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This Week In History

Marc Antony, Jr. – April 30, 30 BC

Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) was father to four boys and four girls through his five wives:

Fadia: None

Antonia: Antonia Prima

Fulvia: Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Iullus Antonius

Octavia: Antonia Major, Antonia Minor

Queen Cleopatra VII: Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus

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Antony and Cleopatra (1883) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicting Antony’s meeting with Cleopatra in 41 BC.

Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Antyllus being a Greek nickname for “archer”, was the first son and born c.43 BC. His mother died when he was around three years old and Marc Antony then married Octavia Minor, sister of Octavian. In 37 BC, Marc Antony and Octavian (along with Lepidus) signed the Treaty of Tarentum, renewing the five-year triumvirate agreement. As part of the treaty, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, only six at the time, was betrothed to Julia, the only daughter of Octavian, and was only about three. This arrangement solidified the dynastic ties for both families.

While Marc Antony was campaigning and traveling through the provinces from 40-36 BC, the children were being raised by Octavia. They all traveled together, or stayed at their mansion in Athens. Marc Antony started taking more time to go to Egypt, where his affair with Cleopatra in 41 BC produced Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II, and spent less time with Octavia and the children she and Fulvia bore. Antyllus, being so young, didn’t have time to accomplish much throughout the next five tumultuous years of the Roman Imperatorial period.

In 36 BC, Octavia returned to Rome with the children, with the exception of Antyllus, but now including Antonia Major and Minor, who were born in 39 BC and 36 BC respectively. Antyllus remained with his father in the court of Cleopatra. Although apparently faithful, it must have been very difficult for her as Marc Antony spent time abroad with his lover and she still acted as negotiator between Antony and Octavian. Antony ended up divorcing Octavia in 32 BC and marrying Cleopatra. Famously, Antony and Cleopatra would only be together for a year before their demise after the Battle at Actium in September, 31 BC. However, before he died, Marc Antony had Antyllus assume the toga virilis, a symbol of manhood and citizenship, in the event Antony and Cleopatra somehow emerged victorious in the struggle against Octavian’s forces.

Suetonius wrote that in early 30 BC, Antyllus, still in Alexandria after the fall of his parents, attempted to take refuge near an image of the deified Julius Caesar. Despite his pleas for mercy, he was executed on April 30, 30 BC – the only child of Marc Antony that Octavian would punish. The remaining children from the marriages to Fulvia, Octavia and Cleopatra would all end up being raised dutifully by Octavia in Rome.

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