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The Early Career of Marcus Antonius

Posted May 22nd, 2016 at 10:46 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga
Updated January 19th, 2017 at 08:22 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga

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Little is truly known about this man Mark Antony other than that which Augustus and the Roman Empire wanted to be known. Indeed he is more a painful memory in the back of the Empire’s mind, the amphora which Augustus sought to break apart when he needed to redecorate his legacy. For centuries he remained a phantom which haunted every alley in Roman history and whose giant statues left a colossal void in the temples of Egypt after his and Cleopatra’s memories were summarily executed. If one were to ask themselves what would have been of Julius Caesar had he lost the war or if Antony had not defeated Brutus then the very answer would be staring across at him from the very pages of history. Julius Caesar would be Antony, simple as that. Instead the picture that we get of Marcus Antonius is one of an incompetent and uncivilized man who allowed himself to be bewitched by the powers of an Eastern woman. This man Antony was none other than the would be king whom along with his Eastern hordes was vanquished by the might of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus and peace was finally restored to the Republic if only when this traitorous obstacle was removed. When one removes the accumulated dust from centuries of propaganda and misinformation the true remains show a much more competent and complicated individual. Admittedly Antony was human, all too human and this may have been the reason for his downfall. But if one were to look past the paintings of Cicero’s glib tongue and Augustus’ masterful rewriting of history, then it would be impossible to acknowledge that such a person (if truly an imbecile) could make themselves master of half the known world and force the ruler of the other half to bend the knee. How was it that Octavian came to power and what were the exact circumstances by which Antony created such a fearsome reputation only to fall from grace practically overnight? Marcus Antonius would prove himself a very level headed military commander, a gifted orator and a rather decent administrator but proved that he did not grasp Roman politics or intrigue despite having experienced success in this area.

Starting in the East

Marcus Antonius, son of Marcus, grandson of Marcus was born on the soon to be inauspicious day of January 14, 83 BC (alternatively March is considered as a birth date). Having been born into the gens Antonia he and his family were almost as obscure as the gens Julia were by this late period of the Republic. His mother Julia Antonia was a cousin of Julius Caesar and his father Marcus Antonius Creticus had survived the turbulent years between Marius, Sulla, Cinna and Carbo (although his own father had not) when Marcus Antonius was still an infant. Creticus had gained some power during the rise and fall of Sulla, although otherwise considered incompetent and his misfortunes came full circle when he died and failed in a campaign against Cretan pirates in 71 BC. To care for Marcus, Lucius and Gaius their mother married Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura whose patrician ties supported them for a while. This soon came to be the brunt of their misfortunes as Sura was to be executed for his part in the Catiline conspiracy (along with the dead and disgraced Catiline) by Cicero in 63 BC. However many among the Popular party had denounced Cicero’s act as unconstitutional; Metellus Nepo and Caesar fought Cicero and Cato bitterly and even suggested that Pompey be recalled from the East to restore order. It was not successful and many such as Caesar were blacklisted as “co-conspirators” but Caesar and the others of the Popular party gained the approval of much of the populace. Caesar could not be defeated and called upon Cicero to prove his own innocence, saying that he had warned the Senate of the conspiracy that was afoot and despite all of this the remaining conspirators (including Marcus Antonius’ father Sura) were executed. For the death of his father it appears that Marcus Antonius gained an overbearing grudge that would one day give Cicero his own taste of misfortunes. Growing up in an unruly environment and amidst gangs and scandal the young Antony fled to Greece to escape his creditors. In Greece he learned philosophy, oratory, the crafts of a warrior and perhaps it was at this time that the young man learned of Alexander and his military campaigns in detail. As a military commander Antony sought to emulate the techniques of Alexander and Julius Caesar; Antony showed that if he wished he could disappear and run circles around an enemy as Caesar and Hannibal had done or he could make himself an unstoppable military machine that could decimate an opponent by crashing directly into them as both Caesar and Alexander had been able to do. It seems rather clear that Antony molded himself after Alexander the conqueror of the East and Caesar, who even as early as this time in Caesar's career Antony may have idolized him. Ironically it was at this time that Antony was first called into military service by the proconsul of Syria, Aulus Gabinius in the year 57 BC.

