A big loveable
teddy bear of a man, Marc Antony was Caesar's most loyal supporter.
He defended Caesar in a Senate that much preferred Caesar's rival, Pompey.
After Pompey's defeat, Caesar left Marc Antony in charge of affairs
assassination by pro-Republican conspirators Brutus and Cassius and
many other senators, Antony so roused the populace that Brutus and Cassius
fled Rome for their own safety. But the popular image of Antony giving
an eloquent speech at Caesar's funeral is not quite accurate. Instead,
in a brilliant stroke, he used the Senate's own words to crush support
for a return to a Senate-controlled republic. He simply ordered that
the Senate's proclamations declaring Caesar dictator-for-life and granting
him the Senate's protection be read at the funeral, adding only a few
words of his own. But that was quite enough.
move was not so successful. He tried to thwart the efforts of Caesar's
heir, Octavian, to collect his political inheritance. Octavian reacted
by raising an army among Caesar's veterans and chasing Antony from Rome.
He also allied himself with the famous orator, Cicero, though it's not
clear whether the idea was Cicero's (who despised Antony) or Octavian's.
In any case, Cicero won Octavian the support of the Senate, and Octavian
led an army to attack Antony in Gaul.
fighting, though, they talked over their differences. They agreed to
a power sharing arrangement that left Antony, Octavian, and a relatively
unimportant fellow named Lepidus in charge, forming the so-called "Second
Triumvirate" (the first being Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar). This
proved unfortunate for Cicero. As part of the deal, Antony asked that
Cicero be executed, and Octavian readily agreed. This probably should
have alerted Antony that Octavian wasn't the most reliable of friends.
order of business after killing Cicero was to deal once and for all
with Caesar's assassins, who still controlled Rome's eastern provinces.
Antony and Octavian's armies made short work of it, and both Brutus
and Cassius were soon history. Things got a bit rocky between Antony
and Octavian after that, but once again they renewed the Triumvirate,
this time giving Octavian the west, Antony the east, and Lepidius the
African provinces. It was during this period that Herod I gained Antony's
assistance in defeating the last of the Hasmonean rulers of Judaea.
got cozy with Caesar's former lover, Cleopatra VII, in Egypt. After
a disastrous campaign against the Parthians, Antony retreated to Egypt,
and appeared content to play house with Cleo. When the Second Triumvirate
expired in 33 BCE, Octavian used Antony's relationship with Cleopatra
for its propaganda value to undermine Antony's support.
coin: After the collapse of the Second Triumvirate, denarii like this
one were minted by legions loyal to Marc Antony to pay the troops. They
featured a war galley on the obverse and a legionary eagle ("Bird
on a Stick") flanked by two legionary standards on the reverse.
They were typically poorly struck and made of relatively low-grade silver.
declared war against Egypt in 31 BCE. It came as no surprise to anyone
that Antony came in on the side of Egypt. They met at Actium on September
2, 31 BCE, in a great sea battle, and Octavian's forces eventually won,
though it was close. Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt, but Antony
decided that the cause was lost and committed suicide. Cleopatra did
the same shortly thereafter, once she decided that she would not be
able to successfully ply her charms on Octavian.
(Latin: M•ANTONIVS•M•F•M•N¹) (c.
83 BC – August 30 BC), known in English as Mark Antony, was a
Roman politician and general. He was an important supporter of Julius
Caesar as a military commander and administrator. After Caesar's assassination,
Antony allied with Octavian and Marcus Amelius Lepidus to form the second
triumvirate. The triumvirate ended in 33 BC, and Antony committed suicide
with Cleopatra in 30 BC.
born in Rome around 83 BC. His father was his namesake, Marcus Antonius
Creticus, the son of the great rhetorician Marcus Antonius Orator executed
by Gaius Marius' supporters in 86 BC. Through his mother Julia Caesaris,
he was a distant cousin and relative of Julius Caesar. His father died
at a young age, leaving him and his brothers, Lucius and Gaius, to the
care of his mother. Julia Antonia (known in sources by her married name,
to distinguish from the other Julias) then married Publius Cornelius
Lentulus Sura, a politician involved in and executed during the Catiline
conspiracy of 63 BC.
early life was characterized by a lack of parental guidance. According
to historians like Plutarch, he spent his teenage years roaming through
Rome with his brothers and friends (Publius Clodius Pulcher among them).
Together, they embarked on a rather wild sort of life, frequenting gambling
houses, drinking too much, and involving themselves in scandalous love
affairs. Plutarch mentions the rumour that before Antony reached 20
years of age, he was already indebted the sum of 250 talents (equivalent
to several million dollars).
period of recklessness, Antony went to Greece to study rhetoric. During
this visit, he joined the cavalry in the Roman legions of the proconsul
Aulus Gabinius en route to Syria. In the ensuing campaign, he demonstrated
his talents as a cavalry commander and distinguished himself with bravery
and courage. It was during this campaign that he first visited Egypt
In 54 BC,
Antony became a member of the staff of Julius Caesar's armies in Gaul.
