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

Kathryn Welch

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.

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Volumnia Cytherisa  

Marilyn B. Skinner

Volumnia Cytheris, a freedwoman of P. Volumnius Eutrapelus, was a celebrated mime actress (see mime, roman), notorious during the 40s bce for her affairs with prominent political figures. Her lovers included Mark Antony and C. Cornelius Gallus, the inventor of Roman love elegy, who celebrated her under the pseudonym “Lycoris” in four books of amatory verse (Serv. ad Verg. Ecl. 10.1 and 6). According to a late source (De vir. ill. 82.2) she was also the paramour of the tyrannicide M. Iunius Brutus (2). All three men were, like Eutrapelus, at one time adherents of C. Iulius Caesar (2), and her association with them may have furthered her former owner’s ambitions.1 While the name “Cytheris,” alluding to Venus’s birthplace, sexualizes its possessor and is thus a suitable appellation for a stage performer, “Lycoris,” reminiscent of a cult title of Apollo, transports her into the realm of literature.

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Cleopatra VII, 69–30 BCE  

Christelle Fischer-Bovet

Cleopatra VII (69–30 bce), “Thea Philopator” (“father-loving goddess”), “Thea Neotera” (“the younger goddess”), and Philopatris (“loving her country”), ruler of Egypt (52–30 bce), as well as of Cyprus (47–30 bce), Libya, and Coele-Syria (37–30 bce), the last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty of the Ptolemies and the best known of all the Cleopatras, was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (“the new Dionysos”), nicknamed Auletes (“flute-player”), and of his sister Cleopatra VI Tryphaina, or possibly of an Egyptian noblewoman. She ruled first as co-regent with her father (52–51 bce), then jointly with her younger brother Ptolemy XIII, with the Roman people as guardian as requested in Ptolemy XII’s will. She ruled alone in 51/50 bce until she was exiled by her brother (50/49–48 bce) and re-established by Julius Caesar as joint ruler with Ptolemy XIII, then with her younger brother Ptolemy XIV (48–44 bce).