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus had defeated the remnants of the Seleucid Empire and overthrown Aristobulus II of Judea and placed Hyrcanus II as High Priest by 63 BC. By now (57 BC) Hyrcanus had faced a major uprising by his rival Alexander of Judea and fled to Aulus Gabinius to put him back into power. Gabinius persuaded Antony to take up military duty for the first time and was almost immediately placed in command as chief of the cavalry troops (many of which were Gallic mercenaries):
“When Gabinius, a man of consular dignity, was sailing for Syria, he tried to persuade Antony to join the expedition. Antony refused to go out with him in a private capacity, but on being appointed commander of the horse, accompanied him on the campaign. And first, having been sent against Aristobulus, who was bringing the Jews to a revolt, he was himself the first man to mount the highest of the fortifications, and drove Aristobulus from all of them; then he joined battle with him, routed his many times more numerous forces with his own small band, and slew all but a few of them. Aristobulus himself was captured, together with his son” - Plutarch

Indeed, Gabinius arrived and replaced the failed general Scaurus in order to put down this revolt and advanced down into Judea where Alexander had already begun rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. With 10,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, Alexander sought to fortify his position to guard the environs of Jerusalem with the fortresses of Hyrcania, Machaerus and Alexandreum. Gabinius and Antony advanced on Jerusalem; Roman cavalry, Gallic auxilia and Jewish auxilia formed a vanguard under Mark Antony and met Alexander's forces to the north of Jerusalem and upon the arrival of the main body under Gabinius they pushed Alexander back closer to Jerusalem. Here Alexander made another attempt to hold ground and halted the retreat but was defeated and he lost 6,000 of his men whereupon Alexander chose to retreat to Alexandreum. When Alexander would not surrender even with a promise of pardon, Gabinius and Antony easily defeated the Jewish positions outside of Alexandreum and besieged the fortress. Gabinius took the bulk of his army to take other forts and cities across the country and left Antony to reduce Alexander in Alexandreum (near the north of the Dead Sea) as well as Hyrcania and Machaerus. After reducing all of those others Gabinius returned to help Antony's siege and finally Alexander surrendered and allowed Hyrcania and Machaerus to surrender as well.

While the leaders of revolt against Hyrcanus were defeated Aristobulus (the father of Alexander) escaped from his captivity and raised more rebels and their armies still roamed the country. Aristobulus and his rebels took Alexandreum but when Mark Antony, Sisenna and Servilius (with their contingent) attacked him, he was forced to retreat to Machaerus with 8,000 men while the rest dispersed. In a battle outside Machaerus Aristobulus offered a fierce battle but lost 5,000 men. 2,000 of the remaining sought safety in a nearby hill and the other 1,000 fought through enemy lines to enter Machaerus where they fortified their position. After two days of resistance the fort was easily overcome and captured. Mark Antony had overseen Aristobulus' defeat and the rebellion had ended. Antony however was neither overly aggressive nor intolerant towards the Jews and this would allow him further success later on. As Aulus Gabinius and Marcus Antonius placed Hyrcanus back in power and although Gabinius was responsible for organizing the campaign much of the credit for the victory must ultimately go to Mark Antony.

