6 Interesting Mark Antony Facts About His Life You Should Know About
“Mark Antony, ca 30 BC“, by Nathan Hughes Hamilton, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Marcus Antonius (Latin), or Mark Antony as he’s widely known today was a Roman general under Julius Caesar. After Caesar’s death, the queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, and Mark Antony were defeated by the future emperor Octavian Augustus. These events marked the last of the civil wars that destroyed the Roman Republic.
Marcus Antonius, a politician, and a general was born in 83 BC, and he died in 30 BC by suicide. As Octavius was close to absolute power, he invaded Egypt. Mark, who thought that his ally and lover, Cleopatra killed herself, decided to take his own life, too. He stabbed himself with a sword, but before he died, he found out that Cleopatra was still alive. His friends brought his body to her place of hiding, where she held him until he died in her arms.
One of the best-known facts about Mark Antony is that he was a supporter of Julius Caesar. Antony served as one of his generals during the Civil War and the conquest of Gaul. While Julius was eliminating opponents in North Africa, Greece, and Spain, Antony was appointed administrator of Italy.
After Caesar died in 44 BC, Mark joined forces with another general, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son and nephew. The three of them created a three-man dictatorship, known as the Second Triumvirate. Together, they defeated Caesar’s murderers at the Battle of Phillippi two years after his death. Following the battle, the three men divided the government of the Republic among themselves.
Antony was in charge of Rome’s eastern territories, including the kingdom of Egypt, which was ruled by Cleopatra VII Philopator. He was also given command in Rome’s war against Parthia.
Even though everything seemed alright after the triumvirs shared the territories, their relations were strained, because each one of them wanted more power.
In 40 BC, when a civil war between Octavian and Antony almost emerged, the only thing that stopped it was Antony’s marriage to Octavian’s sister, Octavia. Even after he got married, Marcus continued seeing his lover, Cleopatra, with whom he had three children. The affair worsened Antony’s relationship with Octavian.
Their ongoing conflicts finally erupted into civil war in 31 BC when the Roman Senate declared war on Cleopatra and proclaimed Marcus a traitor. When Cleopatra and Antony realized they’re about to lose, both of them committed suicide, making Octavian the undisputed ruler of the Roman world. (1) (2)
Even though you probably learned a lot about Mark Antony in school, it’s easy to forget many details about his life. That’s why we searched for some well-known, and some other Mark Antony facts you probably never heard about.
Without any further ado, let’s find out more!
1. Mark knew that Caesar was about to be assassinated, but he couldn’t help him
As Caesar was obtaining more and more power, a group of Senators plotted to assassinate him at a meeting on the Ides of March. When Mark Antony learned about it, he rushed to the palace to save his ally and a friend from attending the meeting.
Before Antony managed to reach Caesar, he was already dead. Julius was stabbed 23 times, and he bled to death. After the incident, Mark feared for his life, and he escaped Rome dressed as a slave. (3)
2. During his teenage years, Mark Antony was an alcoholic and a womanizer
Mark Antony was born in Rome in 83 BC to Julia Antonia and Marcus Antonius Creticus. He spent his teenage years goofing around Rome with his friends, who were gambling and drinking.
He had an extravagant lifestyle and was involved in many scandalous affairs. Because of that, he was in debt before he even turned 20, and had to flee to Athens. Eventually, he started studying philosophy and rhetoric, which would shape the path of his career. (4)
3. Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral created a mass furor
After fleeing Rome, Antony returned home and managed to reach a compromise with the conspirators who killed Caesar. Their leader, Brutus, allowed a public funeral for the former leader. Antony, who was well-known for his amazing public speaking skills, prepared a stirring oration. During his delivery, the crowd got worked up, which eventually led to a riot at the assembly.
The crowd burned down the houses of some conspirators. Fearing for their life, Brutus and Cassius, had to flee to Greece. Centuries later, William Shakespeare recreated this speech in his play, Julius Caesar. That speech is one of the most famous speeches in English literature. (5) (6)
4. Mark Antony had 5 wives and many, many kids
Even though many of us know that Antony was a lover of Cleopatra and a husband of Octavia, here’s one lesser-known fact about Mark Antony. Next to these two women, he was married to Fadia, Antonia, and Fulvia.
The exact number of his children isn’t known, but he had several kids with Fadia. During his marriage with Antonia, the couple had a daughter. With Fulvia, Antony had two sons, and with Octavia, he had two daughters.
Lastly, his relationship with Cleopatra gave life to two sons and one daughter. Through his children with Octavia, Antony is an ancestor to several Roman Emperors, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Through his daughter with the queen of Egypt, he’s an ancestor to the royal family of Mauretania. (7) (8) (9) (10)
Looks like Antony wasn’t a womanizer only in his teenage years!
5. Mark Antony wasn’t Caesar’s right-hand man
Now, here’s one of the facts about Mark Antony that usually stirs up some debate. Throughout the history lessons, Mark is often referred to as Caesar’s right-hand man. However, the reality was a tad different.
Even though Antony was a great statesman and administrator, his best skills were in the military field, as a soldier and a leader. Before working with Caesar, Mark worked with several masters in the east, and one thing that followed him throughout his life is that he wasn’t that loyal to many of them, and he moved quickly from one place to another.
His main political ally was Clodius Pulcher, who was known for helping just anyone who could pay the right price, and Mark’s service under Caesar was provided by Clodius.
Even though Caesar used Clodius’ services, he was very well aware of his reputation. While serving for Caesar, Antony was a great military leader, but he was a poor administrator, and the Roman Emperor didn’t feel like he could trust him fully.
Also, it’s far more likely that Caesar’s right-hand man was actually Titus Labienus, who was one of the chief lieutenants in Gaul. However, even Labius eventually betrayed Caesar by joining Pompey in the Civil War.
After that betrayal, Caesar stopped trusting any of his men so implicitly and became much more careful with who he shares his ideas and plans. (11)
6. Cicero and Antony hated each other
Closing off our list of facts about Mark Antony is a story about the hatred that Cicero and Antony had for each other.
Cicero’s speeches denouncing Antony are some of the most famous ones in entire Roman literature, but what you probably don’t know is that Antony hated the orator just as much.
When Mark’s dad died, his mom married another man, P. Cornelius Lentulus. This man acted as Antony’s paternal figure, and the two of them had a good relationship.
In 63 BC, Cicero ordered the execution of Lentulus because of his role in the Cataline Affair. This was something Antony never forgot.
Many years later, when Antony rose to power, he ordered his men to cut off Cicero’s hands and his head, which were later nailed on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum. According to a legend by Cassius Dio, Antony’s wife at the time, Fulvia, pulled out Cicero’s tongue and stabbed it with a hairpin. (12) (13)
Facts About Mark Antony
There you have it, those were some of the most interesting facts about Mark Antony! Even though you probably learned about most of these in school, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your knowledge and be ready for the next trivia night!
Now, it’s up to you to let us know your thoughts about Mark Antony’s life and death. Which one of these did you like the most? Do you think that Antony actually was Caesar’s right-hand man? How many children do you think Antony actually had? Did we forget to include some of your favorite facts about Mark Antony? Drop a comment below and let us know!
Now before you leave, don’t forget to check out some other content we have here for you. If you enjoyed this article about Mark Antony, you’ll definitely enjoy the one about his lover and wife, Cleopatra VII Philopator. Anyway, if you’re a history buff, check out our history collection!