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The Shadow of Caesar:
The Search For Mark Antony From Plutarch to Burton


Lauren Faulkner

(Simon Fraser University)

One of the modern versions of the Roman warrior Mark Antony is heard to exclaim, Where is Antony . . . Antony the great, the divine?  Antony!  Here, he is here.  One step behind Caesar.  At the right hand of Caesar.  The shadow of Caesar.î [1]  Indeed, most of the surviving accounts of Marcus Antoniusí role in ancient Rome condemn him to a secondary role; the attention and glory are given to names more widely recognized, like Caesar, Cicero, Cleopatra, Octavian Augustus. [2]  Antonyís achievements are criticized and even completely overlooked in favor of those with whom he shared so much of his life.  Consequently, posterity tends to see Antony in terms of these famous people, and interprets his actions accordingly.  Is it possible to pierce the shadows that Antony has become mired in, in order to discern the true Antony?  For instance, did he ìaccidentallyî fuel the conspiracy against Caesar?  Was he really the mindless love slave of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra?  Why did he have Cicero killed when he initially allied with Octavian?  What drove him to turn against Octavian later?  Who was the man Antony, apart from the warrior and the consul and the husband and the rival?  Unfortunately this man may never be known.  But a close examination of him using various sources, as well as considering his relationships with his friends and enemies, will perhaps lend a more defined image of Antony.  After having determined Antonyís character through his relationships, this essay will then attempt to separate him from them in order to discuss the impact his life had on the world of ancient Rome.

        Plutarch has left what is perhaps the most complete account of the early life of Antony, before he became Caesarís man.  He was born in 82 BC into a family that was neither particularly rich nor influential in Roman aristocratic circles, although his mother, Julia, was related (though distantly) to Julius Caesar.  Plutarch also informs the reader that ìthe grandfather of Antony was the famous pleader [also called Marcus Antonius], whom Marius put to death for having taken part with Sullaî, [3] so Antonyís ancestors were far from obscurity.  In his youth he formed friendships with men much accustomed to lives of pleasure, and this lifestyle of women, gambling and drinking would follow Antony throughout his professional life.  He left Rome briefly to continue educational pursuits in Greece and militaristic ventures in Syria, and when he returned to his native city, he was introduced through friends to Julius Caesar, who was at this point head of the army in Gaul and Pompeyís bitter rival.  Caesar won Antonyís loyalty and awarded him with the positions of tribune and augur; Antonyís positions now were ìat once of the greatest advantage to Caesarî. [4]  Caesar used him continually as a bolster of support against Pompey during the civil wars, and Antony was soon known for his eloquence and powers of persuasion among the Senate. [5]  When Caesar defeated Pompey and pursued him to Egypt, he left Antony as his representative in Rome, and named him ìMaster of the Horse, who is in office and power next to the dictator, when present, and in his absence, is the first, and pretty nearly indeed the sole magistrateî. [6]  He served as consul twice, in 44 BC and 34 BC.

        Whatever his influence was within Rome, Antonyís true skills lay with the army.  Born and bred for a life of luxury, several historical sources tell of Antonyís admirable qualities as a warrior and leader of men.  He was ìan intrepid and dashing cavalry leader: yet at the same time a steady and resourceful generalî [7] who sometime led as much as half the army of Rome while Caesar led the other half.  Plutarch describes Antony as winning the hearts of his soldiers by living amongst them and becoming one of them, and he even ìquitted so much luxury and sumptuous living [and] made no difficultyÖ of drinking foul water and feeding on wild fruits and rootsî. [8]  It was he who would defeat Cassius at the first Battle of Philippi, at which his ally Octavian would fail to conquer Caesarís other assassin. He won further respect from his soldiers by his respectful treatment of his enemies. Despite having vilified Brutus as a traitor, Antony had his body buried with the honors of a Roman and even wrapped the corpse in his own cloak. [9]

        One of the most controversial actions of his career occurred just before Caesarís assassination, and some interpret it as the spark that ignited the anti-Caesarian conspiracy. During the festival of Lupercalia, a pastoral and propitiatory celebration, Caesar sat himself upon a throne and Antony proceeded to offer him three times a crown, which Caesar refused thrice. Cicero retells it colorfully:

Upon the dais on a golden chair, wearing a purple robe, was seated your colleague.  You mounted the dais.  You went up to Caesarís chairóLupercus though you were, you should have remembered you were consul tooóand you displayed a diadem.  From all over the Forum there were groans.  Where did the diadem come from?  You had not just found one on the ground and picked it up.  No, you had brought it from your own house!  This was crime, deliberate and premeditated.  Then you placed the diadem on his head: the people groaned.  He took it offóand they applauded. [10]

Many of the senators, including Brutus and Cassius, used this action to justify their conspiracy against the general who would be king.  Although Caesar had obviously refused the honor, they claimed that it had been an elaborate show, a sort of ruse designed to appeal to the commoners. A mere month later, Caesar was assassinated, and suddenly Antony was one of the most powerful men in Rome, due in no small part to his legendary funeral oration in which he won the ìRoman mobî away from the conspirators. [11]

        But Antonyís popularity with the army was overshadowed by his unpopularity with the rest of Rome.  This can be attributed in part to the lashing tongue of Cicero, who shared a fickle, often volatile relationship with Antony.  One recent historian reports that Antony and Cicero generally were on amicable terms: ìthere lay no ancient grudge [between them], no deep-seated cause of an inevitable clashî. [12]  But the ancient writers, particularly Plutarch and Cicero himself, would have the reader believe that the orator never got along well with Antony. Plutarch reveals that Cicero may have been responsible for the death of Antonyís stepfather, who was named in the Catiline conspiracy, and that the hostile relationship was provoked by Ciceroís refusal to give him a decent burial.  Additionally, Cicero was ever the ardent defender of the Roman Republic, and with Caesarís death, Antony became the newest and strongest threat to its existence.  He was given virtual absolute power immediately after the assassination in 44 BC, having acquired a number of Caesarís papers that were then declared by the Senate to be valid acts.  While he may have temporarily won the support of the Senate, though, Cicero refused to be wooed, and in a series of speeches in the Senate, ìhe made use of all his art to exasperate the people against Antony, and at length persuaded the Senate to declare him a public enemyî. [13]  These speeches, which have come to be known as the Philippics, leveled a number of serious and rather reprehensible crimes against Antony, including debauchery, thievery (of other menís fortunes and inheritances), questionable sexual conduct with actresses and other men, and even responsibility for the whole of the civil wars between Pompey and Caesar due to his actions in
the Senate.

        Antony himself was no amateur at public speaking, contrary to what Cicero claimed; it is believed to be one of the reasons that Caesar was drawn to him in the first place.  He held his ground against Cicero and allied with Octavian after a brief war, and with Lepidus they formed the Second Triumvirate.  The three co-rulers of Rome then drew up a list of proscriptions to cement their alliance, and Antony named Cicero as one of the men he wanted to execute. Octavian made some attempt at protest, in light of the fact that Cicero had been his ardent supporter as Caesarís official heir, but it was a weak protest.  Antony ìgave orders to those that were to kill Cicero, to cut off his head and right hand, with which he had written his invectives against him . . . he regarded them joyfully, actually bursting out more than once into laughter . . ..î [14]  In spite of this vengeful and twisted act of cruelty, a recent historian insists that ìas a rule, Antony was kind-hearted and humane, and . . . was seldom severe or cruel to his enemiesî and that ìhe did not know what else to do to carry off a situation of which he was somewhat ashamedî. [15]  But Antony was also human: once pushed too far, he was as capable of striking back at his enemies as anyone was, and Ciceroís demise is an excellent example.

        One of the most intriguing chapters in the life of Antony (and a good introduction to his famous affair with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt) was his way with women.  Like Caesar before him, he was fond of female company and tended to ignore obstacles such as a husband.  Plutarch declares that his lack of support from the upper nobility in Rome stemmed from the fact that ìhe had an ill name for familiarity with other peopleís wivesî. [16]  Another cause for consternation among the senatorial rank was his liaison with an actress named Cytheris, at a time when intimacy between the upper classes and entertainers was deeply frowned upon.  The accounts of his behavior with various members in the entertainment profession must have given the impression of a circus, and was very unbecoming for someone as close to Caesar as Antony was. Before he married Cleopatra, Antony had four wives: [17]Fadia (of whom not much is known, although Cicero claims that she was the daughter of an ex-slave), Antonia his cousin, Fulvia (she was accused of treason by Octavian, and died while fleeing into exile), and finally Octavia, Octavianís own sister, whose marriage to Antony was designed to solidify the last attempt at a stable peace between the two men.  He also had numerous mistresses, as has been mentioned above.