The Debauchery of Aulus Gabinius
Ptolemy XII Auletes expected to be the last of the Ptolemaic pharaohs. The past decadence of that kingdom had provided the Roman Republic to gain a new province as per the will of Ptolemy XI Alexander. Rather than hand over the country to Rome, Ptolemy XII Auletes seized the throne, travelled to Rome and paid large bribes to Pompey and Caesar (among many other senators). As the negotiations took place over many years and many travels between Rome and Alexandria his daughter Berenice and her husband Archelaus of Cappadocia (High Priest of Comana) seized control of Egypt in 58 BC. Ptolemy XII Auletes fled to Rome and asked to be placed on the throne. Cato recalled the prophecy of the Sibylline Book (in response to the ill omen of the statue of Jupiter upon the Alban hill being struck by lightning) “If the King of Egypt requests aid, neither deny him friendship nor assist him with a great force”, lest great suffering and dangers overcome the Roman Republic. Aulus Gabinius did not believe that his small army constituted a great force and upon receiving 10,000 talents from Ptolemy he was swayed to lead this campaign. Caesar and Antony as well may have befriended this pharaoh thus further convincing Gabinius who trusted in Antony’s counsel. Antony considered the promising adventure, his share of the 10,000 talents as well as an opportunity to see the Greek city of Alexandria. Having gathered roughly 2 to 4 legions in Gaza, Gabinius ordered Antony to lead his contingent across the desert and capture the border town of Pelusium in the autumn of 56 BC. In only two days of hard riding he crossed Raphia thence upon the desert road through Rhinokolura (El Arish) and made it by nightfall to Pelusium. After a brief siege the town fell to Antony’s cavalry and Antony secured their honourable treatment from Ptolemy, who otherwise would have the garrison executed for treason. The whole army then advanced upon Alexandria with Antony leading the vanguard and swatting away any small Egyptian units that happened to be lurking along their advance. On their first encounter with the Egyptian army and their mercenaries, provided by the very rich Archelaus of Cappadocia, the Roman army was locked into a standstill. Antony however led his cavalry troops along the flanks and into the Egyptian rear causing them to rout completely. Continuing onto Alexandria the army faced Archelaus yet again on the outskirts of Alexandria near to the sea and a branch of the Nile. In this battle the Egyptians were destroyed completely and Archelaus died in combat, Antony desperately searched for his body and gave him a funeral (as he may have been a friend of Antony in the past) despite Ptolemy’s protests. Without any army to protect her Berenice was forced to surrender after a minor siege of Alexandria. Out of rage from her father she was executed and Cleopatra became her and their father’s successor. It was here in Alexandria where Antony met the very young Cleopatra for the first time and also where he first made a reputation in Egypt.

Previously during the year of 57 BC Mithridates and Orodes murdered their father Phraates III of Parthia. The killing of the Parthian king started a civil war between Mithridates III and his brother Orodes II. Mithridates had been successful in claiming the throne however the chief military commander and powerful noble, Monaeses of the Surena (who shall play a much larger role in the story) had countered him by recalling Orodes with the help of much of the nobility to reclaim the throne. Orodes II and Surena were able to push Mithridates III into Medea and finally managed to get him to leave his Parthian territories. Mithridates fled to Gabinius who promised to support him in his bid for the Parthian throne and on their way there Gabinius changed his mind and returned to Syria after Mithridates crossed the Euphrates. It was the gold of Ptolemy that had caught Gabinius’ eye and he preferred that over leading military campaigns which might not grant him any glory or riches. Mithridates’ success seemed short lived now that he had lost the support of his Roman patron even though he had captured Mesopotamia. He pushed the forces of Orodes II out of the region, restoring his kingship and minting coins in his name. This was met by a quick response on behalf of Surena and Orodes II and his forces were besieged in Babylon and Seleucia finally defeated and executed; by 54 BC Orodes could claim sole kingship over the Arsacids. Gabinius established himself practically as a dictator in Syria; receiving money, promising support to two kingdoms and using the province for his personal gain. After letting down Mithridates then restoring Ptolemy Auletes he returned with Antony to put down minor revolts near Jerusalem at the start of 55 BC.

In 55 BC it was decided that Pompey and Crassus ought to be elected as consuls, Crassus would replace Gabinius as governor of Syria, Pompey would reside in Rome despite becoming governor of Hispania and that Caesar would remain in Gaul as he had done since 58 BC. Gabinius was bitter over his removal in Syria and even more so when Cato began to cry out over charges of defying the gods or corruption. The Conservative faction enlisted the help of Cato to prosecute Aulus Gabinius and after making Gabinius’ defense difficult by Cicero’s rants Pompey opted to intervene on Gabinius’ side. Caesar as well had been angered by Cicero’s prosecution and by the possibility of not just Gabinius falling into the pit that he wrote to Cicero demanding that he become the defense attorney. Eager to please Caesar, Cicero acceded to those demands and Aulus Gabinius was declared innocent. As for Antony, Caesar bypassed any possibility for his prosecution by ordering him to report to Caesar’s camp in Gaul as a military officer immediately, without having to enter Rome Antony was spared. The prospect of serving under Caesar in the newly formed province of Gaul gave Antony’s departure some high hopes at the start of 54 BC.

