Mark Antony

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Marcus Antonius (left) and Octavian, Aureus 41 BC Chr.
Coin of Mark Antony and Mark Silanus, 33 BC. BC, front side
Coin of Mark Antony and Mark Silanus, 33 BC. Chr., Back

Marcus Antonius (Germanized Mark Anton , short Antonius ; * January 14, 86 BC, 83 BC or 82 BC; † August 1, 30 BC in Alexandria ) was a Roman politician and general . He first made his career as a follower of Gaius Iulius Caesar , after his assassination in 44 BC. One of the most powerful men in Rome and concluded the second triumvirate with Octavian (later Emperor Augustus ) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. 42 BC He eliminated the party of the Caesar murderers and since then has administered the east of the Roman Empire. As Cleopatra's lover , despite a temporary reconciliation, he came into ever sharper opposition to Octavian. This eventually led to 32 BC. To open war and 31 BC For the decisive battle at Actium . Less than a year after their defeat, Antony and Cleopatra killed themselves. Octavian's path to sole rule over Rome was thus free.



Mark Antony belonged to the plebeian family of the Antonians . His paternal grandfather, Mark Antony Orator , was a famous speaker who was born in 99 BC. Chr. Consul and 97 v. Chr. Censor . In 87 BC Like Mark Antony's maternal grandfather, Lucius Julius Caesar , he was murdered by the Marians . Mark Antonius Creticus , the father of Mark Antony, dressed in 74 BC. The praetur and died in 71 BC. During a failed campaign against the pirate-allied Crete . Iulia , the mother of Mark Antony and distant relatives of Gaius Iulius Caesar, gave birth to her husband Antonius Creticus two other sons, Mark Antony's younger brothers Gaius and Lucius .

Youth and early career

January 14th is known to be Mark Antony's birthday. After Octavian's final victory in the damnatio memoriae , to which Antony now fell, the Senate declared this date to be the ominous day of Nefastus . However, the exact year of birth is not known. According to his biographer Plutarch , Antonius died at the age of 53 or 56, after which he was either 83 or 86 BC. Should have been born in BC. The ancient historians Hermann Bengtson and Manfred Clauss take 82 BC. BC as his year of birth, which, among other things, indicates Appian's statement that Antonius was born in 41 BC. In his 40th year of life.

Little is known of Antony's youth. After he had left his father in debt in 71 BC. Had lost his mother in second marriage Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura , who 71 BC. Was consul, but was expelled from the Senate during a purge the next year. Antony grew up with his younger brothers in his stepfather's house and appears to have maintained good relationships with him. 63 BC Lentulus Sura was arrested as a prominent participant in the Catilinarian Conspiracy on the orders of the then consul Marcus Tullius Cicero and Gaius Iulius Caesar was executed despite contradictions. Antonius later accused Cicero of initially not wanting to hand over the body of Lentulus Suras. It is from this that the beginning of the bitter enmity between Antony and the speaker can be dated.

According to the Filipino speeches of Cicero, which serve more of defamation than of establishing the truth , Antonius is said to have lived out his youth in an extremely extravagant manner. He maintained homosexual relationships with Gaius Scribonius Curio . Plutarch reports that Curio enticed Antonius into drinking bouts, women acquaintances and extravaganzas, so that Antonius finally owed the sum of 250 talents, which is large for his age. Then Antonius wandered around with the later notorious tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher , but soon had enough of him.

In order to escape his creditors, Antony went in 58 BC. To Greece , whose culture was to shape his later life. There he traditionally perfected his rhetorical training, which was an important prerequisite for a career in politics. He preferred the Asian style, which, according to Plutarch, resembled the haughty and unbridled ambitious lifestyle of Antonius. In addition, Antonius also operated military exercises.

Antony gained his first military experience in the years 57 to 55 BC. As a rider leader of the proconsul of Syria, Aulus Gabinius , in Judea and Egypt . Gabinius reached 57 BC. In the inner-Jewish war that raged between John Hyrcanus II, supported by the Romans, and his nephew Alexander . Antony distinguished himself in the fight against Alexander and took part in the next year in the war against Aristobulus II , Alexander's father, who fled Rome and returned to Judea . 55 BC Antony moved with Gabinius to the forcible repatriation of the expelled King Ptolemy XII. against Egypt, conquered Pelusion , in cooperation with Gabinius defeated Archelaus , the husband of Ptolemy's eldest daughter Berenike IV , in two battles and thus contributed significantly to the success of the campaign. It was then that he probably met Princess Cleopatra for the first time.

Career under Caesar

54 BC BC Antony moved from Syria to Gaul to see Caesar, with whom he was to maintain good friendly relations until his murder, despite his temporary estrangement. Thanks to Caesar's support, Antonius achieved a steep political rise up to the consulate. 53 BC He went to Rome with recommendations from Caesar and began the public career as quaestor (52 or 51 BC). In the years 52 to 50 BC He served as a legate or quaestor of Caesar in Gaul. He is mentioned for the first time by Caesar in his Gallic War on the occasion of the battle for Alesia , where Vercingetorix was enclosed by the Romans. When a Gallic relief army attempted a surprising night attack on the Roman siege ring , Antonius and Gaius Trebonius commanded more distant troop units to the threatened area, so that the Gallic breakthrough attempt failed. 51 BC In BC Antonius sent the cavalry leader Gaius Volusenus Quadratus to fight Commius, the prince of the Atrebates . In a resulting skirmish, Volusenus was badly wounded; nevertheless Antonius was soon able to receive the Commius' submission.

50 BC BC Antonius went back to Rome and, with the support of the Caesarians, was able to assert himself in the election for the post of augur , which became vacant after the death of the speaker Quintus Hortensius Hortalus , an office that he held until his death. In December 50 BC He took office as a tribune of the people. In this position he tried to defend the interests of his patron in the capital as best he could in the now intensifying conflict between Caesar and Pompey. He was supported by his childhood friend Curio, among others. The consuls from 49 BC Were bitter enemies of Caesar and in the Senate session of January 7, 49 BC In BC (pre-Julian) it was decided that Caesar would be considered an enemy of the state if he did not disband his army by a certain date. Antonius and his colleague Quintus Cassius Longinus had to leave the Senate beforehand and were thus illegally deprived of their right of intercession, and they even feared for their lives. Disguised as slaves, they fled to Ariminum to see Caesar, who had started the civil war by crossing the Rubicon . Caesar now showed his soldiers the violent treatment of the sacrosanct tribunes and made them docile in a well-staged speech for the march on Rome.

On behalf of Caesar, Antony and five cohorts moved against Arretium and quickly taken the city by surprise. Pompey, surprised by Caesar's rapid advance, left Italy and evaded to Greece. Caesar did not pursue his opponent immediately, but went to Spain to fight strong Pompeian armies. Meanwhile, Antonius served with the rank of propaetor as commander-in-chief of all armies stationed in Italy, without having previously been a praetor . Lepidus administered Rome as praetor. Cicero's later accusation that Antonius hardly paid attention to the needs of the civilian population is probably unjustified. After his victorious campaign in Spain, Caesar returned to Italy and continued at the beginning of 48 BC. With seven legions to Epirus over. However, since he had a fleet that was too small to transport all troops, he transferred command of the five legions remaining in Brundisium to Antonius . Antony was to transfer this army to Greece as soon as Caesar's fleet had sailed back to Italy. Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus destroyed some of the returning ships and prevented any connection between Antonius and Caesar by a strict sea barrier, but soon died. Meanwhile, Lucius Scribonius Libo blocked Antonius in Brundisium with 50 ships from the Pompeian fleet . The Libos team suffered from a lack of drinking water and Antonius prevented them from getting water on the coast. So at the end of March, Libo had to join in 48 BC. BC (pre-Julian) retreat and Antonius managed the sea voyage to Greece. Driven north of Dyrrhachion by adverse winds , he escaped a Pompeian intercepting fleet, was able to land safely at Nymphaion, skilfully bypassed the Pompey approaching him and united his troops with those of Caesars. Now Antony took part in the unsuccessful siege of Pompey at Dyrrhachion, which had lasted for months, and then on August 9, 48 BC. (Pre-Julian; June 7, 48 BC Julian) at the battle of Pharsalus , in which he commanded the left wing of Caesar's army. Pompey was defeated in this battle.

Thereupon Antonius became magister equitum of the dictator appointed Caesar. While he was pursuing Pompey to Egypt and victoriously ended the Alexandrian War and the lightning campaign against Pharnakes , Antony was supposed to maintain peace and order in Italy, but was not up to the task. Against the planned social reform of the tribune Publius Cornelius Dolabella , who started in 47 BC. BC brought in requests for debt relief in the interests of the many debtors, Antonius only stepped in after some time and, when Dolabella wanted to put his rogations to the vote, had the meeting on the forum extremely bloody dispersed. Allegedly he was bitter against the tribune because he had seduced his wife Antonia , from whom Antonius divorced at any rate around this time. He also appropriated the property of the murdered Pompey, such as his Roman town house, and is said to have led an elaborate and dissolute life that was publicly exhibited, for example with the beautiful dancer Cytheris .

