Though he tried, Mark Antony was never "king" (supreme leader) of the Romans. His highest rank was sharing the Triumvirate with Octavian, (who went on to become Emperor Augustus, a "king" over the Roman Empire). Nonetheless, Herod the Great felt he owed his rule to Mark Antony.
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|January 14, 83 BC–August 1, 30 BC (age 53)|
Bust of Mark Antony (Vatican Museums)
|Place of birth||Rome, Roman Republic|
|Place of death||Alexandria, Ptolemaic Kingdom|
|Years of service||54–30 BC|
|Commands held||Roman army|
Caesar's civil war
Antony's war on Parthia
Battle of Mutina
Battle of Philippi
Battle of Actium
Marcus Antonius (in Latin: M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N) (c. January 14, 83 BC–August 1, 30 BC), known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and General. He was an important supporter and the loyal friend of Gaius Julius Caesar as a military commander and administrator, being Caesar's second cousin, once removed, by his mother Julia Antonia. After Caesar's assassination, Antony formed an official political alliance with Octavian (Augustus) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, known to historians today as the Second Triumvirate.
The triumvirate broke up in 33 BC. Disagreement between Octavian and Antony erupted into civil war, the Final War of the Roman Republic, in 31 BC. Antony was defeated by Octavian at the naval Battle of Actium, and in a brief land battle at Alexandria. He and his lover Cleopatra committed suicide shortly thereafter.
 Early life
A member of the Antonia gens, Antony was born in winter 87-6 BC, probably in Sulla's army besieging Athens during the Mithridatic War. His father was his namesake, Marcus Antonius Creticus, the son of the great rhetorician Marcus Antonius Orator who had been murdered and decapitated by order of Gaius Marius at the end of 87 B.C. His mother Julia was a daughter of Lucius Caesar (consul 90, censor 89), another Marian victim slain with Antonius the orator. His father (praetor 74) died in 71 B.C. during his command against Mediterranean piracy, and Julia soon remarried to Publius Cornelius Lentulus (Sura) (consul 71), an eminent patrician politician and co-leader of the infamous Conspiracy of Catiline named after the latter.
According to authorities like Plutarch, he spent his teenage years wandering the streets of Rome with his brothers and friends, most notably Gaius Curio (the later tribune 50 B.C.), with whom he is said to have had a long term homosexual liaison. Plutarch writes that before Antony reached 20 years of age, he was already indebted to the sum of 250 talents. (About $5 million in today's money.)
After this period of recklessness, Antony fled to Greece to escape his creditors and to study rhetoric. After a short time spent in attendance on the philosophers at Athens, he was summoned by Aulus Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, to take part in the campaigns against Aristobulus II in Judea, and in support of King Ptolemy XII Auletes in Egypt. In the ensuing campaign, he demonstrated his talents as a cavalry commander and distinguished himself with bravery and courage.
Indeed, Antony's life was a mixture, often simultaneous, of astounding military honor along with equally astounding debauchery. In a similar vein, Plutarch noted that while his generosity helped raise him to the heights of power, he was equally hindered by his countless faults. 
 Supporter of Caesar
In 54 BC, Antony became a member of the staff of Caesar's armies in Gaul and early Germany. He again proved to be a competent military leader in the Gallic Wars, but his personality caused instability wherever he went. Antony and Caesar were said to be best of friends as well as being fairly close relatives. Antony made himself ever available to assist Caesar in carrying out his military campaigns.
Raised by Caesar's influence to the offices of quaestor, augur, and tribune of the plebeians (50 BC), he supported the cause of his patron with great energy. Caesar's two proconsular commands, during a period of ten years, were expiring in 50 BC, and he 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 being allowed to seek re-election to the consulship.