Family Ties: Caesar in Gaul
In 58 BC when the Suebi, Arverni, Sequani and Aedui tribes attacked the Helvetii and forced them to migrate from their lands in Gallia Cisalpina; these tribes had been fighting against the Helvetii since 63 BC and well before there was a strong Roman presence in Gaul. The Helvetii migrated to the south west into the lands of the Aedui (who were then also defeated by these Germanic tribes at Magetobriga) but because the Helvetii attempted to cross through Roman territory, which was guarded by only one legion, Caesar was able to use this as a pretext to bring 3 legions into the area and make an alliance with the Aedui and attack the Germanic invaders. The Verbigeni clan, which survived the Roman victory at the Bibracte River, was settled by the Romans near Geneva and became a buffer state between Rome and the Germanic tribes. After the defeat of the Helvetii incursions other Gallic tribes such as the Aedui and Arverni were impressed with Caesar’s display of power and asked him to stop the Suebi from crossing the Rhine and joining with their allies the Sequani and Harudes. The Suebi became a powerful tribe after defeating the Helvetii to the extent that they began crossing the Rhine, with what Caesar claimed was one hundred clans aside from the 120,000 people that were already to the north of the Alps. Now that the Gallic tribes began to pressure Caesar about the oncoming Suebi, Caesar was able to present the Senate with an excuse to destroy Ariovistus’ power. The Gallic chiefs feared the Suebi and so they were putting themselves under the protection of Caesar. In other words the threat of the Helvetii and Suebi had been so strong that the other Gauls put themselves into Caesar’s power and Caesar did not have to lift his hand against them. In the same year of 58 BC Caesar marched his army and allies to Vesontio in the Northern Alps and defeated Ariovistus, who was forced to flee back into Germania. By the year 57 BC it became quite clear that Caesar had created Roman hegemony among the Gallic tribes and that he was using a strategy of dividing the Gauls into rivaled and allied factions in order to conquer them. Caesar again found a conflict between Gallic tribes in Belgica when the Nervii, Viromandui, Atrebates and Aduatuci made an alliance with the other tribes of Belgica for an attack on the Remi and besieged their fortress of Bibrax. Caesar led a force of eight legions to relieve the Remi of their enemies and forced the surrender of the coalition except for the four main tribes. The four tribes ambushed Caesar’s army while they were crossing the Sambre but the allied Belgae tribes were still defeated. After the defeat of the Belgae, Caesar had subdued most of Gaul and needed to change his political policy to that of consolidation. To further increase his power over Gaul Caesar needed to defeat any of the remaining tribes that still opposed Roman rule. To that end Caesar invaded the Veneti of western Gaul (in Brittany). The Veneti had been attempting to make allies with the tribes that were discontent with Roman rule and so Caesar made war upon them before any serious coalition against him was able to gather. But to those tribes that were allied to Rome Caesar needed to pursue a different policy in order to keep them on the Roman side. Since Caesar had become the strongest force in Gaul many tribes depended on him for their security from the Germanic tribes. To demonstrate his power Caesar ordered the construction of bridges over the Rhine to raid the Suebi lands in 55 BC. There were also attacks on the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes of southern Britain as well as Celt-Iberian tribes in the Pyrenees from 55 to 54 BC; Caesar claimed that these tribes had been supplying his enemies with arms and warriors. These campaigns were punitive in nature and the gains from them were political but because of them Caesar was able to gain a reputation as a powerful conqueror… both among the Gauls and the people of Rome, to put it in a phrase “Semper Vincens”.