According to earlier research, these events caused a cooling of Antony's relationship with Caesar when he was in October 47 BC. BC (pre-Julian) returned to Italy. In this way one explained the missing information for the political activity of Antony in the year 46 BC. Chr. Helmut Halfmann , turning away from this research point of view, assumed that Antonius was praetor this year. Antony did not participate in the wars that Caesar waged against the remaining Pompeians, first in North Africa and then in Spain. During this time Antony was in Italy and could have met Cleopatra, who had been living since autumn 46 BC. Stayed in Rome as Caesar's guest.

At that time Antonius married the very emancipated, ambitious and - unusual for a Roman woman - striving for political influence Fulvia , who had previously been married to Antonius' childhood friends Clodius and Curio. Cicero and Plutarch, who was influenced by his Philippine speeches, report on Antonius' passionate love for his wife: When he met himself in 45 BC. After Caesar's victory in Spain, after Caesar's victory in Spain, he set out to become a dictator and received the false rumor of his death and the approach of his enemies, he is said to have rushed back to Rome and disguised himself as a slave in his own house under the pretext To deliver a letter from her husband to Fulvia; When Fulvia read his vows of love in them and began to cry, Antonius is said to have recognized himself and hugged her. The fact that this episode has its origin in Cicero's second Filipino speech is a source of suspicion among today's historians.

According to Plutarch and Cicero, Antony is said to be as early as 45 BC. Knew about the planned assassination attempt on Caesar. Plutarch states that Gaius Trebonius and Antonius traveled together to meet the dictator returning from Spain; While Antonius had refused Trebonius' offer to participate in the intended assassination of the dictator, he said nothing either. Cicero even claims that Antonius and Trebonius helped plan the conspiracy in Narbo and only later jumped off. The Caesar biographer Luciano Canfora considers Antony's alleged early accomplishment to be credible. Other researchers, however, consider this episode to be constructed.


Until Caesar's assassination

After his return from Spain, Caesar was reconciled with Antony; both clad 44 BC The consulate. Caesar wanted to resign from this office after his departure for the planned Parthian War , whereupon Dolabella should become a suffect consul ; Antony tried, however, to prevent this project by all means.

On February 15, 44 BC At a time when Caesar's open transition to the monarchy was already widely feared, Antonius took part in the traditional tour of Rome as part of the Lupercalia Festival and presented the dictator watching the ceremony with a diadem, which symbolized his royal dignity. However, when the people present expressed their rejection by murmuring, Caesar rejected the offered crown several times. Cicero later claimed that Antonius sealed the dictator's fate with this appearance, that is, apparently gave the Caesar murderers the last impetus to carry out their deed. The motives for Antonius' actions are very unclear and controversial, for example whether he acted in advance of an appointment with Caesar or of his own accord.

Originally the conspirators had planned to eliminate not only the dictator, but also his favorites Antonius and Lepidus, but they rejected this plan after Marcus Junius Brutus objected. But so that the physically very strong and daring consul could not assist the dictator in the assassination attempt, he should be distracted. When Antonius therefore on March 15, 44 BC When Caesar accompanied Caesar to the conference room of the Pompey Theater, he was engaged in a conversation by Trebonius in an anteroom and was unable to prevent Caesar's murder.

Roll to the Ides of March

After the crime, Antonius fled and barricaded himself in his apartment. Meanwhile, the Caesar murderers saw themselves disappointed in their hope of being able to restore the republic immediately by assassinating the dictator. Because their slogans for freedom did not work and they felt threatened, they had to entrench themselves on the Capitol . Antony soon took the initiative and seized the state treasure from the Temple of the Ops (700 million sesterces). With the money he is said to have paid off his debts, among other things. Calpurnia gave him the papers and the private fortune of her murdered husband. Although Antony did not have a military empire, he called the veterans over to him. The Magister equitum Lepidus led troops into the capital on the night of March 16 to restore order. Lepidus wanted to storm the Capitol first, but Antonius pushed through in a conference of the Caesarians to look for a peaceful solution. On March 17th, on Antony's order, a Senate meeting took place in the Temple of Tellus , but without the Caesar murderers. On the controversial question of whether the acta Caesaris should continue to have legal force, Antonius skilfully rhetorically pointed out to the senators that they owed their current and future state offices almost without exception to Caesar and that they would lose them if the dictator's measures were annulled. In this way he ensured that all of Caesar's decrees and will remain valid. In addition, a public burial of the dictator was permitted. In return, the conspirators received amnesty. To confirm the understanding, Antonius and Lepidus gave their sons to the assassins as hostages, and on the evening of March 17th Brutus was guest of Lepidus and Cassius of Antonius. Antony now also accepted that Dolabella was his fellow consul.

Because Antonius had avoided a new civil war through his wise leadership, he received honorary resolutions in the Senate meeting on March 18, which was now also attended by the conspirators. At the reading of his will in Antony's house it became known that Caesar had appointed the young Octavian as his adoptive son and main heir; Antonius was only used as a post-heir. Caesar's last will was the cornerstone of Octavian's rapid rise. According to Appian, at Caesar's funeral on March 20, Antonius incited the people with a demagogic funeral speech against the assassins, combined with a skilful staging by showing the crowd the blood-stained toga and a wax image of the dictator depicting the numerous wounds of the murdered man were. Since then, the Caesar murderers in Rome have not been safe. If Antony was really the initiator of the popular anger that arose at Caesar's funeral, he had thereby achieved the expulsion of the murderers from Rome without completely breaking with them. In the second half of March, for example, he approved Senate resolutions such as the abolition of the dictatorship and the establishment of a commission to examine Caesar's official acts. Outwardly, the consul maintained a correct relationship with Brutus and Cassius for a long time. The provinces of Macedonia and Syria , which were intended for the two main conspirators after their praetur of Caesar , were awarded to himself and Dolabella for the time after the consulate around the end of March. In mid-April he ordered the strangulation of the so-called "False Marius" , who pretended to be the grandson of the Germanic conqueror Gaius Marius and caused unrest.

With the help of Caesar's secret scribe Faberius, Antonius forged laws that were advantageous for him, allegedly planned by the dictator and found in his estate, such as granting offices, amnesties or recalling exiles. He also approved a 6,000-strong bodyguard. In order to make himself popular with Caesar's soldiers, he and Dolabella passed a law in April for the settlement of veterans, including in the partially drained Pontine Marshes . The acquisition of the troops was also aimed at his journey of several weeks to Campania , which began at the end of April , where he made personal contact with the armies stationed there.

First conflicts with Octavian

The Republicans increasingly viewed Antony as a new tyrant, and Cicero regretted that the consul had not been eliminated on the Ides of March (the anniversary of Caesar's death). When Antony returned to Rome in mid-May at the head of numerous recruited veterans from Campania, Octavian had meanwhile arrived there and made his inaugural visit to him. But Antony was dismissive and haughty towards the young man. Although he might not take Octavian seriously at first because of his youth and hitherto insignificant political role, he tried to stop his further steps, for example by preventing the legal confirmation of Octavian's adoption. To secure his position as leader of the Caesarians, Antonius joined the influential Lepidus by transferring the vacant upper pontificate (around May 20) and the engagement of his daughter Antonia to a son of Lepidus. He also refused to give Octavian any of Caesar's cash assets. Octavian paid for the gifts promised to the citizens of Rome in the dictator's will in an effective way, including by auctioning off his own goods. He also led several property lawsuits against Antonius, as he was led by Caesar after 49 BC. Did not surrender confiscated goods. Octavian wanted to sell exactly such goods to the Romans to pay for the legacies. Thus, through Octavian, Antony saw himself successfully challenged to the public as the political heir of Caesar, since Octavian appeared much more consistently as a champion for the memory of the dictator.

Despite the tensions, Octavian assisted Antony in the implementation of a province exchange in June. Instead of Macedonia, he had the important provinces of Gallia transalpina and Gallia cisalpina transferred for a period of five years after the consulate, as well as command of four of the legions in Macedonia. With a new settlement law Antonius wanted to win over the veterans further. In addition, the Code of Criminal Procedure was changed. The Senate had no say in any of this, while Antonius pushed through his legislative initiatives by force. The consul sought to remove Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius from Italy by a humiliating decision of June 5; they were to buy grain for Rome in Sicily and Asia . In spite of this, the Caesar murderers held on to peaceful relations with the consul and did not leave Italy until mid-August; but Antony had them assigned to the insignificant provinces of Crete and Cyrene for the time after their praetur . When Octavian violently attacked Antony in a court speech about the goods Caesar had withheld from him, he was led away by lictors on the orders of the consul . He pretended to feel threatened and Antony had to publicly reconcile with his rival under pressure from his own soldiers.

