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The Life of Marcus Antonius

  • I. Parentage of ANTONIUS.
  • 2. His early acts.
  • 3. He sides with JULIUS CAESAR.
  • 4. His valorous deeds, and good service at the battle of PHARSALIA.
  • 5. His dissolute manner of life.
  • 6. How he was the unwitting cause of the conspiracy against CAESAR.
  • 7. Murder of CAESAR.
  • 8. Arrival of OCTAVIUS at Rome.
  • 9. Patient bearing of ANTONIUS under adversity.
  • 10. The first triumvirate.
  • 11. Death of BRUTUS and CASSIUS.
  • 12. Evil Influence of Grecian manners.
  • 13. ANTONIUS falls in love with CLEOPATRA; description of her magnificence.
  • 14. Extravagance of ANTONIUS.
  • 15. Sportiveness of CLEOPATRA.
  • 16. Death of FULVIA, and marriage of ANTONIUS with OCTAVIA.
  • 17. Some account of SEXTUS POMPEIUS.
  • 18. Inferiority of ANTONIUS to OCTAVIUS CAESAR.
  • 19. War against the PARTHIANS and triumph of VENTIDIUS.
  • 20. Quarrel between ANTONIUS and OCTAVIUS.
  • 21. ANTONIUS indulges his love for CLEOPATRA, to his own great loss.
  • 22. He besieges PHRAATA, and encounters the PARTHIANS.
  • 23. The PARTHIANS harass his retreat.
  • 24. Great sufferings of the ROMANS during their retreat.
  • 25. Advice of MITHRIDATES the PARTHIAN.
  • 26. The ROMANS still retreat, and cross the ARAXES.
  • 27. ANTONIUS returns to CLEOPATRA.
  • 28. Wars between the PARTHIANS and MEDES.
  • 29. OCTAVIA comes to ATHENS. Wily conduct of CLEOPATRA.
  • 30. ANTONIUS bestows kingdoms on his sons.
  • 31. OCTAVIUS excites the Romans against him.
  • 32. ANTONIUS and CLEOPATRA arrive et SAMOS. He divorces his wife OCTAVIA.
  • 33. The preparations of OCTAVIUS for War.
  • 34. Signs and omens.
  • 35. The battle of ACTIUM.
  • 36. Flight of CLEOPATRA.
  • 37. Events after the battle.
  • 38. ANTONIUS follows the example of TIMON OF ATHENS.
  • 39. CLEOPATRA makes experiments with poisons.
  • 40. Negociations with OCTAVIUS.
  • 41. Death of ANTONIUS.
  • 42. OCTAVIUS captures CLEOPATRA, and takes ALEXANDRIA.
  • 43. ANTONIUS is buried by CLEOPATRA.
  • 44. Interview between, CLEOPATRA and OCTAVIUS.
  • 45. Death of CLEOPATRA.
  • 46. The children of ANTONIUS.


Antonius' parentage.
Antonius, grandfather was that famous orator whom Marius slew because he took Sylla's part. His father was another Antonius surnamed Cretan 1, who was not so famous, nor bare any great sway in the commonwealth: howbeit other wise he was an honest man, and of a very good nature, and specially very liberal in giving, as appeareth by an act he did. He was not very wealthy, and therefore his wife would not let
The liberality of Antonius' father.
him use his liberality and frank nature. One day a friend of his coming to him to pray him to help him to some money, having great need, Antonius by chance had no money to give him, but he commanded one of his men to bring him some water in a silver basin, and after he had brought it him, he washed his beard as though he meant to have shaven it, and then found an arrand 2 for his man to send him out, and gave his friend the silver basin, and bade him get him money with that. Shortly after' there was a great stir in the house among the servants, seeking out of this silver basin. Insomuch as Antonius, seeing his wife marvellously offended for it, and that she would examine all her servants one affair another about it, to know what was be come of it, at length he confessed he had given it away, and prayed her to be contented.

Julia the mother of M. Antonius.
His wife was Julia, of the noble house and family of Julius Caesar: who, for her virtue and chastity, was to be compared with the noblest lady of her time. Marcus Antonius was brought up under her, being married after her first husband's death unto Cornelius Lentulus, whom Cicero put to death with Cethegus and others, for that he was of Catiline's conspiracy against the Commonwealth. And this seemeth to be the original cause and beginning of the cruel and mortal hate Antonius bare unto Cicero. For Antonius self saith, that he 3 would never give him the body of his father-in-law to bury him, before his mother went first to entreat Cicero's wife the which undoubtedly was a flat lie. For Cicero denied burial to none of them whom he executed by law. Now Antonius being a fair young man, and in the prime of his youth,
Antonius corrupted by Curio.
he fell acquainted with Curio, whose friendship and acquaintance (as it is reported) was a plague unto him. For he was a dissolute man, given over to all lust and insolency, who, to have Antonius the better at his commandment, trained 4 him on into great follies and vain expenses upon women, in rioting and banqueting: so that in short time he brought Antonius into a marvellous great debt, and too great for one of his years, to wit 5, of two hundred and fifty talents, for all which sum Curio was surety. His father hearing of it, did put his son from him, and forbad him his house. Then he fell in with Clodius, one of the desperatest and most wicked tribunes at that time in Rome. Him he followed for a time in his desperate attempts, who bred great stir and mischief in Rome: but at length he forsook him, being weary of his rashness and folly, or else for that he was afraid of them that were bent against Clodius. 2. Thereupon he left Italy, and went into Greece, and there bestowed 6 the most part of his time, sometime in wars, and otherwhile in the study of eloquence.
Antonius used in his speaking the Asiatic phrase.
He used a manner of phrase in his speech called Asiatic, which carried the best grace and estimation at that time, and was much like to his manners and life: for it was full of ostentation, foolish bravery 7, and vain ambition.

