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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 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.
..... Click the link for more information. . Antony was notorious from his youth for riotous living, but even his enemies admitted his courage.
Antony and Caesar
Between 58 B.C. and 56 B.C. Antony campaigned in Syria with Aulus Gabinius and then in Gaul with Caesar, who made a protégé of him. In 52 B.C. he became quaestor and in 49 B.C. tribune. When the situation between 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.
..... Click the link for more information. and Caesar became critical, Antony and Quintus CassiusCassius
, ancient Roman family. There were a number of well-known members. Spurius Cassius Viscellinus, d. c.485 B.C., seems to have been consul several times. In 493 B.C. he negotiated a treaty establishing equal military assistance between Rome and the Latin cities.
..... Click the link for more information. Longinus, another tribune, vetoed the bill to deprive Caesar of his army and fled to him. Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and the civil war began. At the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar took the right wing, and Antony gave distinguished service as the leader of the left. After Caesar's assassination (44 B.C.), Antony, then consul, aroused the people against the conspirators and drove them from the city.
The Second Triumvirate
When Octavian (later 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.
..... Click the link for more information. ), Caesar's adopted son and heir, arrived in Rome, Antony joined forces with him, but they soon fell out. Antony went to take Cisalpine Gaul as his assigned proconsular province, but Decimus BrutusBrutus
, in ancient Rome, a surname of the Junian gens. Lucius Junius Brutus, fl. 510 B.C., was the founder of the Roman republic. He feigned idiocy to escape death at the hands of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (see under Tarquin).
..... Click the link for more information. would not give it up, and Antony besieged him (43 B.C.) at Mutina (modern Modena). The senate, urged by CiceroCicero
(Marcus Tullius Cicero) or Tully,
106 B.C.–43 B.C., greatest Roman orator, famous also as a politician and a philosopher. Life
Cicero studied law and philosophy at Rome, Athens, and Rhodes.
..... Click the link for more information. , who had excoriated Antony in the Philippics, sent the consuls Aulus HirtiusHirtius, Aulus
, d. 43 B.C., Roman soldier. He was a friend of Julius Caesar, with whom he served in Gaul. After Caesar's assassination (44 B.C.) Hirtius and Caius Vibius Pansa were consuls and took sides with the senate against Antony, who was at Mutina (Modena) besieging
..... Click the link for more information. and Caius Vibius Pansa to attack Antony. The consuls fell in battle, but Antony retired into Transalpine Gaul.
Octavian now decided for peace and arranged with Antony 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.
..... Click the link for more information. the Second TriumvirateTriumvirate
, 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 Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus formed in 60 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , with Antony receiving Asia as his command. In the proscription following this treaty Antony had Cicero killed. Antony and Octavian crushed the republicans at Philippi, and the triumvirate ruled the empire for five years.
Antony and Cleopatra
In 42 B.C. Antony met CleopatraCleopatra
, 69 B.C.–30 B.C., queen of Egypt, one of the great romantic heroines of all time. Her name was widely used in the Ptolemaic family; she was Cleopatra VII.
..... Click the link for more information. , and their love affair began. While Antony was in Egypt, his wife, Fulvia, became so alienated from Octavian that civil war broke out in Italy. At about the time Antony arrived in Italy, Fulvia died (40 B.C.) and peace was restored between Octavian and Antony, who married Octavian's sister Octavia; she became, thereafter, Antony's devoted partisan and the strongest force for peace between the two. In 36 B.C., Antony undertook an invasion of Parthia. The war was costly and useless, and Antony succeeded only in adding some of Armenia to the Roman possessions.
In 37 B.C., Antony settled in Alexandria as the acknowledged lover of Cleopatra. He gave himself up to pleasure, caring neither for the growing ill will in Rome nor for the increasing impatience of Octavian. In 32 B.C. the senate deprived Antony of his powers, thus making civil war inevitable. In 31 B.C., Antony and his fleet met Marcus Vipsanius AgrippaAgrippa, Marcus Vipsanius
, c.63 B.C.–12 B.C., Roman general. A close friend of Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), he won a name in the wars in Gaul before becoming consul in 37 B.C. He organized Octavian's fleet and is generally given much credit for the defeat (36 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. with Octavian's fleet off Actium, and Antony found his large, cumbersome galleys were no match for the swift, small craft that Octavian had built. In the middle of the battle Cleopatra escaped with her boats, and Antony followed her. His navy surrendered to Octavian.
The situation of the two lovers was desperate. Returning to Alexandria, they set about fortifying Egypt against Octavian's arrival. When at length Octavian did come (30 B.C.), Antony committed suicide, under the impression, it is said, that Cleopatra had died already. She killed herself soon afterward. Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. is by far the best known of the many dramas on that tragedy.
See R. Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939); A. Goldsworthy, Antony and Cleopatra (2010).