Antony and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome Book 7)

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Antony's handling of the affair with Dolabella caused a cooling of his relationship with Caesar.

Antony's violent reaction had caused Rome to fall into a state of anarchy. Caesar sought to mend relations with the populist leader; he was elected to a third term as Consul for 46 BC, but proposed the Senate should transfer the consulship to Dolabella. When Antony protested, Caesar was forced to withdraw the motion out of shame. Later, Caesar sought to exercise his prerogatives as Dictator and directly proclaim Dolabella as Consul instead. After returning victorious from North Africa, Caesar was appointed Dictator for ten years and brought Cleopatra and their son to Rome.

Antony again remained in Rome while Caesar, in 45 BC, sailed to Spain to defeat the final opposition to his rule. When Caesar returned in late 45 BC, the civil war was over. During this time Antony married his third wife, Fulvia. Following the scandal with Dolabella, Antony had divorced his second wife and quickly married Fulvia. Whatever conflicts existed between himself and Caesar, Antony remained faithful to Caesar, ensuring their estrangement did not last long.

Caesar planned a new invasion of Parthia and desired to leave Antony in Italy to govern Rome in his name. The reconciliation came soon after Antony rejected an offer by Gaius Trebonius , one of Caesar's generals, to join a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Soon after they assumed office together, the Lupercalia festival was held on 15 February 44 BC.

The festival was held in honor of Lupa , the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans Romulus and Remus , the founders of Rome. Caesar had enacted a number of constitutional reforms which centralized effectively all political powers within his own hands.


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He was granted further honors, including a form of semi-official cult , with Antony as his high priest. Caesar's political rivals feared these reforms were his attempts at transforming the Republic into an open monarchy. During the festival's activities, Antony publicly offered Caesar a diadem , which Caesar refused.

The event presented a powerful message: a diadem was a symbol of a king. By refusing it, Caesar demonstrated he had no intention of making himself King of Rome. Antony's motive for such actions is not clear and it is unknown if he acted with Caesar's prior approval or on his own. A group of Senators resolved to kill Caesar to prevent him from seizing the throne.

Although Cassius was "the moving spirit" in the plot, winning over the chief assassins to the cause of tyrannicide , Brutus, with his family's history of deposing Rome's kings, became their leader. Antony was supposed to attend with Caesar, but was waylaid at the door by one of the plotters and prevented from intervening. According to the Greek historian Plutarch , as Caesar arrived at the Senate, Lucius Tillius Cimber presented him with a petition to recall his exiled brother. Within moments, the entire group, including Brutus, was striking out at the dictator.

Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay defenseless on the lower steps of the portico. According to Roman historian Eutropius , around 60 or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times and died from the blood loss attributable to multiple stab wounds. In the turmoil surrounding the assassination, Antony escaped Rome dressed as a slave, fearing Caesar's death would be the start of a bloodbath among his supporters. When this did not occur, he soon returned to Rome. The conspirators, who styled themselves the Liberatores "The Liberators" , had barricaded themselves on the Capitoline Hill for their own safety.

Though they believed Caesar's death would restore the Republic, Caesar had been immensely popular with the Roman middle and lower classes , who became enraged upon learning a small group of aristocrats had killed their champion. Antony, as the sole Consul, soon took the initiative and seized the state treasury. Calpurnia , Caesar's widow, presented him with Caesar's personal papers and custody of his extensive property, clearly marking him as Caesar's heir and leader of the Caesarian faction.

Lepidus wanted to storm the Capitol, but Antony preferred a peaceful solution as a majority of both the Liberators and Caesar's own supporters preferred a settlement over civil war. Caesar's assassins would be pardoned of their crimes and, in return, all of Caesar's actions would be ratified.

Antony also agreed to accept the appointment of his rival Dolabella as his Consular colleague to replace Caesar. This compromise was a great success for Antony, who managed to simultaneously appease Caesar's veterans, reconcile the Senate majority, and appear to the Liberatores as their partner and protector. On 19 March, Caesar's will was opened and read. In it, Caesar posthumously adopted his great-nephew Gaius Octavius and named him his principal heir.

Then only 19 years old and stationed with Caesar's army in Macedonia, the youth became a member of Caesar's Julian clan , changing his name to "Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus" Octavian in accordance with the conventions of Roman adoption. Though not the chief beneficiary, Antony did receive some bequests. Shortly after the compromise was reached, as a sign of good faith, Brutus, against the advice of Cassius and Cicero, agreed Caesar would be given a public funeral and his will would be validated. Caesar's funeral was held on 20 March. Antony, as Caesar's faithful lieutenant and reigning Consul, was chosen to preside over the ceremony and to recite the elegy.

