8/12/2019 BOSWORTH, Asinius Pollio and Augustus http://slidepdf.com/reader/full/bosworth-asinius-pollio-and-augustus 1/34 Asinius Pollio and Augustus Author(s): A. B. Bosworth Source: Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 21, No. 3 (3rd Qtr., 1972), pp. 441-473 Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4435276 . Accessed: 08/04/2011 04:21 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at  . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=fsv . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]. Franz Steiner Verlag is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Historia:  Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. http://www.jstor.org

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus

Author(s): A. B. BosworthSource: Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 21, No. 3 (3rd Qtr., 1972), pp. 441-473Published by: Franz Steiner VerlagStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4435276 .

Accessed: 08/04/2011 04:21

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless

you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you

may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at  .http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=fsv. .

Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed

page of such transmission.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of 

content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms

of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected].

Franz Steiner Verlag is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Historia:

 Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte.


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In Tacitus' account of the succession debate, which followed the apotheo-sis of Augustus (September 17, A. D. 14), considerable attention is given toa famous altercation between Tiberius and Asinius Gallus. The historian

adds a parenthetical comment. Gallus, we are told, had long been hated bythe emperor, tanquamductain matrimoniumVipsania, M. Agrippaefilia, quae

quondamTiberiiuxorfuerat,plus quamciviliaagitaretPollionisqueAsiniiferociamretineret.IFerocia is the key word. Asinius Gallus inherited it from his father,

Pollio, and had ambitions beyond the station of a private citizen. The provo-cative attitude of the son has had important consequences for the reputation

of the father. Asinius Pollio has been absorbed by modern scholarship intothe ranks of the Augustan opposition, and represented as a rancorous and

ferocious defender of the failing tradition of republican libertas.2This hostili-

ty to the regime of Augustus has been developed in a recent and justly cele-brated study of Appian, in which a strongly hostile historiographical biasagainst Caesar's heir is attributed to the lost histories of Asinius Pollio.3 Pol-lio's truculent hostility to the restored republic seems a hypothesis en-trenched and unshakeable, defended as it is by formidable authorities. Nonethe less the evidence is susceptible of a quite different interpretation. The fig-ure of Pollio can be removed from the republican opposition, and the re-moval sheds an interesting light on the history and propaganda of the trium-

viral period.

The verdict upon the ferocia of Asinius Gallus is not unique to Tacitus.It recurs in exactly the same context in Dio's account of the succession

I Tac. Ann. I 12,4.2 See, above all, Sir Ronald Syme, The RomanRevolution1939), pp. 482 if. (henceforward RR);

Tacitus 1958) 1 136 ff.; 'Livy and Augustus', HSCP 64 (1959) 27 ff. See also E. Kornemann, 'Diehistorische Schriftstellerei des C. Asinius Pollio', Jahrbucherur classische hilologieundPddagogik 2

Suppl. (1896) 590-600; E. W. Mendell, 'The epic of C. Asinius Pollio', YCS 1 (1928) 201-3, and,more guardedly, J. Andre, La Vie el L'Oeuvred'Asinius Pollio (Paris 1949), pp. 24-5.

a E.Gabba, Appianoela .StoriadelleGuerreCivili (Florence 1956), especially pp. 79 ff., and 229 if.There is a modified treatment in his recent commentary on book V of the Emphylia:Appiani Bel/o-

rtumCiviliumLiberQuintusa cturadi E. Gabba (Florence 1970), pp. xvii ff. (henceforward Gabba,B. C. V).

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debate.4Dio insertsan anticipatorynotice of Gallus'arrestand deathin 30

A.D., and, ikeTacitus,headduceshis marriagewith Vipsaniaas the reason orTiberius'hatred.What of the ferociaof Pollio andhis son? Once more Dio

echoes Tacitus,but with a significantdifference.AsiniusGallus,he says,al-

waysemployedhis father'splainspeaking,even beyondwhatwasin his own

interest.rDio hasnothingabout Gallus'extravagant mbitions,andit seems

that Tacitusput in a reference o them (plus quamciviliaagitaret) merelyto

anticipatehis disgressionabout the three consularsdeclaredcapacesmperii

by Augustus., In any casethe vaultingambition s attributedby Tacitusto

Gallusalone,andit is Pollio'sferocia nd nothing morethat his son is saidto

have inherited.Now in Dio Pollio'sferocia s glossed as zrapp?or/a,he Athe-nian virtue of blunt or eveninsulting speech.Pollo's outspokennesswasfa-

mous, if not proverbial.His onslaughtsonCiceroarecarefullyransmittedor

us by the elderSeneca,andmordantcommentsarepreserved,criticising he

archaismsof Sallustand the Patavinitasof Livy. Even Caesarwas arraigned

for carelessnessand mendacity n his Commentaries.7 Thesepolemicsextend-

ed beyondthe sphereof literarycriticism.Pollio appliedhimselfwith equal

facility to the art of political abuse, and preparedpamphlets attacking

L. Munatius Plancus, which were to be published only after the latter's

death.8 Activities of this type are certainly examples of ;rapporlia, butzapprataaalone is not sufficient o brandPolio as a malcontent,hostile to

Augustus and his regime.It is, however, arguedthatferocian Tacitushas a connotationof political

rebelliousness,of resistance o theprinceps,9 andthis attributionofferocia o

Polio would therefore mplythat Tacitusthought him hostileto the reign-

ing family.Now it is quitecertain hat Tacitusdoes use termslike erox and

ferocia spartof his arsenalof adjectives orthe descriptionof rebelsandmu-

tineers.He speaksof thefrrocia of the mutinous German egions in 14 A. D.

(Ann. I 45,1), and Civilis' Batavians,he says, swelledup with both superbia

' Dio LVII 2,5-7. The immediately preceding proposal of Tiberius to divide the empire into

three parts differs significantly from the studiously indefinite statement in Tacitus to the effect that

he would undertake the administration of whatever portion of the state the senate committed

to him (Ann. I 12,1). Dio's tripartite division is far more explicit and unconvincing (cf. E. Hohl,

Hermes 68 (1933) 114: Syme, Tacilus II 690). His version of the intervention of Asinius

Gallus, however, runs on exactly the same lines as in Tacitus, and it must derive ultimately from

a common source.

6 Dio LVII 2,5 zcapp1aiozeiarota?rpvq Katz rdavryopovXpaC,sAvo;.

6 Tac. Ann. I 13,2-3. On this curious passage see Syme, JRS 45 (1955)22

ff.and Tacilus

II 694.

7 The evidence for Pollio's literary treatises is amassed by Andre, Op.cit. pp. 85-101.

8 Plin. NH Ipraef. 31 = Malcovati OratorumRomanorumragmenta ORF2) 174 F 39.

9 H. W. Traub, 'Tacitus' Use of Ferocia'TAPA 84 (1953) 250 ff., accepted with reservations

by Syme, Tacitus I 544 and by Gabba, Appiano . . ., p. 244.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 443

andferocia'0 (Hist. IV 19,1). Politicallyrecalcitrant ndividuals can also be

describedas ferox, the elder Agrippina" for instance or the consul of 65A. D., M. Vestinus Atticus.12 t is none the less an overstatement hat theconcepts of ferociaand politicalrebelliousnessare coextensive.Tacitususesferocia n a wide varietyof contexts, and very often there can be no sugges-tion of political opposition.'3Indeedthe closestparallel n Tacitusto the de-scriptionof AsiniusGallus spositiveevidencethat a man couldbebothferoxanda friend of the emperor.In 17 A. D. Cn.CalpurniusPiso was appointedlegate of Syria,and Tacitusimmediatelycharacterises im as ingenioiolentumet obsequii gnarum, nsitaferociaapatre Pisone (Ann. II 43,2). Intransigent and

recalcitrantPiso certainly was, as is amply demonstratedby his invectiveagainst the Athenians and his inveterate hostility towards Germanicus."'None the lessPiso had beenemployedfor long years n the service of Augus-tus. In his finalpleaforhis son he wasableto callupon his 45 years n the im-perial serviceanda consulshipsharedwith Tiberiusin 7 B. C.15At his trialTiberius too described him as patris sui legatumatqueamicum(Tac. Ann. III

12,1). Of his long careerwe know only that he was proconsul of Africaatsome date uncertainandlegate of Tarraconensisn 9/10 A. D.,"6but that heservedAugustus andwas loyalto him cannotbe calledinto question.In Pi-

so's case then inherited ruculencewas no barto his receivingthe high dis-tinction of a consulship sharedwith a memberof the imperial amily, nor tohis governing one of Augustus' majorconsularprovinces. Similarly,whenTacitusspeaksof Pollio'sferocia, here is no reasonto infer that he thoughthim a political malcontent. Elsewhere he speaks of him in fairly neutralterms, emphasisinghisdistinctionasan oratorand asthe grandfather f con-sulars."7He is, however,once mentionedby Tacitus in a context whichquite

10 The elder Cato used precisely the same terminology to condemn the predatory foreign policy

of Rome in 168 B. C. (Gell. VI 3,14 - ORF2 8 F 163).1 Tac. Ann. II 72,1 cf. IV 52,2; VI 25,2. 12 Tac. Ann. XV 68,3.Is Traub himself (p. 257) has difficulty with Agrippa Postumus, whom Tacitus describes as ro-

borecorporis tolide erocem(Ann. I 3,4). Here Tacitus is merely emphasising the brutish physical

strength of the young prince, and there is no hint of political recalcitrance; the following phrase

indeed implies the opposite, nullius amen lagiii caomper/um.imilarly Livy, from whom Tacitus

here borrows his terminology, describes T. Manlius as praeva/idum i stolide erocemviribussuis.

Again it is strength and brutishness that is emphasised; like Agrippa Postumus, the son of

L. Manlius Imperiosus was rough and unschooled, but certainly not politically rebellious - the

whole incident in Livy is an examplc of pie/as.14 Tac. Ann. II 55; 69,1; 75,2; 78,1.11 Tac. Ann. III 16,4 'per quinque et quadraginta annorum obsequium, per collegium consu-

latus quondam divo Augusto parenti tuo probatus et tibi amicus'."I Strabo II 5,33 (130) - Africa. Tac. Ann. III 13,1 - Spain; for the date see G. Alfoldy, Fasi

Hispanienses p. 10-11, who cites CIL II 2703 with Syme's supplement.17 Tac. XI 6,2 and 7,2 (coeval of MessallaCorvinus); XIV 40,3 (proavus of Asinius Marcellus);

III 75 (avus of Asinius Saloninus). In the latter passage Tacitus ranks Agrippa and Pollio as equal

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excludes him asa political opponent of Augustus. In CremutiusCordus'cele-

bratedspeechin defenceof freedom of conscience in historicalwriting wefind a list of writers of impeccable oyalty who had praised he memory ofBrutusandCassius.Asinius Pollio is sandwichedbetween Livy and MessallaCorvinus,and Cremutius,who was on trial for maiestas, ould not have somentionedhim if he had any sort of reputationas hostile to the dynasty.Itwould haveprejudicedhis own case.'8

Pollio'sferocia annot be used as evidence for his political attitudes.Simi-larly inconclusive is the rest of the evidenceadducedfor his membershipofthe Augustan opposition. It will be best to start0'ar8epovrpo'epovwith a

late and dramatic ncident. Augustus' lavishperformancesof the lususTroiaecameto anabrupthaltwhen AsiniusPollio gavea bitterspeech n the senate,protesting that his grandson, Aeserninus,had broken a leg in a recent dis-play."'Here is an incident in which Polio criticisedan institution revivedand beloved by Augustus,andit is worth noticethat his interventioncausedits discontinuance.His opposition was thereforeeffective.20 ow the date ofthe incident should be specified.The victim of Augustus' patriotic displaywasPolio's grandsonandprotege, M. ClaudiusMarcellusAeseminus.2'Ae-

serninuswas marked out by the veteranorator as his successorat the bar,

andthe elder Senecawitnesseda session at which the elderlyPolio gave in-structionandcorrection o his grandson,stilla boy.22We know further hatAeserninuswaspraetor eregrinusn 19 A. D.,23and, given a normalpassagethrough the cursus,his birth should be placedin 11 B. C. In that case, thedate for his accident s at earliest he lususTroiae f 2 B. C.,24and the bitter

in distinction, as does an inscription of Puteoli - Cn. Asinio Pollioniset Agrippae nepolipatrono

publice CIL X 1682).

