- NAME: Mark Antony
- OCCUPATION: General
- BIRTH DATE: 83 BCE
- DEATH DATE: 30 BCE
- Did You Know?: Mark Antony married his rival, Octavian's sister, Octavia.
- EDUCATION: Roman and Athenian schools
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Rome
- PLACE OF DEATH: Alexandria, Egypt
- Full Name: Mark Antony
- Originally: Marcus Antonius
- AKA: Marc Antony
Best Known For
Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) is best known as the Roman general who was a lover of Cleopatra. The two committed suicide after their defeat by Octavian.
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Mark Antony, Roman politician and general, was an ally of Julius Caesar and the main rival of his successor Octavian (later Augustus). The passing of power between the three men led to Rome's transition from a republic to an empire. Antony's romantic and political alliance with Egyptian queen Cleopatra became his downfall.
Mark Antony was born Marcus Antonius in Rome in 83 B.C. to a well-respected Roman family.
Promised an excellent education, his reckless behavior squandered much of that opportunity. Deep in gambling debt and pursued by creditors, Antony fled to Greece in 58 B.C. and took part in military campaigns in Judea, where he performed well.
Between 52 and 50 B.C., Mark Antony was assigned as a staff officer to Julius Caesar in Gaul and was instrumental in helping bring the province under Rome's control. Upon returning from Gaul, Antony was appointed tribune, representing the interests of the people. His success and popularity helped him gain support for his benefactor, Caesar, who was being challenged by members of the Roman Senate.
As pressure increased against Caesar, Mark Antony joined his mentor in Gaul and engaged in a series of battles between Caesar and Pompey. Antony again helped Caesar defeat his enemies and he returned to Rome as Caesar's second in command. Having amassed a great deal of power, in 45 B.C., Caesar designated himself consul for one year.
Caesar's actions led many to believe he was positioning himself to become dictator. A plot to assassinate him emerged, and on March 15, 44 B.C., he was killed in the Roman Senate. Antony was next in line to Caesar but was challenged by Octavian, Caesar's nephew and adopted son, who claimed he was heir to Caesar's rule.
Caesar's death brought a chaotic grab for power among several factions. As Mark Antony pursued Caesar's killers in Gaul, Octavian's armies scored a series of victories against Antony, forcing him to retreat to southern Gaul. Caesar's assassins, Brutus and Cassis, were preparing to descend on Rome when Octavian, Antony and Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate and defeated the traitors in the battle of Philippi in October 42 B.C.
With Octavian ruling western Rome and Lepidus governing Africa, Mark Antony stationed himself in southern Turkey and pursued Egypt's queen, Cleopatra, first forming a romance then an alliance to help him defend the eastern provinces. In 40 B.C., Antony's wife, Fulvia, and his brother, Lucius, rebelled against Octavian, forcing Mark Antony to return to Italy. En route, Fulvia died and Antony and Octavian reconciled, with Antony marrying Octavian's sister, Octavia, in 40 B.C.
In 36 B.C., Mark Antony resumed his alliance and romance with Cleopatra, seeking to amass enough funds from her to support his campaign in Judea. Cleopatra saw this as an opportunity to increase her power and agreed. (Around this same time, rumors spread that Antony and Cleopatra had married, but this is unlikely, as he was already married to Octavia.)
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After Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra set her sights on the dashing Roman general Mark Antony. The two began an affair, resulting in twins in 40 B.C. Antony wed Cleopatra in 36 B.C., and appointed his new wife ruler of Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, and Cyria. This abuse of power so outraged the Roman Senate that they denounced him a traitor. After losing a major battle at sea, Antony and Cleopatra were forced to flee to Egypt in 31 B.C. In desperation, Cleopatra spread rumors of her own suicide. Antony, unaware of her plan, stabbed himself to death. When Cleopatra heard of this, she took her own life by inducing a poisonous snake to bite her.
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