During the demagogic speech, he enumerated the deeds of Caesar and, publicly reading his will, detailed the donations Caesar had left to the Roman people. Antony then seized the blood-stained toga from Caesar's body and presented it to the crowd. Worked into a fury by the bloody spectacle, the assembly rioted. Several buildings in the Forum and some houses of the conspirators were burned to the ground. Panicked, many of the conspirators fled Italy. Such an assignment, in addition to being unworthy of their rank, would have kept them far from Rome and shifted the balance towards Antony.

Refusing such secondary duties, the two traveled to Greece instead. Additionally, Cleopatra left Rome to return to Egypt. Despite the provisions of Caesar's will, Antony proceeded to act as leader of the Caesarian faction, including appropriating for himself a portion of Caesar's fortune rightfully belonging to Octavian.

Antony enacted the Lex Antonia , which formally abolished the Dictatorship, in an attempt to consolidate his power by gaining the support of the Senatorial class. He also enacted a number of laws he claimed to have found in Caesar's papers to ensure his popularity with Caesar's veterans, particularly by providing land grants to them.

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Lepidus, with Antony's support, was named Pontifex Maximus to succeed Caesar. Surrounding himself with a bodyguard of over six thousand of Caesar's veterans, Antony presented himself as Caesar's true successor, largely ignoring Octavian.

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Octavian arrived in Rome in May to claim his inheritance. Although Antony had amassed political support, Octavian still had opportunity to rival him as the leading member of the Caesarian faction. The Senatorial Republicans increasingly viewed Antony as a new tyrant. Antony had lost the support of many Romans and supporters of Caesar when he opposed the motion to elevate Caesar to divine status. By summer 44 BC, Antony was in a difficult position due to his actions regarding his compromise with the Liberatores following Caesar's assassination.

He could either denounce the Liberatores as murderers and alienate the Senate or he could maintain his support for the compromise and risk betraying the legacy of Caesar, strengthening Octavian's position. In either case, his situation as ruler of Rome would be weakened. Roman historian Cassius Dio later recorded that while Antony, as reigning Consul, maintained the advantage in the relationship, the general affection of the Roman people was shifting to Octavian due to his status as Caesar's son.

Supporting the Senatorial faction against Antony, Octavian, in September 44 BC, encouraged the leading Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero to attack Antony in a series of speeches portraying him as a threat to the Republican order. Octavian continued to recruit Caesar's veterans to his side, away from Antony, with two of Antony's legions defecting in November 44 BC. At that time, Octavian, only a private citizen , lacked legal authority to command the Republic's armies, making his command illegal.

With popular opinion in Rome turning against him and his Consular term nearing its end, Antony attempted to secure a favorable military assignment to secure an army to protect himself. The Senate, as was custom, assigned Antony and Dolabella the provinces of Macedonia and Syria , respectively, to govern in 43 BC after their Consular terms expired.

Antony, however, objected to the assignment, preferring to govern Cisalpine Gaul which had been assigned to Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus , one of Caesar's assassins. Both consuls were killed, however, leaving Octavian in sole command of their armies, some eight legions. With Antony defeated, the Senate, hoping to eliminate Octavian and the remainder of the Caesarian party, assigned command of the Republic's legions to Decimus. Sextus Pompey , son of Caesar's old rival Pompey Magnus , was given command of the Republic's fleet from his base in Sicily while Brutus and Cassius were granted the governorships of Macedonia and Syria respectively.

These appointments attempted to renew the "Republican" cause. Meanwhile, Antony recovered his position by joining forces with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who had been assigned the governorship of Transalpine Gaul and Nearer Spain. Though he was an ardent Caesarian, Lepidus had maintained friendly relations with the Senate and with Sextus Pompey. His legions, however, quickly joined Antony, giving him control over seventeen legions, the largest army in the West.

By mid-May, Octavian began secret negotiations to form an alliance with Antony to provide a united Caesarian party against the Liberators. Remaining in Cisalpine Gaul, Octavian dispatched emissaries to Rome in July 43 BC demanding he be appointed Consul to replace Hirtius and Pansa and that the decree declaring Antony a public enemy be rescinded. Octavian proclaimed himself Consul, rewarded his soldiers, and then set about prosecuting Caesar's murderers. They shared military command of the Republic's armies and provinces among themselves: Antony received Gaul, Lepidus Spain, and Octavian as the junior partner Africa.