Beginning of the fight against Cicero and Octavian

The danger of civil war emerged as tensions between Antony and Octavian intensified. At this point in time, Cicero, who suspected Antonius of striving for autocracy, reappeared more politically. He publicly polemicized against Antonius with his 14 Philippine speeches , which he had named after the model of the speeches of Demosthenes against Philip II of Macedonia. In the first speech, given on September 2, 44 BC. BC, Cicero denounced, among other things, Antonius' forgery of the Acta Caesaris , but did not yet completely break with his opponent. In response to the consul's hateful response in a Senate speech on September 19, Cicero wrote his second Philippica, which was only published posthumously, and which contained violent (if not completely unfounded) personal abuse against Antony. This brought about the final break between the competitors and Cicero rose to be the spokesman for the Republican-minded faction in the Senate.

The assertion made by Antonius at the beginning of October that an assassination attempt on him instigated by Octavian had been carried out found little faith, especially since he did not allow an investigation. At this time Octavian began illegally as a private individual with the recruitment of soldiers; so he tried to secretly lure away the four Macedonian legions destined for Antonius with high promises of wages. These had meanwhile arrived in Brundisium, and the consul left Rome for them on October 9th. But since he only wanted to pay them a fifth of the sum offered by Octavian, mutinies broke out. Thereupon he had the discipline of the army restored by executing 300 ringleaders. Fulvia, who accompanied her husband Antonius, is said to have enjoyed this bloodbath. Three legions had to march along the east coast to northern Italy, while Antony and the crested lark legion advanced rapidly against Rome. Octavian had appeared there with a private army made up of Caesar's veterans and had promised the Senate support against the consul. Shortly before, when Antony arrived in Rome, Octavian had hastily left. After two of the Macedonian legions ( Mars Legion and Legio IV Macedonica ) had defected to the heir of Caesar, at the end of November Antonius set out with the troops that had remained loyal to him, around four to five legions, to the province of Gallia cisalpina, which he became its governor, the Caesar murderer Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus , wanted to lose weight. Another legion was brought to him by his brother Lucius.

Mutinensic War

Antony marched in December 44 BC. BC via Ariminum in Gallia cisalpina. Since Decimus Brutus had weaker forces, he withdrew to the fortified Mutina , where he was besieged by Antonius. This started the Mutinensian War without any major fighting initially taking place.

In order to legitimize his presumptuous empire and to weaken Antony, Octavian urged Cicero, the leader of the Senate, to form an alliance against Antony. With this he, the previously declared avenger of Caesar, also had to conclude an alliance with the Caesar murderers. On December 20, 44 BC BC brought Cicero to the Senate that he recognized Decimus Brutus as still legitimate governor of Gallia cisalpina and made the pact with Octavian. On the other hand, Cicero could not get Antonius declared an enemy of the state for the time being. After the turn of the year, Octavian's position was legitimized and upgraded by the Senate by granting a propratory command and many other privileges. According to Cicero's ideas, Octavian was to act as one of the generals of the Senate, to which the consuls of 43 BC were also included. BC, Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus , as well as Decimus Brutus belonged.

However, part of the Senate supported the consul's proposal from 47 BC. BC, Quintus Fufius Calenus to try a reconciliation with Antonius. Against Cicero's will, an embassy of three - consisting of Caesar's father-in-law Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus , Octavian's stepfather Lucius Marcius Philippus and the lawyer Servius Sulpicius Rufus - was sent to negotiate with Antonius. This should stop the hostilities against Decimus Brutus and withdraw from Northern Italy. Antony refused this and defended his position of wanting to be governor of the province legally granted to him for the next five years, but showed a willingness to compromise like the recognition of Marcus Brutus and Cassius by Caesar for the year 41 BC. Promised consulates. But Cicero stuck to his unyielding demeanor. After a stalemate between warmongers and opponents, it was declared on the recommendation of Antonius' uncle Lucius Julius Caesar that there was rioting, but that no war had yet been decided against Antonius. Cicero finally reached in early February 43 BC. That the Senate accepted the demands made in its 8th Philippica and thus effectively declared war. In a letter to the consuls, Antonius justified his policy; Cicero brings excerpts from it in the 13th Philippica and tears up the letter.

Around the middle of March 43 BC. BC Octavian and Hirtius began their advance without major resistance via Bononia to near Mutina, in order to relieve Decimus Brutus. So Antony found himself embroiled in a two-front war. To support the Senate troops, Pansa then brought in four new legions of recruits and was reinforced by the Mars legion and bodyguard of Octavian sent to him by Hirtius. Antony now tried to prevent the full unification of the armies of the two consuls. On April 14th or 15th Panza was completely defeated and seriously wounded by Antonius in a bloody battle near Forum Gallorum . Hirtius then attacked with core troops the worn-out army of Antonius on the battlefield and defeated them. Even so, Antony did not move away yet. He suffered another defeat against Hirtius and Octavian at Mutina on April 21 and moved west the next day.


Hirtius had fallen and Panza also died soon after. Cicero rejoiced prematurely about the supposed victory over Antony, who with his followers probably on April 26, 43 BC. Was declared an enemy of the state by the Senate. Decimus Brutus took up the pursuit of Antony, in which Octavian did not want to participate. Antony first moved westward via Placentia and Dertona and received reinforcements from three legions brought to him by Publius Ventidius Bassus on May 3 at Vada Sabatia west of Genoa . He then crossed the Alps under great exertion, as described by Plutarch . His troops went hungry, and Antonius proved to be an exemplary leader, drinking stale water and feeding on tree bark and roots. On May 15th he reached Forum Iulii . Not far away were the seven legions of Lepidus, who at that time administered Gallia Narbonensis and Hispania citerior . Soon the armies of the two Caesarian generals encamped on the two banks of the Argenteus opposite one another. The soldiers of the two commanders quickly fraternized, and on May 29th Antonius went with a large retinue to the camp of Lepidus, who had to join him. Now Antony commanded 14 legions. Lucius Munatius Plancus was just able to withdraw and united with Decimus Brutus. Octavian, after his victory in the conflict with the Senate, marched into Rome with his army, forced his election as consul on August 19th and then had the Caesar murderers outlawed and the eight against Antony and Lepidus lifted. This paved the way for the Caesarians to unite in order to fight Marcus Brutus and Cassius, who had brought almost the entire east of the Roman Empire under their control. Gaius Asinius Pollio and shortly afterwards Plancus joined Antonius. This caused the downfall of Decimus Brutus; he was born in September 43 BC. Murdered by a Celtic chief while fleeing and his head sent to Antonius.

Antony left six legions under the command of his legate Lucius Varius Cotyla in Gaul and went to northern Italy with 17 legions and 10,000 horsemen to make an alliance with Octavian. As previously agreed, both rulers took five legions, i.e. around 25,000 soldiers, with them to their meeting point, a small island in the Lavinius river near Bononia, on which Antonius, Octavian and Lepidus at the end of October 43 BC. BC met in a climate marked by mutual distrust; they are even said to have searched each other for hidden weapons. After two days of deliberations, they concluded the second triumvirate , a special magistrate initially limited to five years, which in fact gave them the same level of power as the dictatorship of Sulla and Caesar, so that they rose to become absolute masters of the territories they controlled. The Senate was entirely subordinate to them. The triumvirate was soon established on November 27, 43 BC at the request of the tribune Publius Titius . The Titian law passed by the people's assembly was placed on a legal basis, but the government of the three-man college was a pure military rule. Family ties were forged to reinforce the alliance, with Octavian marrying Antonius' stepdaughter Clodia . The main aim was to destroy the party of the murderers of Caesar in the east. Together Antonius and Octavian wanted to go to the field with 20 legions each against Brutus and Cassius, while Lepidus was given the task of securing Rome with three legions. With the exception of the jointly administered Italy, the triumvirs divided the west of the Roman Empire among themselves, with Antony being the most powerful among them and choosing the most important provinces of Gallia cisalpina and Gallia comata . They also determined the occupation of the highest annual offices for five years in advance and agreed the expulsion of the inhabitants of 18 Italian cities in order to be able to distribute their land to the returning soldiers after the overthrow of the Caesar murderers.

To finance the campaign against the Caesar murderers and to have no opposition behind their backs, the triumvirs also decided, based on Sulla's example, extensive proscriptions , initially kept secret from the soldiers , through which numerous political opponents were declared outlawed. A first list of 17 convicts was immediately sent to Rome. After the rulers had entered Rome with strong military escort and separated from each other on three consecutive days, they gradually had further supplemented death lists published. A total of around 300 senators and 2000 knights are said to have fallen victim to the mass murder carried out with extreme cruelty. Only a few escaped to the east or to Sextus Pompeius , a large part of the remnants of the old nobility were eliminated. At the top of Antony's death list was Cicero, who died on December 7, 43 BC. Was murdered while fleeing by Centurion Herennius and the military tribune Gaius Popilius Laenas . His head and hands were exhibited on the rostra at the Roman Forum on the orders of Antony . Fulvia is said to have pierced the tongue of the great rhetorician with her hairpin. Friends and relatives of the triumvirs were not spared either, such as Antonius' uncle Lucius Julius Caesar , who was saved by his sister Juliet, the mother of Antonius. At times, sheer possessiveness was the key to ostracism. So Antonius let the aged scholar Marcus Terentius Varro proscribe because he wanted to appropriate his wealthy villas. Thanks to the protection of Quintus Fufius Calenus, Varro survived.