This Caesar would not do, as such an act would at least temporarily render him a private citizen and thereby leave him open to prosecution for his acts while proconsul. It would also place him at the mercy of Pompey's armies. To prevent this occurrence Caesar bribed the plebian tribune Curio to use his veto to prevent a senatorial decree which would deprive Caesar of his armies and provincial command, and then made sure Antony was elected tribune for the next term of office. Antony exercised his tribunician veto, with the aim of preventing a senatorial decree declaring martial law against the veto, and was violently expelled from the senate with another Caesar adherent, Cassius, who was also a tribune of the plebs. Caesar crossed the river Rubicon upon hearing of these affairs which began the Republican civil war. Antony left Rome and joined Caesar and his armies at Ariminium, where he was presented to Caesar's soldiers still bloody and bruised as an example of the illegalities that his political opponents were perpetrating, and as a casus belli. Tribunes of the Plebs were meant to be untouchable and their veto inalienable according to the Roman mos maiorum (although there was a grey line as to what extent this existed in the declaration of and during martial law). Antony commanded Italy whilst Caesar destroyed Pompey's legions in Spain, and led the reinforcements to Greece, before commanding the right wing of Caesar's armies at Pharsalus.
When Caesar became dictator for a second time, Antony was made Master of the Horse, the dictator's right hand man, and in this capacity he remained in Italy as the peninsula's administrator in 47 BC, while Caesar was fighting the last Pompeians, who had taken refuge in the province of Africa. But Antony's skills as an administrator were a poor match for his generalship, and he seized the opportunity of indulging in the most extravagant excesses, depicted by Cicero in the Philippics. In 46 BC he seems to have taken offense because Caesar insisted on payment for the property of Pompey which Antony professedly had purchased, but had in fact simply appropriated. Conflict soon arose, and, as on other occasions, Antony resorted to violence. Hundreds of citizens were killed and Rome itself 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. The estrangement was not of long continuance, with Antony meeting the dictator at Narbo (45 BC) and rejecting the suggestion of Trebonius that he should join in the conspiracy that was already afoot. Reconciliation arrived in 44 BC, when Antony was chosen as partner for Caesar's fifth consulship.
Whatever conflicts existed between the two men, Antony remained faithful to Caesar at all times. On February 15, 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.
On March 14, 44 BC, Antony was alarmed when a Senator named Cicero told him the gods would strike down Caesar. The following day, the Ides of March, he went down to warn the dictator but the Liberatores reached Caesar first and he was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. 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, seemed to pursue peace and an end to the political tension. Following a speech by 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, co-consul and cousin, Antony was the natural choice to give the eulogy. In his speech, he made accusations of murder and ensured a permanent breach with the conspirators. Showing a talent for rhetoric and dramatic interpretation, Antony snatched the toga from Caesar's body to show the crowd the stab wounds, pointing at each and naming the authors, publicly shaming them. During the eulogy he also read Caesar's will, which left most of his property to the people of Rome, demonstrating that, contrary to the conspirator's assertions, Caesar had no intention of forming a royal dynasty. Public opinion turned, and that night, the Roman populace attacked the assassins' houses, forcing them to flee for their lives.
 Enemy of the state and triumvirate
Antony was left as sole Consul, he surrounded himself with a bodyguard of Caesar's veterans and forced the senate to transfer to him the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which was then administered by Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, one of the conspirators. Brutus refused to surrender the province and Antony set out to attack him in October 44 BC, besieging him at Mutina. Encouraged by Cicero, the Senate denounced Antony and in January 43 they granted Octavian imperium (commanding power), which made his command of troops legal and sent him to relieve the siege, along with Hirtius and Pansa, the consuls for 43 BC. In April 43, Antony's forces were defeated at the Battles of Forum Gallorum and Mutina, forcing Antony to retreat to Transalpine Gaul. However, both consuls were killed, leaving Octavian in sole command of their armies.
When they knew that Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius were assembling an army in order to march on Rome, Antony, Octavian and Lepidus allied together in November 43 BC, forming the Second Triumvirate to stop Caesar's assassins. Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Antony and Octavian at the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BC. After the battle, a new arrangement was made between the members of the Second Triumvirate: while Octavian returned to Rome, Antony went on to govern the east. Lepidus went on to govern Hispania and the province of Africa. The triumvirate's enemies were subjected to proscription including Mark Antony's archenemy Cicero who was killed on December 7 43 BC.