        But by the time Antony was induced to marry Octavia in 40 BC, there are reports that his heart already belonged to another.  According to the historical record, Cleopatra was summoned by Antony to account for her attitude towards Cassius during the war; she had been accused of lending the assassin arms in his struggle against Antony.  The two met at Cilicia and, as Plutarch describes, she ìawakened and kindled to fury passions that as yet lay still and dormant in his nature, and to stifle and finally corrupt any elements that yet made resistance in him, of goodness and a sound judgementî. [18]  Plutarch speaks bitterly against Cleopatra, perhaps representing the prejudice of most Romans in the ancient world (against both mysterious eastern influences and women holding political power), and holds her responsible for the seduction of a noble Roman citizen, whose consequent ìorientalismî and voluntary estrangement from Rome was entirely her accomplishment.  Dio also is sparing in his praise of Cleopatra, for when Antony fell in love with her, he ìgave not a thought to honor but became the Egyptian womanís slave . . . this caused him to do many outrageous thingsî. [19]  Antony did not return to Egypt for four years, but when he did, it was to stay.  He never saw Rome again.  He acknowledged as his twin children that she had borne, and another son, and gave her extensive lands, including

Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Cyprus, great part of Cilicia, that side of Judaea
that produces balm, that part of Arabia where the Nabathaeans extend to
the outer sea; profuse gifts, which much displeased the Romans . . . [20]

as part of his recognition that her eldest son, Caesarion, was the rightful heir of Rome as Julius Caesarís child.  It is generally believed that he married her, just as Caesar had, in an Egyptian ceremony.  His devotion to the support of Cleopatraís child as heir over Octavian shows considerable strength of character on his part, for in every future conflict with Octavian, this was the root of trouble.  The general inclination today is to doubt the validity of Cleopatraís claim to have given birth to Caesarís child, but Antony must not have doubted her.  While it is possible that he supported Caesarionís cause merely as a prop for  his own personal ambition, he must have known that he would be facing the wealth and connections of Alexandria if he turned on Cleopatra after they had defeated Octavian.  This is an unlikely scenario at any rate, for his devotion to her is practically uncontested in both ancient and modern historical accounts.  It is likely that Antony saw a chance to make a name for himself with Cleopatra and her son that would be more gratifying than any position Octavian would have offered.

        Equally under scrutiny is the popular notion that Antony became an utter slave to Cleopatra.  Dioís quote above illustrates his opinion on the matter, and Plutarch gives a long paragraph to the description of Cleopatraís seductive charms and allurements (all in a rather negative tone). [21]  Had Cicero not been killed before Antony had the chance to meet Cleopatra, he assuredly would have had something lashing to say about the relationship, as he claims Antony to be a slave to his numerous other passions.  It was Cleopatra, after all, who persuaded him not to meet Octavia in 31 BC, the result of which was Octavianís final declaration of war against Cleopatra, bringing Antony into the inevitable open conflict with Rome. [22]  Plutarch fills pages with his accounts of Antonyís lavish and luxurious life in Alexandria with the Egyptian queen, where he was even occasionally greeted as the god Dionysus (not ironically, the god of wine and feasting).  As final evidence of his complete deference to her, Plutarch cites the battle of Actium: first he agreed to the queenís wishes to wage a major battle at sea, while his strength lay in land battles.  Secondly, and more fatally, he abandoned his troops after viewing Cleopatraís warship departing before the end of the battle.  As Plutarch declares, ìAntony showed to all the world that he was no longer actuated by the thoughts and motives of a commander or a man, or indeed by his own judgement at all . . ..î [23]