In order to legitimize the war of vengeance against the Caesar murderers and their own rule, the rulers promoted the cultic veneration of Caesar, now officially elevated to god, on a large scale. All of Caesar's laws were supposed to follow a January 1, 42 BC. The oath made by the triumvirs, senators and state officials remain valid. Since the proceeds from the sale of the confiscated goods of the proscribed were by far insufficient to finance the war, the triumvirs levied special taxes, especially from the wealthy. They also had the fortunes of 1,400 wealthy Roman matrons taxed; After protests by the women concerned, their number was reduced to 400.


Octavian's friend Quintus Salvidienus Rufus thwarted an attack by Sextus Pompey from Sicily against the southern Italian mainland near Rhegium , but then lost a sea battle against Pompey. Octavian could not continue the fight, but had to help Antonius with his fleet to break the sea blockade of Lucius Staius Murcus at Brundisium. This succeeded and the triumvirs were able to cross the main part of their troops by sea to Dyrrhachion. They had a total of about 21 to 22 legions, cavalry and troops from auxiliary peoples. An advance party of eight legions of Antonius under Lucius Decidius Saxa and Gaius Norbanus Flaccus had already advanced east to the passes on the north coast of the Aegean Sea , but had withdrawn to Amphipolis after being bypassed by the advancing army of Cassius and Brutus . The Caesar murderers had brought 17 of a total of around 21 legions along with a very strong cavalry and auxiliary troops and built a heavily fortified double camp on both sides of the Via Egnatia in the area west of Philippi , which was protected in the south by a large swamp and in the north by mountains that were difficult to access . Their supply line via the port of Neapolis and the opposite island of Thasos was secured. Antony went to his advance party without the sick Octavian, moved with him near Philippi and set up his base west of the camp of the Caesar murderers. Some time later, Octavian, who had not yet fully recovered, joined Antonius. The triumvirs soon had to seek battle because the season was advanced, there was a lack of water and wood in the camp and the supply from Italy by the fleet of the Caesar murderers was almost completely cut off. In contrast, the Caesar murderers could wait for the attack due to their well-protected position and their safe supply routes.

Antonius secretly built a dam through the moor south of Cassius' camp in order to threaten the supply routes of the Caesar murderers and to be able to attack them from the south. Cassius only became aware of Antonius' tactics late on and then tried to block the way over the dam by building cross entrenchments. In the resulting first battle at Philippi , Antony conquered the camp of Cassius. At the same time Brutus made a counterattack, overran Octavian's troops and penetrated into the camp of the triumvirs, in which the sick Octavian was lucky not to be. Due to broken communications, Cassius mistakenly believed in complete defeat and committed suicide. Brutus was able to recapture Cassius' camp and avoided any further field battle all the more consistently. But his officers were dissatisfied with these defensive tactics and his Caesarian veterans threatened to change sides. So after about three weeks Brutus faced the battle again, in which Antonius again had the largest share in the victory of the triumvirs. Brutus committed suicide the day after his defeat. The two battles took place in October / November 42 BC. And decided the question of power in favor of the Caesarians; only Sextus Pompey and the fleet of the murderers of Caesar remained a danger. Antony treated the losers much more gently than Octavian, who is said to have dealt cruelly with the prisoners and had Brutus' corpse beheaded. The practiced gentleness brought Antony sympathy with the defeated party.


Division of empire

Bust of Mark Antony (?), Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek , Copenhagen

Antony and Octavian decided, sealed by contract, to divide up their future tasks and redistribute their areas of power. Since Antonius had had the main part in the success of the triumvirs, he was largely able to get his wishes through. He received Gallia comata and Gallia Narbonensis, which provinces he ruled through legates, while Gallia cisalpina from now on belonged to Italy. As the most urgent task, Antonius took on the organization of the rich East, where he was also supposed to raise funds for the soldiers. He practically exercised sole rule in the east, although this was not formally taken into account in the new provincial distribution. Antony also had to wage the Parthian war planned by Caesar. Octavian got Spain and had to solve the difficult problem of settling tens of thousands of veterans in Italy and, for this purpose, expropriating the inhabitants of 18 Italian cities without compensation. Furthermore, the fight against Sextus Pompey fell to him. For the time being, Lepidus was tolerated as a member of the triumvirate - albeit now the weakest - and was only awarded the province of Africa . Italy should remain the common sphere of influence and recruitment of the triumvirs. At that time, Antony's political plans were not yet focused exclusively on rule in the east, but saw his large provincial area in Gaul and his influence in Italy as important pillars of power. Italy continued to be the political center of all triumvirs.

Meeting with Cleopatra

Portrait of Cleopatra VII, Berlin Collection of Antiquities

After establishing a colony for former soldiers in Philippi, Antonius went to Greece and spent the winter of 42/41 BC there. As a private citizen. He liked the Greek culture and way of life and he presented himself as a Philhellene in order to gain sympathy from the inhabitants of the Hellenistic East. He attended religious festivals as well as lectures and took part in discussions. Beginning of 41 BC He left his friend Lucius Marcius Censorinus as governor of Macedonia and Achaea , went to Asia Minor and was venerated as New Dionysus when he entered Ephesus . He sought to consolidate the situation in Asia Minor, received many envoys, including from semi-independent princes, interfered in dynastic affairs in clientele and demanded great financial contributions from the residents. But he rewarded those cities and rulers who did not cooperate with Brutus and Cassius and therefore suffered. Although Deiotarus had supported the murderers of Caesar, Antony left him as ruler of Galatia . Despite his affair with the beautiful hetaera Glaphyra , the triumvir probably did not immediately support her son Archelaus in his fight against Ariarathes X for the possession of Cappadocia , but only in 36 BC. After Ariarathes had shown himself disloyal at the previous Parthian invasion.

statue of Mark Antony from the sanctuary of Yria on Naxos , where he was venerated as New Dionysus

During his stay in Asia Minor, Antony became Cleopatra's lover. Because this allegedly had supported Cassius in the civil war, Antony let her around the summer of 41 BC. BC by his confidante Quintus Dellius to Tarsus in Cilicia . The reason for their summons was probably just a pretext; Antony was more concerned with securing Egyptian aid for his planned Parthian campaign, since Cleopatra was the most important of the clientele rulers of the Orient. According to Plutarch's vividly described arrival of Cleopatra in Tarsus, there were beautiful girls and boys dressed as nereids on board her gilded magnificent galley with purple sails ; she herself met the new Dionysus Antonius , richly adorned in a skilful presentation as the earthly incarnation of the goddess Aphrodite (or her Egyptian counterpart Isis ). She received him on her ship in a provocative atmosphere. In the days that followed, she hosted luxurious banquets for Antony and, according to the ancient authors, it was she who conquered him with this performance and not the other way around. In addition to the personal component, political reasons also suggested cooperation for both sides. At Cleopatra's request, Antony had her hostile sister Arsinoe IV and other opponents executed.

After Cleopatra's return home, Antony devoted himself to the provisional order of the political situation in Syria, a delicate task due to the proximity to the Parthians. He freed the cities from their tyrants who cooperated with the Parthians. Because the inhabitants of Palmyra had behaved neutrally between the Romans and the Parthians, the Triumvir had the city invaded by his cavalry, but in vain, since the Palmyren had fled with their belongings in time. Antony demanded heavy tributes from the princes and cities of Syria; but after his departure Arados refused to pay. Antony also dealt with Judea, confirmed John Hyrcanus II, Herod and his brother Phasael in their positions and elevated the latter two to tetrarchs .

Then Antonius traveled to Egypt and - unlike Caesar in the past - spent the winter of 41/40 BC as a private individual without a military escort. To demonstrate to the Alexandrians that he respected their independence. Cleopatra kept her lover happy all the time. According to Plutarch, the couple is said to have held lavish banquets, jokes and indulged in indulgence. Plutarch also describes pranks that Cleopatra allegedly played on her lover because of his lack of fishing skills; The two are also said to have roamed Alexandria at night in disguise to tease the residents. According to the historian Appian, on the other hand, Antony appeared more statesmanlike by visiting temples and discussing with scholars.

Allegedly, only the love life in Egypt caused Antonius 'inactivity in the Peruvian war , which Antonius' wife Fulvia and brother Lucius Antonius in the winter of 41/40 BC. In Italy against Octavian. In any case, Antonius' attitude to this war is unclear and it is unlikely that he would only find out about it after it had ended. Without concrete orders from the triumvir, his strong relief armies commanding generals only hesitantly took action against Octavian, who was besieging Lucius Antonius in Perusia , and thus caused Lucius' surrender. It was not until the Parthian invasion of Syria that Antony initiated in about March 40 BC. To leave Cleopatra and face this threat. He sailed over Tire with 200 ships to Asia Minor, where he received news of Lucius' defeat. Since his intervention in Italy to maintain his influence there outweighed the Parthian offensive, he turned west. In Athens he is said to have made serious accusations against Fulvia, who had fled Italy. Since he had not openly spoken out against it during the war - the sources would undoubtedly have stated this - it must be assumed that Lucius and Fulvia did not in any way harm his interests. The blame for the conflict was later shifted to Fulvia, who died that same year, while Antonius in the mid-40s BC. Went on to Italy.