That was the situation in which Antony found himself when he took up his post in Gaul as the Lieutenant on Caesar’s staff at the start of the autumn in 54 BC. The situation in Rome was quite similar; Cicero was singing his praises, the people recalled when Gaius Marius had defeated the incursions of the Cimbri and Caesar was nothing less than a conquering hero. The popularity of Pompey (whose wife Julia had just recently died) but also that of the aristocratic factions seemed almost second rate. In stark contrast trouble was brewing on the front and due to the poor harvests in 54 BC (at the same time Marcus Antonius was arriving) there was a sudden discontent among the Gauls. Caesar having just returned from Britain was forced to split up his army to occupy multiple lands in the north of Gaul. That winter Ambiorix of the Eburones in Belgica rose up against the Romans. A couple of legions were ambushed and defeated by Ambiorix however Caesar’s tribunes were able to regroup with other legions of the area to finally put down this revolt which occupied them throughout the entire year. Caesar however was busier trying to keep the tribes from starting an all out revolt in the heartland of the conquered territory. Even more bad news had arrived; in the summer of 53 BC Marcus Licinius Crassus and his son Publius (who at one time served with Caesar in Gaul) had both been killed along with the greater part of seven legions at Carrhae. Crassus and Publius had been unfortunate enough to cross the Euphrates into what seemed to be ideal terrain for the Parthians and their horses. More than that the north of Mesopotamia was the personal fief of the very powerful Monaeses of the Surena clan and with his own 10,000 horsemen he had been able to inflict a defeat which would practically set Rome’s fortunes in the region into stone. Finally the reinforcements meant to combat Crassus had arrived and Monaeses then proceeded to invade the Armenians (who schemed with the Romans against the Arsacids) giving them a major defeat, undoing the victories of Lucullus and Pompey against Tigranes and forcing Artavasdes II of Armenia to marry his daughter to Prince Pacorus. When all was said and done Orodes II had removed Monaeses out of command, seemingly out of jealousy, even though Plutarch claims “For not long after this Hyrodes became jealous of the reputation of Surena, and put him to death” which does not appear to be the case. Only Gaius Cassius Longinus at the head of some 10,000 troops crossed the Euphrates alive, these survivors which would have to quickly scramble to defend Syria against Prince Pacorus who led a consecutive invasion of that province in 51 BC. Cassius was able to defeat Pacorus at Antioch and kill his general Osakes before the start of the Roman Civil War in 50 BC. Crassus’ death was a terrible blow to Roman security in the East and the Triumvirate was effectively over while Pompey and Caesar’s alliance hinged on a thread. Things continued to look bleak for the Romans so long as the Gallic peoples resented having to pay tribute and to harbor the Roman soldiers in their lands. This almost universal feeling throughout northern Gaul provided for some ripe dissent which could be harnessed by the right leader and the right cause. For Antony himself it was time to report to Rome after a year’s service in Gaul as his patron, Julius Caesar, instructed him to do. There he became an active member of the “Populares” faction and was promoted to the rank of Quaestor for the year of 52 BC. Antony was quickly recalled and ordered to aid Caesar having arrived in Gaul around the autumn of that same year he was elected Quaestor, he was dispatched with all due haste to aid Caesar at Alesia.

It was the rise of Vercingetorix with which the Gallic people presented a united front against the Romans (his father had supposedly been the top chieftain of the entire Arverni). Indeed it was Vercingetorix that presented himself as the strongest and most successful opponent that Caesar had to face in Gaul. According to Caesar, Vercingetorix began his career by gathering a force of Gallic warriors from among the many Gallic tribes. With this force he was able to make himself King of the Arverni in Gergovia and even tried to extend his power over all of Gaul itself by bringing other Gallic chieftains onto his side. At the start of Vercingetorix’s revolt he sought to defeat the Romans in pitched battles. In the winter of 52 BC Vercingetorix began hostilities by attacking the Roman allies, the Aedui, and besieged their oppida at Gorgobina. The decision to attack the Romans and their allies in winter allowed for Vercingetorix to seize the initiative as the Romans were not used to campaigning in the winter. Caesar reacted quickly by marching southwards to defeat and capture Vellaunodunum, Cenabum and laying siege to the town of Noviodunum, forcing its garrison to surrender. Vercingetorix chose to abandon the siege of Gorgobina and moved to fight Caesar at Noviodunum. The Gauls attacked Caesar with their cavalry outside of the town and were winning the battle but Caesar ordered his own cavalry to outflank Vercingetorix and forced him into a retreat. It was at this point that Vercingetorix decided to avoid direct confrontation with the Romans and turn the struggle into a war of attrition. Similarly Caesar was all the more decided that Vercingetorix and his army needed to be completely defeated, lest his allies lose faith in him and rebel as well. During the same winter Vercingetorix began a retreat to his capital at Gergovia and implemented a strategy of scorched earth in both the country side and any villages or cities that they came across in Central Gaul. This destructive policy prevented the Romans from foraging and denied them the necessary food supplies and shelter from the cold. But along the Gallic retreat Vercingetorix came across the large town of Avaricum and chose not to burn it; this decision may have been prompted by the notion that the town was too heavily fortified for the Romans to take but also to avoid any insult against the Bituriges tribe, which disagreed with the scorched earth policies. This may have been the most crucial point of the campaign and the biggest mistake committed by Vercingetorix.