        Yet Antony may not have been the love slave that the ancients so adeptly paint in their portrayals.  His loyalty was always his strongest motivation, as is evident in his relationship with Caesar and later with Caesarís child.  The lands he had ceded to Cleopatra no doubt made her richer, but it also extended ìEgyptian power to that which had existed fourteen hundred years previously, in the days of the mighty Pharaohs of the eighteenth dynastyî. [24]  Cleopatra had asked for, and received, lands that had historically been under Egyptian sovereignty.  Another historian notes that ìshe sought to extort from Antony portions of Herodís dominions . . . [that] Antony refused to give herî [25], because she had no right to them.  Furthermore, the lands that she did receive ìdo not seem to have excited alarm or criticism at Rome: only later did they became a sore point and pretext for defamation.î [26]  Antonyís residence in the East was punctuated with bouts of war with the Parthians, and his army was the first to make some few advances in Parthia (although he was ultimately unsuccessful).  Rome reviled kings; Cleopatra was not only a monarch but a woman at that, and her sons by Antony were declared kings after her marriage to him.  In vilifying Cleopatra, it was an easy job to include Antony regardless of his aspirations to a kingship. [27]  Indeed, it is even mentioned that Cleopatra had to work hard to keep him satisfied, for his ìboyishî sexual appetites created in him an inconstancy that even she could not entirely eradicate. [28]  Shakespeare uses this idea to open his play devoted to the ancient lovers.  It is believed by these proponents of the ìanti-slaveî theme that the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra, while passionate and romantic at first, gradually evolved into an alliance both personal and political that benefited them both.  As for Cleopatraís grand seduction, she herself was dependent on Antony for any kind of recognition in Rome, and she did not long outlive him. [29]

        The last ten or so years of Antonyís life were a constant struggle against Octavian, the future Augustus.  It most likely began with the reading of Caesarís will, which named Octavian as primary heir.  For all of Antonyís favored position, he was put aside for a sickly, almost untried youth.  Shortly after returning to Rome to claim his inheritance, Octavian professed himself a candidate for the office of tribune, an action that ìthe consul Mark Antony, from whom he had expected the greatest help, opposedî [30], not merely because of Octavianís age but also because of Octavianís presumption to an office he had not deserved.  They were further driven apart by a bungled attempt on Octavianís part to have Antony murdered, and it was soon after this that Antony met Cleopatra.  But Octavian proved a force to be reckoned with much more than anyone had foreseen, including Antony.  After his reconciliation with Octavian, the Roman world was once again divided, the west going to Octavian, the east to Antony, and Africa to Lepidus, although upon his retirement this part reverted to Octavianís control.  There is no doubt that Antony is limited once more to a secondary role from his seat in Egypt; Octavian is still centered in Rome, is fighting for Rome, and becomes the heroic shining general (in spite of his reputation for falling sick and/or missing entire battles) who is fighting eastern seduction and imperialism in the forms of Antony and Cleopatra.  Antonyís decision to make his home primarily in Alexandria, where he even recalled his eldest son by Fulvia, was what initially divorced him from Roman popular opinion.  The anxiety in Rome that he was attempting to transfer the capital of the empire to a more centralized location was probably enough to decide many Roman minds against him.  Octavian played on this, and painted himself in the brightest of lights, inciting the Senate against Antony even while he still had strong supporters there.

        The most damaging stroke to Antonyís reputation came when Octavian secured his will from the Vestal Virgins and read before the Senate.  In a move that was highly controversial because it was illegal, Octavian informed the senators (who by all accounts were both horrified and intrigued by the proceedings) that Antony wanted to be returned to Alexandria and buried there should he die in Rome. [31]  The further recounting of his supposed subservience to the queen, and his frequent episodes of debauchery, eroded what little good opinion was left of him in Rome.  It was a very different Antony now than the one who had stood before the people some thirteen years earlier and proclaimed Caesarís funeral oration.  It took little effort on Octavianís part to declare Antony an enemy of the people and begin preparations for war.