Cleopatra was not to see Antony again for three and a half years. 40 BC She had twins from him, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene , and after their later reunion another son, Ptolemaios Philadelphos (* 36 BC).

Marriage to Octavia

During the journey home, Antony negotiated with Sextus Pompey. The triumvir promised, if he could come to an understanding with Octavian, to try to persuade him to reconcile with Sextus. If Octavian was inaccessible, Antony wanted to make an alliance with Sextus against the heir of Caesar. In addition, Antony achieved that the former follower of the Caesar murderers, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus , went over to him with his fleet. Since the ships of Antonius and Ahenobarbus were not allowed to enter the port of Brundisium, the Triumvir besieged the city and conquered the Sipontum to the north of it . Although Marcus Vipsanius won Agrippa Sipontum back soon and Octavian advanced with an army, but since his soldiers did not want to fight Antonius and he was also interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict due to the lack of strong foot troops and the Parthian invasion, it came through the mediation of the Lucius Cocceius Nerva to an equalization. In order to remove a possible obstacle, Antony sent Ahenobarbus, who was enemies of Octavian, as governor to Bithynia . He then concluded the Treaty of Brundisium with Octavian (autumn 40 BC). The division of the Roman Empire took place, with Lepidus remaining governor of his North African provinces as a marginal figure and Octavian all western and Antonius all eastern provinces; the border between the western and eastern empires was formed by the Dalmatian city of Scodra . All three triumvirs were still allowed to raise troops in Italy; Octavian could prevent this at any time. When determining the next consulates, supporters of Antony and Octavian were equally taken into account. After the two reconciled triumvirs had moved into Rome in a small triumph, Antony married Octavian's recently widowed sister, Octavia, who was almost 30 years old to confirm the pact . Antonius sacrificed his confidante Manius to the new alliance, who allegedly had incited Fulvia to lead the Peruvian War. Quintus Salvidienus Rufus also lost his life due to the anger of his former friend Octavian. The reason for this was Antonius' information that when he landed at Brundisium Salvidienus had offered him an alliance against Octavian.

The relationship between the triumvirs was strengthened by their family ties, but only for a short time as the marriage lasted only a few years. Both daughters from this marriage remained closely connected to the imperial family, even after their father had succumbed to the Damnatio memoriae . Antonia the Elder became the grandmother of Emperor Nero , Antonia the Younger as the wife of Augustus' stepson Drusus the mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of Claudius , Caligula and Nero.

Negotiations with Sextus Pompey

Map of the Roman Empire after the Treaty of Misenum
  • Italy (Senate)
  • Octavian's sphere of influence
  • Antony's sphere of influence
  • Provinces of Lepidus
  • Sea kingdom of Sextus Pompey
  • Kingdom of Egypt (Cleopatra)
  • Vassal states
  • Parthian Empire
  • According to the Treaty of Brundisium, the Sextus Pompeius, who ruled the Tyrrhenian Sea , was to keep Sicily, but to return Sardinia and Corsica . Since Pompey was otherwise not taken into account in the treaty, he kept all the islands and tightened the sea blockade against Italy, where a famine broke out. The population therefore demanded that the triumvirs reconcile with the ruler of the sea. When Antony and Octavian wanted to collect new taxes for the war against Pompey instead, riots broke out. Octavian almost fell victim to popular anger had Antony not had soldiers forcibly liberate him; the many killed were thrown into the Tiber . The triumvirs tried to reward their followers with offices and dignity by greatly increasing the number of high magistrates and by having them hold several people per year. So officiated 40 BC For the first time a man not born in Italy, Lucius Cornelius Balbus , as a (suffect) consul. Herod, expelled from the Parthians, came at the end of 40 BC. In Rome and at the instigation of Antony, in agreement with Octavian, was raised to the rank of Jewish king by resolution of the senate; in addition, he was later granted Roman military aid to recapture Judea. In the summer of 39 BC BC Octavian had to make himself comfortable for a personal meeting with Pompey, in which Antonius also took part. The three rulers came to an agreement, the Treaty of Misenum . Pompey promised in particular the lifting of the sea blockade, for which the triumvirs recognized his position of power and the possession of the islands he had conquered; Antonius also undertook to cede the Peloponnese to him . Furthermore, Pompey regained his civil rights, and those who fled to him, mostly proscribed, were allowed a pardon and return to Italy. With the treaties of Brundisium and Misenum, the civil war seemed to have ended and thus the widespread yearning for peace had been fulfilled, which found its most important poetic expression in Virgil's fourth eclogue . Antony, who at that time was on good terms with Octavian, was formally ordained as priest of the deified Caesar, although he had already been appointed for this office during Caesar's lifetime.

    Antony and Octavia in Athens; Treaty of Taranto

    In the autumn of 39 BC BC Antony left Italy and traveled with Octavia to Athens, where he spent the winter with her and apparently had a harmonious marriage. He appeared as a private person in Greek clothing, attended philosophical lectures and took an active part with his wife in the cultural life of Athens. Here, too, he was revered as the New Dionysus . His able general Publius Ventidius Bassus had already in the course of 39 BC. The Parthians were expelled from Asia Minor and Syria. From the spring of 38 BC. BC Antony began with energetic armaments against the Parthians. Sextus Pompeius had meanwhile rejected Antony's demand to pay his tax debts before taking over the Peloponnese, but was therefore not given this area. At the latest, when Octavian at the beginning of 38 BC In BC Pompey also stole Sardinia and Corsica , Pompey renewed the blockade of Italy. Therefore Octavian asked Antonius to meet with him in Brundisium to discuss the further course of action against Pompey. But when Antony arrived, Octavian was not present. Maybe he was just late; in any case, Antony sailed back to Athens after waiting a few days. In the meantime Ventidius had repulsed another Parthian incursion into Syria and was besieging Antiochus of Kommagene in Samosata when Antonius appeared and replaced him in order to take over the supreme command himself (July 38 BC). Ventidius might have been too successful for his superior, but he was able to console himself with the first Roman triumph over the Parthians. The treaty negotiated by Antony with Antiochus was clearly less favorable for the triumvir than the one that his legate had already reached. Even later, Antony could not at all follow the successes of Ventidius. He spent the winter in Athens again. Early 37 BC He sailed to Brundisium for the purpose of recruiting new soldiers, where he was again denied entry into the port. His smoldering conflict with Octavian could be defused again through the mediation of Octavia. The two triumvirs met near Taranto in the summer of 37 BC. For the last time. In the Taranto Treaty concluded there , the triumvirate was until the end of 33 BC. Chr. Extended. Antonius immediately made 120 warships available to Octavian for the fight against Pompey. In return, Octavian promised to send Antonius 20,000 soldiers for his planned Parthian campaign, which of course never arrived. Antonius sailed again to the east and, after arriving in Korkyra, sent the again pregnant Octavia back to Italy; this separation should be final.

    Antony and Cleopatra

    Reorganization of the Eastern Empire

    Antonius traveled on to Syria to prepare for war against the Parthian Empire. He tried to realize the campaign planned shortly before Caesar's assassination and to make up for the catastrophic Roman defeat in the Battle of Carrhae (53 BC). A victory against the dreaded enemies of Rome would have brought him great prestige in the succession of Caesar and strengthened his position vis-à-vis Octavian. The Triumvir invited Cleopatra to Antioch and spent the winter of 37/36 BC with her there. He resumed this relationship not only for erotic reasons, but also to secure the help of rich Egypt for the planned Parthian War, especially since he did not receive the troop reinforcements promised by Octavian.

    After Ventidius' successful defense against the Parthians, a political reorganization of the east of the Roman Empire was necessary, with Antonius at least partially taking an example from earlier measures of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus in this regard. Clientele rulers from Asia Minor and Syria who had cooperated with the Parthians were replaced by trustworthy men. Antonius relied on strong vassal princes who were personally devoted to him, who were more able to cope with future Parthian attacks and who were more familiar with the conditions of the respective countries than Roman governors. In this sense, the triumvir appointed three capable men from the rich upper class of the East as client kings, but they had no dynastic claim to the territories assigned to them and were thus obliged and dependent on Antonius. These were Polemon I , who from now on ruled over Pontus , Archelaos, the son Glaphyras, who was only now installed as King of Cappadocia, and Amyntas , who rose to become King of Galatia . After Octavian's final victory, the now emperor was to leave all three client rulers chosen by Antonius in their positions. Another even stronger confidante of Antony was Herod, who 37 BC. He was finally able to completely recapture his empire with Roman help.

