Octavius, young as he was, possessed a character that was marked with
great intelligence, spirit, and resolution. He soon made many powerful
friends in the city of Rome and among the Roman Senate. It became a
serious question whether he or Antony would gain the greatest ascendency
in the party of Caesar's friends. The contest for this ascendency was, in
fact, protracted for two or three years, and led to a vast complication
of intrigues, and maneuvers, and civil wars, which can not, however, be
here particularly detailed.

The other competitor which Antony had to contend with was a
distinguished Roman general named Lepidus. Lepidus was an officer of the
army, in very high command at the time of Caesar's death. He was present
in the senate-chamber on the day of the assassination. He stole secretly
away when he saw that the deed was done, and repaired to the camp of the
army without the city and immediately assumed the command of the forces.
This gave him great power, and in the course of the contests which
subsequently ensued between Antony and Octavius, he took an active part,
and held in some measure the balance between them. At length the contest
was finally closed by a coalition of the three rivals. Finding that they
could not either of them gain a decided victory over the others, they
combined together, and formed the celebrated _triumvirate_, which
continued afterward for some time to wield the supreme command in the
Roman world. In forming this league of reconciliation, the three rivals
held their conference on an island situated in one of the branches of
the Po, in the north of Italy. They manifested extreme jealousy and
suspicion of each other in coming to this interview. Two bridges were
built leading to the island, one from each bank of the stream. The army
of Antony was drawn up upon one side of the river, and that of Octavius
upon the other. Lepidus went first to the island by one of the bridges.
After examining the ground carefully, to make himself sure that it
contained no ambuscade, he made a signal to the other generals, who then
came over, each advancing by his own bridge, and accompanied by three
hundred guards, who remained upon the bridge to secure a retreat for
their masters in case of treachery. The conference lasted three days, at
the expiration of which time the articles were all agreed upon and
signed.

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