After he had remained there some time. Gabinius, proconsul, going into Syria, persuaded him to go with him; Antonius told him he would not go as a private man: wherefore

Antonius had charge of horsemen under Gabinius , proconsul, going into Syria.
Gabinius gave him charge of his horsemen, and so took him with him. So, first of all he sent him against Aristobulus, who had made the Jews to rebel, and was the first man himself that got up to the wall of a castle of his, and
Antonius' acts against Aristobulus.
so drove Aristobulus out of all his holds: and with those few men he had with him, he overcame all the Jews in set battle, which were many against one, and put all of them almost to the sword ; and furthermore,
Antonius took Aristobulus prisoner.
took Aristobulus himself prisoner with his son. Afterwards Ptolemy, king of Egypt, that had been driven out of his country, went unto Gabinius to intreat him to go with his army with him into Egypt, to put him again into his kingdom: and promised him, if he would go with him, ten thousand talents. The most part of the captains thought it not best to go thither, and Gabinius himself made it dainty to enter 8 into this war, although the covetousness of these 10,000 talents stuck sorely with him. But Antonius, that sought but for opportunity and good occasion to attempt great enterprises, and that desired also to gratify Ptolemy's request, he went about to persuade Gabinius to go this voyage. Now they were more afraid of the way they should go, to come to the city of Pelusium, than they feared any danger of the war besides because they were to pass through deep sands and desert places, where was no fresh water to be had all the marishes; through, which are called the marishes 9 Serbonides, which the Egyptians call the exhalations or fume, by the which the giant Typhon breathed. But in truth it appeareth to be the overflowing of the Red Sea, which breaketh out under the ground in that place where it is divided in the narrowest place from the sea on this side.
Antonius' acts in Egypt under Gabinius.
So Antonius was sent before into Egypt with his horsemen, who did not only win that passage, but also took the city of Pelusium (which is a great city) with all the soldiers in it: and thereby he cleared the way, and made it safe for all the rest of the army, and the hope of the victory also certain for his captain. Now did the enemies themselves feel the fruits of Antonius' courtesy, and the desire he had to win honour: for when Ptolemy (after he had entered into the city of Pelusium), for the malice he bare unto the city, would have put all the Egyptians in it to the sword, Antonius withstood him, and by no means would suffer him to do it. And in all other great battles and skirmishes which they fought, being many in number, Antonius did many noble acts of a valiant and wise captain: but specially in one battle, where he compassed in the enemies behind, giving them the victory that fought in front, whereby he afterwards had such honourable reward as his valiantness de served.
Antonius' courtesy unto Archelaus being dead.
So was his great courtesy also much commended of all, the which he shewed unto Archelaus: for having been his very friend, he made war with him against his will while he lived; but after his death he fought for his body, and gave it honour able burial. For these respects he wan 10 himself great fame of them of Alexandria, and he was also thought a worthy man of all the soldiers in the Romans' camp.

But besides all this,

Antonius' shape and presence.
he had a noble presence, and shewed a countenance of one of a noble house: he had a goodly thick beard, a broad forehead, crooked nosed, and there appeared such a manly look in his countenance, as is commonly seen in Hercules, pictures, stamped or graven in metal. Now it had been a speech of old time,
The house of the Antonii descended from Hercules.
that the family of the Antonii were descended from one Anton the son of Hercules, whereof the family took name. This opinion did Antonius seek to confirm in all his doings: not only resembling him in the likeness of his body, as we have said before, but also in the wearing of his garments. For when he would openly shew him self abroad before many people, he would always wear his cassock 11: girt down low upon his hips, with a great sword hanging by his side, and upon 12 that, some ill-favoured cloak. Further more, things that seem intolerable in other men, as to boast commonly, to jest with one or other, to drink like a good fellow with everybody, to sit with the soldiers when they dine, and to eat and drink with them soldier-like, it is incredible what wonderful love it wan 13 him amongst them. And furthermore, being given to love, that made him the more desired, and by that means he brought many to love him. For he would further everyman's love, and also would not be angry that men should merrily tell him of those he loved. But besides all this, that which
Antonius' liberality.
most procured his rising and advancement, was his liberality, who gave all to the soldiers, and kept nothing for himself: and when he was grown to great credit, then was his authority and power also very great, the which notwithstanding himself did overthrow by a thousand other faults he had. In this place I will shew you one example only of his wonderful liberality. He commanded one day his cofferer 14 that kept his money, to give a friend of his five and twenty myriads, which the Romans call in their tongue decies. His cofferer marvelling at it, and being angry withal in his mind, brought him all this money in a heap together, to shew him what a marvellous mass of money it was. Antonius seeing it as he went by, asked what it was: the cofferer answered him, "It was the money he willed him to give unto his friend." Then Antonius, perceiving the spite of his man, "I thought," said he, "that decies had been a greater sum of money than it is, for this is but a trifle:" and therefore he gave his friend as much more another time, but that was afterwards.

