Royals, Rebels, Presidents, Paupers, Thinkers, and Thieves

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  • ID: I62047
  • Given Name: MARC @ ANTHONY
  • Surname: OF ROME
  • Name: Marcus Antonius Consul of Rome
  • Given Name: Marcus Antonius
  • Surname: Consul of Rome
  • Sex: M
  • _UID: F2AC705FFA61E4429B329FEE385BEA23E8C2
  • Change Date: 26 Nov 2005
  • Note:
    Antony, Mark (Latin Marcus Antonius) (83?-30 bc), Roman statesman and general, who defeated the assassins of Julius Caesar and, with Gaius Octavius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, formed the Second Triumvirate, which ultimately secured the end of the Roman Republic.

    Antony was born in Rome and educated for a short time in Greece. From 58 to 56 bc he served as a leader of cavalry in Roman campaigns in Palestine and Egypt, and from 54 to 50 bc he served in Gaul under Julius Caesar. Subsequently, with Caesar's aid, he attained the offices of quaestor, augur, and tribune of the people. At the outbreak of the civil war between Caesar and the Roman soldier and statesman Pompey the Great, Antony was appointed Caesar's commander in chief in Italy. He commanded the left wing of Caesar's army at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 bc, and in 44 bc he shared the consulship with Caesar.

    After the assassination of Caesar in 44 bc, Antony's skillful oratory, immortalized by Shakespeare in the play Julius Caesar, turned the Roman people against the conspirators, leaving Antony for a time with almost absolute power in Rome. A rival soon appeared, however, in the person of Gaius Octavius, later the Roman emperor Augustus, who was grandnephew of Caesar and Caesar's designated heir. A struggle for power broke out when Antony, Octavius, and a third contender for the throne, the Roman general Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, formed the Second Triumvirate and agreed to divide the Roman Empire among themselves.

    In 42 bc, at Philippi, the triumvirate crushed the forces led by two assassins of Caesar, the Roman statesmen Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, who sought to restore the Roman Republic. Later in the same year, Antony summoned the Egyptian queen Cleopatra to attend him in the city of Tarsus, in Cilicia (now in Turkey), and explain her refusal to aid the triumvirate in the civil war. Instead of punishing Cleopatra, however, Antony fell in love with her and returned with her to Egypt in 41 bc. In 40 bc he attended meetings of the triumvirate in Italy, at which a new division of the Roman world was arranged, with Antony receiving the eastern portion, from the Adriatic Sea to the Euphrates River; in the same year he attempted to cement his relations with Octavius by marrying the latter's sister Octavia. Nevertheless, Antony soon returned to Egypt and resumed his life with Cleopatra. Octavius made use of this fact to excite the indignation of the Roman people against Antony. When, in 36 bc, Antony was defeated in a military expedition against the Parthians, popular disapproval of his conduct deepened in Rome, and a new civil war became inevitable. In 31 bc the forces of Antony and Cleopatra were decisively defeated by those of Octavius in a naval engagement near Actium. The couple returned to Egypt, deserted by the Egyptian fleet and by most of Antony's own army. In the following year, besieged by the troops of Octavius in Alexandria and deceived by a false report of Cleopatra's suicide, Antony killed himself by falling on his sword.

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    Mark Antony (who had long been Caesar's right-hand man and was consul along with Caesar in 44) soon took charge of matters, leaving Lepidus to depart for Gaul. Antony was in nominal control of state affairs, but virtually everyone was on eggshells. Antony wielded a good deal of power as consul and as Caesar's second in command, but enjoyed little personal authority and dared not assert himself too strongly, lest he meet a fate similar to that of Caesar. The Senate, on the other hand, was concerned about popular reaction to Caesar's death, particularly on the part of Caesar's veterans. Most importantly, the official constitutional machinery, although it had continued to operate during the turbulent years 49-44, had been a virtual dead letter under Caesar's rule: his death created a vacuum in which no one quite knew how to behave. An uneasy truce was arrived at. An official amnesty was granted to the conspirators, but Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral -- along with the generous gifts to the plebs included in the terms of Caesar's will -- so stirred the urban mob that a riot ensued and the conspirators fled Rome in fear
    for their safety. [Caesar's funeral is the occasion for the famous speech in Shakespeare's play: "I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him...."] Antony then quickly retrieved Caesar's private papers from his widow and employed them to govern in Caesar's name, claiming to find there Caesar's plans for Rome's future. This charade soon wore thin with the Senate, all the more so due to Antony's high-handed manner and his wanton extravagance.