18 This argument holds whether one takes the speech of Cremutiusas extracted ultimately from

the ac/a senatus r as a free composition by Tacitus. Itis

furtherimplied in the context that Pollio

en joyed the princeps' avour - 'uterque' (Pollio & Messalla Corvinus) opibusque et honoribus per-

viguere' (Ann. IV 34,4).

1 Suet. Aug. 43,2 = ORF2 174 F 25; cf. Andre op. cit. pp. 24,71. For the lususTroiac ee Schnei-

der, RE XIII 2059.

20 Syme, RR p. 482, remarks in this context that Pollio had acquired for himself a privileged

position - "too eminent to be muzzled without scandal".

21 He was the grandson of M. Claudius M. f. M. n. Marcellus Aeserninus, consul of 22 B. C.,

and the son of Pollio's daughter Asinia; cf. PIR2 C 928.

22 Seneca Exc. Conkr. V praef. 2-4. The wording (Marcellus,quamvis uer) implies that Pollio's

grandson had not yet assumed the togavirils.


Date supplied by the Fasti Arvalium-


p. 70= I. I. XIII 1,298.

24 Dio LV 10,6 gives the date. Aeserninus would then have been 9 years old, none too young

for participation in the lusitsTroiae.Gaius had participated in the display to celebrate the dedica-

tion of the Theatre of Marcellus when he was at the tender age of 7 (Dio LIV 26,1 13 B. C.).

Andre p. 24 n. 7 missed the performance of 2 B. C. and dated the incident to 13, probably beforc

Aeserninus' birth; the mistake is repeated by Malcovati ORF2 p. 521, despite Schneider RE XIII

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 445

speechbeforethe senate was deliveredtowards the end of Pollio's life. It is

dangerous,however, to generalise rom this incident. It provesthat on occa-sion Augustushimselfcouldbearthe bruntof Porno'sferocia; t does not in-dicateconsistenthostilityto theprincepsnd all his works. Indeed the successof his expostulationsindicatesthat Pollio had considerable nfluence withAugustusandcould affordan occasionaloutburstagainsthim.25

There is anotherincident, also from the twilight of Poflio's life, whichsuggests that he enjoyed Augustus' esteem. When Gaius died in 4 A. D.,Polio proceededwitha dinnerpartyunaffectedbythe news. The upshotwasa letter from Augustus, expressing regret noncivilitertantum,sedetiam ami-

liariter,quodn tammagno t recentiuctusuohomocarissimrusibiplenoconviviooen-

asset.PoWlo etortedby pointingout that he had eschewedall manifestationsof grief at the deathof his son, Herius,and that a friendshould not be ex-pected to displaymore sorrow than a father.26The languageused impliesstronglythat Augustuslooked on him as a friend,enough at leastto be sur-prisedby the failureproperly o observe the deathof hisgrandson.

The case of Timagenesof Alexandrias also less significant hanmight ap-pear on the surface.Timageneshadbeen expelled fromAugustus' house forpersistentwitticismsagainstthe imperialfamily,and he took refuge under

the patronageof Polio.27 Augustushadrenouncedhisamicitia,butthe affairwas not particularly erious. In fact the expulsion gave Timagenesa succs descandale,nd Senecasays baldlythat no door otherthan Caesar'swas closedto him.28Moreover Augustus madeno objectionto Timagenes'notoriety orto Porno'spatronage,and of his sentiments on the matter we have only apolitely ironicaljest, warning Pornothat he might himselfbe bitten by hisunpredictableprotege.29The incidenthad no politicalimportance.Augus-tus' withdrawalof amicitiameantonly that a prominentGreek literary igurewas in need of a freshpatron,and Pollio adoptedhim as a client, as he had

done with L. Ateius Philologus afterthe deathof Sallust.30The Timagenesaffair hen shedssomelight on Pollio's activitiesas a patron of the arts, but itis hardlyevidencefor his politicalattitudes.The exchangewith Augustus on

2065. Nothing however excludes a date after2 B. C. for the incident. There is no reason to limit

the number of celebrations to the four mentioned by Dio (in 40, 29, 13, and 2 B. C.); according to

Suetonius (Aug. 43,2) the lususTroiaewas performedfrequentissime. B. C. should merely be re-

garded as a terminus ntequemnon or Aeserninus' accident.

25 Comparethe rebuffdelivered to Tiberius by Cn. Piso (Tac. Ann. I 74,5). Like Pollio, he had

sufficient auctoritas o check theprincepswithout detriment to his own standing.26

Seneca Exc. Contr.IVpraef. 5.27 Seneca De Ira III 23,4-8; Contr.X 5,21-2 (FGrHist 88 T 2-3).28 Seneca IOc.cit. 23,5-6 'inimicitias gessit cum Caesari;nemo amicitiam eius extimuit'.29 Seneca oc.cit.23,8 0p(OTpObei;.

sO Suet. degramm.10,4. Another of the historians in Pollio's clientca seems to have been the

sophist, Asinius Pollio of Tralles (Suda s. v. HnXAka = FGrHist 88 T 4).

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this occasion, it should benoted, displays he same ntimacyasthe letterafter

Gaius'death, andis evidence for friendshiprather hanenmity. In this con-text it is perhapsrelevantthat Pollio appeared or the defenceof L. NoniusAsprenas,3' close friendof Augustus,whoseprosecution orpoisoning in 9B.C. threw heprincepsnto an unpleasant dilemma, he necessityto choosebetweenthe conflictingobligationsof law andfriendship.32ollio's appear-ance for the defencedoes not, of course, prove friendship or Augustus, butit servesas useful corroborative vidence. If he hadbeenunremittinglyhos-tile to theprinceps,t is highlyunlikely hat he would havetaken on abrief soclose to his interests.

There s no moreevidenceorPorio's political iews in hislater ears.33

Nothing of value can be adduced from the scantyattestedfragmentsof hisHistories except his well known animusagainstCicero.34Nor does his fa-mous criticismof Livy's Patavinitasmplythat he objectedto the moralandpatrioticoneof theworksof thePatavianistorian.36Quintilian,who citesthe gibe, understands t to refer o Livy'sdiction,althoughhe confesses him-self at a loss to find any provincial elements in his style.36 This does not mean

that we should look for non-literary easons behindPolio's criticism,argu-ing that he must have risen above obvious and trivial criticisms. We have ex-

amplesof his attacksupon Saliustwhich areby no means free of triviality;Sallust is reprobated or using transgredinsteadof transfretareo describeacrossingby sea.37Thereis no reason o supposethat his criticismof Livyhadany more cogent basis. Certainlyone cannot invoke Pollio's hypotheticalhostilityto Augustusto elucidatethe remark.The balanceof probability sthathe was snipingat the styleof a rival,not condemninghis historiograph-ical aims.

31 Quint. Inst. X 1,22. Pollio's opponent was the notorious Cassius Severus (Plin. NH XXXV

164), and the speeches of the two advocates were preserved as models for posterity. cf. ORF2 174F 35-8, Andre p. 72. 32 Suet. Aug. 56,3.

s The Pollio who in 22 B. C. entertained Herod's sons, Alexander and Aristobulus (Jos. AJ

XV 343), could conceivably have been Asinius Pollio. A more likely identification is with Vedius

Pollio, who had experience in the east and had presumably developed contacts there when he gov-

erned Asia, apparently in 31/30 B. C. (cf. Syme JRS 51 (1961) 30 with Addendum). Even if the

host of these princes wasAsinius Pollio, it sheds no light on his political alignment.

8" Peter, HRR II 67-70, lists six fragments certainly derived from the Histories and one proba-

bly (F 6 = Strabo IV 3,3 (193)). Peter's F 8 (Priscian VIII 19 p. 386 K) is merely attributed to "Asi-

nius"; there is no indication that it derived from the Histories. A speech is equally probable as the

source. This uncertainty should be stressed in view of the conclusions about the terminal date of

the Histories drawn from this fragment (cf. Gabba, Appiano . . . p. 243).as cf. Syme, RR pp. 485 if., HSCP 63 (1959) 27 if., Gabba, Appiano ... pp. 84 f. For the oppo-

site point of view see P. G. Walsh, Livy pp. 267 ff., Andre pp. 89 ff.

36 Quint. I 5,56; cf. VIII 1,3 -'et verba omnia et vox huius alumnum urbis oleant, ut oratio

plane Romana videatur, non civitate donata'.

37 Gell. X 26: cf. Suet. degramm.10X14 for Pollio's criticisms of the archaisms in Sallust.

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AsiniusPollio andAugustus 447

If, however,we go backto the outbreakof warin 32 B. C.,Pollio'sbehav-

iour seems to take on a differentight. He was the sole neutral,we aretold, inthe last contestof all.38Whetheror not Pollio was alone in his neutrality s amoot point; at least no source attests t.39 The importantquestionis the in-terpretationof his withdrawal rom the Actium campaign.Did it, or did itnot springfrom a bitter disillusionmentwith both sidesin the conflict?Nowthe sole source for this incidentis VelleiusPaterculus II 86,3), and his con-text andterminology repayattention.After an encomium on Octavian'scle-mencyafterActium Velleius adds an appendixhighlightingwhat he callsamemorabileictum f Pollio. The orator,he explains,hadremained n Italyaf-

ter the pactat Brundisium,andhad never associatedhimselfwith Antony'sfaction afterthe deplorableaffairwith Cleopatra.Accordingly,when Octavi-an invited him to join his staff,he retortedthat his services to Antony werethe greater,Antony'sbenefactions o him the morecelebrated; hereforehewould withdraw himself fromthe struggle and become the spoil of the vic-tor. The whole tone of the dictums exculpatory.One is led to infer that be-cause of Antony's benefactionsPollio seemedobliged to take his side in thecrucialstruggle. The ripostewas that, despiteappearances, he debt to An-tony was squared,and therewere no remainingobligationsofpietas. This re-

markcan be set in its context. In the prelude to the Actium campaignitseems that Antony was canvassinghis former partisansand issuing pam-phlets accusingof ingratitude hose who failedto take his side. At any ratePoWoproduceda pamphletcontramaledicta ntonii.40The contents are un-known, but it is a reasonableassumptionthat n it Porio rebuttedchargesofingratitudeand madecounter-accusations f his own. A similarproductionis attestedfromPollio's younger contemporaryand forensicrival, M. Vale-rius MessallaCorvinus,who publisheda work contraAntonii itteras ogetherwith what seemto be companionpieces, destatuisAntoniiandpossibly devec-

tigaliumAsiae constitutione.41iterarybroadsidesof this typeadmirably uitedthe propagandaof Octavian,who would have welcomed the spectacle of

S8 Syme, TacilusI 136; cf. RR p. 291.SB Tacitus strongly implies that Cn. Calpurnius Piso played no role in the war of Actium. He ap-

parently lived in retirement after the battle of Philippi until Augustus selected him as his colleague

for 23 B. C. (Tac. Ann. II 43,2). Augustus later claimed that 700 senators accompanied him in the

Actium campaign (RG 25,2). The triumviral senate contained 300 more senators, and of these re-

latively few can have been allowed to depart with Sosius and Ahenobarbus in 32 B. C. despite Oc-

tavian's (retrospective) promise of free passage (Dio L 2,7). There must have been senators otherthan Pollio who withheld themselves from the conflict.

'4 Charisius p. 80,2 K = ORF2 174 F 40.41 Charisius pp. 129,7; 104,18; 146,34 = ORF2 176 F 16-19; cf. Peter HRR II LXXX. Unedi-

fying scandal about Cleopatra may have formed part of the contents (Plin. NH XXXIII 50 = F


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Antony's past adherents justifying their refusal to side with him in the final

conflict. Pollo moreover uttered a public statement, disassociating himself

from his former benefactor. Such statements would have been encouraged

by Octavian, and once more Messalla Corvinus supplies a parallel.This for-

mer supporter of Brutus and Antony paid a delicate compliment to his final

patron; at both Philippi and Actium he had chosen the better side.'2 Antony

was implicitly disowned. Unlike Messalla Corvinus, Pollio declared his neu-

trality and remained in Italy. He could afford to. Both consularis nd trium-

phalishe had no further military laurels to win, while Messalla in 32 B. C. had

both consulship and triumph ahead of him. He therefore stayed in retire-

ment, but he had disavowed and attacked his old patron, which was all Oc-

tavian could have wished from him. Po]lio's "neutrality" in 32 certainly does

not prove his independence. Rather it indicates that he had some share in the

manufacture of Octavian's propaganda, and that by 32 he was working for

the eventual victor.