They jointly governed Italy. The Triumvirate would have to conquer the rest of Rome's holdings; Brutus and Cassius held the Eastern Mediterranean , and Sextus Pompey held the Mediterranean islands. Octavian and Antony reinforced their alliance through Octavian's marriage to Antony's stepdaughter, Clodia Pulchra. The primary objective of the Triumvirate was to avenge Caesar's death and to make war upon his murderers.

Before marching against Brutus and Cassius in the East, the Triumvirs issued proscriptions against their enemies in Rome. The proscribed were named on public lists, stripped of citizenship, and outlawed. Their wealth and property were confiscated by the state, and rewards were offered to anyone who secured their arrest or death. With such encouragements, the proscription produced deadly results; two thousand Roman knights were executed, and one third of the Senate, among them Cicero , who was executed on 7 December.

The confiscations helped replenish the State Treasury , which had been depleted by Caesar's civil war the decade before; when this seemed insufficient to fund the imminent war against Brutus and Cassius, the Triumvirs imposed new taxes, especially on the wealthy. By January 42 BC the proscription had ended; it had lasted two months, and though less bloody than Sulla's, it traumatized Roman society.

A number of those named and outlawed had fled to either Sextus Pompey in Sicily or to the Liberators in the East. Due to the infighting within the Triumvirate during 43 BC, Brutus and Cassius had assumed control of much of Rome's eastern territories, and amassed a large army. Before the Triumvirate could cross the Adriatic Sea into Greece where the Liberators had stationed their army, the Triumvirate had to address the threat posed by Sextus Pompey and his fleet. From his base in Sicily, Sextus raided the Italian coast and blockaded the Triumvirs.

Octavian's friend and admiral Quintus Rufus Salvidienus thwarted an attack by Sextus against the southern Italian mainland at Rhegium , but Salvidienus was then defeated in the resulting naval battle because of the inexperience of his crews. Only when Antony arrived with his fleet was the blockade broken.

Though the blockade was defeated, control of Sicily remained in Sextus's hand, but the defeat of the Liberators was the Triumvirate's first priority. In the summer of 42 BC, Octavian and Antony sailed for Macedonia to face the Liberators with nineteen legions, the vast majority of their army [86] approximately , regular infantry plus supporting cavalry and irregular auxiliary units , leaving Rome under the administration of Lepidus. Likewise, the army of the Liberators also commanded an army of nineteen legions; their legions, however, were not at full strength while the legions of Antony and Octavian were.

They had spent the previous months plundering Greek cities to swell their war-chest and had gathered in Thrace with the Roman legions from the Eastern provinces and levies from Rome's client kingdoms. Brutus and Cassius held a position on the high ground along both sides of the via Egnatia west of the city of Philippi. The south position was anchored to a supposedly impassable marsh, while the north was bordered by impervious hills. They had plenty of time to fortify their position with a rampart and a ditch. Brutus put his camp on the north while Cassius occupied the south of the via Egnatia.

Antony arrived shortly and positioned his army on the south of the via Egnatia, while Octavian put his legions north of the road. Antony offered battle several times, but the Liberators were not lured to leave their defensive stand. Thus, Antony tried to secretly outflank the Liberators' position through the marshes in the south. This provoked a pitched battle on 3 October 42 BC.

Antony commanded the Triumvirate's army due to Octavian's sickness on the day, with Antony directly controlling the right flank opposite Cassius. Because of his health, Octavian remained in camp while his lieutenants assumed a position on the left flank opposite Brutus. In the resulting first battle of Philippi, Antony defeated Cassius and captured his camp while Brutus overran Octavian's troops and penetrated into the Triumvirs' camp but was unable to capture the sick Octavian.

The battle was a tactical draw but due to poor communications Cassius believed the battle was a complete defeat and committed suicide to prevent being captured. Brutus assumed sole command of the Liberator army and preferred a war of attrition over open conflict. His officers, however, were dissatisfied with these defensive tactics and his Caesarian veterans threatened to defect, forcing Brutus to give battle at the second battle of Philippi on 23 October.

While the battle was initially evenly matched, Antony's leadership routed Brutus's forces. Brutus committed suicide the day after the defeat and the remainder of his army swore allegiance to the Triumvirate. Over fifty thousand Romans died in the two battles. While Antony treated the losers mildly, Octavian dealt cruelly with his prisoners and even beheaded Brutus's corpse. The battles of Philippi ended the civil war in favor of the Caesarian faction. With the defeat of the Liberators, only Sextus Pompey and his fleet remained to challenge the Triumvirate's control over the Republic.