    Octavian and Antony. When Caesar's will was read, however, Antony received a nasty shock. In it Caesar named as his chief heir a virtual Unknown by the name of *C. Octavius, adopting him (posthumously) as his son. Octavius was Caesar's grand-nephew on his sister's side, a rather sickly 18-year-old with only limited political and military experience. Upon his adoption, Octavius became *C. Julius Caesar Octavianus (or, in English, simply Octavian). Antony might well have expected little trouble in dealing with a youth of so little experience, few political connections, and virtually no personal authority. Unfortunately, Antony failed to recognize that in Octavian he was dealing with a
    natural born politician. Octavian never was an imposing figure physically, and he owed his military victories largely to the skill of his able lieutenants. In the political realm, however, he was without peer, rising from a virtual Unknown in 44 B.C. to become the first of the Julio-Claudian emperors by 27 AD. Tensions immediately arose between Octavian and Antony, as each vied for the right to employ Caesar's substantial financial resources, to call upon the loyalty of his troops, and, above all, to invoke the authority of Caesar's name. On the one hand was Antony, Caesar's second in command who had served him so ably since the 50s, who had been named magister equitum under Caesar, and who had been appointed priest (flamen) in Caesar's honor; on the other was Octavian, who could claim to be Caesar's son and heir. Tensions between the two soon reached the boiling point, only to be checked by senior officers in command of Caesar's troops, who were united by their common loyalty to the dead Caesar and were unwilling to fight against one another in the name of Caesar's bickering heirs. By the middle of 44 B.C. an uneasy truce was established between Antony, Octavian, the Senate, and those involved in Caesar's assassination.

    Unfortunately Antony, while an able commander, was no Caesar when it came to the delicate art of politics. In 44-43 he soon alienated virtually all of the other factions listed above, uniting them against him. He began by foolishly attacking the orator and statesman Cicero, a leader of the senatorial faction (the optimates). These personal attacks led Cicero to denounce Antony in a series of damning speeches, known as the *Philippics.

    Not content with alienating Cicero and the Senate, Antony renewed his attacks against Octavian, charging him with plots against his (Antony's) life. Octavian saw that his position in Rome was far from secure and withdrew to central Italy, where he began to raise troops on his authority as Caesar's son and heir.

    At the end of 44, Antony stepped over the line altogether. As consul in 44 he had been assigned the province of Macedonia for 43. Antony realized, however, that departing from Rome at this particular juncture would be political suicide and so passed a law that awarded him a five-year command in Cisalpine Gaul and Gallia Comata (Gaul proper) instead.

    This would allow him to keep tabs on affairs in Rome and had the added advantage of providing him with an army camped just north of Italy. (Clearly Antony had the precedent of Caesar's own career in mind.) The threat now posed by Octavian led Antony to speed up his plans: he decided to proceed
    to Cisalpine Gaul and assume command of his new provinces early. At this point the Senate was still unwilling to defy Antony too openly, but it did direct the current governor of Cisalpine Gaul, D. Junius Brutus Albinus (who had been involved in the conspiracy against Caesar), to maintain his position. When matters reached a crisis the Senate, at Cicero's urging, turned to Octavian for help. Octavian had his own forces; more importantly, he could invoke the name of Caesar, thus undercutting Antony's claims to represent Caesar's legacy. Cicero hoped that the young Octavian would be malleable -- a tool that the Senate could employ and then discard at its will. The plan was to have Octavian support the consuls for 43 (A. Hirtius and C. Vibius Pansa) in driving Antony off, then to have Octavian surrender his troops to Brutus, the lawful governor of the region. The first part of the plan worked: Antony was compelled to retire further into Gaul, where he joined up with Lepidus (see above). Unfortunately for Cicero and the Senate, however, Octavian was neither
    malleable nor stupid. He realized that, were he to surrender his troops to Brutus, he would not only lose an important bargaining chip but, given Brutus' association with Caesar's murder, would fatally undermine his claims to be Caesar's loyal son. As it happened, through one of those twists of fate
    that seem to occur so often in Roman history, the two consuls Hirtius and Pansa had been killed in the battle against Antony: Octavian saw a vacuum and marched south with his forces, determined to fill it. Confronted with Octavian's troops, the Senate was compelled to allow him to run for the office
    of consul, to which he was duly elected for the year 42. His adoption by Caesar was officially ratified and Caesar's assassins outlawed: thus Octavian could assume the role of the loyal son attempting to avenge his father's murder and continue his father's work in "reforming" the state. (The leaders of the opposition to Caesar, M. Junius Brutus and C. Cassius Longinus, had already fled to the East, planning, like Pompey earlier, to raise troops and challenge Antony and Octavian.)