    In the context of Antonius' administrative reform, however, the position of the Ptolemaic empire in particular was upgraded, which experienced a considerable increase in territory. Modern research no longer sees this as the ancient sources - reflecting Octavian propaganda - the act of a willless lover, but a measure that corresponded to the policy pursued also towards other loyal client kings. According to literary tradition, Antonius gave Cleopatra parts of Cilicia and Crete , cities on the Phoenician coast, Iturea , Cyrenaica and areas in Judea and the Nabatean Empire . An inscription can be used to prove that the part of Cilicia was as early as 38 BC. BC Cleopatra was under. Furthermore, not all newly acquired territories have been fully incorporated into the Egyptian Empire. Thus the Ptolemies exercised only civil administration in Cyrenaica, but the Romans continued to exercise military administration; and the ceded tracts of Judea and the Nabataean kingdom were leased back from their former owners, Herod and Malchus . Apparently, the Egyptian queen would be responsible for building ships for Antonius' fleet.

    Parthian campaign

    Internal turmoil in the Parthian Empire seemed to ease Antony's planned attack. It wasn't until 38 BC. Chr. Had Phraates IV. The Parthian throne boarded and secure his rule, according to Justin murdered his father, about 30 brothers and his son. Thereupon, threatened Parthian nobles also fled to Antonius, including Monaeses , who died in the winter of 37/36 BC. Arrived at the Triumvir. Perhaps he was actually a Parthian agent who was supposed to spy on Antony. If this assumption is correct, he was in any case out of luck, because Antonius received him kindly, but did not let him know about his plans of attack. When an offer of reconciliation from Phraates IV soon arrived, Monaeses asked for permission to return, which Antony gave. On his behalf, Monaeses was supposed to submit a proposal to the Parthian king for the maintenance of peace. According to this, Antonius would have been satisfied if the Roman standards captured by the Parthians in the battle of Carrhae and the Romans still imprisoned had been handed over, which Phraates IV did not respond to. 20 BC BC Augustus should succeed in enforcing this demand through diplomatic channels.

    In the run-up to the Parthian War, Antonius' general Publius Canidius Crassus had defeated the Armenian King Artavasdes and forced him to form an alliance with the Romans. After that, Canidius fought neighboring tribes of the Caucasus . Accompanied from Cleopatra to the Euphrates , probably to Zeugma , Antony began his campaign very late in the year, around May 36 BC. Perhaps in execution of a plan by Caesar, he did not march from Zeugma on the shortest route to Parthia and therefore did not move east to the area of Carrhae in Mesopotamia , where the main enemy forces awaited him, but north to Armenia . There he united with the troops of Canidius. He now commanded around 60,000 Roman infantrymen, 10,000 Spanish and Celtic horsemen and 30,000 men of oriental auxiliary troops. The big detour took him further east via Karana . Then he turned south to advance into the Parthian Empire via Media Atropatene . The Median king, also named Artavasdes , was meanwhile with his troops with his ally Phraates IV in Mesopotamia, because Antony's attack was expected there. So the Triumvir was able to move quickly with the main forces in front of the Median capital Phraaspa (not exactly localized, probably southeast of Lake Urmia ) and begin its siege without encountering resistance . In doing so, he had left his entourage behind, which carried the heavy siege equipment and was making slow progress. The train was only protected by two legions under Oppius Statianus , Pontic units under Polemon and Armenian horsemen under their king Artavasdes. In the meantime Monaeses had arrived with Medico-Parthian soldiers and wiped out the guards of the train before it had reached Antonius. Oppius fell, Polemon was captured and the Armenian king fled. The conquest of Phraaspa was not possible without siege engines. The weather grew colder and the supplies of Antony's army were severely hampered by Parthian attacks. In late autumn the Triumvir had to order repentance.

    After the completely unsuccessful offensive, Antony's greatest achievement in this campaign was a somewhat orderly retreat under the most adverse circumstances. The inhospitable climate and the constant attacks by Parthian horsemen decimated the Roman armed forces. Because of their hunger, the soldiers ate unknown roots, one variety of which caused madness and ultimately led to death. At times the discipline also collapsed. After 27 days, the Roman troops reached the Armenian border with the loss of 24,000 men, after which the Parthians stopped their attacks. Another 8,000 soldiers died on the forced march through wintry Armenia. Antony hurried ahead of his army to the Phoenician coast, where he waited for Cleopatra near Sidon . She met there around January 35 BC. And brought money and clothing for the exhausted troops.

    Rejection of the Octavia

    In the meantime there had been tensions between the Parthian and Median kings. The latter therefore offered Antonius an offer of alliance against Phraates IV, which was gladly accepted by him. Around the spring of 35 BC BC Octavia traveled to Athens in agreement with her brother to bring her husband 2,000 soldiers as well as money and clothing for the troops. Antonius was in Syria, allegedly about to meet with the Medean king and then to wage a new Parthian war together (according to Plutarch) or to march against Artavasdes of Armenia, whose flight he blamed for his defeat against the Parthians (so Cassius Dio). According to Plutarch, Cleopatra had been with Antonius, feared her competitor, and her appearance as an apparently suffering and in love woman had induced Antonius not to let Octavia travel to him. Many modern historians, on the other hand, point out, among other things, that Antony had to find the military support, which made up only a tenth of the troops promised by Octavian but never sent, as ridiculously low, furthermore that Octavian closed the western recruiting potential to him, so that Antony henceforth probably preferred to rely on Cleopatra and the resources of Egypt. But Octavian had evidently foresaw and intended his brother-in-law's behavior, which would lead to a public break between the triumvirs. He used the apparently unfair treatment of Octavia, popular in Rome, to stir up the mood against Antonius, who was completely dependent on Cleopatra. Probably less the time delay due to Octavia's appearance than the military operations of Sextus Pompeius, who fled to the east in Asia Minor (see below), contributed to Antony abandoning his war plan for this year and returning to Alexandria.

    Execution of Sextus Pompey

    Coin portrait of Sextus Pompey

    On September 3, 36 BC Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was able to finally eliminate Pompey's naval forces in the naval battle of Naulochoi . He kept the spoils of war and the provinces of Sicily and Africa to himself and only sent the remnants of the fleet made available, 70 ships, back to Antonius. After his victory and the subsequent disempowerment of the third triumvir Lepidus, Octavian was now the undisputed master of the West. He let Sextus Pompeius flee unhindered to the east, possibly with the intention of weakening the position of Antony, who was still involved in the Parthian War, through another adversary. On Lesbos , Pompey tried at the end of 36 BC. BC to set up a new army and fleet. When Antonius found out about Pompey's arrival after his return to Alexandria and his envoy offered him alliance negotiations, he instructed Marcus Titius to move with armed forces against the fugitive. If necessary, Titius was to fight Pompey or, if he would submit, escort him to Alexandria. Antony soon learned that the newcomer was also negotiating with the Parthians. Beginning of 35 BC In BC Pompey conquered several cities in Asia Minor. When Titius arrived with a superior fleet, Pompey fled into the interior of Bithynia , but was soon seized and on the orders of Titius and probably with the knowledge and consent of Antony around the summer of 35 BC. Executed.

    At the urging of Cleopatra, Antony probably invited in the summer of 35 BC. BC Herod for the murder of the high priest Aristobulus to Laodikeia . Cleopatra, who had strained relations with Herod, wanted to bring him down with the prosecution. But Antonius acquitted the Jewish king and continued to maintain a good relationship with him, since he did not want to lose the important client ruler.

    Armenian War

    34 BC BC Antony fought his former ally Artavasdes of Armenia after the latter had not responded to the offer of a family connection with the triumvir. Antony advanced into Armenia and after the king's capture he moved with him, as it were, as a hostage to several fortresses, whose treasures had to be surrendered. Then he let Roman troops occupy Armenia and affirmed his alliance with the Median king. So he had a secure basis for future Parthian Wars. In the autumn of 34 BC He celebrated a triumph in Alexandria, in which the Armenian royal family had to march in chains in front of Antonius' chariot to Cleopatra, who was seated on a golden throne. The pro-Augustan historiography denounces this as a breach of tradition, since a triumph traditionally had to be held in Rome. Modern historians, on the other hand, emphasize that Antonius organized a Dionysian procession based on the Ptolemaic model and that Octavian deliberately portrayed this in a distorted manner to the Romans. After all, Antonius did not appear with Roman insignia on the triumphal march, but with attributes of Dionysus.

    Ruler of the Orient

    Cleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius, denarius, 32 BC Ch.

    Soon after Antony's triumph, a ceremony took place in the gigantic gymnasium of Alexandria, at which Antony proclaimed Cleopatra (confirmed by coin finds) as Queen of Kings . According to ancient sources, the Triumvir is said to have appointed his common little children of Cleopatra to be kings over enormous areas during these so-called "donations from Alexandria", which supposedly also included Roman provinces and the not yet conquered Parthia. The credibility of this information is controversial. While most of the research follows them, the historian Christoph Schäfer , among others, believes that the ancient authors mainly reproduce Octavian propaganda. The later emperor had deliberately falsely accused his opponent of “squandering” Roman provinces in order to win over his compatriots with arguments appealing to their patriotism in the propaganda war that soon followed. In primary sources, such as epigraphic and coinage, there is no evidence of a new administrative reform or of Cleopatra's children being involved in government in the territories allegedly subordinate to them; and because of their minority, the Ptolemaic Empire remained in any case 34 BC. Exist within its previous limits. Antonius also remained a triumvir under constitutional law and thus overlord of the east of the Roman Empire.