There is corroborative evidence for the hypothesis. As has been observed,

the sole evidence for Pollio's attitude in 32 is Velleius Paterculus. Now Pol-

lio makes a surprising number of appearances in Velleius' work, and each

time the tone is deferential and eulogistic. The memorabile ictumof 32 is anti-

cipated and explained. After the fall of Perusia Porno had held the district ofVenetia for Antony, and won over to his side Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus,

independent since Philippi and commanding a formidable naval force. Any

fair observer, concludes Velleius, would infer that Pollio contributed to An-

tony no less than he received.43Previously Pollio's junction with the forces

of Antony and Lepidus (summer 43 B. C.) had been noted with the comment

that he was unswervingly loyal to the Caesariancause." Velleius further refers

to his chequered engagements with Sextus Pompeius in Spain, and with

great charity talks of a clarissimumbellum.45Last but not least Pollio appears

in Velleius' famous list of novihomineswho had anticipated the position of thegreat Sejanus. From the antique and venerable names of Coruncanius and

Corvinus the roll of honour passes to Cato the Censor, to Mummius, Marius,

Cicero, and lastly to Asinius Pollio.4Y This panegyric is remarkable. Pollio's

services to Antony are emphasised, his military failure ignored, and finallyhe

is represented as the equal of the greatest names in the free state, on aparwith

Sejanus himself. Velleius' eulogies are not fortuitous, and they amount to far

42 Plut. Brut. 53,2; cf. Syme, RR p. 482.43 Vell. II 76,3 'quo facto, quisquis aequum se praestiterit, sciat non minus aPollione in Antoni-

um quam ab Antonio in Pollionem conlatum esse'.

44 Veil. II 63,3 'firmus proposito et lulianis partibus fidus, Pompeianis adversus'.

'" Vell. 1173,2; Dio XLV 10 reveals embarrassingdetails of defeat and flight.46 Vell. 11 128,3.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 449

more than the iustus sinemendacioandor hat he claims for them.47Those fa-

voured by Velleius are predictably the powerful and the successful, thefriends of the ruling dynasty. Of Pollio's generation the men singled out for

especial praise are L. Arruntius,48 C. Sentius Saturninus,49Messalla Corvi-

nus,W? nd Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus.5' These have in common the fact

that they changed from the faction of Brutus or Antony to that of Octavian,

and subsequently enjoyed high honours in the new r6gime.62That Pollio re-

ceives equal or even greater esteem from Velleius is indicative that he was no

malcontent, nursing a ferocious independence, but rather an individual hon-

oured by the regime and venting hisfrrociain its service.

Velleius' panegyric is illuminating and instructive, his invective perhapseven more so. Criticism in the imperial period was a risky business, especial-

ly in the field of history, and prominent men resented attacks both on their

own dignitasand that of their ancestors.53 We can therefore be assured that

Velleius, if anyone, chose absolutely safe targets for his indignation. It comes

as no surprise that M. Lollius is arraigned for venality and treachery." He

had been a bitter enemy of Tiberius, who had a long and rancorous memo-

ry.5 Tiberius' client and historian could only follow suit. Antony and Lepi-

dus are dutifully condemned in similar strong terms." There is however a

polemic of remarkable consistency and virulence against Pollio's great con-temporary, L. Munatius Plancus, who is reprobated for his immorality and

for his wildly vacillating political loyalties.57 In the sharpest contrast to this

chronic traitor Velleius represents Pollio as the constant supporter of the

Caesariancause.68There is no apparent reason for this consistent denigration

of Plancus. It has been argued that his memory was prejudiced by the hatred

his granddaughter had aroused by her vendetta against Germanicus.69 Vel-

leius, however, was writing in late 29 A. D., his history intended as an inau-

gural present for M. Vinicius, consulordinariusn 30. Then the empress Livia

had recently died, and Plancina was probably still protected by her powerful

patronage. The recent disgrace of her bitter rival, Agrippina, seems to have

strengthened her position. At least she was immune from prosecution until

,7 Vell. 11116,5; cf. Syme, RR pp. 488 ff. '" Vell. II 77,3; 85,2; 86,2.'" Veil. II 77,3; 92,1; cf. 105,1; 109-10 for his progeny.

'0 Vell. II 36,1; 71,1; 112,1-2. 61 Vell. II 72,3; 76,2; 84,3; cf. 10,2.I' Ahenobarbus, it is true, died a few days after his desertion (Suet. Nero 3,2), but his son,

L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, enjoyed Augustus' especial esteem, reaching the consulship in 16

B. C. and securing as his bride Augustus' niece, Antonia Maior (PIR2 D 128).

as cf. Tac. Ann. IV 33,4. 54 Vell. II 97,1; 102,1.^5 Note his outburst at the funeral of P. Sulpicius Quirinius (Tac. Ann. III 48,2).11II 60,4; 61,4; 63,1; 66,1-5.

67 II 63,3; 64,1; 67,34; 74,3; 76,2; 83,1-3; 95,3.as II 63,3; cf. 76,2-3. 69 Syme RR p. 512 n. 1.

29 Historia XXI/3

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 451

and subsequently he engaged in correspondence with him over the stylistic

sins of Sallust.69 However he later wrote memoirs attacking Plancus, to bepublished after the latter's death. The early amicitia was renounced,70and the

renunciation coincided with official disapproval. The hostile memoirs could

have been evoked by Plancus' fall from favour.

Pollio then cannot have belonged to the Augustan opposition. Velleius'

high praise excludes him as an opponent of the new dispensation. There is

another relevant point. Pollio was a novushomo.The Fasti Triumphales re-

cord the praenomen f his father alone; the grandfather's name exceptionally

is omitted.71 His father, it is plausibly conjectured, was the first of the family

to attain Roman citizenship.72Now Pollio had reached the consulship at theearly age of 36, and his own standing was secure enough. However, had he

provoked Augustus or consistently opposed his regime, it is fair to assume

that his sons and descendants would have reverted to obscurity. The jurist,Antistius Labeo, was famous for his bitter outbursts against the princeps,and

because of his libertasgot no further than the praetorship despite his emin-

ence in his chosen field.73' The fasti record no distinctions gained by his pro-

geny. In sharp contrast Asinius Gallus, Pollio's only surviving son, reached

the consulship in 8 B. C. at the earliest possible age of 33.74 Two years later

he is attested proconsul of Asia.75 Gallus moreover had been coopted into apriesthood at an early age; at the Secular Games of 17 B. C. he was a member

of the senior college of XVviri sacrisfaciundis.76His distinction was consum-

mated in his marriage in 12 B. C. to Vipsania, daughter of Agrippa. It is in

the highest degree unlikely that the son of one of Augustus' opponents

would have been so honoured, and there can be little doubt that Pollio, like

his polished contemporary, Messalla Corvinus, was a friend and supporter of

the princeps.That at any rate is the verdict of Seneca, who classes the Asinii

9 Gell. X 26,1.

70 cf. Andre pp. 83-4, who attributes Pollio's hostility to disgust at Plancus' political oscilla-tions; Syme, RR pp. 512.

71 J. I. XIII 1,86 - C. Asinius Cn. f. Pollio.72 PIR2 A 1241; Gardthausen, Augustusund eineZei I 1,110.73 The date of his birth, 76 B. C., is calculated from Tacitus Dial. 34,7 and corroborated by Jer-

ome Chron.170 b. cf. Andre p. 10 n. 1.

73a Tac. Ann. III 75,2 (according to Pomponius, Dig. I 2,2,47, he refused a suffect consulship

when it was offered); for his libertas ee Suet. Aug. 54 with Dio LIV 15,7 & Gell. XIII 12,14 (theverdict of his rival, Ateius Capito). For his eminence as a jurist see PIR2 A 760.

"I For his birth in 41 B. C. see Serv. Ecl. 4,11, where it is said that Gallus boasted to Asconius

Pedianus that he was the child of the Messianic eclogue. This would have been an impossible

claim had he not been bom about the time of Pollio's consulship.75 SIG8 780 = E&J 312; CIL IlI 7118 = ILS 97.76 CIL VI 32323 11.107; 151. Also attested as XVvir s. f. in 17 B. C. is M. Valerius Messalla

Messallinus (cos. 3 B. C.), eldest son of Messalla Corvinus (CIL VI 32323 1. 152). He was

coopted at an equally early age.


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452 A. B. BOSWORTii

with the families of Ahenobarbus, Messalla and Cicero, all of whom owed

what eminence they had in the state to Augustus' clemency.77


If Pollio in his later years was a friend of Augustus, various questions

spring to mind. At what stage did he transfer his allegiance from Antony to

Octavian, and how did he gain his modern reputation for republicanism?

The second is perhaps the easier question to tackle. Pollio's claim to be a re-

publican, apart from the passage of Tacitus already discussed, rests squarelyupon his three letters to Cicero, written in the spring and early summer of

43 B. C.78Here Pollio does profess devotion to the free state, and he declares

that he has no inclination to survive it.7J We should not, however, lose sight

of the fact that these letters are the product of a particularpolitical crisis, and

they should be examined against the rest of the Ciceronian correspondence

of this period, in particularthe letters of Plancus. Nor should it be forgotten

that these letters are addressed to Cicero, the most vigorous and vocal defen-

der of the republic. In such a context expressions of patriotism and loyalty to

the free state should be treated with extreme scepticism.Pofflio'sthree letters fall between March 16 and June 8 of 43 B. C., a period

beginning a month before Antony's defeats at Forum Gallorum and Mutina,and ending soon after the junction of the forces of Antony and Lepidus in

Gallia Narbonensis. During that period Pollio was governor of Hispania Ul-

terior, commanding the army of three legions which he had used against

Sextus Pompeius. The other Caesarian commanders in the west were Lepi-

dus in Hispania Citerior and Narbonensis, and Plancus in Gallia Comata. In

the spring and summer of 43 B. C. the crucial question was whether they

would unite with the armies of the consuls and Decimus Brutus or join withAntony to prevent the dissolution of the Caesarian faction, and it is Pollio's

political attitude in this crisis that his letters purport to explain but in fact ob-

scure. But before examining Pollio's letters in detail it will be useful to exam-

ine some other contemporary views of his position so as to set his own

claims in perspective.

77 Seneca de clem.I 10,1; cf. Syme, RR p. 512 'Pollio, as well as Messalla, will be rcckoned

among the profiteers of the Revolution'.

78 The fullest exposition is E. Kornemann, Jabrbucherur classiscAb hilologieundPadagogik22Suppl. (1896) 590 ff; cf. Syme RR p. 180, Andre p. 19. For a more sceptical, if eccentric, view see

J. Carcopino, Cicero;TheSecretsof bis Correspondence,p. 514 ff.

7@ d Fam. X 31,3 'ita si id agitur ut rursus in potestate oninia unius sint, quicumque is est, ei me

profiteor inimicum, nec periculum est ullum quod pro libertate aut refugiam aut deprecer'. ad

Famn.X 33,5 'nam neque deesse nequc superesse rei publicae volo'.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 453

The most strikingfeature s perhaps he silence of the sourcesaboutPol-

lio's activities in 43. Decimus Brutus is the only correspondentof Cicerowho mentionshim, and what he saysis despiteits brevity disquieting.Thefirst and crucialreferencecomes in a letter datedApril 29, shortlyafterthedeath of Pansa.80 rutusasksCicero o confirm he waveringloyaltyof Lepi-dus, thathomo entosissimus,ndpreventa union with Antony. He continues:namde PollioneAsinio puto teperspicerequidfacturus it. multaeet bonae tfirmae

sunt legionesLepidi et Asini. The explanatory force of namshould be stressed.