Upon returning to Rome, the Triumvirate repartitioned rule of Rome's provinces among themselves, with Antony as the clear senior partner. He received the largest distribution, governing all of the Eastern provinces while retaining Gaul in the West. Octavian's position improved, as he received Spain, which was taken from Lepidus. Lepidus was then reduced to holding only Africa, and he assumed a clearly tertiary role in the Triumvirate. Rule over Italy remained undivided, but Octavian was assigned the difficult and unpopular task of demobilizing their veterans and providing them with land distributions in Italy.

During his absence, several of his supporters held key positions in Rome to protect his interests there. The East was in need of reorganization after the rule of the Liberators in the previous years. The Parthian threat to the Triumvirate's rule was urgent due to the fact that the Parthians supported the Liberators in the recent civil war, aid which included the supply troops at Philippi. In 42 BC, the Roman East was composed of several directly controlled provinces and client kingdoms.

Approximately half of the eastern territory was controlled by Rome's client kingdoms, nominally independent kingdoms subject to Roman direction. These kingdoms included:. Antony spent the winter of 42 BC in Athens , where he ruled generously towards the Greek cities. A proclaimed philhellene "Friend of all things Greek" , Antony supported Greek culture to win the loyalty of the inhabitants of the Greek East.

He attended religious festivals and ceremonies, including initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries , [94] a secret cult dedicated to the worship of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. Upon his arrival in Ephesus in Asia, Antony was worshiped as the god Dionysus born anew. He granted pardons to all Roman nobles living in the East who had supported the Optimate cause, except for Caesar's assassins.

Ruling from Ephesus, Antony consolidated Rome's hegemony in the East, receiving envoys from Rome's client kingdoms and intervening in their dynastic affairs, extracting enormous financial "gifts" from them in the process. Though King Deiotarus of Galatia supported Brutus and Cassius following Caesar's assassination, Antony allowed him to retain his position.

In Hasmonean Judea , several Jewish delegations complained to Antony of the harsh rule of Phasael and Herod , the sons of Rome's assassinated chief Jewish minister Antipater the Idumaean. After Herod offered him a large financial gift, Antony confirmed the brothers in their positions. Antony had first met a young Cleopatra while campaigning in Egypt in 55 BC and again in 48 BC when Caesar had backed her as queen of Egypt over the claims of her half-sister Arsinoe.

After Caesar's assassination, Cleopatra and Caesarion returned to Egypt, where she named the child as her co-ruler. In 42 BC, the Triumvirate, in recognition for Cleopatra's help towards Publius Cornelius Dolabella in opposition to the Liberators, granted official recognition to Caesarion's position as king of Egypt. Arriving in Tarsus aboard her magnificent ship, Cleopatra invited Antony to a grand banquet to solidify their alliance.

At Cleopatra's request, Antony ordered the execution of Arsinoe, who, though marched in Caesar's triumphal parade in 46 BC, [97] had been granted sanctuary at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

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Antony and Cleopatra then spent the winter of 41 BC together in Alexandria. Antony also granted formal control over Cyprus, which had been under Egyptian control since 47 BC during the turmoil of Caesar's civil war , to Cleopatra in 40 BC as a gift for her loyalty to Rome. Antony, in his first months in the East, raised money, reorganized his troops, and secured the alliance of Rome's client kingdoms. He also promoted himself as Hellenistic ruler, which won him the affection of the Greek peoples of the East but also made him the target of Octavian's propaganda in Rome.

According to some ancient authors, Antony led a carefree life of luxury in Alexandria. However, after a short stay in Tyre , he was forced to sail with his army to Italy to confront Octavian due to Octavian's war against Antony's wife and brother. Following the defeat of Brutus and Cassius, while Antony was stationed in the East, Octavian had authority over the West. Additionally, tens of thousands of veterans who had fought for the Republican cause in the war also required land grants. This was necessary to ensure they would not support a political opponent of the Triumvirate. This left Octavian with two choices: alienating many Roman citizens by confiscating their land, or alienating many Roman soldiers who might back a military rebellion against the Triumvirate's rule.

Octavian chose the former. Led by Fulvia , the wife of Antony, the Senators grew hostile towards Octavian over the issue of the land confiscations. According to the ancient historian Cassius Dio , Fulvia was the most powerful woman in Rome at the time. As the mother-in-law of Octavian and the wife of Antony, no action was taken by the Senate without her support. The conflict between Octavian and Fulvia caused great political and social unrest throughout Italy.

Tensions escalated into open war, however, when Octavian divorced Clodia Pulchra , Fulvia's daughter from her first husband Publius Clodius Pulcher. Outraged, Fulvia, supported by Lucius, raised an army to fight for Antony's rights against Octavian. According to the ancient historian Appian , Fulvia's chief reason for the war was her jealousy of Antony's affairs with Cleopatra in Egypt and desire to draw Antony back to Rome. However, when Octavian returned to the city with his army, the pair was forced to retreat to Perusia in Etruria.

