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Marcus Antonius
Marble bust of Mark Antony (Vatican Museums).jpg
Flavian-era bust of Antony
Born 14 January 83 BC
Died 1 August 30 BC (aged 53)
Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt
Resting place Unlocated tomb (probably in Egypt)
Nationality Roman
  • Legate (under Caesar) (52–51 BC)
  • Plebeian tribune (49 BC)
  • Propraetor (49 BC)
  • Magister equitum (48 BC)
  • Consul (44 BC)
  • Proconsul (Gaul) (44–40 BC)
  • Triumvir (43–33 BC)
  • Consul (34 BC)
Fadia (dates unknown)
Antonia Hybrida (?–47 BC)
Fulvia (46–40 BC)
Octavia Minor (40–32 BC)
Cleopatra (32–30 BC)
  • Antonia
  • Marcus Antonius Antyllus
  • Iullus Antonius
  • Antonia Major
  • Antonia Minor
  • Alexander Helios
  • Cleopatra Selene II
  • Ptolemy Philadelphus
Parent(s) Marcus Antonius Creticus and Julia
Military career
Allegiance Roman Republic
Julius Caesar
Years 54–30 BC

Marcus Antonius (14 January 83 BC – 1 August 30 BC), commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from a constitutional republic into the autocratic Roman Empire.

Early life and education

A member of the plebeian Antonia gens, Antony was born in Rome on 14 January 83 BC. His father and namesake was Marcus Antonius Creticus, son of the noted orator Marcus Antonius. His father had died in a military expedition against pirates when Antony was young.

Antony received an appropriate education, which focused on skills that would be useful to him later in life. His studies included philosophy, rhetoric, and military strategy.

However, Antony was known for his reckless behavior and squandered much of his educational opportunity. He accumulated a massive debt by the age of 20 and ran off to Greece to escape. In Athens, Greece, he studied philosophy and rhetoric.


As a young man, Antony became involved in tribunate politics and the Roman East, two areas that were to play a major role in his later life.

Antony joined the military in 57 BCE as chief of cavalry under Aulus Gabinius in the Roman campaign against the Parthian Empire . He performed well in military campaigns in Judea and Gaul.

He was a member of the Second Triumvirate, a political alliance with Octavian and Lepidus that ruled Rome after Caesar's death.

Relationship with Julius Caesar

Mark Antony and Julius Caesar were distant relatives. Antony's mother, Julia, was a third cousin of Julius Caesar. This familial connection carried considerable weight in Antony's early career. Antony was a supporter of Julius Caesar and played a vital role in Caesar's rise to power.

Mark Antony did not participate in the assassination of Julius Caesar. He was saddened and angered by Caesar's death. He persuaded one the assassins, Brutus, to allow him to speak at Caesar's funeral. Antony promised Brutus that he would not blame the conspirators if he was allowed to make a speech.

However, Antony cleverly used the occasion to rouse the crowd against Brutus and his co-conspirators. His speech, which included the famous line "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him," helped turn public opinion against the conspirators.

Marc Antony's Oration at Caesar's Funeral by George Edward Robertson
"Marc Antony's Oration at Caesar's Funeral" as depicted by George Edward Robertson

After Caesar's assassination, Antony became one of the leading men of the later Republic and established himself as a powerful political figure.

Enemy of the state and triumvirate

Antony with Octavian aureus
Roman aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right). Struck in 41 BC, this coin was issued to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate by Octavian, Antony and Lepidus in 43 BC. Both sides bear the inscription "III VIR R P C", meaning "One of Three Men for the Regulation of the Republic".

After Caesar's assassination, Antony, left as sole Consul, surrounded himself with a bodyguard of Caesar's veterans. He forced the senate to transfer to him the province of Cisalpine Gaul, at the time administered by Brutus, one of the conspirators. Brutus refused to surrender the province and Antony set out to attack him in the beginning of 43 BC, besieging him at Mutina.

Encouraged by Cicero, the Senate denounced Antony. In January 43 they granted Caesar’s adopted son and heir Octavian imperium (commanding power), and sent him to relieve the siege. In April 43, Antony's forces were defeated at the battles of Forum Gallorum and Mutina, forcing Antony to retreat to Transalpine Gaul.

News came that Brutus and Cassius were assembling an army in order to march on Rome. Antony, Octavian and Lepidus joined as allies, in November 43 BC, to stop Caesar's assassins. The trio were the Second Triumvirate. Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Antony and Octavian at the Battle of Philippi in October 42 BC. After the battle, a new arrangement was made: while Octavian returned to Rome, Antony went on to govern the east of the Republic. Lepidus went to govern Hispania (Spain) and the province of Africa. The triumvirate's enemies were subjected to proscription, including Mark Antony's archenemy Cicero, who was killed on 7 December 43 BC.

Personal life

Venus and Cupid from the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus at Pompeii, most likely a depiction of Cleopatra VII
This mid-1st-century-BC Roman wall painting in Pompeii, Italy is most likely a depiction of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt.
1448 - Archaeological Museum, Athens - Octavia, ca. 30 BC - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 13 2009
Fragmentary portrait bust from Smyrna thought to depict Octavia, sister of Octavian and Antony's wife

Mark Antony was married several times and had many children.