Brutusbegs Ciceroto intercedewith Lepidus,"foras regardsPolio I thinkthat you see what he intendsto do". The sentenceexplainswhy Lepidus'ad-

herenceto the stateis so vital. Pollio is not expectedto desertthe Caesariancause,and, if his legions areaugmentedby those of Lepidus,Brutuswill bein desperate traits.That is the driftof the next sentence;"Lepidus andAsi-nius have many excellentbattle-trained8legions". Brutus then renews hisplea for pressure o be put on Lepidus,and he asksthat Plancusbe exhortedalso - now that Antony is routed, he hopes that Plancus will not fail thestate.There is no hintthatCiceroshouldapproachPolio, and the tone of theletter is clearlypessimisticabout his loyalty.82But Brutus, it seems,was notthe only pessimist. When in February43 negotiationswith Antony broke

down anda tumultus as declared n Italy, LepidusandPlancuswereinvitedto join the consuls in the exterminationof Antony.83Pollio was not men-tionedin the senatusonsultum,ndlaterhe wasto complainbitterlyabout the

"?Cic. ad Fam. XI 9, written at Regium during the pursuit of Antony."I The sense of firmac ere must be "reliable in battle" ratherthan "loyal to the state". Plancus

later in the year complains of the weakness of his army, one veteran legion to eight of recruits; 'ita

universus exercitus numero amplissimus est, firmitate exiguus' (ad Fam. X 24,3). Firmitas in this

context means battle-effectiveness. Similarly, when Polio says 'tris legiones firmas habeo' (ad

Fam. X 32,4), he means merely that they areveterans; as he goes on to explain, their loyalty to thestate could not be depended upon.

82 So Watson, Cicero: SelectedLetters, p. 589; Carcopino, op. cit. p. 512. There is another inter-pretation of this passage, dating back to Manutius (accepted by Tyrell & Purser, CorrespondencefCicero VI 124). Teperspicere s referred to Cicero's friendship (?) with Pollio; Brutus' meaning isthen interpreted - "I ask you to exhort Lepidus; I do not ask you to do the same with Pollio, forhe is a friend of yours, and you have better knowledge of his actions". Brutus' expression in thatcase is very elliptical and the transition to the troops of Lepidus and Pollio quite inexplicable. Mo-

reover it is highly uncertain whether Pollio and Cicero could at any stage have been regarded as in-timate friends. The references to Pollio in Cicero's correspondence are few and show no great

warmth (ad Fam. I 6,1; Att. XII 38,2; 39,1); Pollio's own professions of friendship are a littlc

muted (ad Fam. X 31,6), and in view of his later vendetta against Cicero's memory they shouldbe treated with some scepticism. It should be noted also that Brutus asks Cicero to intercede

with Plancus (ad Fam. XI 9,2), and the friendship of Plancus and Cicero is lavishly proclaimed

by both correspondents. That Brutus had no faith in Pollio is clear from the context and

the other evidence coheres." Dio XLVI 29,5-6; cf. Cic. Phil. VIII, 1-2.

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454 A. B. BOSWORTr

omission.84 In Further Spain there were three veteran legions, and their

effective weight would have been at least as great as Plancus' forces.85 The

fact that they were not called upon is eloquent testimony that their comman-

der was not expected to side with the army of the free state. There is even

more decisive evidence in the letters of Plancus. The commander of Gallia

Comata showed understandable reluctance throughout May and June 43 to

engage Antony without reinforcements, and we find him promising success

should he be joined by the legions of Octavian or the army from Africa.85

There is complete and significant silence about Polio and the Spanish le-

gions, and it must be that Plancus had from the outset eliminated him as a

potential ally. That is not surprising. Pollio owed his present position to the

patronage of Caesar,and as a novushomohe could expect nothing but eclipse if

Cicero won his campaign and eradicated the Caesarianparty. On the other

hand Plancus was better entrenched, designated for the consulship in 42

B. C.,87 and, whichever side eventually won, he could by timely adherence

extort his prize, a triumph for his operations against the Raeti. PoWlio ad less

scope for manoeuvre; his fortunes clearly rested with Antony.

After these preliminaries we may turn to what Pollio in fact says. The first

letter (March 16) strikes a note of self-justification, apparently in reply to an

earlier letter of Cicero, now lost, which must have expressed surprise at theabsence of news from Spain and requested a statement of Pollio's attitude to

the war.88Poflio explains his silence as due to a breakdown of communica-

tions; his letter carriers had been intercepted by brigands or by Lepidus'

agents (ad Famn.X 31,1). Now however the sailing seasons has begun, and

he declares his intention of keeping up a regular correspondence with Cicero

(31,1). After an oblique reference to some villain unknown, whose overtures

he is determined to resist,89 the letter proceeds to a statement of Polro's po-

litical standpoint; naturaautemet studiatrabuntmeadpacis etlibertatiscupidita-

tem (31,2). Desire forpax and libertasmust have sounded incongruous in the

84 ad Fam. X 33,1 'atque utinam eodem s. c. quo Plancum et Lepidum in Italiam arcessistis me

quoque iussissetis venire'.

I' For Pollio's three legions see ad Fam. X 32,4. Plancus had three legions of veterans and one

of recruits (ad Fam. X 24,3); earlier he had claimed five legions (X 8,6).es ad Fam. X 21,6; 23,6; 24,8.87 Nicolaus of Damascus, FGrHist 90 F 130, XXII 77; Dio XLIII 51,2; cf. ad Fam. X 1,1; 3,3;

6,3; 10,2. 88 adFamr.X31,1 &6.

'l The older hypothesis that Antony is here referred to has been discarded, and the individual

identified as Pollio's quaestor, L. Cornelius Balbus (cf. Tyrell & Purser VI 69). However, whenPollio has complaints to make about Balbus, he does not hesitate to denounce him by name (ad

Fam. X 32,1-3). Here the studiously indefinite expression suggests that Pollio is replying to ex-

hortations from Cicero and maybe reproducing his terminology. Certainly Antony had been in

communication with Pollio (ad Fam. X 32,4; XI 11,1), and it was his overtures that Cicerowould

be most eager for Pollio to reject.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 455

mouth of a prominent Caesarian, and so we find Pollio explaining himself.

He is no war-monger. He was reluctant to take sides in the civil war of 49B. C., but he was driven into Caesar'scamp by his influential enemies.90 Cae-

sar's subsequent generosity made claims upon his fidesandpietas, and forced

him to undertake certain unpopular jobs, which none the less he showed

were performed with reluctance. The odium he thereby incurred gave him

personal experience how wretched life is under a despotism. He therefore de-

clares his undying opposition to anyone attempting to establish a similar

dominatio.Pollio, then, declares himself a reluctant Caesarian with personal

experience of the bitterness of monarchical rule. There is, he implies, no-

thing inconsistent in his advocacy of pax and libertas.It should be added thatPollio does not in this letter argue that Antony is aiming at dominatio.He

merely states his general opposition to despotism, and gives no hint of his as-

sessment of the current political crisis.

The next objection Pollio had to meet was why he had done nothing so far

in the crisis. He admits that Pansa had recently sent him a letter urging him

to submit his army to the consular authority, but Lepidus, he claims, is an in-

surmountable obstacle, blocking the coast road to Italy and publicly declar-

ing sympathy with Antony. PoWlonow implies that he has no intention of

joining the Antonian camp. He states that he will only surrender his prov-ince to an accredited agent of the senate, and as a guarantee he adduces his

refusal to surrender the 30th legion to Antony and Lepidus.91 This leads up

to a recapitulation of Pollo's political standpoint: qua re eumme existima esse,

quiprimumpacis cupidissimusim (omnis enimcivisplane studeo sse salvos), deinde

quiet me et rempublicam vindicare n libertatem aratus sim (31,5). The termino-

logy here deserves examination, for it embodies two antithetical slogans cur-

rent in the ideological warfare of 43 B. C. Peace and the salvation of Roman

citizens was the theme song of the advocates of conciliation with Antony.

Most strikingly it recurs in Lepidus' final dispatch to the senate and Roman

" X 31,3 'cum vero non liceret mihi nullius partis esse, quia utrubique magnos inimicos habc-

bam, ea castra fugi in quibus plane tutum me ab insidiis inimici sciebam non futurum'. This inimi-

cus was probably Cato, whom Pollio had prosecuted in 54 B. C. ORF2 174 F 15-18 (esp. Sen.

Conkr.VII 4,7), Andre p. 68.

91 There is no warrantfor Carcopino's assertion (op.cit. p. 515 n. 1) that Pollio gave in and sur-

rendered the 30th legion. The only evidence is Appian's statement that Pollio had two legions in

Spain (B. C. III 46,190). This figure might be a confusion with the two legions Pollio eventually

brought to Antony (App. III 97,399); so Andre p. 17 n. 11 and P. A. Brunt, CR NS 11 (1961) 100

n. 3. But Appian's legionary numbers seemunderestimates. Plancus, for instance, is given three le-gions instead of the four he in fact possessed (App. III 46,190 97,399; cf. ad Fam. X 24,3). The fig-

ure for Lepidus' legions, moreover, varies bctween four (III 46,190) and seven (III 84,348). For

discussion and attempts to reconcile these discrepancies, see H. Botermann, Die Soldatenund die

romischePolilik in der Zeit vonCaesarsTod bis zur Begrtindungeszweiten Triumvirats:Zetemata 46

(Munich 1968), pp. 199-201.

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people. There Lepidusclaimsthat he was forcedby his armyto unitewith

Antony:- exercituscunctus . . me tantaemultitudinisciviumRomanorum alutis

atqueincolumitatiscausamsuscipere,ut vere dicam, coegitY2n Februaryof the

same year Q. Fufius Calenushad urged compromisewith Antony for the

sakeof securing peaceand the safetyof Romancitizens.93Cicero'sreaction

to such propagandawas predictablyviolent, his reply being a categorical

statement hatpeacewith Antony andthe libertyof the Romanpeoplewere

mutually exclusive.94

PoJlio, hen, repeats he propagandaof reconciliation,andat this pointhis

policy seems to have become identicalto that of Lepidusand Plancus.On

March20 the senate receiveda communication rom the governors of thetwo Gauls, recommendingpeacewith Antony. Ciceroreplied n two letters,

couched in scathingtermsto Lepidusandin a more reasonableone to Plan-

CUS,95ut the tenorof the letters s the same- peace s only possiblewiththe

complete annihilationof the Antonian forces. Pollio's advocacy of peace

puts him in the samecamp,andindeedthe adoption of a programmeof re-

conciliationwas a logical move for all Caesarianrmycommanders.The de-

clarationof war in Februaryhad put them all in an embarrassing osition.

To help the consuls againstAntony was to destroythe Caesarianaction,

while to join forces with him was an act of war againstthe state.A com-promisewasthe only safewayout.

Pollio however declareshimselffor libertasas weHl s peace,the exactop-

posite of Cicero'srepeatedprotestations.But the phrase,vindicaren liberta-

tem, is notoriously flexiblein meaning. Any party leader,especiallywhen

successful,could invoke it againsthis enemies.Caesar, s is well known,re-

presented hecrossingof the Rubiconas an act to freethe state from the do-

minationof a faction, and the catchwordwasgenerouslyusedbyhisheir.96

Therewas nothing to preventthe supportersof conciliationusing the con-

cept of libertaso justifytheir standpoint,and Lepidusdoes seemto repre-sent his junctionwith Antony as a move towardslibertas s well as peace.97

Antony was not the only potentialdespot, and joininghim could be repre-

sented as a movement against Cicero, the Romulus from Arpinum.98Pollio in this letter does not state that Antony is a threat to libertas.

92 adFam. X 35,1 (30 May). "3 Cic. Phil. VIII 4,13.

9" Cic. Pbil. XIII 1,1 'a principio huius belli, p. c., quod cum impiis civibus suscepimus, timui

ne condicio insidiosa pacis libertatis reciperandaestudia restingueret'.

96 ad Fam. X 27 (Lepidus); X 6 (Plancus).9 Caes. BC I 22,5; Res Gestac1,1; Mattingly, Coinsof theRomanEmpirein the BritishMuseum

112, nr. 691 = E&J 18. For a list of vacuous and emotive appeals to libertassee Ch.Wirszubski,

Liberiasasa PoliticalIdea at Rome,pp. 1034.

