Marcus Antonius, commonly known in English as Mark Antony (Latin:M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N)[note 1] (January 14, 83 BC – August 1, 30 BC), was a Romanpolitician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar. AfterCaesar's assassination, Antony formed an official political alliance with Octavian (the future Augustus) and 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. His career and defeat are significant in Rome's transformation from Republic toEmpire. * |
A member of the Antonia clan (gens), Antony was born most likely on January 14 of 83 BC. According to Suetonius, he shared his birthday with Drusus, the father of the emperor Claudius, who was Antony's grandson through maternal lineage. Another source states that his birth coincided with Sulla's landing at Brundisium in the spring of 83 BC, and Plutarch gives his year of birth as either 86 or 83 BC.[not in citation given] He was the homonymous and thus presumably the eldest son ofMarcus Antonius Creticus (praetor 74 BC, proconsul 73–71 BC) and grandson of the noted orator Marcus Antonius (consul 99 BC, censor 97–6 BC) who had been murdered during the Marian Terror of the winter of 87–6 BC. Antony's father was incompetent and corrupt, and according to Cicero, he was only given power because he was incapable of using or abusing it effectively. In 74 BC he was given imperium infinitum to defeat the pirates of theMediterranean, but he died in Crete in 71 BC without making any significant progress. Creticus had two other sons: Gaius (praetor 44 BC, born c.82 BC) and Lucius (quaestor 50 BC, consul 41 BC, born c.81 BC).
Antony's brother Lucius, on a coin issued at Ephesus during his consulship in 41 BC Antony's mother, Julia, was a daughter of Lucius Caesar (consul 90 BC, censor 89 BC). Upon the death of her first husband, she married Publius Cornelius Lentulus (consul 71 BC), an eminent patrician. Lentulus, despite exploiting his political success for financial gain, was constantly in debt due to the extravagance of his lifestyle. He was a major figure in the second Catilinian conspiracy and was extrajudically killed on the orders of Cicero in 63 BC. Antony lived a dissipate lifestyle as a youth, and gained a reputation for heavy gambling. According to Cicero, he had a homosexual relationship with Gaius Scribonius Curio. There is little reliable information on his political activity as a young man, although it is known that he was an associate ofClodius. He may also have been involved in the Lupercal cult, as he was referred to as a priest of this order later in life. In 58 BC, Antony travelled to Athens to study rhetoric and philosophy, escaping his creditors. The next year, he was summoned by Aulus Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, to take part in the campaigns againstAristobulus II in Judea, as the commander of a Gallic cavalry regiment. Antony achieved important victories at Alexandrium and Machaerus. In 54 BC, Antony became a staff officer in Caesar's armies in Gaul and Germany. He again proved to be a competent military leader in the Gallic Wars. Antony and Caesar were the 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...