With Avaricum intact the Romans were able to set up an extensive network of walls and siege towers and take the fortress by storm. Now Caesar had captured ample supplies and a base of operations amidst the devastated territory which the Romans would have been forced to march through. With Avaricum as a starting point the Romans were able to wait until September of 52 BC in order to continue their march eastwards and lay siege to Vercingetorix’s capital at Gergovia. Caesar captured a small fort that was on top of a hill outside of Gergovia as this hill controlled the water supply into the city and tried to fortify his position by building siege works. Vercingetorix countered the Roman success by bribing the Aedui to turn on Caesar. The result of which was the destruction of Caesar’s supply lines and an attack upon Caesar’s flank. The disaster forced Caesar to leave two legions atop the hill and take four legions to surround the Aedui (his former allies). Again Vercingetorix committed a blunder, this time he failed to attack Caesar’s rear while he was busy facing the Aedui. Vercingetorix may have had the chance to destroy the Roman army once and for all but chose the more cautious approach. Instead the Gallic army attacked the two legions on the hill in order to secure the high ground and end Caesar’s siege. Caesar rushed to save his two legions and diverted some forces to the Gallic camp as a decoy attack. The spur of victory filled Caesar’s men and they risked attacking the Gallic camps and the city simultaneously without having been ordered by Caesar who was now anxious to order a retreat, only to find themselves repulsed by a Gallic counter attack. After being able to pull back in a fighting retreat the Romans lost 700 men and a further 6,000 were injured. Despite the setback for the Roman army, Vercingetorix had also suffered heavy losses and decided that he could no longer hold Gergovia. Instead Vercingetorix sacrificed his scorched earth campaign and his ability to stay mobile and attack the Roman army as well as his ability to resupply. He retreated further eastward to hold out in Alesia with the hope that he could outlast Caesar and force the Romans to withdraw when the winter arrived. Quite the contrary, Caesar did not intend to withdraw and sought to hold the Gauls in Alesia. Caesar built a wall of circumvallation around Alesia to keep the Gauls from coming out. He also expected Gallic reinforcements, so he built a wall of contravallation around himself to fortify his camp. Both of these siege works were much larger than the ones built at Gergovia and extended for over 21 kilometres. As starvation began to overcome the town of Alesia a Gallic army could be seen advancing in the distance. This was the relief army that Vercingetorix needed and was led by Commius, chief of the Atrebates as well as Virodomarus, Epoderix and Vercasivellaunus. The flaw with any Gallic plan by then was that the network of walls prevented the Gauls from joining forces. There would always be the army of Caesar between the two armies and prevent them from putting up an effective fight. Almost as if to prove this point Commius attacked two parts of the western walls and Vercingetorix did likewise from the inside. Marcus Antonius and Gaius Trebonius were able to hold sections of the wall with a cavalry charge into the Gallic ranks. After three days of hard fighting by both sides in the day and at night and all around these fortifications, Caesar led a desperate attack outside of the walls to attack Commius. The Roman reserves smashed into the front ranks of the Gauls and were able to hold the line throughout much of their defense zone. The Gauls even breached a weak spot of the defense (led by Vercasivellaunus, brother of Vercingetorix) and a cavalry attack by Titus Labienus was just able to stop the Gauls from exploiting the breach. Things remained precarious until Caesar decided to risk his remaining cavalry; a quick charge of massed cavalry led by Caesar himself destroyed Commius’ flank and initially dispersed his troops and then finally forced him to retreat. Now that the Romans were able to concentrate entirely on Vercingetorix’s attacks from the inside, they were easily able to push back his troops. The massive battle resulted in the surrender of Vercingetorix and the end of major Gallic resistance to Roman control of the province.

