I can’t mention one without the other.
Cassius Dio, Roman History 50.1-5
For Kleopatra had enslaved him so absolutely that she persuaded him to act as gymnasiarch to the Alexandrians; and she was called ‘queen’ and ‘mistress’ by him, had Roman soldiers in her bodyguard, and all of these inscribed her name upon their shields. She used to frequent the market-place with him, joined him in the management of festivals and in the hearing of lawsuits, and rode with him even in the cities, or else was carried in a chair while Antony accompanied her on foot along with her eunuchs. He also termed his headquarters ‘the palace,’ sometimes wore an oriental dagger at his belt, dressed in a manner not in accordance with the customs of his native land, and let himself be seen even in public upon a gilded couch or a chair of that kind. He posed with her for portrait paintings and statues, he representing Osiris or Dionysos and she Selene or Isis. This more than all else made him seem to have been bewitched by her through some enchantment.
Constantine P. Cavafy, The God Abandons Antony
When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.
Plutarch, Life of M. Antonius 4
He had also a noble dignity of form; and a shapely beard, a broad forehead, and an aquiline nose were thought to show the virile qualities peculiar to the portraits and statues of Hercules. Moreover, there was an ancient tradition that the Antonii were Heracleidae, being descendants of Anton, a son of Heracles. And this tradition Antony thought that he confirmed, both by the shape of his body, as has been said, and by his attire. For whenever he was going to be seen by many people, he always wore his tunic girt up to his thigh, a large sword hung at his side, and a heavy cloak enveloped him. However, even what others thought offensive, namely, his jesting and boastfulness, his drinking-horn in evidence, his sitting by a comrade who was eating, or his standing to eat at a soldier’s table, — it is astonishing how much goodwill and affection for him all this produced in his soldiers. And somehow even his conduct in the field of love was not without its charm, nay, it actually won for him the favour of many; for he assisted them in their love affairs, and submitted pleasantly to their jests upon his own amours. Furthermore, his liberality, and his bestowal of favours upon friends and soldiers with no scant or sparing hand, laid a splendid foundation for his growing strength, and when he had become great, lifted his power to yet greater heights, although it was hindered by countless faults besides. One illustration of his lavish giving I will relate. To one of his friends he ordered that two hundred and fifty thousand drachmas should be given (a sum which the Romans call “decies”). His steward was amazed, and in order to show Antony the magnitude of the sum, deposited the money in full view. Antony, passing by, asked what that was; and when his steward told him it was the gift which he had ordered, he divined the man’s malice and said: “I thought the decies was more; this is a trifle; therefore add as much more to it.” And even the enemy reaped advantage from Antony’s love of distinction. For Ptolemy, as soon as he entered Pelusium, was led by wrath and hatred to institute a massacre of the Egyptians; but Antony intervened and prevented him. Moreover, in the ensuing battles and contests, which were many and great, he displayed many deeds of daring and sagacious leadership, the most conspicuous of which was his rendering the van of the army victorious by outflanking the enemy and enveloping them from the rear. For all this he received rewards of valour and fitting honours. Nor did the multitude fail to observe his humane treatment of the dead Archelaüs, for after waging war upon him by necessity while he was living, although he had been a comrade and friend, when he had fallen, Antony found his body and gave it royal adornment and burial. Thus he left among the people of Alexandria a very high reputation, and was thought by the Romans on the expedition to be a most illustrious man.
Plutarch, Life of M. Antonius 29
Kleopatra played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him, and watched him as he exercised himself in arms; and when by night he would station himself at the doors or windows of the common folk and scoff at those within, she would go with him on his round of mad follies, wearing the garb of a serving maiden. For Antony also would try to array himself like a servant. Therefore he always reaped a harvest of abuse, and often of blows, before coming back home; though most people suspected who he was. However, the Alexandrians took delight in their graceful and cultivated way; they liked him, and said that he used the tragic mask with the Romans, but the comic mask with them.