He again proved to be a competent military leader in the Gallic wars,
but his personality caused instability wherever he went. Caesar himself
was said to be frequently irritated by his behaviour.
Antony became a wholehearted Julius Caesar supporter, and he dedicated
his year as tribune of the plebians in 50 BC to his cause. Caesar's
two proconsular commands, during a period of 10 years, were expiring,
and the general wanted to return to Rome for the consular elections.
But resistance from the conservative faction of the Roman senate, led
by Pompey, demanded that Caesar resign his proconsulship and the command
of his armies before he be allowed to seek re-election to the consulship.
This he could not do, as such an act would leave him a private citizen--and
therefore open to prosecution for his acts while proconsul--in the interim
between his proconsulship and his second consulship; it would also leave
him at the mercy of Pompey's armies. Antony proposed that both generals
lay down their commands. The idea was rejected, and Antony resorted
to violence, ending up expelled from the senate. He left Rome, joining
Caesar, who had led his armies to the banks of the Rubicon, the river
that marked the southern limit of his proconsular authority. With all
hopes of a peaceful solution for the conflict with Pompey gone, Caesar
led his armies across the river into Italy and marched on Rome, starting
the last Republican civil war. During the civil war, Antony was Caesar's
second in command. In all battles against the Pompeians, Antony led
the left wing of the army, a proof of Caesar's confidence in him.
became dictator, Antony was made master of the horse, the dictator's
right hand man, and in this capacity remained in Italy as the peninsula's
administrator in 47 BC, while Caesar was fighting the last Pompeians,
who had taken refuge in the African provinces. But Antony's skills as
administrator were a poor match to those as general. Conflict soon arose,
and, as on other occasions, Antony resorted to violence. Hundreds of
citizens were killed and Rome herself descended into a state of anarchy.
Caesar was most displeased with the whole affair and removed Antony
from all political responsibilities. The two men did not see each other
for two years. Reconciliation arrived in 44 BC, when Antony was chosen
as partner for Caesar's fifth consulship.
conflicts existed between the two men, Antony remained faithful to Caesar
at all times. In February of 44 BC, during the Lupercalia festival,
Antony publicly offered Caesar a diadem. This was an event fraught with
meaning: a diadem was a symbol of a king, and in refusing it, Caesar
demonstrated that he did not intend to assume the throne.
15, 44 BC (the Ides of March), Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group
of senators, led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus.
In the turmoil that surrounded the event, Antony escaped Rome dressed
as a slave, fearing that the dictator's assassination would be the start
of a bloodbath among his supporters. When this did not occur, he soon
returned to Rome, discussing a truce with the assassins' faction. For
a while, Antony, as consul of the year, seemed to pursue peace and the
end of the political tension. Following a speech by Marcus Tullius Cicero
in the Senate, an amnesty was agreed for the assassins. Then came the
day of Caesar's funeral. As Caesar's ever-present second in command,
partner in consulship and cousin, Antony was the natural choice to make
the funeral eulogy. In his speech, he sprang his accusations of murder
and ensured a permanent breach with conspirators. Showing a talent for
rhetoric and dramatic interpretation, Antony snatched the toga from
Caesar's body to show the crowd the scars from his wounds. That night,
the Roman populace attacked the assassins' houses, forcing them to flee
for their lives.
of Caesar had left an open space in Rome's politics. The Republic was
dying, and yet another civil war was starting. It was then that Octavian,
Caesar's great nephew and adopted son, emerged on the political scene.
As heir of Caesar's name and estate, he had great political potential
due to the esteem of the population and the loyalty of the legions.
He was also very willing to fight for power with the other two main
contestants: Antony himself and Lepidus. After a few months of difficult
negotiations, the three men agreed to share the power as the second
triumvirate. The Triumvirs for the Organization of the People gained
official recognition by the Lex Titia, a law passed by the Assembly
in 43 BC, which granted them virtually all powers for a period of five
years. To solidify the alliance, Octavian married Clodia, Antony's step-daughter.