Octavian placed the city under siege while Lucius waited for Antony's legions in Gaul to come to his aid. While Octavian pardoned Lucius for his role in the war and even granted him command in Spain as his chief lieutenant there, Fulvia was forced to flee to Greece with her children. With the war over, Octavian was left in sole control over Italy. When Antony's governor of Gaul died, Octavian took over his legions there, further strengthening his control over the West.

Despite the Parthian Empire's invasion of Rome's eastern territories, Fulvia's civil war forced Antony to leave the East and return to Rome in order to secure his position. Meeting her in Athens, Antony rebuked Fulvia for her actions before sailing on to Italy with his army to face Octavian, laying siege to Brundisium.

This new conflict proved untenable for both Octavian and Antony, however. Their centurions, who had become important figures politically, refused to fight due to their shared service under Caesar. The legions under their command followed suit. The Roman world was redivided, with Antony receiving the Eastern provinces, Octavian the Western provinces, and Lepidus relegated to a clearly junior position as governor of Africa. This agreement, known as the Treaty of Brundisium , reinforced the Triumvirate and allowed Antony to begin preparing for Caesar's long-awaited campaign against the Parthian Empire.

The rise of the Parthian Empire in the 3rd century BC and Rome's expansion into the Eastern Mediterranean during the 2nd century BC brought the two powers into direct contact, causing centuries of tumultuous and strained relations. Though periods of peace developed cultural and commercial exchanges, war was a constant threat.

Influence over the buffer state of the Kingdom of Armenia , located to the north-east of Roman Syria , was often a central issue in the Roman-Parthian conflict. Tigranes would wage a series of three wars against Rome before being ultimately defeated by Pompey in 66 BC. Artavasdes II offered Crassus the aid of nearly forty thousand troops to assist his Parthian expedition on the condition that Crassus invade through Armenia as the safer route.

Crassus' actions proved disastrous as his army was defeated at the Battle of Carrhae by a numerically inferior Parthian force. His reasons were to punish the Parthians for assisting Pompey in the recent civil war , to avenge Crassus' defeat at Carrhae, and especially to match the glory of Alexander the Great for himself. As part of the compromise between Antony and the Republicans to restore order following Caesar's murder, Publius Cornelius Dolabella was assigned the governorship of Syria and command over Caesar's planned Parthian campaign.

The compromise did not hold, however, and the Republicans were forced to flee to the East. The Republicans directed Quintus Labienus to attract the Parthians to their side in the resulting war against Antony and Octavian.

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The legions, however, were composed of former Republican troops and Labienus convinced Orodes II to invade. Labienus, the Republican ally of Brutus and Cassius, accompanied him to advise him and to rally the former Republican soldiers stationed in Syria to the Parthian cause. Labienus recruited many of the former Republican soldiers to the Parthian campaign in opposition to Antony.

The joint Parthian—Roman force, after initial success in Syria, separated to lead their offensive in two directions: Pacorus marched south toward Hasmonean Judea while Labienus crossed the Taurus Mountains to the north into Cilicia. Labienus conquered southern Anatolia with little resistance. The Roman governor of Asia , Lucius Munatius Plancus , a partisan of Antony, was forced to flee his province, allowing Labienus to recruit the Roman soldiers stationed there.

For his part, Pacorus advanced south to Phoenicia and Palestine. In Hasmonean Judea , the exiled prince Antigonus allied himself with the Parthians. When his brother, Rome's client king Hyrcanus II , refused to accept Parthian domination, he was deposed in favor of Antigonus as Parthia's client king in Judea. Pacorus' conquest had captured much of the Syrian and Palestinian interior, with much of the Phoenician coast occupied as well. The city of Tyre remained the last major Roman outpost in the region.

Antony, then in Egypt with Cleopatra, did not respond immediately to the Parthian invasion. Though he left Alexandria for Tyre in early 40 BC, when he learned of the civil war between his wife and Octavian , he was forced to return to Italy with his army to secure his position in Rome rather than defeat the Parthians. Ventidius ordered Labienus executed as a traitor and the formerly rebellious Roman soldiers under his command were reincorporated under Antony's control. He then met a Parthian army at the border between Cilicia and Syria, defeating it and killing a large portion of the Parthian soldiers at the Amanus Pass.

