Under the influence of his stepfather, Cornelius Lentulus Sura, he spent a profligate youth. For a time he co-operated with Clodius Pulcher, probably out of hostility to Cicero, who had caused Lentulus Sura to be put to death as a Catilinarian; the connexion was severed by a disagreement arising from his relations with Clodius’s wife, Fulvia.
In 58 he fled to Greece to escape his creditors. After a short time spent in attendance on the philosophers at Athens, he was summoned by Aulus Gabinius, governor of Syria, to take part in the campaigns against Aristobulus in Palestine, and in support of Ptolemy Auletes in Egypt.
In 54 he was with Caesar in Gaul. Raised by Caesar’s influence to the offices of quaestor, augur, and tribune of the plebs, he supported the cause of his patron with great energy, and was expelled from the senate-house when the Civil War broke out.
Deputy-governor of Italy during Caesar’s absence in Spain, second in command in the decisive battle of Pharsalus, and again deputy-governor of Italy while Caesar was in Africa, Antony was second only to the dictator, and seized the opportunity of indulging in the most extravagant excesses, depicted by Cicero in the Philippics.
In 46 he seems to have taken offence because Caesar insisted on payment for the property of Pompey which Antony professedly had purchased, but had in fact simply appropriated. The estrangement was not of long continuance; for we find Antony meeting the dictator at Narbo the following year, and rejecting the suggestion of Trebonius that he should join in the conspiracy that was already on foot. In 44 he was consul with Caesar, and seconded his ambition by the famous offer of the crown at the festival of Lupercalia (February 15).
After the murder of Caesar on the 15th of March, Antony conceived the idea of making himself sole ruler. At first he seemed disposed to treat the conspirators leniently, but at the same time he so roused the people against them by the publication of Caesar’s will and by his eloquent funeral oration, that they were obliged to leave the city. He surrounded himself with a bodyguard of Caesar’s veterans, and forced the senate to transfer to him the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which was then administered by Decimus Junius Brutus, one of the conspirators. Brutus refused to surrender the province, and Antony set out to attack him in October 44, 151But at this time Octavian, whom Caesar had adopted as his son, arrived from Illyria, and claimed the inheritance of his “father.”
Octavian obtained the support of the senate and of Cicero; and the veteran troops of the dictator flocked to his standard. Antony was denounced as a public enemy, and Octavian was entrusted with the command of the war against him. Antony was defeated at Mutina (43) where he was besieging Brutus. The consuls Aulus Hirtius and Vibius Pansa, however, fell in the battle, and the senate became suspicious of Octavian, who, irritated at the refusal of a triumph and the appointment of Brutus to the command over his head, entered Rome at the head of his troops, and forced the senate to bestow the consulship upon him (August 19th).
Meanwhile, Antony escaped to Cisalpine Gaul, effected a junction with Lepidus and marched towards Rome with a large force of infantry and cavalry. Octavian betrayed his party, and came to terms with Antony and Lepidus. The three leaders met at Bononia and adopted the title of Triumviri reipublicae constituendae as joint rulers. Gaul was to belong to Antony, Spain to Lepidus, and Africa, Sardinia and Sicily to Octavian. The arrangement was to last for five years.
A reign of terror followed; proscriptions, confiscations, and executions became general; some of the noblest citizens were put to death, and Cicero fell a victim to Antony’s revenge. In the following year (42) Antony and Octavian proceeded against the conspirators Cassius and Brutus, and by the two battles of Philippi annihilated the senatorial and republican parties. Antony proceeded to Greece, and thence to Asia Minor, to procure money for his veterans and complete the subjugation of the eastern provinces. On his passage through Cilicia in 41 he fell a victim to the charms of Cleopatra, in whose company he spent the winter at Alexandria.
At length he was aroused by the Parthian invasion of Syria and the report of an outbreak between Fulvia his wife and Lucius his brother on the one hand and Octavian on the other. On arriving in Italy he found that Octavian was already victorious; on the death of Fulvia, a reconciliation was effected between the triumvirs, and cemented by the marriage of Antony with Octavia, the sister of his colleague.
A new division of the Roman world was made at Brundusium, Lepidus receiving Africa, Octavian the west, and Antony the east. Returning to his province Antony made several attempts to subdue the Parthians, without any decided success. In 39 he visited Athens, where he behaved in a most extravagant manner, assuming the attributes of the god Dionysus. In 37 he crossed over to Italy, and renewed the triumvirate for five years at a meeting with Octavian. Returning to Syria, he resumed relations with Cleopatra. His treatment of Octavia, her brother’s desire to get rid of him, and the manner in which he disposed of kingdoms and provinces in favour of Cleopatra alienated his supporters. In 32 the senate deprived him of his powers and declared war against Cleopatra. After two years spent in preparations, Antony was defeated at the battle of Actium (2nd September 31).
Once more he sought refuge in the society of Cleopatra, who had escaped with sixty ships to Egypt. He was pursued by his enemies and his troops abandoned him. Thereupon he committed suicide in the mistaken belief that Cleopatra had already done so (30 BCE). Antony had been married in succession to Fadia, Antonia, Fulvia and Octavia, and left behind him a number of children.
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