With the astonishing victory at Alesia having come to pass and Marcus Antonius proving himself as an able officer for two years Caesar made him one of his legates for the year 51. The defeat of Vercingetorix’s destructive rebellion having been put down (by equally destructive means) was not the end of Roman activity in the new provinces. Multiple rebellions had now sparked among tribes all across Gaul. These were not of the same scale as the previous revolt but would in any case have to be put down so as to avoid a repetition of those events. Caesar himself had defeated a Bellovaci revolt in the north through ambush and then had gone to the southern part of Gaul to defeat the Carduci and Senones before they gathered any more tribes to their cause. Antony on the other hand was ordered to go near Belgica and with two legions defeat the Gallic guerillas in that area. Commius of the Atrebates had fled across the Rhine and operated in that region. In fact it was him who had persuaded the Bellovaci to rebel against Caesar and it was still him who had been gathering small warbands from Belgica and across the Rhine for him to continue his raiding against the Romans. Antony had sought out to find Commius and upon encountering his warbands he ordered his cavalry officer Volusenus to chase down the fleeing tribesmen. Antony’s cavalry was able to keep up with Commius’ warband and defeat them in a cavalry skirmish despite not capturing Commius himself. Antony’s policing action in the north was successful and he was more than able to pacify the region. Commius was forced to admit defeat and accepted Antony’s terms, in exchange Commius was allowed to cross the channel and live out the rest of his days as a warlord in Brittania, far away from the Romans and their legions.

It was during these years that Mark Antony had become one of Caesar’s confidential officers and served alongside many others who would play a major role later in his life or in the immediate events surrounding Caesar. Men such as Lucius Munatius Plancus, Gaius Trebonius, Aulus Hirtius, Gaius Matius, Quintus Tullius Cicero, Lucius Cornelius Balbus Minor, Gaius Scribonius Curio, Publius Cornelius Dolabella and Gaius Asinius Pollio. From now on there would be Caesar and Antony and even through the ups and downs Mark Antony would remain a loyal man. The young man known as Marcus Antonius had experienced hardship, a taste of the glory and would soon enough be able to have a taste of power as well. He would rise with Caesar even more than he already had and benefit greatly from Caesar’s patronage. When fate saw it that Caesar would be ripped apart it would be up to Antony how much more he would rise or survive on his own or else be swallowed up by the abyss of the Roman aristocracy. He crossed the Rubicon, he fought in Caesar’s name and he would put Caesar to sleep.
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  1. Old Comment
    TotalAaron's Avatar
    Nice write up mate, very interesting.
    Posted May 23rd, 2016 at 03:42 AM by TotalAaron TotalAaron is offline
  2. Old Comment
    WhatAnArtist's Avatar
    Very fascinating and entertaining read. I honestly didn't know much at all about Antony's life prior to his service in Gaul, so reading about his own early adventures in the East (far more successful than his later ones) was very interesting.
    Posted June 8th, 2016 at 06:32 AM by WhatAnArtist WhatAnArtist is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
    Glad you guys enjoyed it. I might write another one around the topic of Caesar's death up to the Battle of Philippi.
    Then I might do another one about the wars in Italy and the increase of Octavian's power up to the campaign against Parthia. If I make it that far only then will I consider doing one about Actium.
    Posted June 27th, 2016 at 09:35 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga Lord Oda Nobunaga is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Yordie's Avatar
    Well written and enlightening.
    Posted January 17th, 2017 at 10:17 AM by Yordie Yordie is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Dios's Avatar
    I have a copy of "The Life and Times of Cleopatra Queen of Egypt" by Arthur E.P. Brome Weigall. He was an archeologist at Howard Carter time (roughly). He claims to reference a diary of Dioscorides Phacas, Cleopatra's personal physician. He documents personal episodes during the time Cleopatra and Antony were married.

    He talks about the pair knocking on doors in the middle of the night and running away. Antony loved fishing but was having a bad day: Cleopatra had a diver attach a salted herring to his line.

    There's quite a bit of this stuff that makes them just "people" that enjoyed each other. I'm fascinated to see what the original text says, as opposed to this second source.