Ventidius's actions temporarily halted the Parthian advance and restored Roman authority in the East, forcing Pacorus to abandon his conquests and return to Parthia. In the spring of 38 BC, the Parthians resumed their offensive with Pacorus leading an army across the Euphrates. Ventidius, in order to gain time, leaked disinformation to Pacorus implying that he should cross the Euphrates River at their usual ford. Pacorus did not trust this information and decided to cross the river much farther downstream; this was what Ventidius hoped would occur and gave him time to get his forces ready.

At the Battle of Cyrrhestica , Ventidius inflicted an overwhelming defeat against the Parthians which resulted in the death of Pacorus. Overall, the Roman army had achieved a complete victory with Ventidius' three successive victories forcing the Parthians back across the Euphrates. Ventidius feared Antony's wrath if he invaded Parthian territory, thereby stealing his glory; so instead he attacked and subdued the eastern kingdoms, which had revolted against Roman control following the disastrous defeat of Crassus at Carrhae.

Antiochus tried to make peace with Ventidius, but Ventidius told him to approach Antony directly. After peace was concluded, Antony sent Ventidius back to Rome where he celebrated a triumph , the first Roman to triumph over the Parthians. While Antony and the other Triumvirs ratified the Treaty of Brundisium to redivide the Roman world among themselves, the rebel general Sextus Pompey , the son of Caesar's rival Pompey the Great , was largely ignored. From his stronghold on Sicily , he continued his piratical activities across Italy and blocked the shipment of grain to Rome.

The lack of food in Rome caused the public to blame the Triumvirate and shift its sympathies towards Pompey. This pressure forced the Triumvirs to meet with Sextus in early 39 BC. While Octavian wanted an end to the ongoing blockade of Italy, Antony sought peace in the West in order to make the Triumvirate's legions available for his service in his planned campaign against the Parthians. Though the Triumvirs rejected Sextus' initial request to replace Lepidus as the third man within the Triumvirate, they did grant other concessions.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Misenum , Sextus was allowed to retain control over Sicily and Sardinia , with the provinces of Corsica and Greece being added to his territory. In exchange, Sextus agreed to end his naval blockade of Italy, supply Rome with grain, and halt his piracy of Roman merchant ships.

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Many of the proscribed Senators, rather than face death, fled to Sicily seeking Sextus' protection. With the exception of those responsible for Caesar's assassination, all those proscribed were allowed to return to Rome and promised compensation. This caused Sextus to lose many valuable allies as the formerly exiled Senators gradually aligned themselves with either Octavian or Antony.

To secure the peace, Octavian betrothed his three-year-old nephew and Antony's stepson Marcus Claudius Marcellus to Sextus' daughter Pompeia. Under an agreement with Octavian, Antony would be supplied with extra troops for his campaign. With this military purpose on his mind, Antony sailed to Greece with Octavia, where he behaved in a most extravagant manner, assuming the attributes of the Greek god Dionysus in 39 BC. The peace with Sextus was short lived, however. When Sextus demanded control over Greece as the agreement provided, Antony demanded the province's tax revenues be to fund the Parthian campaign.

Sextus refused. These actions worked to renew Sextus' blockade of Italy, preventing Octavian from sending the promised troops to Antony for the Parthian campaign. This new delay caused Antony to quarrel with Octavian, forcing Octavia to mediate a truce between them. Under the Treaty of Tarentum, Antony provided a large naval force for Octavian's use against Sextus while Octavian promised to raise new legions for Antony to support his invasion of Parthia. To seal the Treaty, Antony's elder son Marcus Antonius Antyllus , then only 6 years old, was betrothed to Octavian's only daughter Julia , then only an infant.

Antony, still in the West negotiating with Octavian, ordered Sosius to depose Antigonus , who had been installed in the recent Parthian invasion as the ruler of Hasmonean Judea , and to make Herod the new Roman client king in the region. Years before in 40 BC, the Roman Senate had proclaimed Herod "King of the Jews" because Herod had been a loyal supporter of Hyrcanus II , Rome's previous client king before the Parthian invasion, and was from a family with long standing connections to Rome.

Advancing south, Sosius captured the island-city of Aradus on the coast of Phoenicia by the end of 38 BC. The following year, the Romans besieged Jerusalem. After a forty-day siege, the Roman soldiers stormed the city and, despite Herod's pleas for restraint, acted without mercy, pillaging and killing all in their path, prompting Herod to complain to Antony. Herod, however, fearing that Antigonus would win backing in Rome, bribed Antony to execute Antigonus. Antony, who recognized that Antigonus would remain a permanent threat to Herod, ordered him beheaded in Antioch.

Now secure on his throne, Herod would rule the Herodian Kingdom until his death in 4 BC, and would be an ever-faithful client king of Rome. Antony, however, realized Octavian had no intention of sending him the additional legions he had promised under the Treaty of Tarentum.

