Marc  Antony  [82-30 BCE; suicide]

A grandson of Julius Caesar's uncle Lucius (d. 87 BCE), Marcus Antonius became Caesar's lieutenant in the conquest of Gaul & his chief champion in the Senate. Antony commanded the forces that drove Pompey from Italy (49 BCE) & was appointed consul of Rome just before Caesar's death (44 BCE). His speeches & handling of Caesar's estate turned public sentiment in Rome against Cassius & his fellow conspirators. But opposition in the Senate forced him to retreat to Bologna [Italy], where he formed a 5 year alliance [the 2nd triumvirate] with Caesar's adopted heir, Octavian, & Marcus Aemilius Lepidus [a fellow commander of Caesar's forces in Gaul]. Their combined forces took control of Rome & purged the Senate of Caesar's republican opponents [including Cicero]. Antony's victory at Philippi (42 BCE) precipitated the suicides of the leading conspirators [Cassius & Brutus].

After the civil war, the triumvirs divided the empire & Antony assumed control of the eastern provinces. He became the lover of Cleopatra VII (41 BCE), yet refused to give her control over Judea. Instead, he urged the Roman Senate to declare Herod "king of the Judeans" (40 BCE). Returning to Alexandria, Antony came increasingly under the influence of Cleopatra. After his successful campaign in Armenia (34 BCE), he proclaimed her "Queen of Kings" & Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, "King of Kings." Romans interpreted this as an attempt to transfer the capitol of the Empire to Alexandria. Antony compounded the rift with Rome by divorcing Octavian's sister, Octavia. Octavian's fleet decisively defeated Antony at Actium (31 BCE). Cleopatra rescued Antony, but a year later when Octavian's forces took Alexandria they both committed suicide.

References: Josephus, Antiquities 14.217-221, 301-306, 319-329, 379-394, 434-453,
                                                       15.5-10, 63-111, 121, 131, 161-162, 183, 189-190,
                                                            215, 256-258.
1.242-247, 281-285, 320-322, 358-365, 386-396.

Other resources on line:

  • Antony by Plutarch (75 CE) - Dryden's classic translation of Roman moralist's biography [in Internet Classics Archive at MIT].
  • Antony, Octavian & Cleopatra - illustrated chronology of the final years of the Roman republic in Barbara McManus' Rome: Republic to Empire (College of New Rochelle).

Roman silver denarius with Antony's image minted in 41 BCE shortly after his victory over the assassins of Julius Caesar. The Latin inscription reads (clockwise from bottom): M(arcus) Ant(onius) Imp(erator) Aug(ustus) III Vir... ["Marc Antony, supreme commander, triumvir"]. The other side of this two-faced coin bears the image of young Octavian. Ten years later Octavian defeated Antony & claimed the title "Augustus" for himself. For high resolution images of this & more coins of early Roman rulers see Sandy Brenner's vivid numismatic guide: Jerusalem Through Coins. For a catalog of Antony's coins see:.

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