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date: 18 April 2024

Antonius, Marcus (2), Roman consul and triumvir, 83–30 bcelocked

Antonius, Marcus (2), Roman consul and triumvir, 83–30 bcelocked

  • Kathryn Welch

Summary

Marcus Antonius lived through three civil wars. He was born in 83 bce during the first, he fought for Gaius Julius Caesar in the second, and his suicide following his final defeat in 30 bce left young Caesar (later Augustus) as the winner of the third. His life story is overshadowed by the greater fame of both friends and enemies, but closer observation reveals how significant he was to Roman politics and society in an age of turmoil. He survived unstable alliances and war during 44 and 43 bce to become triumvir rei publicae constituendae (Board of Three Men to Reconstruct the State), along with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and young Caesar. In that office, he oversaw the proscription of his enemies and defeated the leading assassins of Caesar at Philippi in 42 bce. He was then the virtual ruler of the eastern Roman empire for the next ten years. Military failure in Parthia in 36 led him to depend increasingly on his ally and partner Cleopatra, which in turn enabled young Caesar to depict him as an anti-Roman traitor. War broke out between them in 32 bce. Defeated at sea in Greece at Actium in 31, Antonius survived for another year until he lost again at Alexandria, after which he killed himself on 1 August 30 bce.

Subjects

  • Roman History and Historiography

Updated in this version

Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.

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