ca. 87 - 20 BCE]
Much maligned Roman senator who
tied his political fortunes to the cause of Caesar & his successors.
As a trusted ally of Julius
Caesar in his feud with Pompey,
Lucius Munatius Plancus was left as proconsul of all the newly conquered
territory in Gaul when Caesar returned to Rome
There he founded the colony of Lugdunum [modern Lyon, France]. Following
Caesar's assassination (44 BCE),
he became a supporter of Marc
Antony & served as co-consul with Lepidus in the early days of the
new triumvirate (42 BCE).
While Antony was occupied with securing the eastern provinces, he twice
made Plancus his proconsul, first of Asia Minor
& then of Syria (35 BCE).
Following Antony's defeat by the Parthians (33 BCE),
however, Plancus allied himself with Octavian. As Octavian reorganized the
political institutions of the republic into those of an empire, it was
Plancus who persuaded him to adopt the name Augustus
("reverend") rather than a title with monarchical connotations
He contributed to Augustus' reconstruction of Rome by restoring the
temple of Saturn. A more dubious distinction is that after Plancus' term as censor (22
Augustus decided to abolish that office left over from the old republic.
Plancus is often
cited as an opportunist who switched his political allegiances to secure
& advance his own fortunes. While that charge may be justly leveled at
many Romans in the political turmoil that characterized the civil wars, it
is an unfair assessment of a man whose loyalty, ability & advice was
obviously long trusted by the three men who molded the new Roman imperial
order. Plancus was not the only supporter Antony
to defect to Octavian. This is better blamed on Antony's own increasing
recklessness & abandonment of the traditional Roman values that
Octavian wisely championed rather than on the political fickleness of their
Cassius Dio, Roman
Caesars: Augustus 29.
Velleius Paterculus, Roman
Perspective on the World of Jesus
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