  • Antony's first wife was Fadia, but little is known about her.
  • He then married his cousin Antonia Hybrida Minor, the daughter of Gaius Antonius Hybrida, sometime between 54 and 47 BCE. They had at least one daughter together.
  • In 46 BCE, Antony married Fulvia, the widow of his political ally Publius Clodius Pulcher. They had two sons together.
  • After Fulvia's death in 40 BCE, Antony married Octavia Minor, the sister of his political rival Octavian, in an attempt to reconcile their differences. They had two daughters together.
  • Despite his marriage to Octavia, Antony carried on a love affair with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, who bore him three children. Their relationship was a major source of tension between Antony and Octavian. Antony's children with Cleopatra included Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II, and Ptolemy Philadelphus.

Through his daughters by Octavia, he was the paternal great grandfather of Roman emperor Caligula, the maternal grandfather of emperor Claudius, and both maternal great-great-grandfather and paternal great-great uncle of the emperor Nero of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Through his eldest daughter, he was ancestor to the long line of kings and co-rulers of the Bosporan Kingdom, the longest-living Roman client kingdom, as well as the rulers and royalty of several other Roman client states. Through his daughter by Cleopatra, Antony was ancestor to the royal family of Mauretania, another Roman client kingdom, while through his sole surviving son Iullus, he was ancestor to several famous Roman statesmen.

Relationship with Octavian

Although Mark Antony and Octavian were initially allies, their relationship deteriorated over time.

Antony's relationship with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, was a major source of tension between him and Octavian. Octavian saw Antony's alliance with Cleopatra as a threat to Rome and accused him of neglecting his duties as a Roman leader.

Antony's military campaigns in the east, which were funded by Cleopatra, were also seen as a challenge to Octavian's authority.

Antony's divorce from Octavian's sister, Octavia, was seen as a personal betrayal by Octavian. Octavia had been a key mediator between Antony and Octavian, and her divorce from Antony signaled the end of their alliance.

Final years and death

The triumvirate broke up in 33 BC, and disagreement turned to civil war in 31 BC. Antony was defeated by Octavian's forces at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE.

After his defeat, Antony took his own life by falling on his own sword. Reportedly, did not die immediately and was brought to Cleopatra's tomb, where he died in her arms on August 1, 30 BCE, at the age of 53. Cleopatra buried him and later died by allowing an asp, a venomous snake, to bite her.

William Shakespeare wrote a play "Antony and Cleopatra" based on this historical event.


Mark Antony's legacy is complex and multifaceted. He was a skilled military leader and a powerful political figure, but his relationship with Cleopatra and his rivalry with Octavian have also contributed to his enduring fame.

Antony's legacy has been the subject of much debate and interpretation over the centuries, with some seeing him as a tragic hero and others as a flawed and corrupt politician.

When Antony died, Octavian became uncontested ruler of Rome. In the following years, Octavian, who was known as Augustus after 27 BC, managed to accumulate in his person all administrative, political, and military offices. When Augustus died in AD 14, his political powers passed to his adopted son Tiberius; the Roman Empire had begun.

Artistic portrayals

Antony (George Coulouris) addresses the crowd in the Mercury Theatre production of Caesar (1937), Orson Welles's modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy

Works in which the character of Mark Antony plays a central role:

  • William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
  • Antony and Cleopatra, several works with that title
  • John Dryden's 1677 play All for Love
  • Jules Massenet's 1914 opera Cléopâtre
  • The 1934 film Cleopatra (played by Henry Wilcoxon)
  • Orson Welles' innovative 1937 adaptation of William Shakespeare at Mercury Theatre has George Coulouris as Marcus Antonius.
  • The 1953 film Serpent of the Nile (played by Raymond Burr)
  • The 1963 film Cleopatra (played by Richard Burton)
  • The 1964 film Carry On Cleo (played by Sid James)
  • The 1983 miniseries The Cleopatras (played by Christopher Neame)
  • The TV series Xena: Warrior Princess (played by Manu Bennett)
  • In the Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome, Mark Antony featured as a short swordsman.
  • The 1999 film Cleopatra (played by Billy Zane)
  • The Capcom video game Shadow of Rome, in which he is depicted as the main antagonist
  • The 2003 TV movie Imperium: Augustus (played by Massimo Ghini)
  • The 2005 TV mini series Empire (played by Vincent Regan)
  • The 2005–2007 HBO/BBC TV series Rome (played by James Purefoy)
  • The 2009–2013 TV series Horrible Histories (played by Mathew Baynton), and the 2015 reboot series of the same name (portrayed by Tom Stourton in 2019)
  • The 2006 BBC One docudrama Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (played by Alex Ferns)
  • As Cleopatra's guardian and level boss in the Xbox 360 game Dante's Inferno released by Visceral Games in 2010.
  • The 2021 TV series Domina (played by Liam Garrigan)


  • In Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series (1990–2007), Antony is portrayed as a deeply flawed character, a monster of vanity who loves riding in a chariot drawn by lions.
  • Margaret George's The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997)
  • Conn Iggulden's Emperor novels (2003–13)
  • Robert Harris's Dictator (2015)
  • Michael Livingston's The Shards of Heaven (2015)


  • Geoffrey Chaucer's fourteenth-century poem The Legend of Good Women.
  • Lytle, William Haines (1826–1863), Antony and Cleopatra.
  • Constantine P. Cavafy's poem The God Abandons Antony (1911), a hymn to human dignity, depicts the imaginary last moments of Mark Antony while he sees his fortunes turning around.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Marco Antonio para niños

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