97 ad Fam.X 35,1.Il Velleius II 72,2 implies that Brutus and Cassiushad intended to establish adominatio.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 457

The use of the concept is not inconsistent with the terminology of

reconciliation, and throughout Pollio commits himself to no hostile action

against Antony.

The letter ends with a complaint. Polio has been given no advice from Ci-

cero whether or not to lead his army into Italy. He therefore has decided on

his own initiative to set out from his province. A covering letter has been

sent to Pansa, explaining his plans and a copy enclosed for Cicero (31,6). Un-

fortunately this copy has not survived. The motives for Poflio's alleged in-

tention to move are therefore unknown. It should be remarked that this re-

solve to leave Further Spain is inconsistent with the previous statement that

Lepidus was blocking the route to Italy.99We must therefore assume eitherthat Pollio intended to defy Lepidus (of which he gives no hint),'?? or that

Pollio's intention was not to join the consular army besieging Mutina. It is a

puzzling end to a peculiarly evasive letter.

Pollio's next communication is undated, but it seems to have been

sent immediately after receipt of the news of the relief of Mutina, which

reached Further Spain after an interval of forty days.10'Here Pollio laments

that he was not summoned to the defense of Italy. With Plancus' help

he would have shaken Lepidus out of his vacillation and prevented the

devastation of Italy (ad Fam. X 33,2). How he thought that laudable aimcould have been achieved is uncertain; perhaps he envisaged the Caesarian

commanders working in common to impose a reconciliation on both sides.

The question however remains purely academic, for Pollio in spite of his ear-

lier declaration did not take the field. Lepidus, he explains, was still poten-

tially hostile, and, even if he had braved his opposition, there would have

been further risks. Had he made an appearance after the battle, his actions

might have been subjected to hostile interpretations because of his friend-

ship with Antony (an important testimony to his Caesarian loyalties l). What-

ever Pollio's intentions had been on March 16, it is evident that he had notled his forces from Spain.

There are worse inconsistencies to come. Pollio claims that he had sent off

envoys in April from Cadiz, to ask for instructions, and these envoys had

taken ship on the very day that battle was joined; nulla enimpost hiememuit

ante eam diem navigatio 33,3). This contradicts Pollio's statement in his letter

of March 16 that the sea was already navigable,'02 and indeed he had sent off

@ Carcopino (op. cit p. 515) goes so faras to suggest that Pollio's letters were selectively edited

to emphasise the contradictions.00 Lepidus' attitude had not changed since March; cf. ad Fam. X 33,2.101adFam. X 33,5 'maxime tamen doleo adeo longo et infesto itinere ad me veniri, ut die quad-

ragesimo post aut ultra etiam quam facta sunt omnia nuntientur'.

102 ad Fam. X 31,1 'nunc vero nanctus occasionem, postea quam navigari coeptum est, cupidis-

sime et quam creberrimepotero scribam ad te'.

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communications to both Pansa and Cicero. Now he claims that there

was no navigation until the next month. That is not all. Pollio says

that he had disposed his troops in winter quarters in Lusitania with no

suspicions of the future civil conflict (33,3). In March, however, he

admitted having received a letter from Pansa, urging him to place his

army at the disposal of the state (31,4), and it is incongruous to say the least

to find Poflio in April disclaiming any earlier suspicions of the impending

civil war. Clearly he is justifying his failure to move during the Mutina

campaign, and equally clearly he is writing without reference to his earlier

letter. His excuses therefore are not only lame but also demonstrably

inconsistent.There is a further peculiarity in the letter. Pofllo seems resentful of the

speed with which the campaign of Mutina reached its climax. Both parties

were so eager to force an issue that it seemed that their worst fear was that

the state might escape damage (33,3). This haste had precluded his taking

any part in the hostilities. Despite his chagrin at the speed of the campaign

Pollio is far more bellicose in this letter than he had been on March 16. He

has learned of the deaths of the two consuls, of Antony's ignominious flight

from Mutina, of his intention to incite the slaves and subject nations of the

empire, should he fail to secure an accommodation with Lepidus. Pollio's re-action to the news is decisive; this time there is no hesitation, no request for

advice and authorisation. All holders of imperiummust act on their own ini-

tiative to save the state from conflagration.103Pollio announces himself

about to depart, and promises to expound his decision in his next letter. The

present missive ends with an expression of patriotism'04 and a complaint

about the tardiness of the news.

This outburst of activity comes explicitly after the arrival of the news of

Mutina, a severe defeat for Antony, which had driven him temporarily to

desperate measures.105At this juncture his position must have appearedinse-cure in the extreme, certainly shaky enough for PolWioo be justified in mak-

ing belligerent noises from Spain. The forces of the repubLicwere in a win-

ning position, or at least must have seemed so from Further Spain, and Pol-

lio could hardly affordto withhold himself from the final phase of the strug-

gle. Plancus' activities in Gaul seem to have run parallel. Up to April his let-

103 ad Fam. X 33,5 'quae si vera sunt, nemini nostrum cessandum est nec exspectandum quid

decernat senatus; res enim cogit huic tanto incendio succurrere omnis qui aut imperium aut no-

men populi Romani salvum volunt esse'.1I4 ad Fam. X 33,5 'nam neque desse neque superesse rei p. volo'. Plancus makes a similar

profession of devotion in a letter written at roughly the same time (X 21,6 - 15 May; compare

X 8,7).

105 For the rumours mentioned by Pollio (X 33,4) that Antony was recruiting slaves, see the

statement of Decimus Brutus (ad Fam. XI 13,2).

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 459

ters are full of caution. Despite frequent expressions of loyalty108his activi-

ties are directed only to consolidating his province and raising troops. He

makes no effort to move from his province and is adamant that the worst of

crimes in this situation is rash action.'07 On April 26 Plancus crossed the

Rh6oneand began to march south. A day or two later news arrived of the re-

lief of Mutina.108 t is clear that what caused Plancus' tardy departure was the

news of Antony's first defeat at Forum Gallorum (April 15). This was suffi-

cient to induce him to take his forces closer to the area of hostilities, and the

news of the relief of Mutina (April 21) stimulated him to send an embassy to

Lepidus to arrange common action (ad Farn. X 11,3). Even Lepidus, it

seemed, was momentarily stirred to a decision to bar Antony from his pro-

vince.109In the weeks following MutinaAntony's position was at its weakest,

and it was clearly in the interests of the Caesarian governor to side, ostensi-

bly at least, with the armies of the state. Polio least of all could afford to back

the wrong side, hence his chagrin at the long delay of the news of Antony's


We move to Pollio's final letter, dated June 8. A good half of it is devoted

to a lurid exposition of the delicts of his quaestor, L. Cornelius Balbus, who

had defected to King Bogud of Mauretania."10Subsequently he goes on to

ask once more for instructions - nunc,quod raestat, quid me velitisfacereconsti-tuere X 32,4). There follows a description of his efforts to keep his three le-

gions intact and uncorrupted by the canvassing of Antony and Lepidus.

These troops, he says, should be regarded as conserved for the state, and a

guarantee that he would have done whatever he was commanded. We are

back to Polio's complaints of March 16 that no direction has been given by

the senate. There is no reference to his previous proud resolution to take the

field. On the contrary, Pollo says outright that he has never crossed the

boundaries of his province but rather limited his activities to restraining

desertion (32,4). The tone of the letter is quite different from the somewhatbellicose expressions of a fortnight before. The forthright statement that all

holders of imperium hould act to save the state has been replaced by a tame

request for further orders. Something has happened, and clearly the decisive

event is the union of the forces of Lepidus and Antony, which took place on

106 ad Fam. X 4,3; 7,2; 8,7.107 See, above all, his dispatch to the senate (X 8,1-6). This was sent to Rome towards the end

of March, for Cicero's reply reveals that it arrived in the city on the morning of April 8 (X 12,2).

Despite all his claims that he was fully preparedto take the field (X 8,6; 7,2) Plancus remained im-mobile for a month.

108 X 9,3 - crossing of the Rhonc; X 11,2 - arrival of the news of the relief of


"09 X 15,1-2. Lepidus' favourablc response to the emissaries came some time before May 12.110 X 32,1-3.

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May 29.111 The balance of power had swung once more, in Antony's favour,

and Polro's response was to adopt a neutral posture, waiting for events tomove decisively again. Plancus too planned a strategic withdrawal from Nar-

bonensis on the evening after the junction of the two armies. By June 4 he

was back across the river Isara with his bridges prudently broken behind

him."2 Once in his province he resisted overtures from Antony,"3 but wise-

ly refrained from any hostile action, even after the arrival of Decimus Bru-

tus. His last recorded words to Cicero are a request for further reinforce-

ments."4 Plancus, like Pollio, was waiting for some decisive turn of events

before committing himself irrevocably.

There is another parallel with Plancus. Pollio ends with yet another com-

plaint. His efforts, he hopes, will bear fruit if the state is saved, but if the state

and the majority of the senate had known him sufficiently, greater benefits

would have accrued through him.,'1 On the surface this is a complaint oflack of recognition, comparable with the lament that he had not been sum-

moned by senatus onsultumo the defence of Italy (X 33,1). There might how-

ever be underlying resentment that no concrete honours had been voted

him. Plancus' letters contain persistent pleas to Cicero to defend his digni-tas.116These pleas were far from superfluous. Plancus had a substantial fac-

tion in the senate hostile to him, and in April P. Servilius Vatia Isauricuswent out of his way to obstruct the passage of a vote of honours for him."7

Honours were coveted, and after the battle of Mutina a high distinction

could be achieved. Both the consuls had succumbed and the suffect consul-

ship was open to ambition. The young Octavian's agitation is too well

known to need illustration here,"18but it should be stressed that he was not

the only contender. Even Plancus, who was consul designate for 42 B. C.,

felt at one stage so uncertain of his future that he requested to be appointed

Hirtius' successor."9 Porno equally might have expected an accelerated con-

sulship in return for his services and his army, and the senate's neglect was amatter for bitterness.

After the letter of June 8 nothing more is heard from Pollio. His corres-

pondence with Cicero breaks off with professions of fidelity and determina-

tion to remain in his province. In fact Porno did stay in Further Spain for

"I For the date see X 23,2. Lepidus' final dispatch to the senate (X 35) is dated May 30.112 X 23,1-3. 113 X 23,5. ll X 24,8.

"11 X 32,5 'sed res publica si me satis novisset et maior pars senatus, maiores cx me fructus tulis-

set'. 11" X 7,2; 11,1; 17,3; 21a,7.117 Cic. adFam. X 12,34; ad M. Brutum112,3.118 For his insulsaeffilagitatio lancus is an eloquent witness - X 24,6; cf. Syme, RR pp.


119 X 21a,7 'tantum te rogo, in Hirti locum me subdas ct ad tuum amorem et ad meam obser-


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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 461

two months more, but in August he crossed the frontier at last and moved to

Gaul with two legions. There he joined Antony and persuaded Plancus toadd his forces to the winning side. The exact chronology is unknown, thanks

to the termination of Cicero's correspondence, but the fullest source, Ap-

pian, places Pollio's intervention after Octavian's march on Rome and the

passing of the Lex Pedia.120According to Appian, Octavian had previously

written to both Pollio and Plancus, recommending them to work for the uni-

ty of the Caesarian cause. This incident is suspect, connected as it is with the

highly tendentious death-bed advice of Pansa, purportedly warning Octa-

vian against the machinations of the senate and recommending allCaesarians

to form a unified front.'21 But whether or not Octavian sent out preliminaryfeelers to the Caesariangenerals is immaterial. The march on Rome was am-

ple proof that the coalition against Antony had collapsed. Further hesitation

was unnecessary and undesirable. Polio joined Antony in the autumn, and

reinforced his allegiance by inducing Plancus, still apparently his friend,122o

desert the dying cause of the republic. His adherence was late but welcome,

and the proper reward came in due course. In November 43 the dynasts met

near Mutina and composed their differences. In the course of the settlement

the city magistracies were designated five years ahead,'23and one of the be-

neficiaries was Pollio, designated consulordinariusor 40 B. C. Similarly Plan-cus not only had his consulship confirmed for 42, but heralded it with the ce-

lebration of a triumph on December 29, 43.124 In both cases a timely adher-

ence to the winning side was amply rewarded.