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To supplement his own armies, Antony instead looked to Rome's principal vassal in the East: his lover Cleopatra. In addition to significant financial resources, Cleopatra's backing of his Parthian campaign allowed Antony to amass the largest army Rome had ever assembled in the East. Wintering in Antioch during 37, Antony's combined Roman—Egyptian army numbered some ,, including sixteen legions approximately , soldiers plus an additional 40, auxiliaries.

Antony's rear was protected by Rome's client kingdoms in Anatolia, Syria, and Judea, while the client kingdoms of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Commagene would provide supplies along the march. Antony's first target for his invasion was the Kingdom of Armenia. Canidius then led an invasion into the Transcaucasia , subduing Iberia. There, Canidius forced the Iberian King Pharnavaz II into an alliance against Zober, king of neighboring Albania , subduing the kingdom and reducing it to a Roman protectorate.

Though Antony desired a pitched battle, the Parthians would not engage, allowing Antony to march deep into Parthian territory by mid-August of 36 BC. This forced Antony to leave his logistics train in the care of two legions approximately 10, soldiers , which was then attacked and completely destroyed by the Parthian army before Antony could rescue them.

Though the Armenian King Artavasdes II and his cavalry were present during the massacre, they did not intervene. Despite the ambush, Antony continued the campaign. However, Antony was soon forced to retreat in mid-October after a failed two-month siege of the provincial capital. The retreat soon proved a disaster as Antony's demoralized army faced increasing supply difficulties in the mountainous terrain during winter while constantly being harassed by the Parthian army.

According to the Greek historian Plutarch , eighteen battles were fought between the retreating Romans and the Parthians during the month-long march back to Armenia, with approximately 20, infantry and 4, cavalry dying during the retreat alone. Once in Armenia, Antony quickly marched back to Syria to protect his interests there by late 36 BC, losing an additional 8, soldiers along the way. In all, two-fifths of his original army some 80, men had died during his failed campaign. Meanwhile, in Rome, the triumvirate was no more. Octavian forced Lepidus to resign after the older triumvir attempted to take control of Sicily after the defeat of Sextus.

Now in sole power, Octavian was occupied in wooing the traditional Republican aristocracy to his side. He married Livia and started to attack Antony in order to raise himself to power. He argued that Antony was a man of low morals to have left his faithful wife abandoned in Rome with the children to be with the promiscuous queen of Egypt.

Antony was accused of everything, but most of all, of " going native ", an unforgivable crime to the proud Romans. Several times Antony was summoned to Rome, but remained in Alexandria with Cleopatra. Again with Egyptian money, Antony invaded Armenia, this time successfully. In the return, a mock Roman triumph was celebrated in the streets of Alexandria. The parade through the city was a pastiche of Rome's most important military celebration. For the finale, the whole city was summoned to hear a very important political statement.

Surrounded by Cleopatra and her children, Antony ended his alliance with Octavian. He distributed kingdoms among his children: Alexander Helios was named king of Armenia , Media and Parthia territories which were not for the most part under the control of Rome , his twin Cleopatra Selene got Cyrenaica and Libya , and the young Ptolemy Philadelphus was awarded Syria and Cilicia. Most important of all, Caesarion was declared legitimate son and heir of Caesar. These proclamations were known as the Donations of Alexandria and caused a fatal breach in Antony's relations with Rome.

While the distribution of nations among Cleopatra's children was hardly a conciliatory gesture, it did not pose an immediate threat to Octavian's political position. Far more dangerous was the acknowledgment of Caesarion as legitimate and heir to Caesar's name. Octavian's base of power was his link with Caesar through adoption , which granted him much-needed popularity and loyalty of the legions. The future years will be peaceful, a blessing on the international markets. People will be interested in business rather than cursus honorum.

They will be the years of Caesar Octavius Augustus. He was an implacable accountant. His great oncle knew to check accounts but was not implacable. Gaius Julius Caesar was great because left everybody thinking about the future rather than thinking about everything he had done. I disagree about the his criticism of the dialogue. The dialogue is absolutely incredible. He obviously did not really read the books but skipped through them speed reading.


  1. The Rafters.
  2. Far From Home: Book One?
  3. Paperback Editions.
  4. About the Author!
  5. See a Problem?.
  6. Zum Problem des Naturalismus (German Edition).
  7. The only historical novel that comes anywhere close to being as good as these books is Aztec by Gary Jennings. I guess dialogue is a matter of taste and what sounds natural to one person may sound stilted or forced to another. Pingback: Kindles are not a tool of Satan. I loved all these books especially the first two, whose rich detail was a joy. I would love one on Augustus. Please Coleen xxxxx. AS a professional archaeologist dealing with the period. McCulloch is unsurpassed for recreating the period. I just wanted to let you know, I love your review.

