Marcus antonius POLITICIAN AND GENERAL
BACKGROUND INFORMATION • Born in the winter of 87 B.C. in Rome. • Father was Marcus Antonius Creticus. • His mother, Julia, was from another powerful family in Rome. • His father died in 71 B.C. during a battle with Mediterranean pirates. • Julia remarried to Publius Cornelius Lentulus, a powerful patrician.
childhood • He spent his early years wandering the streets of Rome with his friends. • His early life was dominated by a long term homosexual liaison with his close friend Gaius Curio. • By the age of twenty, his debaucheries and gambling problem had amounted to a debt of around five million dollars (250 talents at the time).
First military exploits • To escape his creditors Antony, at the age of 20 fled Rome to study rhetoric in Athens. • While there, he was summoned by Aulus Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, to fight in Judea. • He fought against Aristobulus II and earned the reputation of a skilled military tactician.
Supporter of caesar • In 54 B.C. Antony joined Julius Caesar’s army in Gaul. • He again proved himself a very able commander during the Gallic Wars. • His personality was known to clash with other officers, and arguments followed him wherever he went. • Yet during the wars, Caesar and Antony became very close friends. • He became Caesar’s right hand man before the wars were through.
Political Rise • After proving himself in battle, Antony was able to ride Caesar’s coattails up the political ladder. • He was appointed to the offices of quaestor, augur, and finally tribune of the plebeians in 50 B.C. • In return for his sponsorship, Antony supported Caesar in his conflicts with the Senate.
Fall of the Roman Republic • In his bid to grab the consulship again, Caesar used his influence to make sure Antony was elected tribune. • True to form, Antony used his power to aid his friend, and tried to block the Senate’s actions against Caesar. • In response, the Senate violently expelled Antony from Rome. • Upon hearing the news regarding his friend, Caesar crossed the Rubicon and met Antony at Ariminium. • Caesar used Antony’s treatment at the hands of the Senate as a reason for declaring war. • Since Tribunes of the Plebeians were supposed to be untouchable, the fact that Antony had been attacked showed the corruption of the Senate.
Civil war • When Pompey rose up to fight Caesar, a civil war broke out. • Caesar went to fight Pompey’s army head on in Spain while Antony was given control of the troops stationed in Italy. • He then led the reinforcements to Greece to aid Caesar. • Caesar granted him control of a portion of his army, and Antony was instrumental in winning the battle of Pharsalus (48 B.C.). • This battle crushed Pompey and established Caesar as dictator of Rome.
Under caesar • When Caesar took power, he rewarded Antony by appointing him Master of the Horse. • This made him Caesar’s right hand man. • He was granted control of Italy in 47 B.C. when Caesar traveled to Africa to mop up Pompey’s supporters. • However, Antony skills as a general did not translate to his new administrative duties. • He was known for his poor management and his massive excesses.
Falling out and Reconciliation with Caesar • In 46 B.C. Caesar attempted to make Antony pay for a piece of land he had “bought”. • Enraged at the accusation that he hadn’t paid his boss, Antony threw a temper tantrum and killed hundreds of citizens in a military outburst. • Caesar responded by removing Antony from all political offices. • The two men did not see each other for over two years, until they met and reconciled at Narbo. • Antony rejected offers to join the plot to kill Caesar and instead joined him as a partner in the fifth consulship in 44 B.C.
Ides of March and Aftermath • Having been tipped off about Caesar’s impending assassination, Antony tried to warn him on March 14, 44 B.C. • However, the conspirators reached Caesar first and killed him as he was leaving the Senate. • Antony feared an uprising and snuck out of Rome dressed as a slave. • When this was found not to be the case, he returned and as the sole Consul tried to ease tensions in Rome. • Yet, during the eulogy at Caesar’s funeral, Antony pointed out those responsible for his death and read Caesar’s will. • Public opinion quickly turned against the conspirators and they were forced to flee Rome in order to survive the uprisings against them.
Enemy of the State and Formation of the Second Triumvirate • Antony sought out the conspirators in Spain. • While he was gone from Rome, his arch-enemy in the Senate, Cicero, declared him an enemy of the state. • Cicero granted Octavian control of army to dispose of Antony. • However, after initially battling Antony in Spain, the two men joined forces in 43 B.C. to fight off the conspirators attack on Rome. • Following the victory, the two along with Marcus Lepidus established The Second Triumvirate and divided the empire between them. • Antony left Rome and took control of the Eastern part of the empire.
Tensions Rise • Antony traveled to Alexandria to establish his role where he met Cleopatra. • He returned to Rome, and as a peace offering to Octavian, married his sister Octavia in 40 B.C. • Antony declared war on the Parthians (a nation that had allied with the conspirators) yet Octavian was slow to offer support in the military endeavors. • Octavia acted as a moderator between the two men, and she helped to craft an agreement that would extend the triumvirate for five more years, and force Octavian to send troops to aid Antony. • Antony though was skeptical of Octavian’s support and abandoned his pregnant wife in Rome and sailed to Egypt. • There, Cleopatra, now the mother of his twins, gave him money and military support. • Antony then invaded Judea, appointed Herod king, but then was defeated when he attempted to invade Parthia. • Back in Rome he was bashed by Octavian for leaving his wife, and his morality was called into question.
War Breaks Out • 33 B.C. rolled around and the triumvirate was not renewed. • Octavian did not want to declare war on Antony for fear of losing popular support. • Thus he declared war on Cleopatra instead. • A third of the Senate and both consuls left Rome and sided with Antony in Greece. • In 31 B.C. the war began. • Most of the Greeks sided with Octavian and at the battle of Actium, Marcus Agrippa crushed the Egyptian navy. • In 30 B.C. Octavian invaded Egypt and destroyed Antony’s remaining forces.
Death • When all hope was lost, Antony was told that Cleopatra had killed herself. • In response he stabbed himself with a sword. • He later found out that Cleopatra was still alive and he died in her arms of his wounds. • Octavian captured Alexandria and Cleopatra later killed herself as well.
Conclusion • Marcus Antonius was one of history’s most illustrious characters. • He was both brilliant on the battlefield and crazy off of it. • With his death, Octavian was able to take over the Roman Empire, and from that point forward, Rome was ruled by a single individual. • His aid to Caesar and battle with Octavian ensured that the Roman Republic would never recover.