Antony, Mark (Latin: Marcus Antonius ) (83–30 B.C.), a Roman soldier and statesman. He was a competent military leader, but irresponsible and unscrupulous in both his private and his public life. He became a romantic hero in history because of his love for Cleopatra, queen of Egypt.
Antony distinguished himself in campaigns in Palestine and Egypt before becoming a protégé of Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars. In Rome he held a succession of public offices until Pompey seized power in 52 B.C. Antony supported Caesar in the resulting struggle and helped crush Pompey's army at Pharsalus in 48.
Antony was consul when Caesar was murdered in 44 B.C. His fiery oration over Caesar's body aroused the Romans against Brutus and the other conspirators, who fled, leaving Antony in command. Claiming to have found instructions among Caesar's papers, he appropriated for himself vast sums of public funds and Caesar's private fortune.
The orator Cicero denounced Antony repeatedly. Caesar's adopted son and heir, Octavian (later Augustus), raised troops and drove Antony from Rome. Finding, however, that the Senate supported Caesar's murderers, Octavian joined with Antony and Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate (ruling alliance of three men). The three rulers slaughtered hundreds of political enemies (including, at Antony's insistence, Cicero) and seized their estates. In 42 B.C. they marched against the conspirators and defeated them at Philippi.
While strengthening control in the east, the part of the empire for which he was responsible, Antony met and fell in love with Cleopatra. He left Egypt for Rome when he learned that his wife, Fulvia, was leading a revolt against Octavian. The revolt was put down and Fulvia died about the time of Antony's arrival (40 B.C.). Friendship between the two triumvirs was restored by the marriage of Antony and Octavia, sister of Octavian.
Antony journeyed east in 36 B.C. to campaign against the Parthians, and in 34 he took up residence in Alexandria with Cleopatra. Octavian, furious at the insult to his sister and alarmed at Antony's efforts to create his own empire, prepared for war. In 31 he defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra in a sea battle off the Greek town of Actium, and the next year he sailed to Egypt. Antony repulsed Octavian's attack on Alexandria, but stabbed himself to death at the false news that Cleopatra was dead.
Antony is a character in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar , which contains the version of his funeral oration that begins, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." The romance of Antony and Cleopatra is the theme for Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and Dryden's All for Love.