    I found the first books amazing. The later books cover more well known history but the first ones covered a period and characters that were a revelation to me. I read all of the books in the series during a period in which I was having treatment for cancer and it was a comfort to be able to turn to one of these books while in the outpatients department waiting for treatment. It took my mind off it and helped to keep my morale up. I was amazed at how well Colleen McCullough had researched her subject.

    She knows so much about Roman politics, social structure, culture, customs, law etc etc. I learned so much, though that was not my purpose in reading the books. They were just very gripping and a good meaty read. I hope you are well now Marian. Like you I learned so much fron the early novels, which gave such a feeling for how life in the Roman army probably was. Also how natural and immediate she made Roman life and politics. Thank you Barbara. I finished my treatment over 12 years ago. I was astonished at how erudite her work on the Romans was and how much research and immersion she must have done.

    It was such an accomplished and admirable achievement as well as being very absorbing. Reading about some of them felt like reading about the mafia. Living under them must have been frightening for many people I imagine, though people did not live as long then anyway so maybe they had less fear than I imagine. To all my fellow Colleen McCullough readers—I have read the Masters of Rome series 3 times and will probably read thru them a fourth time. Do any of you have any recommendations on an equally epic series within the same ilk?

    I skipped a lot when Caesar was in Gaul. She does everything to make him unsympathetic even though Plutarch liked him a lot and unattractive his statues prove otherwise, honey. Also, she makes sure there is not much love between him and Cassius — their relationship was so touching in Rome and in the play.

    I think the military stuff will appeal to people who like history but perhaps not to people who just enjoy novels. The books are a kind of novelised history, where she sticks to historical fact as far as she can and novelises other aspects. I note that some people seemed annoyed by her apparent love of Julius Caesar and her less than flattering portrait of Mark Anthony but I think her attitude to Julius Caesar may be more one of admiration. His troops certainly regarded him highly at the time.

    He was a very ruthless, effective and efficient military leader and politician, and I can agree that, whilst disliking him for how he treated other lands and peoples and being aware that the Roman leaders were often very greedy and self-serving. You needed great wealth to further a political career to the top levels anyway. History does suggest Mark Anthony was a less good military leader, and just as vain, ruthless and greedy, and certainly he became rather a drunkard by the end of his life. You have to remember they are senior people she is writing about — politicians and military men, educated and from highly distinguished families.

    My husband also loves these books and finds them an astonishing achievement. He is re-reading them at the moment. While at school he won scholarships in Latin and gained merits in special level history. He knows the background and history and he considers these books to be an amazing achievement. Sadly Colleen Mc Cullough died in so there will be no more books from her. Purely my opinion as a reader. Not a historian I cannot speak intelligently the accuracy. I do enjoy historical novels, fascinated by the situations, events, people and societies of another time and place. Recognizing the effort put into into this and my investment, I was determined to plow through if necessary.

    But first I backed up spending considerable time studying all the additional information McCullough provided. And once studied not skimmed, was very impressed. Clearly the subject had been extensively researched and given much thought. She admitted fact versus fiction along with having some bias and explained the directions she chose to take. Fortified I started over at the beginning frequently referring back to the illustrations and descriptions finding it a far easier, faster and enjoyable read becoming quickly engrossed.

    The investment I expected to last quite some time flew by in a Flash and re-read immediately. Shortly after found the Grass Crown published devouring and rereading it only to eagerly awaitit the next. It is interesting the remarks on dialog. Lacking flamboyant drama I viewed events, lifestyles, accepted norms, intriguing details and factual personalities provided quite sufficient drama.

    I cannot see them comparable other than I also think marvelous. Like oranges and lemons both citrus fruits, one is sweet one is tart. I admit I am cautious who I recommend undertaking this series. Sadly I find a great many people prefering to spend 2 hours watching the movie versus read a finely crafted book. Myself a voracious reader grew bored with novels a great many not yet written or published and switched to Natural History in my late twenties also requiring a serious reader being frequently quite dry and not often recommended.

    It was not until testing a new and historical novel by a noted author I returned to give novels a try with The First Man In Rome an outstanding success. Equally engrossing but far more substantial and not rapidly consumed providing insight into a block of time in the timeline of History.

    But a lot of these are matters of personal preference, of course. I really enjoyed both the plays and the trilogy. The Allan Massie books are older, and so may be harder to find. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Compulsive Overreader. Skip to content. Home Hypergraffiti. Share this: Twitter Facebook.

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