1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Antonius
ANTONIUS, the name of a large number of prominent citizens of ancient Rome, of the gens Antonia. Antonius the triumvir claimed that his family was descended from Anton, son of Heracles. Of the Antonii the following are important.
1. Marcus Antonius (143-87 B.C.), one of the most distinguished Roman orators of his time, was quaestor in 113, and praetor in 102 with proconsular powers, the province of Cilicia being assigned to him. Here he was so successful against the pirates that a naval triumph was awarded him. He was consul in 99, censor 97, and held a command in the Marsic War in 90. An adherent of Sulla, he was put to death by Marius and Cinna when they obtained possession of Rome (87). Antonius’s reputation for eloquence rests on the authority of Cicero, none of his orations being extant. He is one of the chief speakers in Cicero’s De Oratore.
2. Marcus Antonius, nicknamed Creticus in derision, elder son of Marcus Antonius, the “orator,” and father of the triumvir. He was praetor in 74 B.C., and received an extraordinary command (similar to that bestowed upon Pompey by the Gabinian law) to clear the sea of pirates, and thereby assist the operations against Mithradates VI. He failed in the task, and made himself unpopular by plundering the provinces (Sallust, Hist. iii., fragments ed. B. Maurenbrecher, p. 108; Velleius Paterculus ii. 31; Cicero, In Verrem, iii. 91). He attacked the Cretans, who had made an alliance with the pirates, but was totally defeated, most of his ships being sunk. Diodorus Siculus (xl. 1) states that he only saved himself by a disgraceful treaty. He died soon afterwards (72-71) in Crete. All authorities are agreed as to his avarice and incompetence.
3. Gaius Antonius, nicknamed Hybrida from his half-savage disposition (Pliny, Nat. Hist. viii. 213), second son of Marcus Antonius, the “orator,” and uncle of the triumvir. He was one of Sulla’s lieutenants in the Mithradatic War, and, after Sulla’s return, remained in Greece to plunder with a force of cavalry. In 76 he was tried for his malpractices, but escaped punishment; six years later he was removed from the senate by the censors, but soon afterwards reinstated. In spite of his bad reputation, he was elected tribune in 71, praetor in 66, and consul with Cicero in 63. He secretly supported Catiline, but Cicero won him over by promising him the rich province of Macedonia. On the outbreak of the Catilinarian conspiracy, Antonius was obliged to lead an army into Etruria, but handed over the command on the day of battle to Marcus Petreius on the ground of ill-health. He then went to Macedonia, where he made himself so detested by his oppression and extortions that he left the province, and was accused in Rome (59) both of having taken part in the conspiracy and of extortion in his province. It was said that Cicero had agreed with Antonius to share his plunder. Cicero’s defence of Antonius two years before in view of a proposal for his recall, and also on the occasion of his trial, increased the suspicion. In spite of Cicero’s eloquence, Antonius was condemned, and went into exile at Cephallenia. He seems to have been recalled by Caesar, since he was present at a meeting of the senate in 44, and was censor in 42.
4. Marcus Antonius, commonly called Mark Antony, the Triumvir, grandson of Antonius the “orator” and son of Antonius Creticus, related on his mother’s side to Julius Caesar, was born about 83 B.C. Under the influence of his stepfather, Cornelius Lentulus Sura, he spent a profligate youth. For a time he co-operated with P. Clodius Pulcher, probably out of hostility to Cicero, who had caused Lentulus Sura to be put to death as a Catilinarian; the connexion was severed by a disagreement arising from his relations with Clodius’s wife, Fulvia. In 58 he fled to Greece to escape his creditors. After a short time spent in attendance on the philosophers at Athens, he was summoned by Aulus Gabinius, governor of Syria, to take part in the campaigns against Aristobulus in Palestine, and in support of Ptolemy Auletes in Egypt. In 54 he was with Caesar in Gaul. Raised by Caesar’s influence to the offices of quaestor, augur, and tribune of the plebs, he supported the cause of his patron with great energy, and was expelled from the senate-house when the Civil War broke out. Deputy-governor of Italy during Caesar’s absence in Spain (49), second in command in the decisive battle of Pharsalus (48), and again deputy-governor of Italy while Caesar was in Africa (47), Antony was second only to the dictator, and seized the opportunity of indulging in the most extravagant excesses, depicted by Cicero in the Philippics. In 46 he seems to have taken offence because Caesar insisted on payment for the property of Pompey which Antony professedly had purchased, but had in fact simply appropriated. The estrangement was not of long continuance; for we find Antony meeting the dictator at Narbo the following year, and rejecting the suggestion of Trebonius that he should join in the conspiracy that was already on foot. In 44 he was consul with Caesar, and seconded his ambition by the famous offer of the crown at the festival of Lupercalia (February 15). After the murder of Caesar on the 15th of March, Antony conceived the idea of making himself sole ruler. At first he seemed disposed to treat the conspirators leniently, but at the same time he so roused the people against them by the publication of Caesar’s will and by his eloquent funeral oration, that they were obliged to leave the city. He surrounded himself with a bodyguard of Caesar’s veterans, and forced the senate to transfer to him the province of Cisalpine Gaul, which