    Equally controversial is the question of whether and if so when Antony married Cleopatra. Research suggests the years from 36 to 32 BC as a possible point in time for such a marriage. Discussed. Since Antony did not live until 32 BC. Chr. Divorced Octavia, if he had married Cleopatra earlier, he would have entered into a second marriage that was in the Hellenistic tradition but not recognized by Roman law. One of the arguments against such a marriage is that Octavian apparently never addressed a marital connection between Antony and Cleopatra despite his extensive propaganda against his triumvirate colleague. In any case, Antony lived since the end of 37 BC. Constantly with Cleopatra except during military campaigns. Numerous anecdotes and rumors circulated in Rome about his supposedly extremely luxurious, indulgent and dissolute life at the Ptolemaic court.


    Propaganda battle and preparations for war

    33 BC The final conflict between the triumvirs began with a propaganda war. Octavian denounced Antonius' devotion to the Hellenistic East and the alleged donations of land to Cleopatra's children, furthermore that Antonius had recognized Kaisarion as Caesar's son. Antony's counter-arguments were far less effective in Rome. Since the war was foreseeable, Antony had his troops gather together and moved in with Cleopatra at the beginning of 32 BC. His headquarters in Ephesus. That at the end of the year 33 BC The triumvirate, which ended in BC, was not extended under these circumstances. In February 32 BC About a third of the senators left Rome with the two incumbent consuls and Antonius supporters Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Gaius Sosius after a show of power by Octavian and fled to Antony in Ephesus. After Antony in May / June 32 BC After moving the headquarters to Athens, he officially divorced Octavia, for which Cleopatra may have been largely responsible. In Rome this step cost Antony a great deal of sympathy. Now Munatius Plancus and Marcus Titius switched to Octavian and revealed to him the place where Antonius' testament was kept with the Vestals . Octavian illegally seized the document and provoked an outrage in Rome, especially by reading Antony's testament to want to be buried next to Cleopatra in Alexandria under all circumstances. He was able to make it credible that Antony Cleopatra had completely fallen for it and that the Egyptian queen was striving to rule Italy herself. So Octavian moved the unpopular Cleopatra into the center and turned the civil war between the former triumvirs into an alleged war against a foreign enemy. Officially, war was declared on Cleopatra and not on Antony. In the meantime, Antony built up an extensive defensive position along the west coast of Greece, where the decisive conflict then broke out.

    War against Octavian in Greece

    At the beginning of the year 31 BC Chr. Octavian Admiral Agrippa sailed across the Ionian Sea , the naval base conquered Methone , drove Antony's occupation of the island of Corfu and allowed the Caesar's heir, with the main army of 80,000 soldiers and 12,000 horsemen freely on the Greek coast to land and in Epirus fix where it included the bulk of the enemy ships in the Gulf of Ambrakia . Antony, evidently surprised by the swift advance of his opponent, set up camp on a peninsula south of the Gulf of Ambrakia, while Octavian north of it. Agrippa achieved further victories at sea, conquered the island of Leukas as well as the cities of Patrai and Corinth and thus secured Octavian a safe base for the fleet. In addition, he cut Antonius largely from the supply and thus brought the preliminary decision for Octavian's victory. The people in Antonius' camp soon had to struggle with a lack of food and in the course of the blockade, which lasted for months, the situation worsened due to hunger, epidemics and desertions. In addition, there were conflicts between the Romans who wanted to remove Cleopatra from Antony's headquarters and those in favor of further participation by the Egyptian queen in the war.

    After all attempts to break through the blockade failed and the position had become untenable, Antonius decided at the end of August 31 BC. To hold a council of war on the further course of action. He accepted Cleopatra's proposal and therefore decided to risk a sea battle with some of his ships to blow up the blockade and, if successful, sail back to Egypt while his general Canidius Crassus should try to withdraw overland with his troops. Since Antonius could no longer man the entire fleet, he had them burn up to 170 ships and 20,000 soldiers and 2,000 archers on board. Cleopatra was allowed to keep 60 of her ships with which she had to line up behind the battle line; she also took the war chest with her. Antonius' confidante Quintus Dellius , who had participated in the council of war, betrayed Antony's plan of war to Octavian.


    Antony's attempt to break through at sea went down in the annals as the Battle of Actium . It took place on September 2, 31 BC. Instead of. In terms of numbers, Octavian's armed forces were more than twice as superior to those of the enemy. Antony's ships were much larger and taller, but more cumbersome than Octavian's Liburnians . For Antony, a fight in shallow water was more advantageous. Therefore, his fleet should not go out straight away, but wait for the opponent's storm until he was so far carried away by gunfire that with the emergence of the wind blowing daily at noon from the north-west, the attempt to blow up the blockade could be attempted, and then with this favorable one Wind to sail south. But Agrippa - the actual leader on Octavian's side - did not attack until some of the enemy ships advanced impatiently, whereupon Agrippa withdrew to the open sea. As a result, Antony was forced to move up with the whole fleet so as not to tear the order of the battle apart. As soon as Agrippa had lured the enemy far enough out, he turned and sent his fleet out into an encircling attack, which seemed easily possible due to its much larger number of ships. In deep water the advantage was on his side. Meanwhile, Cleopatra's 60 high-speed sailors stayed behind the battle line and finally pushed through a gap that had arisen during the battle with full sails. Cleopatra set course for Egypt. Antonius was also able to get between the fighting ships and was - allegedly knocked down - taken on board by Cleopatra. The remaining ships of Antonius capitulated and soon afterwards his 19 legions in Macedonia. Although Cassius Dio offers the only detailed representation of the battle, it is clearly colored by the view of Augustan historiography.


    After the defeat, Cleopatra sailed to Alexandria, while Antony separated from her and continued to Cyrenaica to take over the four legions stationed there. But his commander in chief Lucius Pinarius Scarpus went over to Octavian, so that Antonius had to travel to Egypt without reinforcements. While the former triumvir apparently lapsed into lethargy, Cleopatra was still very active, collecting funds and allegedly preparing an escape across the Red Sea to India ; but the Nabataeans burned their ships. For a while withdrew the depressive Anthony in a lonely house back, he after the famous misanthrope Timon of Athens in Timoneion renamed. Since his client rulers in Asia Minor and Syria as well as even Herod fell away, the Roman civil war was largely decided. Nonetheless, Antony moved back to Cleopatra's palace and once more indulged in a luxurious life.

    Early 30 BC Octavian sailed from Brundisium via Corinth and Rhodes to Asia Minor and then crossed Syria to advance against Pelusion. On the way Octavian received several messengers from Egypt. Cleopatra asked that at least her children could continue to rule Egypt, and Antonius allegedly applied to be allowed to live as a private citizen in Egypt or Athens. It is true that this diplomatic activity was unsuccessful. While Octavian's troops easily captured Pelusion and invaded Egypt from the east, Gaius Cornelius Gallus simultaneously penetrated the Nile country from the west. In an equestrian battle at the Hippodrome near Alexandria, Antonius was able to achieve another victory. But when he turned on August 1, 30 BC. Chr. Posed for the last battle, his cavalry and the fleet surrendered without a fight. On his return to Alexandria, he received the false news of Cleopatra's suicide and threw himself on his sword. Fatally injured, he learned that Cleopatra was still alive. Groaning, he allowed himself to be taken to the mausoleum , where the Egyptian queen had holed up, was pulled up with ropes through a window into her room and passed away in the arms of his lover. In any case, this is what Plutarch's version of the ancient sources of Antony's death, particularly sentimental and melodramatic, reads.

    Cleopatra followed Antonius into death a few days later. Both were buried together by Octavian in the mausoleum built by Cleopatra in Alexandria. The two mummies were never found. Octavian imposed an erasure of memory ( damnatio memoriae ) on his defeated opponent, whose name was erased from all inscriptions and documents and whose statues were destroyed. Antony's great-grandson, Emperor Caligula , had the memory of his great-grandfather revalued.


    Only a few coin images are known of Marcus Antonius as portraits. The identification of some sculptural portraits with Marcus Antonius has been discussed in portrait research, but none of them has been confirmed and recognized by science.


    Because of Octavian's propaganda during the civil war, which dominates all of the later tradition, it is hardly possible to get a reliable picture of the person and politics of Mark Antony. The accusation that he was ensnared by Cleopatra's love affairs and betrayed the Roman virtues in order to establish an oriental despotism is certainly an exaggeration. Through his relationship with Cleopatra, Mark Antony has entered literature and art (particularly in William Shakespeare's plays Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra ).