Pollio's activities in 43 B. C. are best interpreted as political opportunism.

He was a novushomo,and depended on patronage for further advancement. It

was therefore essential to back the right side. Accordingly Pollio only made

a decisive move when it became clear how the crisis would resolve itself. His

earlier enthusiasm to take the field after the relief of Mutina was premature,

quickly forgotten when the forces of Antony and Lepidus coalesced. The ex-pressions of patriotism in the letters to Cicero must be understood against

this background. Pollio's utterances of support forpax and libertaswere deli-

berately evasive, so as neither to commit himself to positive action nor to in-

120 App. BC III 97; Liv. Per. CXX; Vell. II 63,3 apparently places the union with Antony some

time previously, but his account is brief and highly tendentious. In particularthere is no reference

to Octavian's march on Rome, and his first consulship is mendaciously dated afler the agreement

with Antony and Lepidus (II 65,2).

121 App. III 81, 330 mentions approaches to Plancus and Pollio. This passage follows on fromIII 80, 326, a reference taking up the deathbed speech of Pansa (III 75-6). On the dubious authen-

ticity and propagandaimplications of this speech see F. Blumenthal, 'Die Autobiographic des Au-

gustus', Viener Sltdien 35 (1913) 269 f., Gabba, Appiano . . . pp. 171 f.122 cf. ad Fam. X 33,2. 123 App. IV 2,7.

124 Fasti Capitolini and Barberini, I. I. XIII 1,86 f. & 567; cf. ILS 886 = E &J 187.

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cur accusations of treason. Like Plancus, he was forced to play a waiting

game, and certainly he should not be censured either for his preliminarywavering or for his ultimate adherence to the winning side. But neither do

his professions of patriotism to Cicero entitle him to be credited with repub-

lican sentiments.


In 43 B. C. Pollio chose the side which suited his political interests. There

was on his part no hankering after the lost free state and certainly no

desire for martyrdom. His benefactor was Antony, and accordingly wefind him operating in Cisalpine Gaul in command of Antonian forces both

during and after the Perusine war.126None the less, his previous activity

shows clearly that he might have transferred his allegiance to Octavian at

any time, had it suited his purposes. Now I argued earlier that Pollio had

become alienated from Antony by the time of the Actium campaign, and

that his subsequent career makes more sense if he is regarded as a friend

of the first princeps.We have to do with a change of sides, and the crucial

problem is to specify the date at which Pollio moved from one side to the

other.We can establish a terminuspost quemn the pact of Brundisium, concluded

in September 40 B. C.126 Before that Pollio was actively engaged in hostili-

ties and invective against Octavian,127and a few months before Brundisium

he had annexed the republican admiral, Ahenobarbus, for Antony's cause.128

Afterwards his activities are more obscure. The main source is Velleius, who

claims that after Brundisium Porio remained in Italy, and took no part in the

deplorable escapades in the east.'29This information is defective, for, as is

well known, Pollio withdrew to the Balkans shortly after the pact and cam-

paigned successfully against an Illyrian tribe, the Parthini, eventually cele-brating a triumph over them.'30 Now Velleius omits all reference to the cam-

paign and triumph, which is surprising, given his predilection for Pollo.

125 His standing is uncertain; it is conjectured that he was either a legate or a promagistrate

(Broughton, MRR II 372-3; 377-8). That he belonged to a board of IIIviri agrisdividundiss a hy-

pothesis resting on the dubious authority of the Vergilian commentators, most probably a wild

deduction from the subject matter of the Eclogues; cf. H. Bennett, AJP 51 (1930) 334 ff.,

Broughton, MRR II 377.


For the date see Kromayer, Hermes29 (1894) 556 ff., Syme, CQ 31 (1937) 41 n. 1.127 App. V 20,80; 33,130; 50,212; Vell. II 76,2. For Octavian's obscene pamphlets and Pollio's

pointed rejoinder, see Macrob. II 4,21. This dictummust be datcd to the Perusine campaign; cf.

Bennett, AJP 51 (1930) 329, Syme, RR p. 211, Gabba, Appiano . . ., p. 237.

128 Vell. II 76,2; App. V 50,212. 129 Vell. II 86,3.ISODio XLVIII 41,2; Fasti Capitolini & Barberini, I. I. XIII 1,86 f., 342, 568.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 463

Further, his treatment of PoWlo'striumviral activities seems at least partially

aimed at exculpating him from Antony's charges of ingratitude; the winningof Ahenobarbus is explicitly presented as Pollio's greatest service to Antony,

and Velleius in this passage anticipates the famous dictumwf 32 B. C.131 It

could be that PoWlo's Balkan campaigns were inconsistent with the picture

Velleius was attempting to draw, and that the benefits from them had ac-

crued to Octavian, not to Antony. An argument from silence is dangerous in

an author as brief and selective as Velleius, but other evidence can be

brought to bear, indicating that after Brundisium Pollio was serving Octa-


It is essential to determine which province Pollio governed after his con-sulship. The pact of Brundisium divided the Roman world, and the line of

division fell at Scodra, roughly at the mouth of the Drin and halfway up the

Adriatic coast.'32 Macedonia in the south fell to Antony's portion and Illy-

ricum in the north to Octavian. Which did Pollio occupy? The generally ac-

cepted view, powerfully endorsed by Syme, is that he governed Macedo-

nia.133Thereare two fundamental supporting arguments. The first,that Pollio

as Antony's man must have governed Antony's province, does not here con-

cern us. The present argument is to determine whether or not Pollio was An-

tony's man after his consulship, and the identification of the province ismerely one step in the proof. In any case it will not be forgotten that after the

capitulation of Perusia Antony's brother, Lucius, was dispatched by Octa-

vian to Spain, apparently with powers overridingthose of the two incumbent

proconsuls.'34 His previous hostility was apparently no barrier. Syme's

weightiest argument, however, is that the Parthini were located in the hin-

terland of Dyrrhachium, some forty miles south of Scodra and therefore in

Antony's sphere of influence. The homeland of the Parthini was certainly

south of the line of demarcation,'35but did Pofllo need to have held Mace-

donia in order to have qualified for a triumph over them? That is the crucialpoint, and it requires careful consideration.

Ever since the outbreak of civil war in 49 B. C. the Dalmatian coast had

been in a very volatile state. In 48/7 Gabinius had been attacked by the indi-

181 Vell. II 76,3 (quoted n. 43); cp. II 86,3.

182 App. V 65,274; cf. Dio XLVIII 28,4; Liv. Per. CXXVII; Plut. Ant. 30 & 61.

13a Syme, 'Pollio, Saloninus and Salonae', CQ 31 (1937) 39 ff., RR pp. 222 f., Broughton, MRR

II 387-8, Gabba, Appiano. . ., p. 238 (cf. B. C. V, p. 130). For older treatments see Drumann -

Groebe, GeschichieRoms,II 8 f., Gardthausen, AugustusundseineZeit, 1 1,236, Tarn, CAHX 49.134 App. V 54,229.

l35 Caes. B. C. III 11, 41, 42; App. V 75,320; Plin. III 22,145; Strab,VII 7,8 (326); Mela 113.

The dedications to luppiter Parthinus found at Uzice, south of Belgrade (CIL III 8353; 14613),

have no evidential value for the location of the Parthini, cf. E. Swoboda, Klio 30 (1937) 290-305,

and, more concisely, Syme, CQ 31 (1937) 42 n. 3.

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genous tribes of Illyricum and forced to take refuge in Salona.136A year or

two later P. Vatinius was commissioned to bring the rebels to heel, and hiscorrespondence with Cicero is eloquent of the hardships of the struggle with

the mountain peoples.137Vatinius' programme of pacification was interrupt-

ed by the murder of Caesar and the renewed outbreak of civil war. His army

was annexed by Brutus,138and the Illyrian tribesmen supported the libera-

tors as the most likely guarantors of their independence. The Parthini in par-

ticular were attached to Brutus and sent a detachment of cavalry to fight at

Philippi.'39 After Philippi, then, the majority of the tribes of the Dalmatian

coast would have been in revolt, fearing reprisals for their support of Pom-

pey and the liberators. The Parthini were clearly at the hub of the sedition,but the bulk of the unrest was in Dalmatia, the theatre of Vatinius' opera-

tions and Octavian's province since the pact of Brundisium. Illyricum was a

better base for pacification than Macedonia, whose administrative centre was

separated from the insurgents by the Pindus range. If Pollio had held Illyri-

cum, he might easily have crossed the provincial boundary and defeated the

Parthini in Macedonia.140In the relatively relaxed atmosphere after Brundi-

sium the two dynasts may have been less sensitive about their borders than

they were later to be.141But, even if Poflio had adhered scrupulously to the

lex Corneliamaiestatis, he Parthini had no such scruples. Nothing preventedthem from crossing in force to help their fellow insurgents. Pollio could easi-

ly have exterminated an expeditionary force of this nature, inflicting suffi-

cient casualties to qualify for a triumph. The fact, then, that he celebrated a

triumph over the Parthini is certainly not conclusive evidence that his pro-

vince was Macedonia.

Indeed there is a striking parallel in Octavian's own Illyrian campaigns

(35-3 B. C.). Octavian announced in a dispatch to the senate that he had

tamed various chronically troublesome tribes. There follows a list of names,

most of them unattested elsewhere and impossible to locate, but peoples areincluded named HfepOerpvcrarnd TavAavrlovI'.142 ow it is very unlikely

that the IHep6E?vcragaof Appian and Octavian are identical to the Parthini

defeated by pollio.143 The form is unique and unattested elsewhere.144But

186 App. Ill. 12,36; Cic. ad Atl. XI 16,1.

187 App. 111.13,37-8; Cic. ad Fam. V 10; cf. Broughton, MRR 1I 310.138 Cic. Pbil. X 6,13; App. Ill. 13,39. 139 App. IV 88,373; V 75,320.

140 cf. Syme, CQ 31 (1937) 43; K. M. T. Atkinson, Historia 9 (1960) 451.

1'" Appian suggests fear of encroaching upon Antony's provinces as a reason for Octavian'sfailure to pursue Sextus Pompeius; V 127,525 0 1r nV adAAorptavpX?Iv rlv 'Avzoviov

XvAaa6aevos ,upfla)11v. 142 App. Ill. 16,46.

143 E. Swoboda, Octavian und Illyricum (1932) pp. 86 f., W. Schmitthenner, Historia 7

(1958) 202.

14' In other contexts Appian uses the form HlapOlvoi (Ill. 2,4; BC V 75,320).

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 465

the Taulantiiarea very different ase. Theirlocationis certain,attestedsince

Thucydides in the vicinity of Epidarnus/Dyrrhachium.145 ertainlytheirhomelandwas in the immediateneighbourhoodof thatof the Parthini,wellinsideAntony's province. In that case,either Octavianviolated the frontierandextendedhis operations o Macedonia,or he inflicteda defeat on Taulan-tian tribesmen inside Illyricum. There is no reason why Polio should nothave done the same.

We thereforehave to examinethe rest of the evidence to decide whichprovince Pollio held. One datum an be summarilydismissed.According tothe Vergilian commentatorsPollio captured he city of Salona n the course

of his campaign.146 his statementis associated with two glaring errors,namelythatPollio commandeda Germanicusxercitus,nd thathe celebratedhis triumphbefore his consulship.The captureof Salona,then, occursin adubiouscontext,and thereis no hint in any historicalsourcethatthe city hadbeen lost. In 48 B. C. it hadsuccessfullyresisteda jointattackby Dalmatiantribesmenand the Pompeian, M. Octavius; 147that it latersuccumbed s un-attestedand most unlikely. In allprobability he captureof Salona s a fabri-cation, the intention to supplya derivation or the name of Pollio's son, Sa-loninus, who had been put forward as a candidate or the child of Vergil's

MessianicEclogue.148We mustmove to more reliableevidence, but such is

145 Thuc. 1 24,1; Ps-Scylax 26; Eratosthenes ap. Steph. Byz. sv. JvppdX1ov; Strab. VII 7,8

(326); Aelian VH XIV 1; Ptol. III 12,4; Mela II 3. Pliny (NH III 144) says that at one time the

Taulantii were found between Epidaurus and Scodra, and this was gratefully seized by Fluss, RE

IV A 2527 (so Schmitthenner, op. cit. p. 202), to explain Octavian's operations against them. It is

clear, however, that Pliny is speaking of the distant past ('praeterea multorum Graecorum defi-

ciens memoria, nec non et civitatum validarum'), and he may -well be referring to the Taulantian

expansion of the early Hellenistic period. But it is certain that by the time of Augustus the Taulan-

tians had contracted to their old domicile. Strabo attests them in the vicinity of Epidamnus/Dyr-rhachium, as does Aelian and even Byzantine writers (Zosimus V 26,1; Procop. Gotb.1 1,13; Zon-

aras IX 25). Lucan, it should be noted, places the Taulantii in the hinterland of Dyrrhachium inthe course of his description of the fighting of 48 B. C. (Pharr. VI 16).

