proposals were rejected by the Senate, he gathered forces in Etruria and Cisalpine Gaul and marched on Rome, demanding reelection to the consulship for 77. After being repelled by the other consul, Quintus Lutatius Catulus (Catulus, Quintus Lutatius), at Rome's Milvian Bridge, Lepidus was driven by Pompey into the port of Cosa (modern Ansedónia) in Etruria. From there he escaped to Sardinia, where he died shortly thereafter, having suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the propraetor, Gaius Valerius Triarius. His son Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (Lepidus, Marcus Aemilius) was one of the triumvirs who ruled Rome after 43.

▪ Roman statesman [died 13/12 BC]
died 13/12 BC

      Roman statesman, one of the triumvirs (triumvirate) who ruled Rome after 43.

      He was the son of a prominent politician (d. c. 77 BC) of the same name. Lepidus joined the Caesarian side during the Civil War (49–45) between Caesar and the adherents of Pompey. He was praetor in 49, governor of Hither Spain in 48–47, and consul in 46. In 45 he became Caesar's magister equitum (“master of the cavalry”). After the murder of Caesar, Lepidus joined the Caesarian leader Mark Antony (Antony, Mark) against the conspirators. Antony obtained for Lepidus the office of pontifex maximus (“high priest”). When Antony was defeated in the fighting near Mutina (modern Modena) and was forced to flee to Gaul, Lepidus sided with Antony and was declared a public enemy by the Senate. In October 43 Lepidus formed a triumvirate with Antony and Octavian (later the emperor Augustus) at Bononia (modern Bologna). Lepidus received both Hither and Further Spain, along with southern Gaul, as his portion, and he celebrated his victories in Spain. He was consul again in 42, but his two colleagues soon deprived him of most of his power. His provinces of Gaul and Spain were taken from him, and he was confined to the government of Roman Africa and only formally included in the renewed triumvirate of 37. In 36 he attempted to raise Sicily in revolt against Octavian, but his soldiers deserted his cause. He was removed from even nominal membership in the triumvirate, and, although he was allowed to remain pontifex maximus until his death, he was forced to retire from public life.

▪ Roman statesman [died 152 BC]
died 152 BC

      Roman statesman who held the highest offices of the republic.

      As ambassador to Greece, Syria, and Egypt in 200, he delivered to Philip V at Abydos the Senate's ultimatum warning Macedonia not to make war on any Greek state. Consul in 187 and 175, censor in 179, pontifex maximus from 180 onward, and princeps senatus from 179 to 152, Lepidus fought against the Ligurians, directed the construction of the Via Aemilia from Ariminum (modern Rimini) to Placentia (modern Piacenza), and founded colonies at Mutina (modern Modena) and Parma in 183. The district of northern Italy called Emilia still preserves his name.

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Universalium. 2010.

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