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8. M. Antonius, the orator, was born B. C. 143. (Cic. Brut. 43.) He was quaestor in 113, and praetor in 104, and received the province of Cilicia with the title of proconsul in order to prosecute the war against the pirates. In consequence of his successes he obtained a triumph in 102. (Plut. Pomp. 24; Fast. Triumph.) He was consul in 99 with A. Albinus [see ALBINUS, No. 22], and distinguished himself by resisting the attempts of Saturninus and his party, especially an agrarian law of the tribune Sex. Titius. He was censor in 97, and, while censor, was accused of bribery by M. Duronius, but was acquitted. He commanded in the Marsic war a part of the Roman army. Antonius belonged to the aristocratical party, and espoused Sulla's side in the first civil war. He was in consequence put to death by Marius and Cinna when they obtained possession of Rome in 87. He was in the city at the time, and the soldiers sent to murder him hesitated to do their errand through the moving eloquence of the orator, till their commander, P. Annius, cut off his head and carried it to Marius, who had it erected on the Rostra.

Antonius is frequently spoken of by Cicero as one of the greatest of the Roman orators. He is introduced as one of the speakers in Cicero's De Oratore, together with his celebrated contemporary L. Crassus. From the part which he takes in the dialogue, it would appear that his style of eloquence was natural and unartificial, distinguished by strength and energy rather than by finish and polish. He wrote a work de Ratione Dicendi, which is referred to by Cicero (Cic. de Orat. 1.21) and Quintilian (3.6.45), but neither it nor any of his orations has come down to us. His chief orations were, 1. A defence of himself, when accused of incest with a vestal virgin, B. C. 113. (V. Max. 3.7.9, 6.8.1; Liv. Epit. 63 ; Ascon. ad Cic. Milon. 100.12; Oros. 5.15.) 2. A speech against Cn. Papirius Carbo, B. C. 111, who had been defeated by the Cimbri in 113. (Appul. de Mag. p. 316, ed. Oudend.) 3. An oration against Sex. Titius, tribune of the plebs, B. C. 99. (Cic. de Orat. 2.11, pro Rabir. perd. 9.) 4. A defence of M'. Aquillius, accused of extortion in the government of Sicily, about B. C. 99. This was the most celebrated of his orations. (Cic. Brut. 62, de Off. 2.14, pro Flacco, 39, de Orat. 2.28, 47, in Verr. 5.1; Liv. Epit. 70.) 5. A defence of himself when accused of bribery by Duronius. (Cic. de Orat. 2.68.) 6.. A defence of Norbanus, who was accused of having caused the destruction of a Roman army by the Cimbri through carelessness. (Cic. de Orat. 2.25, 39, 40, 48.)

(Orelli, Onomasticon Tullianum ; Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. i. p. 58, &c.; Ellendt, Proleg. ad Cic. Brut. ; Meyer, Orat. Rom. Fraym. p. 139, &c.; Westermann, Geschichte der Römischen Beredtsamkeit, §§ 46-48.)

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  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 1.21
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.11
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.25
    • Cicero, On Oratory, 2.68
    • Cicero, Brutus, 43
    • Cicero, Brutus, 62
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 3.7.9
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 6.8.1
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