        Antony had a fair chance at winning as he sailed into the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.  As it can be imagined, Octavianís work to tarnish Antonyís morality had to convince both the consuls and the constitution that Antony was a degenerate Roman who wanted to manipulate the liberties of the Roman people, and who actively promoted the rule of an oriental queen, but there remained some few Roman allies and a number of allies from the East that had been won with his name and Cleopatraís money.  The battle itself went wrong quickly, for Antonyís relative inexperience on the sea made him vulnerable.  Why he acquiesced to the queenís wishes of a sea battle when he had shown resistance to some of her other demands may never be known, but as it was, his premature flight when he saw her departing spelled the destruction of any possible victory.  The deaths of some 5000 men (not to mention the losses in ships and equipment) literally finished him. [32]  His allies and even his own army deserted him in droves, fleeing to the victorious Octavian.  The false news of Cleopatraís death was enough to quench his own will to live, and believing himself to be totally deserted, he fell on his own sword and then died in Cleopatraís arms.  Octavianís greatest gesture towards Antony (and one not entirely in keeping with his brutal nature in securing his position as imperator) was to allow ì[Cleopatra] and Antony the honor of being buried in one sepulchre [in Alexandria], and ordered the tomb, which they themselves begun, to be completedî. [33]  Plutarch goes further and recalls that Octavian even shed some tears for the man who had formerly been a colleague and sometime friend.

            It is somewhat ironic that Octavian and Antonyís rivalry did not end with the death of Antony.  Of course, Octavian was triumphant, and his ruthless policy towards his rivals continued despite the honor that he accorded Antonyís corpse.  Both Caesarion, Cleopatraís child by Julius Caesar, and Antonyís oldest son by Fulvia were quickly killed, to further secure Octavianís undisputed position.  Interestingly, though, Antonyís other children by Fulvia and Cleopatra were adopted by Octavian and given to his sister, who reared them as her own. Antonyís union with Octavia, itself Octavianís idea, is ultimately how Antony defeats Octavian. Antonyís two daughters by Octavia became the Antonias, elder and younger.  Antonia the Elder bore her husband two sons, the ever-popular Germanicus, and the ìidiotî Claudius who was Emperor from 41 to 54 AD, heralding the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and leaving the door open for less loved emperors.  Caligula and Nero, essentially Antonyís great-grandsons, would rule Rome with tyrannical grips, and had Antony survived to see their influence on his beloved city, he would surely have been ashamed to call them his own.

            It is difficult, although not impossible, to separate Antony from the shadows of the great people with whom he spent his life.  The ancient historians acknowledge his important role as Octavianís chief rival, but only Plutarch leaves an independent account of the life of Antony; even then, it is found in a book filled with other biographies, including the notable Cicero and Julius Caesar.  Even the more modern historians, who have been given a wide range of literature and documents to draw from, seem content to devote mere chapters to Antony in their search for Caesar, Cleopatra, and Octavian.  What of the Antony represented in the world of fiction? In what light does twentieth century film and literature portray him?

        Shakespeare has undoubtedly had a dramatic influence on Antonyís image in various books and movies.  His two plays, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, while obviously are not solely devoted to Antony, include him as one of the major characters in each.  In Julius Caesar, Antony is the unwavering loyal friend, faithful to Caesar after his death despite the threat posed by the assassins, and it is his magnificent funeral oration, beginning with the now-famous line, ìFriends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!î [34] that stirs the crowd against Brutus and Cassius. Antony as conqueror, when he defeats Brutus in battle, is given a somewhat tempered edge, for he declares as he stands over the body of Brutus, ìHis life was gentle, and the elements/So mixíd in him that Nature might stand up/And say to all the world, ëThis was a man!íî. [35]  His character does not change much for Antony and Cleopatra, which was published some six years after Julius Caesar, although this second play considering Mark Antony sees him more as a lover than a noble Roman soldier.  Shakespeareís primary source was undoubtedly Plutarch, for Antony is not just lover but slave, perhaps aware of the invisible chains that bind him but unable to shake them off.  Antonyís fate at the Battle of Actium is sealed the moment he sees Cleopatra fleeing, and he declaims bitterly, ìTriple-turníd whore! ëtis thou/Hast sold me to this novice, and my heart/Makes only wars on theeî. [36]  Plutarchís fascinating account of how Cleopatra and her women drew Antony up into the monumental tomb she had locked herself in is repeated here, and he dies in her arms as only a Shakespearean figure can: ìWherein I lived, the greatest prince oí the world,/The noblest, and do now not basely die,/Not cowardly put off my helmet to/My countryman, a Roman by a Roman/Valiantly Vanquishídî. [37]  Shakespeareís romanticization of history, as well as his insurmountable skill at creating memorable characters, introduces a heroic but subjected Antony who will be remembered as the rival of an emperor and the lover of a queen for centuries.