    The Second Triumvirate. Suddenly Octavian was no longer a youthful outsider but a major force with which to reckon. He realized, however, that his own position vis a vis the Senate was far from secure and decided to make common cause with his former enemy, Antony. Thus, in 43, Octavian,
    Antony, and Lepidus were officially appointed as a panel of three (a triumvirate) to govern Rome with consular authority for a period of five years for the purpose of restoring constitutional order. This alliance is known as the *Second Triumvirate. Through a curious twist of fate, Caesar -- who originally had been viewed as a dangerous, power-seeking popularis and a traitor -- now became the beloved leader whose legacy was being threatened and in whose name Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus must seize control of state affairs.

    Despite its official standing, the Second Triumvirate was in reality a military junta. Following the precedent of Sulla, its first order of business was to pay back its political enemies and raise some much-needed cash (necessary if the junta's troops were to be kept happy). Proscriptions were held in which some 300 senators and 2000 equites were dispatched, as much for their property as for their political sympathies. The most famous victim was Cicero, whose head and hands were cut off and hung from the speaker's platform (the Rostra) in the forum. [The Triumvirate also raised taxes, aiming first (as was the Romans' wont) at wealthy and "extravagant" women. This policy led to a woman named Hortensia presenting a public speech in the forum in which, we are told, she sounded the now familiar theme of no taxation without representation (i.e., without granting women the franchise).]

    The next order of business, once matters had been settled in Rome, was to deal with the forces of Brutus and Cassius in the East. The official line was that these forces were traitors to Rome, led by Caesar's assassins. Viewed objectively, however, they represented one of the last hopes of the Roman Republic, fighting a cause that was utterly unrealistic -- the days when the traditional constitutional machinery could cope with the economic, social, and political realities in Rome were long past -- but noble nonetheless. The final confrontation occurred in 42 at *Philippi in Macedonia (see Map 3 in Dudley), where Brutus' and Cassius' forces were quickly defeated in a series of
    battles by the combined forces of Antony and Octavian. The victory led to an immediate rise in Antony's fortunes: never much of a general, Octavian had presented a poor showing at Philippi, losing one important battle and spending a good deal of the time sick in his tent. For the moment, at least, Antony was very much the senior partner among the triumvirs.

    With their enemies subdued both at Rome and abroad, the two leading members of the Triumvirate soon returned to their old personal rivalries. Lepidus was quickly gotten out of the way: accused of treason, he was deprived of his provinces and allowed to remain a member of the Triumvirate only on sufferance. The other two triumvirs divided Rome's holdings between them: Octavian got Spain, Antony Gaul. Antony, however, had larger ambitions. Encouraged by his success at Philippi, he revived Caesar's plans for a grand military campaign in the East. His intentions clearly were to follow the precedent set by Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar himself: to win power, fame, and money through a series of military triumphs abroad and then return to Rome and oust his political rivals once and for all. In 41, therefore, he set out for the East, where he soon became entangled with the Egyptian Cleopatra.

    Cleopatra VII left three children by Marcus Antonius: the twins Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, born in 40 B.C. and Ptolemy Philadelphus, born in 36 B.C. In 33 B.C. Antonius designated Alexander to be king of Armenia and overlord of Parthia and Media. He designated Ptolemy to be ruler of all Egyptian possessions in Syria and Cilicia and overlord of all client-kings and dynasts west of the Euphrates, as far as the Hellespont. After the death of Antonius, both boys were taken in by Augustus's sister Octavia to be raised with her own children. They appear soon after in Augustus's Triumph in Rome and thereafter disappear from history. Speculation is that both died in childhood. Cleopatra Selene was married in 29 B.C. to Juba II, a Roman client-king who ruled over Numidia c30-25 B.C. and over Mauretania 25 B.C.-cA.D. 23 when he died in his mid-70s. Cleopatra had long before predeceased him, though the date is not known. They had two (known) children: Ptolemy succeeded his father as king of Mauretania in A.D. 23. In 40, he was called to Rome to appear before the Emperor Caligula. Tacitus reports he had the misfortune of presenting himself wearing such a sumptious purple robe that in envy Caligula had him put to death. One simply did not appear before Caligula wearing better duds than the boss. Although Ptolemy was certainly of a marriageable age, no wife or children are known, and none succeeded him as king. Ptolemy's sister Drusilla was married to Marcus Antonius Felix. Nothing has survived in recorded history to point to any issue of this marriage.