146 Serv. Ecl. 3,88; 4,1; 8,12; Schol. Bern. Etl. 4 praef.; 8,6; Porphyrio ad Hor. Odes II


147 Caes. B. C. III 9; Dio XLII 11,1; cf. Carcopino, Virgile c le mysrte de la 4e iclogue

(1930), p. 173.

146 So Syme, CQ 31 (1937) 42 ff., who argues persuasively that Saloninus cannot legitimately be

derived from Salonae ("it is nothing more nor less than an impeccable derivation from the perfect-

ly respectable gentile name 'Salonius' "). It is over-sceptical, however, to deny that Pollio had a

son named Saloninus; the name ran in his family (Tac. Ann. III 75,1), and at least one other of his

sons died young and virtually unattested (Sen. Exc. Contr. IV praef. 5). Since the appearance

of Syme's article Andre has built upon this alleged capture of Salonae and produced thehypothesis that Pollio commanded a combined military operation, sponsored jointly by

Octavian and Antony ('Quelques points obscurs de la vie d'Asinius Pollion', REL 25 (1947)

142 if.); cf. also G. Alfoldy, Bevolkerung nd Gesellschaftder romitchenProvinz Dalmatien (1956),

pp. 101 f.

30 1-listoria XXI/3

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unfortunatelynot forthcoming.Appian records an expedition against the

Parthini,launchedby Antony after his arrival n Athens in autumn39.149

Now it is not impossiblethatPollio commanded his razziaas proconsulofMacedonia;the Fasti Capitolini ive no year for his triumph,which couldhave been celebratedn Octoberof either39 or 38 B. C.'r0Probabilityhow-

ever inclinestowards39. In his eighth Eclogue Vergil describesPollio's ap-proachthrough Illyricumand north Italy,and it is clear from his language

that a triumph had alreadybeen decreed.16'Now the Eclogues were appa-

rently completed in 39 B. C. The evidence is admittedly derivedfrom the

Vergiliancommentators,but they arehere coherentandprobablyderive ul-

timately rom the learnedAsconiusPedianus.'62n that case Pollio will havecelebratedhistriumph n October 39, andVergilearliern the yearanticipat-

ed the celebration.If the triumphwas held in 39, Pollio cannot have com-mandedAntony's punitiveforce.Dio, it maybe added, placesPollio'svicto-ries firmly n 39, againbefore Antony reachedAthens. IndeedAntony'sex-

pedition is best explainedas a responseto an earliersuccess of Pollio. If a

maraudingarmyof Parthinihad been defeated n Illyricum, t would have

been logical for Antony to have continued operationsby attackingtheir

homelandin Macedonia.

We areleft with a few scatteredpieces of evidence,but the consensusisthat Pollio's provincewasIllyricum.Horace speaksot a Delmaticusriumpbus

(OdesII 1,26), but thds s inconclusive.The Dalmatianswere ethnicallydis-

persed over a wide area,weUbeyond the laterRomanprovince of Dalma-

tia.'5 Moreover Macedonicusriumphus ould have been recalcitrant o any

lyric metreused by the poet. Florus, however, is more difficult o dismiss.

He has only one briefparagraphabout Dalmatia,'"' eferring n passingto

Asinius Pollio, who mulctedthe Delmatae of land, arms and cattle. In the

samecontexthe mentionsC. MarciusFigulus,who in 156 B. C. had burned

the city of Delminiumandoperated n the generalareaof Narona2156lorus

"I"App. V 75,320. For the date see Kromayer, Hermes29 (1894) 556. It appears that, when An-

tony left Italy after the peace of Misenum, he had alreadyproduced a daughter by Octavia (Plut.

Ant. 33; cf. PIR' A 884).

1"0 I. I. XIII 1,86. Pollio's triumph comes between that of L. Marcius Censorinus on Jan. 1,40,

and that of Ventidius Bassus on Nov. 27, 38.

1'" Verg. Eel. 8,12-3 'atque haec sine tempora circum inter victricis hederam tibi serpere


162 For Vergil's inception of the Eclogues at the age of 28 see Serv. Ecl. praef. 3, 26 H; Probus,

Ecl. praef. 323,13; 329,5 H (Asconius). For their completion in three years see Schol. Bern. Vita25; Serv Aen. praef. 2,9 H. The combination gives 42-39 as the period of composition; cf.

Buchner, P. VergiliusMaro (1957), p. 33.155 cf. Syme,CQ 31 (1937)42.

'5' FlorusII 25 (IV 10).165 Liv. Per. XLVII; App. Ill. 11,31-2; Obsequens 16; cf. Polyb. XXXII 14,2.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 467

also mentions the mining operations of C. Vibius Postumus, Tiberius'

legate in A. D. 6-9 and probably the first governor of the newlyestablishedprovince of Dalmatia.166The Delmatae dealt with by Figulusand Postumus were unequivocallyin Illyricum,which fell to OctavianatBrundisium,and it is a natural nferencethat Pollio's area of competencewasthe same.

The evidence of Dio points in the same direction.He lists the foreignwarsof 39 B. C., beginning with Ventidius' great victory at the CilicianGates,continuingwith a note on Pollio'svictoryover the Parthini,andconcludingwith the exploits in Spainof Pollio's colleague,Cn. Domitius Calvinus.157

Dio unfortunatelydoes not mentionPoflio'sprovince,but he canbe supple-mented fromVelleius.Velleius too gives a list of the militaryadventuresaf-ter the peace of Misenum.In the east he mentionsVentidius'victory, likeDio emphasising he death of the Parthianprince,Pacorus.168 ext Velleiusmoves to Octavian,who in thisperiod,he says, toughenedhis armiesby fre-quentcampaigns n IllyricumandDalmatia,while in SpainDomitius Calvi-nusrestoredold traditionsof discipline.169 he sequence n Velleius is identi-calto thatin Dio, but the expeditions n Illyricumand Dalmatiaareexplidtlyplaced in Octavian'sportion. It is hard to resist the conclusion that these

campaigns n Illyricumwerefought by Pollio, who wasthereforeOctavian'sman.If Poflio did hold Illyricum, t perhapsrequiressome explanationwhy he

does not figure in Appian'sIllyrica,which gives a continuous,if haphazard,historyof Romanoperations n Illyricumdown to Octavian'scampaignsof35-3 B. C. In aUprobabilitythe omission is accidental.Appian'snarrativeproceedsbriefly and erratically hrough the operations of Vatinius,endingwith his surrender o Brutusimmediatelybefore the Philippicampaign.160The narrativebreaks off at this point, andAppianchangessources,movingto the autobiographyof Augustus, from which he excerptedhis

account ofthe fighting of 35-3 B. C.l16 n the intervalcamePollio'scampaignof 39, andit hasfallen out of Appian'snarrative hanksto his abruptchange of source.Augustus, it may be added, was preoccupiedwithhis own achievements,orlack of them, and will not have gone out of his way to publicisethe earliervictory of Pollio.162

1'6 Dio LVI 15,3 with Boissevain's note adloc.; Vei. 11116,2.157 Dio XLVIII 3941,6 (Ventidius); 41,7 (Polio); 42 (Calvinus).

168 Vell. II 78,1; cf. Dio XVIII 41,34.

"Il Vell. II 78,3; cf. Dio XVIII 42,2.160 App. IIM.3,39. The change comes abruptly at 111.14,42.161 III. 14,42 is explicit testimony that Appian used the autobiography at first hand; cf. Gabba,

Appiano . . ., pp. 215 ff.

162 cf. III. 15,43 ov yap dAAoTpIanpQUe; o6 eflaaTrSdAA'Tdai1avToiDv1ypaOvv.


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468 A. B. BoswoRTH

Thereis another,moreimportant,omission in Appian. There is no refer-

ence in book V of the Emphyliao Polio's triumphover the Parthini.Thismay of course be sheer carelessnessor selectivenesson Appian's part. It is,however, often, and plausibly, arguedthat this portion of his work is de-rived from the Historiesof Pollio himself,163nd it maywell be that Polliotoo omitted or slurredover his own triumph.Velleius,it has been observed,has nothing about the triumph, although he gives PolIio a consistentlyfa-vourablepress elsewhere. This common silence may well meanthat therewas somethingdiscreditable boutthe triumph.Now, if Pollio hadchangedsides in 40 B. C. and governed Illyricumfor Octavian,he would have been

highly vulnerable o Antony's laterchargesof ingratitude.He had not evenMessalUa orvinus'excuse that Antony had polluted himselfby his liaisonwith Cleopatra.The best planthereforewas to emphasisehis merits n win-ning over Ahenobarbus o Antony, and to slide over the triumphwon inOctavian's service.

I concludethat the province Pollio took over in late 40 B. C. was Illyri-cum,andthathe hadrecentlychangedsides.It remains o finda motive,andthatmotive is best lookedfor in thePerusinecampaign. t is well known thatin the winterof 41/40 B. C. Antony'sbrotherandwife werebesiegedin Pe-

rusiaby Octavian and his two generals,SalvidienusRufusand Agrippa.'64At nearby Fulginiaethe Antonian relief forces had mustered but failed toraise the siege.At the headof these forceswereVentidiusandPolio with le-gions fromthe two Gauls, supplementedby Antoniansfrom the newlyesta-blishedveterancoloniesunderthe commandof Plancus,Crassus,Ateiusandothers.'65 t is an interestingexerciseto determinethe forces involved inthese transactions.The figuresderive from Appianand cannotbe takenas

absolutely precise,but they do permita rough approximationof the relativestrengthsof both sides. Now beforethe pact of BrundisiumOctaviandis-

posed of rathermorethan 40 legions.'68 Of these 11had beenrecouped rom

16 Gabba, Appiano . . ., pp. 189 ff., B. C. V pp. xxxvii-xlii. Much of the argument here,

based on the hypothesis of a bias in Pollio hostile to Octavian's propaganda, seems to me

misguided. However, the contrast of light and dark between the portraits of Pollio and Plancus

in Appian BC V is indicative that the source is at least highly favourable to Pollio (Gabba,

Appiano . . ., p. 199 n. 1).164 App. V 35,140; Syme RR, p. 211, Andre, REL 25 (1947) 139 ff.

14 App. BC V 50,208. Plancus is attested settling veterans at Beneventum (ILS 886 = E&J

187; cf. App. V 33,130). There were numerous settlements of Antonian legionaries in Italy during

the spring and summer of 41 (App. V 14,58; Dio XLVIII 5-6), and it is a reasonable assumptionthat P. Canidius Crassus was in charge of land distributions like Plancus at Beneventum and

L. Memmius at Luca (ILS 887 = E&J 188). According to Appian 33,130 Ateius had some job in

Gaul, probably a similar veteran settlement.

