Antony (Marcus Antonius)

Antony (Marcus Antonius)
Roman Consul 44 and 34 BC and Triumvir 43-38 and 37-33 BC.
    Mark Antony rose to power as the supporter of Julius *Caesar; he served under him in Gaul, and held the positions of Consul and Triumvir. In 40 BC he married Octavia, the sister of Octavian (later*Augustus), who eventually became his arch enemy.
    The Hellenistic East came to hold a great attraction for him; at first, he probably hoped that he would gain power, prestige and wealth if he could control it, but eventually he identified himself with it and came to shun Roman traditions. This eastern attraction was ultimately symbolised by his alliance with *Cleopatra, queen of Egypt.
    He summoned her to meet him in Cilicia, to answer for her conduct of military matters at Philippi, and he perhaps hoped to gain control of Egypt as a client-state of Rome. *Cleopatra arrived for the meeting in a spectacular gilded barge and charmed him with her wit and beauty. They spent time together in Alexandria, and Antony presented the queen with the contents of the library of the kings of Pergamum for the Alexandrian Library. Both probably also saw considerable political advantages in the alliance; the queen provided Antony with money and supplies but she also hoped, as a favoured client of Rome, to restore the fortunes of her dynasty and her country.
    Octavian (*Augustus) was fearful of Mark Antony's ascendancy in the East, and began to wage a propoganda war against him; the Roman Senate and the people were persuaded that he spent his time in drunken revelry at Cleopatra's Court and were also outraged when, at the Donations of Alexandria, Cleopatra and her children were allocated certain provinces. This propoganda exercise preceded military action when Octavian declared war against Cleopatra and Antony and defeated their troops at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Finally, Octavian pursued them to Egypt and, rather than face the humiliation of submitting to him, Cleopatra and Antony committed suicide.
    There has been much speculation over their personal and political relationship; as shrewd and ambitious rulers, they both undoubtedly hoped to gain from such an alliance.
BIBL. Plutarch. Life ofAntonius.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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