    Octavian, by contrast, was given the thankless task of dealing with affairs in Italy, particularly the necessity of finding land for his and Antony's veterans. Antony clearly hoped that Octavian would become embroiled in Italian politics, squandering both his time and, more important, his popularity with the masses. In the end, this was a poor strategy on Antony's part. Not only did his own military ventures not fare well, but, by leaving Octavian in Rome, he allowed his rival to ply his considerable political skills in waging a propaganda war against Antony.

    At first, however, Antony's plan appeared to succeed. Octavian's problem was to find land for his and Antony's veterans; his solution was to confiscate land throughout Italy. The Italian cities were outraged, and this sense of outrage was encouraged by Antony's wife Fulvia and his brother L. Antonius, who incited a civil war. The rebels were suppressed through a combination of Antony's delay in supporting them and the brutality of Octavian's reprisals (particularly against the city of Perusia, in the so-called Perusine War). Antony eventually returned to Italy in 40, landing at Brundisium, but by then Octavian had not only secured Italy but had seized Gaul. War nearly broke out between Antony and Octavian, but their troops refused to fight against one another. At last a deal was cut: Antony was to pursue his ambitions in the East, while Octavian was granted the western half of Rome's empire. To cement the deal, Antony married Octavian's sister *Octavia (Fulvia having died of natural causes in the meantime).

    Antony accordingly returned east, where from 40-35 he was engaged in a series of largely unsuccessful campaigns against the Parthians. His desperate need for financial and military support drove him into the arms of Cleopatra (literally and figuratively) and he became her official consort. Antony had 3 children by Cleopatra. In 36, despite their age (6, 6, and 2, respectively), he granted each of these children, as well as Cleopatra herself, territories in the East as their official realms; he also lent his support to the claims of Caesarion (then 13 years old) to be Caesar's true son and heir. To Roman eyes these moves were troubling, suggesting that Antony was becoming a champion of
    Egypt and its oriental queen.

    Meanwhile, Octavian was busy in the West fighting *Sextus Pompeius, a son of Pompey the Great. Sextus had gathered the last of the Republican opposition about him in Spain and by 42 controlled Sicily. With his fleet, Sextus was able to harass Roman shipping, nearly cutting off Rome's
    grain supplies. To the degree that Sextus could claim to be fighting for the cause of his father, Pompey, he represented the last forces of the old Republic; in reality, he was as much a military overlord/adventurer as Antony and Octavian. Octavian once again showed his lack of military experience, suffering a series of humiliating defeats, and, in 38, was forced to meet with Antony in order to ask for reinforcements. (At the same time the term of the Triumvirate, originally slated to expire in 38, was extended for another five years.) In 36 Octavian -- or, rather, his general *M. Vipsanius Agrippa, working in tandem with Lepidus -- finally defeated Sextus at the battle of Naulochus. Lepidus made an attempt to seize Sicily for himself, but was soon deserted by his supporters and captured. As pontifex maximus Lepidus could not be killed (as we shall see, Octavian was beginning to develop scruples!), so he was merely stripped of his official powers and placed under permanent house arrest in Rome.

    Actium. The year 36 marks something of a turning point in Octavian's career. From this point on he began to doff the role of ruthless military warlord and instead present himself as a defender of the Republic (such as it was!). This strategy was to stand him in good stead in the propaganda war against Antony. Antony, Octavian could claim, had become the thrall of a depraved eastern
    monarch: he had "gone native" and (Octavian claimed) planned to reduce Rome to a mere subject state, transferring the capital of the empire to Egypt. The Romans would be slaves to a mongrel horde of oriental eunuchs and their lascivious queen, compelled to worship Egypt's decadent, bestial gods and to adopt the perverse religious practices of a land whose rulers regularly married their own siblings.