        A modern fictional account of Antony, as seen in Margaret Georgeís novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra, portrays a dashingly handsome and irresistible man that complements the passion and fire of the Egyptian queen in every way.  Georgeís story is a love epic, told from the point of view of Cleopatra.  Antony is presented as he would have been seen through his loverís eyes: ìHe had a wide, well-formed face with intelligent dark eyes, and a thick neck, and a smile that would have blinded a godî. [38]  His Roman nature and his loyalties to his native city are a constant worry for her, and she competes throughout the novel both with Octavian and Rome to keep Antony by her side.  Antony is once again a puppet, an object to be competed for, loved, or fought against, and he is in every way defined by Cleopatra, the main character of the book. Richard Burtonís portrayal of Antony in the film Cleopatra is very similar, for his Antony is a man struggling hard to define himself outside of Caesar.  He speaks of himself,

Youíre not a Caesar, did you know that?  Be braver than the bravest,
than the wisest, stronger than the strongest, still no Caesar! Do what you
Caesarís done it first and done it better, ruled better, loved better, fought
The shadow of Caesar will cover you and cover the universe, for all of
    time! [39]

        Unfortunately, Burtonís Antony makes an excellent point.  Not even the literature of the twentieth century can find an identity for Antony without the shadows of Caesar and Cleopatra dipping into it.  Furthermore, this image is embellished by the eventual impact of Antonyís offspring, many of whom would become more loved or more hated by the Romans than their ancestor ever was.  Antonia the Elder and Germanicus became figures who demanded respect and admiration, and their deaths, as recorded by both Suetonius and Tacitus, [40] were occasions of great grieving in Rome.  The positive impact of these two, however, is more than balanced by the rejoicing that followed the deaths of Caligula and Nero, two emperors who terrorized large sections of Roman society for over eighteen years (their reigns, it should be noted, were not consecutive; Claudius ruled between them for thirteen years).  Perhaps, then, it would be wiser to acknowledge that posterity is merely reflecting what was true in his life, that Antony was a man who both was defined by others and defined them in turn.  For just as Antony cannot be separated from the great rulers with whom he interacted, neither can their individual tales be told without mention of the great Marcus Antonius.


1. Taken from the film Cleopatra, starring Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1963).  <back>

2. Given that Octavian Augustus had several names that are constantly used, in this essay he shall always be referred to as Octavian to avoid confusion.  Antony died four years before Octavian assumed the imperial title, so his family name shall be used. <back>

3. Plutarch, Lives. ed. Charles W. Eliot, LL.D. The Harvard Classics Collection, Vol. 12.  New York: P.F. Collier and Son Corporation, 1937.  p. 322.  <back>

4. Ibid., p. 325.  <back>

5. As Cicero is quick to point out, it is Antony who was responsible for having an act vetoed in the Senate that would have led to the dismemberment of Caesarís army.  Caesar himself crossed the Rubicon eight days later.  Cicero was to add this incident to a long list of vitriolic attacks on Antony in his Philippics (see below).  <back>

6. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 328.  <back>

7. Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution.  London: Oxford University Press, 1939.  p. 103.   <back>

8. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 334.  <back>

9. In marked contrast, Suetonius depicts Octavian as a base and mutilating tyrant: ". . . Intoxicated with triumph, he [Octavian] sent the head of Brutus (who slew himself on being defeated) to be cast at the foot of Caesarís statue, and treated the noblest of the prisoners not only with cruelty, but with abusive language . . ..î  From Suetoniusís Lives of the Twelve Caesars, trans. H.M. Bird. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1997, p. 64.
    For further examples of Antonyís generosity to deceased opponents, see Plutarchís account of his treatment of Archelaus, p. 324.  <back>

10. Cicero, ìSecond Philippic Against Antonyî, from Cicero: Selected Works, trans. Michael Grant.  Middlesex and New York: Penguin Books, 1960.  p. 138.  <back>

11. Marlon Brandon as Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (1953, dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz) brings the Roman warrior to life.  The funeral oration,  no doubt embellished by Shakespeare, is historically believed to have been given by Antony, although perhaps with less dramatic effect. Syme reports that ìthe speech was brief and moderate; the audience was inflammableî, attributing the turn against the conspirators to a ready lack of support among the Roman citizens that was merely provoked by Antony, not created by him.  Syme, op.cit., p. 98.  <back>