 Antony and Cleopatra
Antony summoned Cleopatra to Tarsus in October 41 BC. There they formed an Alliance and became lovers. Antony returned to Alexandria with her, where he spent the winter of 41 BC - 40 BC. In spring 40 BC he was forced to return to Rome following news of his wife Fulvia's Civil war. Fulvia died while Antony was en-route to Sicyon (where Fulvia was exiled). Antony made peace with Octavian in September 40 BC and married Octavian's Sister Octavia Minor. The Parthian Empire had supported Brutus and Cassius in the civil war, sending forces which fought with them at Philippi; following Antony and Octavian's victory, the Parthians invaded Roman territory, occupying Syria, advancing into Asia Minor and installing Antigonus as puppet king in Judaea to replace the pro-Roman Hyrcanus. Antony sent his general Ventidius to oppose this invasion. Ventidius won a series of victories against the Parthians, killing the crown prince Pacorus and expelling them from the Roman territories they had seized. Antony now planned to retaliate by invading Parthia, and secured an agreement from Octavian to supply him with extra troops for his campaign. With this military purpose on his mind, Antony sailed to Greece with Octavia, where he behaved in a most extravagant manner, assuming the attributes of the Greek god Dionysus (39 BC). 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 disrupted, Antony and Octavian quarreled once more. 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 with her second child Antonia in Rome, he sailed to Alexandria, where he expected funding from Cleopatra, the mother of his twins. The queen of Egypt lent him the money he needed for the army, and after capturing Jerusalem and surrounding areas in 37 BC, he installed Herod as puppet king of Judaea, replacing the Parthian appointee Antigonus. Antony then invaded Parthian territory with an army of about 100,000 Roman and allied troops but the campaign proved a disaster. After defeats in battle, the desertion of his Armenian allies and his failure to capture Parthian strongholds convinced Antony to retreat, his army was further depleted by the hardships of its retreat through Armenia in the depths of winter, losing more than a quarter of its strength in the course of the campaign.
Meanwhile, 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 "going native", an unforgivable crime to the proud Romans. Several times Antony was summoned to Rome, but remained in Alexandria with Cleopatra.
Again with 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, Media and Parthia (which were never conquered by Rome), his twin Selene got Cyrenaica and Libya, and the young Ptolemy Philadelphus was awarded Syria and Cilicia. As for Cleopatra, she was proclaimed Queen of Kings and Queen of Egypt, to rule with Caesarion (Ptolemy XV Caesar, son of Julius Caesar), King of Kings and King of Egypt. Most important of all, Caesarion was declared legitimate son and heir of Caesar. These proclamations were known as the Donations of Alexandria and caused a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Rome.
Distributing 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 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 borne by the richest woman in the world was something Octavian could not accept. The triumvirate expired on the last day of 33 BC and was not renewed. Another civil war was beginning.
During 33 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 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, the Senate deprived him of his powers and declared war against Cleopatra - not Antony, because Octavian knew that another civil war would lose him popular support. 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 Marcus Vipsanius 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 with 60 ships.
Octavian, 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 by stabbing himself with his sword in the mistaken belief that Cleopatra had already done so (30 BC). When he found out that Cleopatra was still alive, his friends brought him to Cleopatra's monument in which she was hiding, and he died in her arms.(However, some sources claim that he did not commit suicide, but was killed by an Egyptian priest who was in favour of Octavian). Cleopatra was allowed to conduct Antony's burial rites after she had been captured by Octavian. Realising that she was destined for Octavian's triumph in Rome, she made several attempts to take her life and was finally successful in mid-August. Antony's children by Cleopatra were spared, but paraded through the streets of Rome by Octavian. Antony's daughters by Octavia were spared, as was his son, Iullus Antonius. But his elder son, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, was killed by Octavian's men while pleading for his life in the Caesarium.
 Aftermath and legacy
When Antony died, Octavian became uncontested ruler of Rome. In the following years, Octavian, who was known as Augustus after 27 BC, managed to accumulate in his person all administrative, political, and military offices. When Augustus died in 14 AD, his political powers passed to his adopted son Tiberius; the Roman Principate had begun.
The rise of Caesar and the subsequent civil war between his two most powerful adherents effectively ended the credibility of the Roman oligarchy as a governing power and ensured that all future power struggles would centre upon which of two (or more) individuals would achieve supreme control of the government, rather than upon an individual in conflict with the Senate. Thus Antony, as Caesar's key adherent and one of the two men around whom power coalesced following his assassination, was one of the three men chiefly responsible for the fall of the Roman Republic.
