ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Friends, Lovers and Blood: Mark Antony, Cleopatra and Octavian

Updated on November 18, 2013

The Second Triumvirate

Antony, Octavian and Lepidus captured in stone.
Antony, Octavian and Lepidus captured in stone.

43 BC: The Second Triumvirate is Born

On the 27th of November, in 43 B.C., the Second Triumvirate was signed into law.

This signing represented the official consummation of a pact of military and political convenience between Octavian (the 'heir' for lack of a better term to the leadership of Rome since Caesar was assassinated) Mark Antony, who had managed the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Julius Caesar and butted heads often with Octavian, and the odd-man out, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus..the then Governor of Spain.

Together, these three men would lead a bloody streak of revenge killings against those thought to conspire and partake in the assassination plot and lead a campaign against the two major players who escaped after killing Julius, Brutus and Cassius.

Of course, history tells us that this triumvirate was flawed and would end up collapsing from within. But the road to that point, and the eventual downfall of Mark Antony in particular, provides some interesting historical reading.

But before the betrayal and dramatic events of later years comes the period wherein all three men worked to seek out those that they feel had betrayed Rome and its citizens, and leave their own trail of blood along the way. It began with a hit-list.

The List and the Battle of Philippi

The Second Triumvirate was compelled to create a list, in the end totaling 300 Roman senators and almost 2,000 equestrians (the 'upper-crust' folks, to put it in common vernacular).

They were ruthless in their elimination of those who may have supported the change of regime and the death of Julius Caesar. However, not everything was truly about righteous revenge. The three men who made up the triumvirate had 43 legions of soldiers between them, so they ended up needing extra land and funds to support those troops.

Eventually the elimination of those who supported the assassin's led to the assassin's themselves. Mark Antony and Octavian left Lepidus in charge of Italy in 42 BC, and went to Greece to eliminate Cassius and Brutus. The Battle of Phillipi involved Antony leading (Octavian, while competent, was not a better general than Antony) and defeating Cassius's troops in the first round, leading Cassius to commit suicide.

Three weeks later Antony met Brutus in combat, and defeated hims as well. This led to yet another suicide, this by Brutus in the face of defeat.

After the Battle of Philippi, the Second Triumvirate faced internal squabbles and infighting, eventually beginning to weaken the foundation that would lead to a major clash between the former political partners.

Brutus at Philippi

A dramatic image depicting the Battle of Philipi
A dramatic image depicting the Battle of Philipi

Mark Antony

A detailed bust of Mark Antony.
A detailed bust of Mark Antony.

The Road to Conflict

Mark Antony's main problem after the Battle of Philippi was dealing with the recovery of the Eastern possession's of Rome.

In particular, Antony had a keen desire to conquer Parthia, which was Caesar's next campaign before he was assassinated. Antony encountered Cleopatra during his preparation to invade Parthia, in which he demanded her presence as to why she supported Cassius on his departure from Rome.

She appeared, and to put it mildly, blew Antony away. He was quite smitten with her, but he had some other problems to think about. In an act of smoothing things over between himself and Octavian he married his sister, Octavia. However, he left Octavia and his children in 37 BC and ran off with Cleopatra. He fell in love, and had children with her.

Antony went onto conquer most of the Eastern territories. However, his invasion of Parthis was a bust. He lost 22,000 soldiers and while he still had an army, he was dependent upon Cleopatra's resources to support them. Not only that, he divorced Octavia in 35 BC, and officially removed all ties to Octavian as well.

Octavian was by this time annoyed and angered by Antony, and the next straw thrown by Antony and Cleopatra would officially break the camel's back.

Antony's End

Things came to a head in 34 BC, when Antony declared Caesarion, the son of Julius Caesar by Cleopatra, to be the true heir to the Roman Empire. He then married Cleopatra in 33 BC, and began to divide up the Eastern Roman provinces among her children.

Finally, in a casual event, Antony and Cleopatra issued coins which proclaimed them both as rulers and, by proxy, rightful leaders (or parents of said leaders) to the Roman empire. Octavian was furious.

Octavian dissolved the Second Triumvirate officially (it was already quite weak) and gave up his powers and vested responsibilities. Despite the political ramifications therein (and the subsequent abandonment of Rome by many senators) Octavian led a public relations campaign that published Antony's will, which listed Caesarion as the true heir of Rome. Despite the validity of this document never being ascertained, it led to numerous Roman cities across the West to align with Octavian.

In 31 BC, Octavian gained the title of Consul and the necessary votes in the Senate to declare war on Antony and Cleopatra. In September of that year, Antony's forces were cut off from their supplies in the Battle of Actium and forced to surrender.

In light of that defeat, both Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Octavian was now the ruler of Egypt, and in turn, Rome.


The Battle of Actium

A painting depicting the naval engagement during the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.
A painting depicting the naval engagement during the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

The Victor

A statue depicting Augustus in his later years.
A statue depicting Augustus in his later years.

Aftermath

Octavian had his cousin, Caesarion, killed (thus removing the only real obstacle to his political power) and made Egypt an official Roman province.

Octavian would eventually adopt the moniker or Augustus, and lead the Roman republic onto a path of internal rebuilding after the years of division and infighting. But the legacy of Antony and the failed Second Triumvirate should not be so readily forgotten.

The lack of any ability to adequately share the responsibility of policing and maintaining the Roman Empire would eventually lead to many of the practices and social programs the Romans would be best known for today. With Augustus remaining as the sole inheritor of the power, he would have the freedom to continue his efforts as he saw fit.

What if Antony had won? Would Egypt have become the new home of the Roman Empire, leaving Italy and possibly Europe as second fiddle to North Africa? Obviously we will never truly know, but it is certainly worth pondering.

The failed affair between Antony and Cleopatra paints a romantic tale that has been ripe for plays, film and poetry. But the truth of the matter requires painting it less in the light of love, and more in the shadow of politics.

With Octavian's success, a new era of the Roman Empire had begun, and history would be altered forever.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)