12. Ibid., p. 140.  <back>

13. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 333.  <back>

14. Ibid., p. 335.  <back>

15. Arthur Weigall, The Life and Times of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.  New York: Greenwood Press Publishers, 1968.  p. 237.   <back>

16. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 326.  <back>

17. Cicero, op.cit., p. 144f. <back>

18. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 339.  <back>

19. Cassius Dio, Roman History, Vol. V,  trans. Earnest Cary, Ph.D.  London: Harvard University Press, 1961.  p. 269.  <back>

20. Plutarch, op.cit., p. 349.  <back>

21. See Plutarch, ibid., p. 343-4.  <back>

22. Interestingly, Plutarch tells us that Ocatvian decreed war on Cleopatra, not Antony, and merely had Antony deprived of all power that ìhe had let a woman exercise in his placeî.  Ibid., p. 368.  <back>

23. Ibid., p. 373.  <back>

24. Weigall, op.cit., p. 288.  <back>

25.  Syme, op.cit., p. 260-1.   <back>

26Ibid., p. 261.   <back>

27.  Actually, he never called himself ìkingî.  The closest he came was the adoption of the title ìAutocratorî, absolute ruler of the east, a term not unlike the Roman ìimperatorî.  See Weigall, op.cit., p. 288.    <back>

28.  Weigall tells us that ìhe was an irresponsible boy in these matters, and so long as everybody was happy he really did not care very deeply which woman he lived with, though he was now, it would seem, extremely devoted to Cleopatra . . ..î  Ibid., p. 305.    <back>

29.  Cleopatraís death has been romanticized in the fictional accounts of her, attributing her suicide to the fact that her own lover is dead, but surely she also knew that, without Antony as a buffer, she had no hope of being seen as an equal by Octavian.  She, the last of the proud Pharaohs, could not accept this ultimate defeat.  <back>

30.  Suetonius,  op.cit., p. 62.  <back>

31.  For a more detailed account of what Octavian read from the will, see Plutarch, op.cit., p. 367.   <back>

32.  Plutarch, op.cit., p. 375.  <back>

33.  Suetonius, op.cit., p. 67.  Plutarch also gives account of Antony being bured with Cleopatra, on p. 388.  <back>

34.  William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act III:ii, line 78.  New York: The University Society, 1901.   <back>

35Ibid., line 114.   <back>

36.  Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV:X, lines29-31.  New York: The University Society, 1901.    <back>

37Ibid., Act V:I lines 53-7.  <back>

38.  Margaret George, The Memoirs of Cleopatra.  New York: St. Martinís Press, 1997.  p. 273.  <back>

39.  From the film Cleopatra, 1963.  <back>

40.  While history as told by Tacitus should always be read carefully, he gives a more detailed account than does Suetonius of lives of Germanicus and Antonia.  See The Annals of Imperial Rome, trans. Michael Grant, (London: Penguin Books, 1989), particularly the section on Tiberius.   <back>


Cicero,  ìThe Second Philippic, Against Antonyî in  Selected Works. Trans. Michael Grant.  Middlesex and New York: Penguin Books, 1960.  P. 101-53.

Cassius Dio,  Roman History, Volume V.  trans. Earnest Carey, Ph.D.  London: Harvard University Press, 1961.

Margaret George, The Memoirs of Cleopatra.  New York: St. Martinís Press, 1997.

Plutarch, Lives.  Ed. Charles W. Eliot, LL.D. The Harvard Classics Collection, Vol. 12.  New York: P.F. Collier and Son Corporation, 1937.

William Shakespeare,  Julius Caesar.  New York: The University Society, 1901.

-------------------------,  Antony and Cleopatra.  New York: The University Society, 1901.

Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Trans H.M. Bird.  Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, Ltd., 1997.

Ronald Syme,  The Roman Revolution.  London: Oxford University Press, 1939.

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome.  Trans. Michael Grant.  London: Penguin Books, 1989.

Arthur Weigall,  The Life and Times of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.  New York: Greenwood Press Publishers, 1968.


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