 Marriages and descendants
Antony had been married in succession to Fadia, Antonia, Fulvia, Octavia and Cleopatra, and left behind him a number of children. Through his daughters by Octavia, he would be ancestor to the Roman Emperors Caligula, Claudius and Nero.
- Marriage to Fadia, a daughter of a freedman. According to Cicero, Fadia bore Antony several children. Nothing is known about Fadia or their children. Cicero is the only Roman source that mentions Antony’s first wife.
- Marriage to first paternal cousin Antonia Hybrida Minor. According to Plutarch, Antony threw her out of his house in Rome, because she slept with his friend, the tribune Publius Cornelius Dolabella. This occurred by 47 BC and Antony divorced her. By Antonia, he had a daughter:
- Marriage to Fulvia, by whom he had two sons:
- Marriage to Octavia Minor, sister of Octavian, later Augustus; they had two daughters:
- Children with the queen Cleopatra of Egypt, the former lover of Julius Caesar:
 Fictional portrayals
Fictional works in which the character of Mark Antony plays a central role include:
- William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, and the films made from these two plays
- John Dryden's All for Love
- The TV series Xena: Warrior Princess
- The TV series Rome (see Mark Antony (character))
- The 1934 film Cleopatra
- The 1963 film Cleopatra
- Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series, in which Anthony is portrayed as a loud mouthed, perverted lout. An excellent warrior but with plenty of negative qualities - like huge physical appetites and vanity (he loves riding a chariot drawn by lions).
- The Memoirs of Cleopatra, a novel by Margaret George
- The Capcom videogame Shadow of Rome, in which he is depicted as the main antagonist
- The 1999 film Cleopatra
- The 2005 tv mini series Empire
- Conn Iggulden's Emperor novels
- Giles Coren portrayed Mark Anthony in the sixth episode of the second series of The Supersizers Eat (aired BBC One, 9:00pm Monday 27 July 2009)
|Wikinews has related news: Egyptian archaeologist finds artifacts which may lead to Cleopatra's tomb|
- ^ Marcus Antonius Marci Filius Marci Nepos; in English, "Marcus Antonius, son of Marcus, grandson of Marcus".
- ^ Plutarch, "Anthony"
- ^ One talent had a purchasing power of about $20,000.. A talent represented nine years of wages for a craftsman.
- ^ http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Antony*.html Chapter 4, Verse 3
- ^ Sear, David R. "Common Legend Abbreviations On Roman Coins". http://www.davidrsear.com/academy/roman_legends.html. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
 Primary sources
- Dio Cassius xli.–liii
- Appian, Bell. Civ. i.–v.
- Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico and Commentarii de Bello Civili
- Cicero, Letters and Philippics
- Plutarch, Parallel Lives (Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans)
 Modern Works
- Groebe, Pauly-Wissowa Realencyclopadie
- de Quincey, Thomas, Essay on the Caesars
- Lytle, William Haines (1826–1863), Antony and Cleopatra
- Weigall, Arthur: Marc Antoine, sa vie et son temps (Maurice Gerin translation, Payot, Paris, 1933)
- Lindsay, Jack: Marc Antony, his World and his Contemporaries (E. P. Dutton & co., New York, 1937)
- Jones, A M H: The Herods of Judaea (Oxford, 1938)
- Babcock, C L: “The early career of Fulvia”, AJP 86 (1965), 1-32
- Bengtson, Hermann: Marcus Antonius, Triumvir und Herrscher des Orients (C. H. Beck, Münich, 1977) ISBN 3 406 06600 3
- Pelling, C B R: Plutarch, Life of Antony (Cambridge UP, 1988) ISBN 0521240662
- Paul-Marius Martin, Antoine et Cléopâtre, la fin d'un rêve, Albin Michel, 1990, 287 p.
- Southern, Pat: Mark Antony (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Tempus Publishing, 1998) hardcover, ISBN 0-7524-1406-2
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Gaius Julius Caesar without colleague
Consul of the Roman Republic
first with Gaius Julius Caesar,
then with Publius Cornelius Dolabella (suffectus)
Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus
Lucius Cornificius and Sextus Pompeius
Consul of the Roman Republic
first with Lucius Scribonius Libo,
then with Aemilius Lepidus Paullus (suffectus)
Caesar (Octavianus) and Lucius Volcatius Tullus