3. Now the Romans maintaining two factions at Rome at that time, one against the other, of the which they that took part with the Senate did join with Pompey, being then in Rome: and the contrary side, taking part with the people, sent for Caesar to aid them, who made wars in Gaul: then Curio, Antonius' friend, that had changed his garments, and at that time took part with Caesar, whose enemy he had been before, he wan Antonius; and so handled the matter, partly through the great credit and sway he bare amongst the people, by reason of his eloquent tongue, and partly also by his exceeding expense of money he made which Caesar gave him, that

Antonius tribune of the people and augur.
Antonius was chosen tribune, and afterwards made augur. But this was a great help and furtherance to Caesar's practices 15. For so soon as Antonius became tribune, he did oppose himself against those things which the Consul Marcellus preferred (who ordained that certain legions which had been already levied and billed 16, should be given unto Cneus Pompey, with further commission and authority to levy others unto them), and set down an order, that the soldiers which were already levied and assembled should be sent into Syria, for a new supply unto Marcus Bibulus, who made war at that time against the Parthians. And further gave a prohibition that Pompey should levy no more men, and also that the soldiers should not obey him. Secondly, where Pompey's friends and followers would not suffer Caesar's letters to be received and openly read in the senate,
Antonius acts for Caesar.
Antonius, having power and warrant by his person, through the holiness of his tribuneship, did read them openly, and made divers men change their minds: for it appeared to them that Caesar by his letters required no unreasonable matters. At length, when they preferred two matters of consideration unto the Senate, whether they thought good that Pompey or Caesar should leave their army, there were few of the senators that thought it meet Pompey should leave his army, but they all in manner 17 commanded Caesar to do it. Then Antonius rising up, asked whether they thought it good that Pompey and Caesar both should leave their armies. Thereupon all the senators jointly together gave their whole consent, and with a great cry commending Antonius, they prayed him to refer it to the judgment of the senate. But the Consuls would not allow of that. Therefore Caesar's friends preferred other reasonable demands and requests again, but Cato spake against them: and Lentulus, one of the Consuls, crave Antonius by force out of the Senate, who at his going out made grievous curses against him.
Antonius flieth from Rome unto Caesar.
After that, he took a slave's gown, and speedily fled to Caesar, with Quintus Cassius, in a hired coach. When they came to Caesar, they cried out with open mouth, that all went hand over head 18 at Rome: for the tribunes of the people might not speak their minds; and were driven away in great danger of their lives, as many as stood with 19 law and justice.

Hereupon Caesar went incontinently 20 into Italy with his army, which made Cicero say in his Philippides: "That, as Helen was cause of the war of Troy, so was Antonius the author of the civil wars;"

Cicero reproved for lying.
which indeed was a stark 21 lie. For Caesar was not so fickle-headed, nor so easily carried away with anger, that he would so suddenly have gone and made war with his country, upon the sight only of Antonius and Cassius, being fled to him in miserable apparel, and in a hired coach, had he not long before determined it with himself. But sith indeed Caesar looked of long time but for some colour 22, this came as he wished, and gave him just occasion of war. But to say truly, nothing else moved him to make war with all the world as he did, but one self wooed 23 cause which first
Alexander, Cyrus and Caesar all contended to reign.
procured Alexander and Cyrus also before him, to wit, an insatiable desire to reign, with a senseless covetousness to be the best man in the world; the which he could not come unto, before he had first put down Pompey and utterly overthrown him. Now after that
Caesar's ambition the only cause of the civil war.
Caesar had gotten Rome at his commandment, and had driven Pompey out of Italy, he purposed first to go into Spain against the legions Pompey had there, and in the mean time to make provision for ships and marine preparation, to follow Pompey. In his absence, he left Lepidus, that was Praetor, governor of Rome; and Antonius, that was tribune, he gave him charge of all the soldiers and of Italy.
Caesar gave the charge of Italy unto Antonius.
Then was Antonius straight marvellously commended and beloved of the soldiers, because he commonly exercised himself among them, and would oftentimes eat and drink with them, and also be liberal unto them, according to his ability.
Antonius' vices.
But then in contrary manner, he purchased divers other men's evil wills, because that through negligence he would not do them justice that were injured, and dealt very churlishly with them that had any suit unto him: and besides all this, he had an ill name to intice

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