The triumvirs then set to pursue the assassins' faction, who had fled
to the East, and to murder the conspirators' supporters who remained
in Rome. Cicero was the most famous victim of these violent days; knowing
that Antony had a grudge against him, the writer committed suicide before
they could kill him. (Livy, however, writes that he merely refused to
resist the executioners.) Antony and his wife Fulvia did not spare the
body: Cicero's head and hands were posted in the rostra, with his tongue
pierced by Fulvia's golden hairpins. After the twin battles at Philippi
and the suicides of Brutus and Cassius, no one else would defy the triumvirate's
political and military situations dealt with, the triumvirs divided
the Roman world among themselves. Lepidus took control of the western
provinces, and Octavian remained in Italy with the responsibility of
securing lands for the veteran soldiers—an important task, since
the loyalty of the legions depended heavily on this promise. As for
Antony, he went to the Eastern provinces, to pacify yet another rebellion
in Judaea and attempt to conquer the Parthian Empire. During this trip,
he met Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt in Tarsus, in 41 BC, and became
in Italy, the situation was not pacified. Octavian's administration
was not appeasing, and a revolt was about to occur. Moreover, he divorced
Clodia, giving a curious explanation: she was annoying. The leader of
this revolt was Fulvia, the wife of Antony, a woman known to history
for her political ambition and tempestuous character. She feared for
her husband's political position and was not keen to see her daughter
put aside. Assisted by Lucius Antonius, her brother-in-law, Fulvia raised
eight legions with her own money. Her army invaded Rome, and for a while
managed to create problems for Octavian. However, in the winter of 41–40
BC, Fulvia was besieged in Perusia and forced to surrender by starvation.
Fulvia was exiled to Sicyon, where she died while waiting for Antony's
death was providential. A truce with Octavian was negotiated and reinforced
by Antony's marriage to Octavia, Octavian's beloved sister. This peace,
known as the Treaty of Brundisium, reinforced the triumvirate and allowed
Antony to finally prepare his long awaited campaign against the Parthians.
military purpose on his mind, Antony sailed to Greece with his new wife.
But the rebellion in Sicily of Sextus Pompeius, the last of the Pompeians,
kept the army promised to Antony in Italy. With his plans again severed,
Antony and Octavian quarreled again. This time with the help of Octavia,
a new treaty was signed in Tarentum in 38 BC. The triumvirate was renewed
for a period of another five years (ending in 33 BC) and Octavian promised
again to send legions to the East.
But by now,
Antony was skeptical of Octavian's true support of his Parthian cause.
Leaving Octavia pregnant of her second Antonia in Rome, he sailed to
Alexandria, where he expected funding from Cleopatra, the mother of
his twins. The queen of Egypt loaned him the money he needed for the
army, but the campaign proved a disaster. After a series of defeats
in battle, Antony lost most of his Egyptian army during a retreat through
Armenia in the peak of winter.
in Rome, the triumvirate was no more. Lepidus was forced to resign after
an ill-judged political move. Now in sole power, Octavian was occupied
in wooing the traditional Republican aristocracy to his side. He married
Livia and started to attack Antony in order to raise himself to power.
He argued that Antony was a man of low morals to have left his faithful
wife abandoned in Rome with the children to be with the promiscuous
queen of Egypt. Antony was accused of everything, but most of all, of
"becoming native", an unforgivable crime to the proud Romans.
Several times Antony was summoned to Rome, but remained in Alexandria
with Cleopatra and her funds.
Egyptian money, Antony invaded Armenia, this time successfully. In the
return, a mock Roman triumph was celebrated in the streets of Alexandria.
The parade through the city was a pastiche of Rome's most important
military celebration. For the finale, the whole city was summoned to
hear a very important political statement. Surrounded by Cleopatra and
her children, Antony was about to put an end to his alliance with Octavian.
He distributed kingdoms between his children: Alexander Helios was named
king of Armenia and Parthia (not conquered yet), his twin Cleopatra
Selene got Cyrenaica and Libya, and the young Ptolemy Philadelphus was
awarded with Syria and Cilicia. As for Cleopatra, she was proclaimed
Queen of Kings and Queen of Egypt, to rule with Caesarion (Ptolemy Caesar,
son of Julius Caesar), King of Kings and King of Egypt. Most important
of all, Caesarion was declared legitimate son and heir of Julius Caesar.
These proclamations were known as the Donations of Alexandria and caused
a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Rome.
insignificant lands among the children of Cleopatra was not a peace
move, but it was not a serious problem either. What did seriously threaten
Octavian's political position, however, was the acknowledgment of Caesarion
as legitimate and heir to Julius Caesar's name. Octavian's base of power
was his link with Caesar through adoption, which granted him much-needed
popularity and loyalty of the legions. To see this convenient situation
attacked by a child sired by the richest woman in the world was something
Octavian could not accept. The triumvirate expired in the last day of
33 BC and was not renewed. Another civil war was beginning.
and 32 BC, a propaganda war was fought in the political arena of Rome,
with accusations flying between sides. Antony (in Egypt) divorced Octavia
and accused Octavian of being a social upstart, of usurping power, and
of forging the adoption papers by Julius Caesar. Octavian responded
with treason charges: of illegally keeping provinces that should be
given to other men by lots, as was Rome's tradition, and of starting
wars against foreign nations (Armenia and Parthia) without the consent
of the senate. Antony was also held responsible for Sextus Pompeius
execution with no trial. In 32 BC, both consuls (Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
and Gaius Sosius) and a third of the senate abandoned Rome to meet Antony
and Cleopatra in Greece.
