Vipsanius Agrippa, Marcus

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Lifelong friend and supporter of Augustus, b. c.63 bc of obscure but probably well‐to‐do family (he neglected his undistinguished family name). He accompanied Octavius (the future Octavian and Augustus) to Rome from Apollonia after Caesar's murder, helped him to raise a private army, prosecuted Cassius in the court set up by Pedius in 43, and was prominent in the war against Antonius (Pietas) (41/0). After holding the tribunate of the plebs (see tribuni plebis) c.43, and so entering the senate, he was urban praetor in 40. As governor of Gaul in 38 he suppressed a rebellion in Aquitania, led a punitive expedition across the Rhine, and either now or in 20 settled the Ubii on the left bank. As consul (37) he fitted out and trained a new fleet for Octavian's war against Sextus Pompeius, converting the lacus Avernus near Cumae into a harbour for the purpose, and in 36 won two decisive naval engagements at Mylae and Naulochus, where his improved grapnel was highly effective. Although an ex‐consul, he held the aedileship in 33, contributing greatly to Octavian's popularity. In 31 his vigorous naval operations were the primary cause of Mark Antony's defeat (see Antonius, Marcus); at Actium he commanded the left wing. He next (31–29), with Maecenas, managed affairs in Italy in Octavian's absence. On Octavian's return he helped carry out a purge of the senate and a census (29–28), and he held second and third consulships in the crucial years 28 and 27. In 23 Augustus, ill and embroiled in political controversy, handed him his signet‐ring, conferring an unofficial status (most importantly in the eyes of the armies) that would have meant his supremacy if Augustus had died. He was entrusted with a mission in the eastern empire, probably with proconsular power (see pro consule), which he carried out from Mytilene. Agrippa had been put in easy reach of the armies of the Balkans and Syria if Augustus' position were undermined or his life threatened. He was recalled in 21 to represent Augustus in Rome; in 20 he proceeded to Gaul and in 19 to Spain, where he quelled the Cantabri. In 18 he was given tribunician power (see tribuni plebis, end of entry) for five years, a power held otherwise only by Augustus, and his imperium was renewed for the same period. In 13 his tribunician power was renewed for five more years, and his imperium apparently made superior to that of all other holders, like that of Augustus. As a quindecimvir sacris faciundis he assisted in the celebration of the Secular Games in 17. His second mission to the east (17/16–13) is notable for the establishment of Polemon in the Bosporan (see bosporus 2) kingdom, the settlement of veterans at Berytus and Heliopolis, and his friendship with Herod 1 the Great and benevolent treatment of the Jews. Early in 12 he went to Pannonia where there was a danger of revolt, but fell ill on his return and died. After a public funeral he was buried in the mausoleum of Augustus.


Subjects: Classical Studies.

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