Friends, Romans, Countrymen: The Relationships Of Mark Antony

By | September 28, 2019

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James Purefoy as Mark Antony on HBO’s Rome. Source: (

Fans of Shakespeare may remember the character of Mark Antony from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. He’s the one whose loaded speech incites the crowd to turn against Brutus and the other conspirators. Antony is also featured prominently in the bard’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra. While Shakespeare admittedly took some creative license, both plays are based on real events, including Antony’s relationships with Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.

He was born Marcus Antonius in Alexandria, Egypt, 83 B.C. and was named after his father and grandfather. However, his father is most commonly referred to as Creticus due to his military operations in Crete. From 57-55 B.C., Antony served as a cavalry officer under Aul Ganinius in Palestine and Egypt. In 54 B.C., he became a staff officer to Julius Caesar, his mother’s cousin. He was elected to the tribune in 49 B.C. and was Caesar’s second-in-command during his first year as a dictator.  

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Statue of Julius Caesar. Source: (

That same year, the Civil War broke out between Pompey and Caesar. Antony’s continued support of Caesar led to him being forced to flee from Rome to Caesar’s headquarters. Pompey was eventually expelled from the Italian Peninsula. Antony was briefly removed from the Senate by anti-Caesar factions but was returned to Caesar’s side as co-consul in 44 B.C. It was during this time, during the festival of the Lupercalia, that Antony offered Caesar the diadem, a symbol of royalty, but Caesar refused, though it was likely the crowd’s reaction rather than a lack of ambition which led to the refusal. After Caesar’s assassination, Antony did indeed deliver a powerful eulogy before taking over Caesar’s papers.