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(trīŭm`vĭrĭt, –vĭrāt'), in ancient Rome, ruling board or commission of three men. Triumvirates were common in the Roman republic. The First Triumvirate was the alliance of Julius CaesarCaesar, Julius
(Caius Julius Caesar), 100? B.C.–44 B.C., Roman statesman and general. Rise to Power

Although he was born into the Julian gens, one of the oldest patrician families in Rome, Caesar was always a member of the democratic or popular party.
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, PompeyPompey
(Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus) , 106 B.C.–48 B.C., Roman general, the rival of Julius Caesar. Sometimes called Pompey the Great, he was the son of Cnaeus Pompeius Strabo (consul in 89 B.C.), a commander of equivocal reputation.
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, and Marcus Licinius CrassusCrassus
, ancient Roman family, of the plebeian Licinian gens. It produced men who achieved great note in the 2d cent. and 1st cent. B.C.

One of the well-known members was Lucius Licinius Crassus, d. 91 B.C., a noted orator and lawyer (much admired by Cicero).
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 formed in 60 B.C. This was not strictly a triumvirate, since the alliance had no official sanction. The three men were able to control Rome, and the alliance aided Caesar's rise to power by giving him the opportunity to pursue the Gallic WarsGallic Wars
, campaigns in Gaul led by Julius Caesar in his two terms as proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, and Illyricum (58 B.C.–51 B.C.). Caesar's first campaign was to prevent the Helvetii (who lived N of the Lake of Geneva) from crossing the Roman
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. The Second Triumvirate was legally established as the tresviri rei publicae constituendae [triumvirate for reestablishing the public welfare] in 43 B.C. for five years; it was renewed in 37 B.C. The members were Octavian (AugustusAugustus
, 63 B.C.–A.D. 14, first Roman emperor, a grandson of the sister of Julius Caesar. Named at first Caius Octavius, he became on adoption by the Julian gens (44 B.C.) Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Octavian); Augustus was a title of honor granted (27 B.C.
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), Marc AntonyAntony
or Marc Antony,
Lat. Marcus Antonius, c.83 B.C.–30 B.C., Roman politican and soldier. He was of a distinguished family; his mother was a relative of Julius Caesar.
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, and Marcus Aemilius LepidusLepidus
, family of the ancient Roman patrician gens Aemilia. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, d. 152 B.C., was a consul in 187 and 175 B.C., a censor in 179 B.C., and pontifex maximus [high priest] from 180 B.C.
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 (d. 13 B.C.). This group was granted enormous power by the senate. Lepidus was deposed in 36 B.C., and Antony was defeated at Actium in 31 B.C., leaving Octavian at the head of the Roman Empire.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient Rome:

(1) A board of three persons appointed or elected for a specific purpose, for example, the triumvirate created to administer the agrarian reforms of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 B.C.

(2) During the civil wars of the first century B.C., an alliance formed by influential political figures and generals with a view to seizing power. The First Triumvirate (60 or 59 B.C.) was an alliance between Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, in which Caesar played the leading role and support came from the legions. Having assumed the powers of government, the members of the First Triumvirate distributed governmental posts in Rome and the provinces among themselves and their supporters and instituted laws in their own behalf. The death of Crassus in 53 B.C. and strained relations between Pompey and Caesar brought about the dissolution of the First Triumvirate, which Varro had called “the three-headed monster.”

The Second Triumvirate was an alliance lasting from 43 to 36 B.C. and existing in name until 31 B.C. The Caesarians Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus joined together against Caesar’s murderers—Brutus and Cassius—as well as other republicans and the Senate. Unlike the First Triumvirate, the second had the support of the comitia, which granted the triumvirs extraordinary powers to “settle the Constitution.” The triumvirs used this power to divide the provinces among themselves and to publish proscriptiones against political adversaries. The Second Triumvirate was dissolved because of internal dissension, primarily between Octavian and Antony.


Mashkin, N. A. Printsipat Avgusta. Moscow, 1949.
Utchenko, S. L. Krizis ipadenie rimskoi respubliki. Moscow, 1965.
Mommsen, T. Istoriia Rima, vol. 3. Moscow, 1941. (Translated from German.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. in ancient Rome
a. a board of three officials jointly responsible for some task
b. the political alliance of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, formed in 60 bc (First Triumvirate)
c. the coalition and joint rule of the Roman Empire by Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian, begun in 43 bc (Second Triumvirate)
2. any joint rule by three men
3. the office of a triumvir
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Antony and Lepidus both seized the olive branch and with Octavian formed, in 43 B.C., the unholy alliance known as the Second Triumvirate.
The last images skip ahead to Caesar's army advancing to the Rubicon and to the Second Triumvirate being formed.
Aemilius Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate (November 27); invaded Greece to defeat the conspirators, led by M.
Returning to Egypt after Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra gave her support to the Second Triumvirate of Antony, Octavius (later Augustus), and Lepidus, against the republicans Brutus and Cassius.
The large cast includes Pompey, Spartacus, Mark Antony, Cicero, Cleopatra, Octavian, the first and second triumvirates and, of course, Julius Caesar.