Friday, May 29, 2009

Roman General: Marcus Antonius

Mark Antony, or Marcus Antonius, to give him his proper name, was most famous for two reasons: One is his friendship with Julius Caesar and his revenge on the men who murdered Caesar; the other is his love affair with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.

Mark Antony was born in about 83 B.C. and brought up by his stepfather Lentulus. When he was about 30 Antony joined Julius Caesar's army in Gaul. He became very fond of Caesar and supported him in everything, being forced on one occasion to flee from Rome because people disapproved of the way he used his power to help Caesar. In the year 44 B.C. Antony and Caesar were elected as consuls. At a festival before great crowds of the Roman people, Antony tried to make Caesar King of Rome, and offered him a crown. This made many Romans angry, they didn't want to return to the pre-Republic days of being ruled by king. Because of this Caesar was murdered.

Antony then tried to win for himself the power Caesar had had. He made a speech at the funeral and read Caesar's will to the people. However, Caesar had an heir — his great-nephew Octavian, who later became the Emperor Augustus. Antony and Octavian quarreled, but later joined together to fight an army commanded by Brutus and Cassius, who had led the plot to murder Caesar. Antony and Octavian defeated them at Philippi, in Greece, in 42 B.C.

After this, Antony went to the East, where he fell in love with Cleopatra and followed her to Egypt. In an attempt to forge a binding truce Octavian had Brutus marry Octavia, Octavian's sister.

However, the marriage was not a success, for Antony soon went back to Cleopatra. He lived with her in great luxury and splendor, not at all like a Roman. Octavian then sent an army against Antony. At the naval Battle of Actium, fought in 31 B.C., Antony's fleet was defeated. Antony escaped to Egypt with Cleopatra, where they later both committed suicide than hand themselves over to Octavian.

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