    BTW: The writing in this book is just awful. Perhaps it was the standard of the day, in 1920. Here's a sample: "People must needs wear thick clothing, and must study the barometer before taking their promenades." --- I think that's what I do with my dogs. I check the thermometer before taking them on their promenade.
    Posted March 14th, 2017 at 06:32 PM by Dios Dios is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
    Originally Posted by Dios View Comment
    I have a copy of "The Life and Times of Cleopatra Queen of Egypt" by Arthur E.P. Brome Weigall. He was an archeologist at Howard Carter time (roughly). He claims to reference a diary of Dioscorides Phacas, Cleopatra's personal physician. He documents personal episodes during the time Cleopatra and Antony were married.

    He talks about the pair knocking on doors in the middle of the night and running away. Antony loved fishing but was having a bad day: Cleopatra had a diver attach a salted herring to his line.

    There's quite a bit of this stuff that makes them just "people" that enjoyed each other. I'm fascinated to see what the original text says, as opposed to this second source.


    BTW: The writing in this book is just awful. Perhaps it was the standard of the day, in 1920. Here's a sample: "People must needs wear thick clothing, and must study the barometer before taking their promenades." --- I think that's what I do with my dogs. I check the thermometer before taking them on their promenade.
    I've never heard of Dioscorides nor Arthur E.P. Brome Weigall. However I have heard of the fishing anecdote before. I have also heard other anecdotes for example Antony and Cleopatra liked to tell stories to their guests and at court they only spoke Greek. It does look as if Antony was in many ways an Eastern or more specifically Hellenistic/Greek monarch rather than a Roman politician.
    Posted March 20th, 2017 at 03:52 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga Lord Oda Nobunaga is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Dios's Avatar
    I got the wrong physician. Plutarch's description of Cleopatra's death names "Olympus" as her physician who published a document about it. Plutarch also has the fishing incident.

    I don't know how valid either of these interpretations are. I've seen discussions exactly as you describe "Hellenistic Monarch." I've also seen discussions that imply that Antony didn't stop being Roman, but rather "adopted" Hellenistic customs to be politically correct in Egypt.

    In Medieval times, Arabs published translations of Egyptian papyruses of the 1st century BCE. I have some references about Cleopatra, they're 180 degrees from the Roman attitude of her. I wonder what they say about Antony?

    Antony was a Roman icon before Cleopatra. In the same way Romans historians demonized Cleopatra, wouldn't it serve their purpose to make Antony "decadent" ... or, at least, abandon being an iconic Roman? Make him something less? What I'm saying is that Romans would see "Hellenistic" govt as something less than "Roman".

    Posted March 20th, 2017 at 04:19 PM by Dios Dios is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
    Yes Antony was very maligned and slighted as I think even his ineptitude was grossly exaggerated.

    Antony was still very much a Roman but I think he was a Hellenophile. Like many affluent citizens he went to Greece to receive instruction in philosophy among other things. Again, this was is not unheard of as Julius Caesar did similarly and even visited Anatolia taking the time to serve in the Mithridatic Wars.

    However in the case of Antony he did seem to be a complete Hellenophile in many ways. He was also not an adept player of Roman politics which probably led him to take up a role as a sort of Hellenistic monarch when he set out to govern his portion of the empire and during his time in Alexandria. He did not cease to be Roman but his love for Greek culture sort of came to the fore in this environment.

    To the locals he was still Roman but he did not go out of his way to present himself as a foreigner and very much was in his element both for his ability to appeal to the people of the East and away from Roman plots. In Egypt it is hard to say what they actually thought of him but as a virtual king he would have been treated just the same as Cleopatra. There would have been statues and icons of him in that role as ruler.

    But to the Romans he did not cease to be a Roman. Except maybe in his alleged disregard for the Roman institutions and being "bewitched" by the wiles of an "Eastern" woman. Although the propaganda of the time would paint Antony as someone who indulged in luxury and excess and was becoming soft like an Easterner or a Greek due to his long stay in Alexandria and his relationship with Cleopatra.
    Posted March 20th, 2017 at 11:24 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga Lord Oda Nobunaga is offline
    Updated March 20th, 2017 at 11:28 PM by Lord Oda Nobunaga

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