Plutarch, Life of M. Antonius 69-71
And now Antony forsook the city and the society of his friends, and built for himself a dwelling in the sea at Pharos, by throwing a mole out into the water. Here he lived an exile from men, and declared that he was contentedly imitating the life of Timon, since, indeed, his experiences had been like Timon’s; for he himself also had been wronged and treated with ingratitude by his friends, and therefore hated and distrusted all mankind. Now, Timon was an Athenian, and lived about the time of the Peloponnesian War, as may be gathered from the plays of Aristophanes and Plato. For he is represented in their comedies as peevish and misanthropical; but though he avoided and repelled all intercourse with men, he was glad to see Alcibiades, who was then young and headstrong, and showered kisses upon him. And when Apemantus was amazed at this and asked the reason for it, Timon said he loved the youth because he knew that he would be a cause of many ills to Athens. This Apemantus alone of all men Timon would sometimes admit into his company, since Apemantus was like him and tried sometimes to imitate his mode of life; and once, at the festival of The Pitchers, the two were feasting by themselves, and Apemantus said: “Timon, what a fine symposium ours is!” “It would be,” said Timon, “if thou wert not here.” We are told also that once when the Athenians were holding an assembly, he ascended the bema, and the strangeness of the thing caused deep silence and great expectancy; then he said: “I have a small building lot, men of Athens, and a fig-tree is growing in it, from which many of my fellow citizens have already hanged themselves. Accordingly, as I intend to build a house there, I wanted to give public notice to that effect, in order that all of you who desire to do so may hang yourselves before the fig-tree is cut down.” After he had died and been buried at Halae near the sea, the shore in front of the tomb slipped away, and the water surrounded it and made it completely inaccessible to man. The inscription on the tomb was:
“Here, after snapping the thread of a wretched life, I lie.
Ye shall not learn my name, but my curses shall follow you.”
This inscription he is said to have composed himself, but that in general circulation is by Callimachus:
“Timon, hater of men, dwells here; so pass along;
Heap many curses on me, if thou wilt, only pass along.”
These are a few things out of many concerning Timon. As for Antony, Canidius in person brought him word of the loss of his forces at Actium, and he heard that Herod the Jew, with sundry legions and cohorts, had gone over to Caesar, and that the other dynasts in like manner were deserting him and nothing longer remained of his power outside of Egypt. However, none of these things greatly disturbed him, but, as if he gladly laid aside his hopes, that so he might lay aside his anxieties also, he forsook that dwelling of his in the sea, which he called Timoneum, and after he had been received into the palace by Kleopatra, turned the city to the enjoyment of suppers and drinking-bouts and distributions of gifts, inscribing in the list of ephebi the son of Kleopatra and Caesar, and bestowing upon Antyllus the son of Fulvia the toga virilis without purple hem, in celebration of which, for many days, banquets and revels and feastings occupied Alexandria. Kleopatra and Antony now dissolved their famous society of Inimitable Livers, and founded another, not at all inferior to that in daintiness and extravagant outlay, which they called the society of Partners in Death. For their friends enrolled themselves as those who would die together, and passed the time delightfully in a round of suppers. Moreover, Kleopatra was getting together collections of all sorts of deadly poisons, and she tested the painless working of each of them by giving them to prisoners under sentence of death. But when she saw that the speedy poisons enhanced the sharpness of death by the pain they caused, while the milder poisons were not quick, she made trial of venomous animals, watching with her own eyes as they were set upon another. She did this daily, tried them almost all; and she found that the bite of the asp alone induced a sleepy torpor and sinking, where there was no spasm or groan, but a gentle perspiration on the face, while the perceptive faculties were easily relaxed and dimmed, and resisted all attempts to rouse and restore them, as is the case with those who are soundly asleep.
2 thoughts on “Antony the equally awesome”
Hail to the Divine Marcus Antony! Hail the Neos-Dionysos!
Give it time. I’ll come up with a Marc Antony Gigachad post
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