    Marriages and offspring

    The Julian-Claudian imperial house


    Contemporary sources on the life of Antony present remarks by Cicero in his letters to friends and Atticus as well as his Philippine speeches , as well as Caesar's remarks, especially in his civil war . Plutarch wrote a detailed biography about Antonius, which he put in a "parallel" to the life of Demetrios I Poliorketes . The biographer did not evaluate either of the men portrayed as positive ethical role models for politicians. Plutarch provides further information about Antony in his Vitae of Caesar, Cicero and Brutus. Suetonius brings a lot of information about Antony in his biographies of Caesar and Augustus, for example fragments of his correspondence. In addition to Caesar, the 2nd to 5th book of Appian's Civil War and the 41st to 51st book of Cassius Dios Roman History as well as the shorter description of Velleius Paterculus should be referred to in the surviving ancient historical works . In the 14th and 15th books of his Jewish Antiquities, Flavius ​​Josephus reports on Antonius' relationship with Herod. On the other hand, the detailed account of Livy for the 1st century BC. BC no longer exists, only brief summaries of his epitomators such as Florus and Orosius .


    Modern research seeks at least a rudimentary part of the true personality of Antonius, which was covered up by the Augustan propaganda. In his new biography of Antonius, the ancient historian Helmut Halfmann argues that Antonius remained a Roman through and through, who always regarded Caesar as a role model. His appearance in the East was always within the framework of the rulership practice and representation practiced by other Roman governors. It was his intention, after the end of the triumvirate in 32 BC. To show presence in Rome again by holding a triumph over Armenia. Octavian perceived this as a threat to his ruler position in Italy and prevented it through clever propaganda - that Antonius was a willless lover of Cleopatra and a degenerate Roman - and through his subsequent military victory. The caricature of Antony formed by Octavian was further developed by the historical tradition.


    Scientific literature


    Web links

    Commons : Marcus Antonius  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


    1. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 86, 8.
    2. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Marcus Antonius , 1977, pp. 11 f. And 83; Manfred Clauss: Marcus Antonius . In: Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp (eds.): From Romulus to Augustus. Great figures of the Roman Republic , 2000, p. 340; Appian, Civil Wars 5, 8. To the year 83 or 82 BC. BC also has the coinage Michael Crawford : Roman Republican Coinage. Cambridge 1974, No. 489/5; see Krešimir Matijević: Marcus Antonius: Consul - Proconsul - Public Enemy. The politics of the years 44 and 43 BC Chr. Rahden 2006, pp. 431–437.
    3. Cicero, Philippische Reden 2:17; Plutarch: Antonius. 2, 1 f.
    4. Cicero, Philippische Reden 2, 44 ff.
    5. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 2, 3f.
    6. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 2, 4 f.
    7. Flavius ​​Josephus , Jüdische Antiquities 14, 82–97; Jewish War , 1, 160–174; see Plutarch: Antonius. 3, 1; Cassius Dio 39, 56, 6.
    8. Cassius Dio 39, 55-58; Plutarch: Antonius. 3; among others
    9. ^ Cicero, Philippine Speeches 2, 49, and 71.
    10. ^ Thomas Robert Shannon Broughton , The magistrates of the Roman republic , Volume 3: Supplement , Atlanta 1986, p. 18.
    11. ^ Caesar, Gallic War 7, 81.
    12. Aulus Hirtius , Gallic War 8, 47 f.
    13. Luciano Canfora , Caesar , German 2001, pp. 149–155.
    14. Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 35-44.
    15. Cassius Dio 42, 29-33; Plutarch: Antonius. 9.
    16. ^ Helmut Halfmann: Marcus Antonius . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, p. 51.
    17. Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 46-49.
    18. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 10, 7-9; Cicero, Philippika 2, 77.
    19. See Nancy Myers: Cicero's (S) Trumpet: Roman Women and the Second Philippic . In: Rhetoric Review 22, (2003), p. 345f.
    20. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 13, 1-3; Cicero, Philippika 2,34; on this Luciano Canfora, Caesar , German 2001, pp. 259-262.
    21. See e.g. B. John T. Ramsey, Did Julius Caesar temporarily banish Mark Antony from his inner circle? In: Classical Quarterly 54 (2004), p. 161, note 2; further research positions with Krešimir Matijević: Marcus Antonius: Consul - Proconsul - Public Enemy. The politics of the years 44 and 43 BC Chr. Leidorf, Rahden 2006, 40f., Note 54.
    22. Cicero, Philippika 2, 84-87; 3, 12; 13, 17; 13, 31; 13, 41; Plutarch: Antonius. 12, 1-6; Caesar 61, 1-7; Nikolaos of Damascus , Life of Augustus 20f., §§ 71–75; among others; on this Luciano Canfora, Caesar , German 2001, pp. 275-279.
    23. Joachim Brambach, Kleopatra , 1996, pp. 143 f. And 159 ff.
    24. Appian, Civil Wars 2, 144–147; see Plutarch: Antonius. 14th
    25. Jochen Bleicken , Augustus , 1998, pp. 52–56; Joachim Brambach, Kleopatra , 1996, pp. 162-168.
    26. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, p. 58; 65 f .; 75 f.
    27. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 76-85.
    28. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, p. 88; 93-101.
    29. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 101-114.
    30. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 17th
    31. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, p. 118; 126 f .; 131 ff .; 135 f .; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 74-82.
    32. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 137-155; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 82-92.
    33. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 159-167; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 94-103.
    34. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 174-179.
    35. Christoph Schäfer , Cleopatra , 2006, p. 121 ff .; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 106-110.
    36. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 25 f .; Cassius Dio 48, 24, 2; Appian, Civil Wars 5, 1; 5, 8-9; Socrates of Rhodes in Athenaios 4, 147e – 148c; on this Manfred Clauss, Kleopatra , 1995, pp. 50-55; Michael Grant , Kleopatra , 1998, pp. 157 f. And 162-173; Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 123-132.
    37. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 5: 9-10; Cassius Dio 48, 24, 3; Josephus, Jüdische Geschichte 14, 324–329; on this Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, p. 132 f .; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, p. 114 ff.
    38. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 28-29; Appian, Civil Wars 5, 10-11; Cassius Dio 48, 24, 3; 48, 24, 6-7; 48, 27, 1-2; on this Joachim Brambach, Kleopatra , 1996, pp. 198-200. Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 185–187 believes that the anecdotes told by Plutarch only occurred during the cohabitation of Antony and Cleopatra in the mid-30s BC. Took place.
    39. Emilio Gabba : The Peru Sine War and triumviral Italy. In: Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 75 (1971), pp. 139-160.
    40. Appianus, civil wars 5,52,216; 5,59,249.
    41. Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, p. 137 ff .; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 118-122.
    42. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus , 1998, pp. 197–201; Pat Southern: Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 123-128.
    43. Cassius Dio 48.31.
    44. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, pp. 201-207.
    45. Jochen Bleicken: Augustus. 1998, p. 210; 217-220; Pat Southern, Marcus Antonius , German 2000, pp. 130-141.
    46. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 36; Cassius Dio 49, 32; Josephus: Jewish antiquities. 15, 79, 92, 94-96. 106-107; Strabo 14, pp. 669 and 671; on this Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 149-161; Michael Grant: Cleopatra. 1998, pp. 188-200.
    47. Justinus 42: 4, 16-5, 2.
    48. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 37-52; Cassius Dio 49, 24-31; Joachim Brambach: Cleopatra. 1996, pp. 242-251; Michael Grant: Cleopatra. 1998, pp. 204-211.
    49. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 52 f .; Cassius Dio 49:33; on this Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 166 ff. And 174 f .; Werner Huss , Egypt in Hellenistic Times , 2001, p. 737.
    50. ^ Rudolf Hanslik : Titius (18). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classical antiquity science (RE). Volume VI A, 1, Stuttgart 1936, Sp. 1560 f .; Joachim Brambach, Kleopatra , 1996, pp. 251 f. And 268-273.
    51. Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, p. 171 f.
    52. Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 175-178.
    53. ^ Edward Allen Sydenham : The Coinage of the Roman Republic. London 1952, No. 1210; Michael Crawford: Roman Republican Coinage . Cambridge 1974, No. 543/2.
    54. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 54; Cassius Dio 49:41; Michael Grant: Cleopatra. 1998, pp. 227-240; Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. 2006, pp. 178-183.
    55. Joachim Brambach, Kleopatra , 1996, p. 235 f .; Manfred Clauss, Kleopatra , 1995, pp. 65 ff. And 80.
    56. Cassius Dio 50, 1-10; Plutarch: Antonius. 55-61; Michael Grant: Cleopatra. Pp. 256-280; Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. Pp. 188-218.
    57. Cassius Dio 50, 11-15 and 50, 31, 1 f .; Plutarch: Antonius. 62-64; Michael Grant: Cleopatra. Pp. 281-290; Christoph Schäfer: Cleopatra. Pp. 218-224.
    58. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 65-68; Cassius Dio 50, 31-35.
    59. ^ Plutarch: Antonius. 69-77; Cassius Dio 51, 5-10.
    60. See Alexander Mlasowsky : Comments on the portrait of Marc Anton . In: Otium. Festschrift for Volker Michael Strocka . Verlag Greiner, Remshalden 2005, ISBN 3-935383-48-7 , pp. 243-250 with the older literature.
    61. Cicero, Philippine Speeches 2, 3; 3, 17; 13, 23; Epistulae ad Atticum 16, 11, 1.
    62. ^ Theodor Mommsen : Collected Writings, Volume 8, 1; Berlin 1913; Pp. 265-271