was then administered by Decimus Junius Brutus, one of the conspirators. Brutus refused to surrender the province, and Antony set out to attack him in October 44, But at this time Octavian, whom Caesar had adopted as his son, arrived from Illyria, and claimed the inheritance of his “father.” Octavian obtained the support of the senate and of Cicero; and the veteran troops of the dictator flocked to his standard. Antony was denounced as a public enemy, and Octavian was entrusted with the command of the war against him. Antony was defeated at Mutina (43) where he was besieging Brutus. The consuls Aulus Hirtius and C. Vibius Pansa, however, fell in the battle, and the senate became suspicious of Octavian, who, irritated at the refusal of a triumph and the appointment of Brutus to the command over his head, entered Rome at the head of his troops, and forced the senate to bestow the consulship upon him (August 19th). Meanwhile, Antony escaped to Cisalpine Gaul, effected a junction with Lepidus and marched towards Rome with a large force of infantry and cavalry. Octavian betrayed his party, and came to terms with Antony and Lepidus. The three leaders met at Bononia and adopted the title of Triumviri reipublicae constituendae as joint rulers. Gaul was to belong to Antony, Spain to Lepidus, and Africa, Sardinia and Sicily to Octavian. The arrangement was to last for five years. A reign of terror followed; proscriptions, confiscations, and executions became general; some of the noblest citizens were put to death, and Cicero fell a victim to Antony’s revenge. In the following year (42) Antony and Octavian proceeded against the conspirators Cassius and Brutus, and by the two battles of Philippi annihilated the senatorial and republican parties. Antony proceeded to Greece, and thence to Asia Minor, to procure money for his veterans and complete the subjugation of the eastern provinces. On his passage through Cilicia in 41 he fell a victim to the charms of Cleopatra, in whose company he spent the winter at Alexandria. At length he was aroused by the Parthian invasion of Syria and the report of an outbreak between Fulvia his wife and Lucius his brother on the one hand and Octavian on the other. On arriving in Italy he found that Octavian was already victorious; on the death of Fulvia, a reconciliation was effected between the triumvirs, and cemented by the marriage of Antony with Octavia, the sister of his colleague. A new division of the Roman world was made at Brundusium, Lepidus receiving Africa, Octavian the west, and Antony the east. Returning to his province Antony made several attempts to subdue the Parthians, without any decided success. In 39 he visited Athens, where he behaved in a most extravagant manner, assuming the attributes of the god Dionysus. In 37 he crossed over to Italy, and renewed the triumvirate for five years at a meeting with Octavian. Returning to Syria, he resumed relations with Cleopatra. His treatment of Octavia, her brother’s desire to get rid of him, and the manner in which he disposed of kingdoms and provinces in favour of Cleopatra alienated his supporters. In 32 the senate deprived him of his powers and declared war against Cleopatra. After two years spent in preparations, Antony was defeated at the battle of Actium (2nd September 31). Once more he sought refuge in the society of Cleopatra, who had escaped with sixty ships to Egypt. He was pursued by his enemies and his troops abandoned him. Thereupon he committed suicide in the mistaken belief that Cleopatra had already done so (30 B.C.). Antony had been married in succession to Fadia, Antonia, Fulvia and Octavia, and left behind him a number of children.
5. Lucius Antonius, youngest son of Marcus Antonius Creticus, and brother of the triumvir. In 44, as tribune of the people, he brought forward a law authorizing Caesar to nominate the chief magistrates during his absence from Rome. After the murder of Caesar, he supported his brother Marcus. He proposed an agrarian law in favour of the people and Caesar’s veterans, and took part in the operations at Mutina (43). In 41 he was consul, and had a dispute with Octavian, which led to the so-called Perusian War, in which he was supported by Fulvia (Mark Antony’s wife), who was anxious to recall her husband from Cleopatra’s court. Later, observing the bitter feelings that had been evoked by the distribution of land among the veterans of Caesar, Antonius and Fulvia changed their attitude, and stood forward as the defenders of those who had suffered from its operation. Antonius marched on Rome, drove out Lepidus, and promised the people that the triumvirate should be abolished. On the approach of Octavian, he retired to Perusia in Etruria, where he was besieged by three armies, and compelled to surrender (winter of 41). His life was spared, and he was sent by Octavian to Spain as governor. Nothing is known of the circumstances or date of his death. Cicero, in his Philippics, actuated in great measure by personal animosity, gives a highly unfavourable view of his character.
6. Gaius Antonius, second son of Marcus Antonius Creticus, and brother of the triumvir. In 49 he was legate of Caesar and, with P. Cornelius Dolabella, was entrusted with the defence of Illyricum against the Pompeians. Dolabella’s fleet was destroyed; Antonius was shut up in the island of Curicta and forced to surrender. In 44 he was city praetor, his brothers Marcus and Lucius being consul and tribune respectively in the same year. Gaius was appointed to the province of Macedonia, but on his way thither fell into the hands of M. Junius Brutus on the coast of Illyria. Brutus at first treated him generously, but ultimately put him to death (42).