1"6 App. V 53,221. I. Hahn, Acta Aniiqua 17 (1969) 215-6, does not accept Appian's figure,

arguing that this grand total is inconsistent with the figures for the individual army corps listed

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 469

Gaul afterthe deathof Fufius Calenusearly m40 B. C., and two more hadbeencaptured romPlancusduringthe retreat rom Perusia.'67 hereremainsome 27 legions, comprising the forces of Octavian and L. Antonius,168which had amalgamated fterthe siege. Of these the troops of Luciuswerein the minority;duringthe siege he did not hazarda pitchedbattlebecausehis troops were numerically nferiorand for the most part raw recruits.'69Octavian, then, had a numerical superiorityover the army in Perusia,but perhaps not very great, say 15 or 16 legions against 11 or 12. Onthe other hand we know that the Antonian relief forces amounted to13 legions, all veterans (yeyvyuvaqju6e'va).170hese, when taken with the

beleaguered orces at Perusia, amountedto a clearsuperiorityof numbers,which would have been overwhelminghad the troops of Calenusbeenadded.171

Despite their numbersthe Antonianswere half-heartedn the extreme ntheir efforts to relieve Perusia.When Octavianbegan his circumvallation(autumn41), the Antornian enerals,though summoned to relieve the city,retreatedbefore they could effecta junction.Accordingly they took up se-parate waiting positions at Ravenna, Ariminum and Spoletium, held incheck by relativelysmallforces (App. B. C. V 33). After Lucius'abortiveat-

tempt on January 1, 40, to breakthroughthe blockade,the relievinggene-ralsconferredat Fulginiae.TherePlancusallegedlycounselleddelay,his ad-vice prevailing over the more bellicose attitude of Ventidius and Pollio(App. V 35, 139ff.). It is quite possible that on this occasionPlancus didcounsel delay, but the previous months of inactivity cannot be laid at his

earlier in the text. On his calculations Octavian could only have amassed 29 legions before

Brundisium. Unfortunately Hahn makes no allowance for the recruiting which took place

during the Perusine war. Octavian is only allowed the four Campanianlegions he possessedin the summer of 41 (App. V 24,96) and Lucius his original six consular legions (V 24,95).lt is almost inconceivable that in the desperate crisis of the Perusine war both sides shouldhave refrained from recruiting extra legions. Appian at any rate claims that the whole ofItaly rose in arms, dividing between Lucius and Octavian (V 27,106), and in thesecircumstances a great increase in the legionary totals is only to be expected. A total of fortylegions, including the troops of Lucius and Fufius Calenus, does not seem excessive. (Evenif Hahn's figures arc accepted, Octavian's forces at Perusia were still outnumbered by theAntonians 19 legions to 10.)

167 App. V 24,95; 51,215 (Calenus); 50,219 (Plancus).

'68 cf. App. V 46-7 for the absorption of the Antonians into Octavian's forces.169

App. V 32,1276 &bA,E6KlM OftOt' Cp Uaxrvn Toiq 7replKaO17;E'Votg, cIMivoas Kat rAeozaoiJat Kal yeyv/Avagjudvots, VeocrrpaaTvrov EXv T6 aAEov.

170 App. V 50,208.

171 Gabba, B. C. V, pp. liii - Iv, claims that the Antonian troops were 'nettamente inferiori' tothe Caesarians,but his argument is quite apriori and in particuLlare gives no totals for the oppos-ing forces.

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door. Plancus had relatively few troops, a mere two legions. The robur

exercituswas in the hands of Pollio, who controlled seven legions,172over half the strengthof the relieving forces. Now PoIlio must have beenthe dominant partner in the alliance of Antonian generals, and he musthave born much of the responsibilityfor the failure to relieve Perusia.It should be emphasised that it was above all Ventidius who was

prepared o risk battle in January40. He did indeed takethe offensive,buthis army was countered by larger forces in the hands of Agrippa and

Salvidienus,and he was forced to retreat.173Octavian'smain forces werestill investing Perusia, and he could not denude the circumvallation

of troops for fear of another break out. The intercepting forces ofAgrippa and Salvidienuswere therefore relatively small, and Ventidiuscould not have been outnumberedhad Pollio been with him. Ventidius'venture, then, was on his own initiative,and, it seems,unsupportedby hisco3league.

Accordingto Appianthe Antoniangeneralsfailedto take decisive action

because hey hadno clearstatementof Antony'sattitude owardsthe warinItaly.174Antony in fact did not makeany public declarationof his positionthroughoutthe winter of 41/40 B. C., andindeedhe detaineda deputationof

veterans in Alexandriaduringthat winter.'17 It is difficult,however, to seehow he could havemadea firmpronouncementn favourof his brother.Oc-tavian hadmadedesperateattempts o avoid an outbreakof war, and capitu-

latedwholly to the demandsof LuciusandFulviathatAntony'sveteransbe

settled n their coloniesby Antony'smen.176A declaration or his brotheronthe part of Antony would have beena declaration f war,andhe had no just

groundsfor takingsucha step. A letter, possiblyforged,hadauthorised he

Antonians in Italy to do battle, if their leader'sdignitaswere impaired,a

phrase highly ambiguous and pregnant with sinister connotations.177

Even here there was no casusbelli; Octavianhad made no hostile movewhatsoever against his triumviral colleague. That is not to say that

172 Vell. 1176,3.

App. V 35,139-40 otf&acik Tro6vtenibtov a1ov'Cevo0LO Ka$vovraAeKsOVisept 2'

k av'r6v6=avre,; ......t zavr(ovTov6' av'7rocAyp17Mov e Kai zaAov&6q)voi3eTa 6rd,asvw htr

n;s&ovo; .iaav /47 KVKAWEOCV, KaL E; OVAKWLto'V XOPIOVr4eKAvaV.

17" App. V 32,126; 33,131 arv sCVicvp( Kal 6&xovo4s ; 'AvrTwv(ovvW$pcs-.or what

follows see H. Buchheim, Die Orientpolitik des TriumvirnM. Antonius (Heidelberg 1960),

pp. 30-34.175 App. V 52,216; Dio XLVIII 27,1 claims that Antony was ignorant of nothing that took

place in Italy, while Plutarch (Ant. 30,1) implies, far less credibly, that Antony knew nothing of

the hostilities in Italy until Perusia had in fact fallen.176 App. V 14,54 if; Dio XLVIII 6-7.

177 App. V 29,112 roAqAetv v'V avT'oi5r4vTo a asv KaOaLpfl.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 471

Antony would not have welcomed the annihilationof his young rival.

The time for it was ripe. Octavian was intensely unpopular on allsides, his armies mutinous, and Italy blockaded by the navies of StaiusMurcus and Domitius Ahenobarbus.178Lucius must have had hisbrother's tacit consent at least, and this he blazoned forth, adopting thecognomen Pietas to enforce his claims to be working for his brother.179The Italian colonists certainly were convinced, and flocked to hisstandards under the impression that his promises had his brother'sguarantee.180

Despite thesefavourableconditionstheAntoniangenerals ailed o move.

Pollio and Ventidius could not stop Salvidienus oining with AgrippaandOctavian n Italy,and Salvidienus, t shouldbe noted, hada relativelysmallarmy of six legions.'81Subsequently wo half-hearted ttemptsweremadetorelieve the siege and both failed. After Perusiacapitulated, he Antonianscould only retreatnorth and evade battle. The Perusinewar hadproved di-sastrousfor them. Insteadof securingthe finalruinof Octavian t hadrein-forcedhis position with the armynot only of Lucius but of FufiusCalenus.For this failurePollio must bear a large share of responsibility. His armywas the most numerous,seven veteran egions, andat no stageis it attested

as doing anythingat all decisive. Moreover,Antony's disapprobation an beinferred romthe careersof theprotagonists.Ventidiuswas to leadAntony'sarmiesagainst heParthians,while Plancusgoverned Syriaand Asia.182ollio

on the contrary passed over to Octavian after Brundisium, and it seemsthat Antony regarded him as the chief culprit in the recent fiasco. The

178 App. V 15-17; Suet. Aug. 14; Dio XLVIII 7,4-5. cf. Buchheim, op.cit., p. 33.179 Dio XLVIII 5,4; cf. Sydenham, RomanRepublicanCoinage,nrs. 1171 if. = E&J 7 a coin of

L. Antonius with the obverse legend M ANTONIVS IMP III VIR R. P. C. and on the reversePIETAS COS. At Perusiasling shots invoked the name of the Antonian leader (CIL XI 6721,1 M


180 Dio XLVIII 6,5 Kai yap Kai Tn) MdpKp TaiVra n'OeKCUV&v4utCov. y contrast Appian

underplays Lucius' appeals to his brother, and instead represents him as a disinterested republican,

opposed to despotism in any form and ready to take up arms against Marcus himself, should theinterests of the state require it (V 19,74; 30,118; 39; 43; 54). It is moreover hinted that Antonydisapproved of the hostilities in Italy. Appian strongly hints that the letter produced by Maniuswas a forgery (V 29,112). He also gives prominence to the false statement of Antony's estranged

quaestor, M. Barbatius Pollio, and stresses its effect upon public opinion (V 31,120). The

whole tenor of Appian's narrative is consistent with the claim of the Antonian generals that

the attitude of their party leader was in doubt. Much of this material must derive ultimatclyfrom Pollio himself.181 App. V 31,121 f.; cf. V 24,96 for Salvidienus' six Spanish legions.182 Dio XLVIII 24,3; 26,3; Sydenham, Roman Republican Coinage, nrs. 1190-1 (Asia

40/39); App. V 144,599 (Syria 35); cf. Drumann - Groebe IV 226, Hanslik, RE XVI

549 f.

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winning over of Ahenobarbus was not sufficient compensation for the loss

of Perusia.On item remains for discussion. Pollo, it is alleged, acted as Antony's ne-

gotiator at Brundisium,183 n the same year as the capitulation of Perusia, and

this position of apparent trust seems inconsistent with the hypothesis that re-

lations were cool at this time between the two. But the only source linking

PolIio with the Brundisium negotiations is Appian, always a questionable

authority where PoWlo's actions are concerned. Appian moreover makes it

clear that it was not Antony who chose him as his respresentative. After the

diplomatic initiative of L. Cocceius Nerva, Octavian's own legionaries

continued the approach to conciliation, sending emissaries to bothcommanders; a0rlot 6' av3ro f npoa6o86Evot KOKK2tOVUE'V J? OK61OV

adzqOlV, EK 6E ir&v Av'rwviov HoAAova Kat MatKtvav EKT'rdvKakraPO.'84

It was Octavian's own men who chose Pollio as delegate in the

negotiations for peace. They had observed his activities during the siege

of Perusia, and presumably regarded him as friendly to the idea of an

accommodation. We cannot infer that Antony had any hand in choosing

him for the embassy. Soon the triumvirs were reunited and a marriage

pact agreed on amid mutual congratulation. The work of the peace

embassy then ended, and Antony and Octavian divided the world anewwithout the help of the military diplomats, and presumably without


The conference ended in September or October, 40 B. C., and the consuls

abdicated towards the end of the year.186 n the meantime the triumvirs had

entered Rome, each celebrating an ovation in honour of the peace. It was a

time of political intrigue, and there were casualties, not least the great Salvi-

dienus Rufus, who had plotted against his patron and benefactor- so Antony

magnanimously revealed.'87 At the end of the year the ex-consuls departed

to provinces, Calvinus to Spain and Pollio to Illyricum. Asinius Pollio nowgoverned Octavian's province, and he is attested no more in the entourage

of Antony. After Perusia it was prudent to change to the side which pro-

mised further advancement, and Pollio accordingly fought for Octavian, re-

ceiving his triumph at his hands. Retirement could then supervene. Pollio

could live out his life as patron and leader of literature, highly honoured by

the princepsand the founder of a distinguished line. Desultorciviliumbellorum


Syme, RR p. 217, Andre p. 22, Gabba, Appiano . . ., p. 237.184 App. V 64,272 f.

185 App. V 65; Dio XLVIII 28,34; Plut. Ant. 30-1; Liv. Per. CXXVII; Vell. II 76,4.186 Dio XLVIII 32,1.

187 Liv. Per. CXXVII; Vell. II 76,4; Dio XLVIII 33,1-3; Suet. Aug. 66,2; App. V 66,278 f. cf.

Syme, RR p. 220, Buchheim, op. cii. pp. 39 f.

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Asinius Pollio and Augustus 473

is the title of Q. Dellius, and it has stuck to him ever since MessallaCorvinusfirst coined it. Others merited the appellation equally richly, and among their

number was C. Asinius Pollio.

University of Western Australia, Nedlands A. B. Bosworth