In 31 BC,
the war started. Octavian's loyal and talented general Agrippa captured
the Greek city and naval port of Methone, loyal to Antony. The enormous
popularity of Octavian with the legions secured the defection of the
provinces of Cyrenaica and Greece to his side. On September 2, the naval
battle of Actium took place. Antony and Cleopatra's navy was destroyed,
and they were forced to escape to Egypt.
now close to absolute power, did not intend to give them rest. In August
30 BC, assisted by Agrippa, he invaded Egypt. With no other refuge to
escape to, Antony committed suicide. A few days later, Cleopatra herself
followed his example.
death of Antony, Octavian became uncontested ruler of Rome: no one else
attempted to take power from him. In the following years, Octavian,
known as Augustus Caesar after 27 BC, managed to accumulate in his person
all administrative, political, and military offices. During his life,
the Roman Republic was not officially ended. Many date the beginning
of the Roman Empire to the battle of Actium; however, the Empire can
also be considered to date from the death of Augustus in 14 AD, with
the succession of Tiberius.
1. Marriage to Fadia
2. Marriage to Antonia Hybrida (his direct cousin)
3. Marriage to Fulvia
o Marcus Antonius Antyllus, executed by Octavian in 31 BC
o Iullus Antonius, married Claudia Marcella Major, daughter of Octavia
4. Marriage to Octavia
o Antonia Major, married Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus
o Antonia Minor, married Drusus, the son of Livia
5. Children with Cleopatra
o The twins
? Alexander Helios, the sun
? Cleopatra Selene, the moon, married King Juba II of Numidia (and,
o Ptolemy Philadelphus.
• 83 BC—born in Rome
• 54–50 BC—joins Caesar's staff in Gaul and fights
in the Gallic wars
• 50 BC—tribune of the plebians
• 48 BC—master of the horse
• 47 BC—ruinous administration of Italy: political exile
• 44 BC—consul with Caesar
• 43 BC—forms the second triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus
• 42 BC—defeats Cassius and Brutus; travels through the
• 41 BC—meets Cleopatra
• 40 BC—returns to Rome, marries Octavia; treaty of Brundisium
• 38 BC—treaty of Tarentum: triumvirate renewed until 33
• 36 BC—disastrous campaign against the Parthians
• 35 BC—conquers Armenia
• 34 BC—the donations of Alexandria
• 33 BC—end of the triumvirate
• 32 BC—exchange of accusations between Octavian and Antony
• 31 BC—battle of Actium
• 30 BC—Antony and Cleopatra commit suicide
83 B.C. • Birthplace: Rome
• Died: 30 B.C. (suicide)
• Best Known As: Cleopatra's ill-fated lover
a daring general in the army of Julius Caesar who rose to become one
of Caesar's closest colleagues. After Caesar was assassinated in 44
B.C., Antony jumped into the struggle for control of Rome. (At the funeral
of Caesar he spoke out strongly against the assassins; William Shakespeare
later dramatized this moment in the play Julius Caesar, with the famous
oration beginning "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.")
Antony joined forces with Caesar's adopted heir Octavian to purge Rome
of their common enemies. They formed the so-called Second Triumvirate
with general Marcus Lepidus and divided the empire, with Antony being
given control of Egypt. There he met and became the lover of the Egyptian
queen Cleopatra. Their meeting, with Cleopatra dressed as the love goddess
Venus and arriving on a lavishly decorated barge, is a famous story
recorded by Plutarch and others. Antony and Cleopatra joined forces
and the triumvirate dissolved. At the battle of Actium in 31 B.C. the
naval forces of Antony and Cleopatra were routed by those of Octavian.
(Cleopatra fled the scene while the battle was still underway, and Antony
followed; their departure is often regarded as one of naval history's
great blunders.) A year later, with Octavian's forces nearing Alexandria,
Antony committed suicide by falling on his sword. Cleopatra followed
suit (allegedly killing herself with the self-inflicted bite of a poisonous
snake) and Octavian was left in final control of Egypt and Rome. Antony's
life and tragic end was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Antony
name is sometimes modernized to "Marc Anthony," and he is
sometimes called simply "Antony"... Marc Anthony is also the
name of a popular modern salsa musician... Much of what we know about
Antony's character comes from his description by Plutarch in Parallel
Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans, otherwise known as Plutarch's Lives...
Cleopatra had been a lover of Julius Caesar before becoming the lover
of Antony... Among those killed by Antony in his purge of Rome was the
popular statesman and orator Cicero.