    Tensions between Antony and Octavian began to reach a head in 35, when Antony formally repudiated Octavia, who had remained loyal to him despite the repeated humiliation to which he had subjected her. In 33, when the Triumvirate officially expired, Octavian held the consulship: he was then able to present Antony as a private Roman citizen acting without the authority of the state and to contrast his own position as loyal servant of the Republic. There followed, in 32, the public reading of Antony's will (which, according to custom, had been deposited in Rome for safe keeping): the provisions it contained were not outrageous -- for example, Antony asked to be buried with Cleopatra and requested official recognition for his children by Cleopatra and for Caesarion -- but they furthered the impression that Antony now regarded himself as an Egyptian.

    n the end war was inevitable. The issue was decided in 31 at the naval battle of *Actium (in northwest Greece). Antony had established camp in the bay of Actium in late 32, hoping to use it as a base of operations against Octavian. He became mired there, however, his lines of supply cut off and his forces steadily shrinking due to disease and desertion. As time wore on, his troops became ever more demoralized, in part due to the presence of Cleopatra in their camp: Roman soldiers did not like the idea of being the servants of a foreign queen (think of Livy's portrayal of Tanaquil). Moreover, Antony's Egyptian fleet was outnumbered and out-generaled by Octavian's fleet, led by Agrippa. By September of 31 Antony had realized that his position was
    untenable and attempted to slip away with his fleet to Asia Minor. His plans were poorly executed by his demoralized troops, however, and only Cleopatra's ships managed to escape, followed by Antony with a few Roman stragglers. The remainder of Antony's forces surrendered after only token
    resistance. The battle of Actium was, then, something of a fiasco: a failed tactical retreat. Octavian and his supporters, however, presented it as a glorious triumph, spreading the story that Antony, accompanied by Cleopatra, had intended a full-scale naval battle but had turned tail and deserted his
    troops when he saw Cleopatra's ship fleeing in fear. In this version, Antony is betrayed by his besotted obsession with the cowardly and depraved Egyptian queen.

    Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt, where they committed suicide. Octavian, however, hailed his triumph as belonging to the Roman Senate and people -- a victory for Rome's political and religious traditions over a nefarious threat from the decadent East. (Notice that once again Octavian held the consulship -- his third -- in this crucial year, allowing him once more to present himself as the servant of the Roman people fighting in defense of the Republic, rather than as a military despot intent on wiping out a hated rival.) He claimed to have been supported in this victory by the god *Apollo, who had a small temple on a nearby promontory. Apollo, the god of Actium, became a prominent figure in Octavian/Augustus' reign. A god of poetry, music, and culture, he provided a fitting contrast to the "degenerate" Egyptian culture championed by Antony. He also embodied two contrary features that Octavian found useful, for Apollo was both a powerful god of retribution, smiting those who strayed beyond the proper bounds set for mortal ambitions, and a gentle god of refinement and
    culture. (These two contrasting features are symbolized by two of Apollo's attributes: the bow and the lyre.) As we shall see, the poets and artists who celebrated Octavian/Augustus' achievements presented his career as displaying these same two contrasting features, with Actium as the turning
    point. Before Actium, we find the stern triumvir who employs violence to punish his father's murderers, restore "order" to Italy, and check the wild ambitions of Antony and Cleopatra; after Actium, we find the benign ruler who oversees a political, moral, and cultural renaissance at Rome.

    1 2 3
  • Birth: 83 BC
  • Death: 30 BC

    Father: Marcus Antonius Creticus of Rome b: 100 BC
    Mother: Julia of Rome b: 103 BC

    Marriage 1 Octavia of Rome
    • Married:
    1. Has Children Antonio Minor of Rome b: 36 BC
    2. Has Children Antonia Augusta
    3. Has No Children Major Antonia b: in 39 British Columbia
    4. Has Children Antonia of Rome

    Marriage 2 CLEOPATRA @ VII OF EGYPT b: 69 BC
    • Married:
    1. Has Children Cleopatra Selene b: 40 BC

    Marriage 3 Fulvia Fulvius b: 77 BC
    • Married:

    1. Abbrev: Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet & Cecily de Nevill
      Title: Ernst-Friedrich Kraentzler, Ancestry of Richard Plantagenet & Cecily de Neville (published by author 1978)evilleeville. published by author 1978.
      Call number:

      J.H. Garner
      Page: Chart 1826, p 393
    2. Abbrev: Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary
      Title: Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary (Merriam Webster Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts , 1995)field, Massachusetts , 1995.
      Call number:
      Text: no parents
    3. Abbrev: Pullen010502.FTW
      Title: Pullen010502.FTW
      Call number:
      Text: Date of Import: Jan 5, 2002
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