Marc Antony was a friend of Julius Caesar and one of the great Roman Imperators. He was an influential man with many powerful friends and tried to take over Caesar's role and governing powers after his death. Caesar's young nephew Octavian soon challenged Antony, however, and a long power struggle for control of the growing Roman Empire resulted. This struggle between the Senatorial supporters of the old Republic, Marc Antony, and Octavian dominated politics in the Empire from 44 B. C. until the Battle of Actium. This is dealt with more fully in the article on Augustus. During this period, Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus formed an alliance only as long as it suited their purpose to be friends. This alliance was the Second Triumvirate, about which you may read in a separate article. Romans who at first had loved and supported Antony soon began to distrust him when they saw that he chose to marry the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and spent most of his time with her in Egypt. Octavian made matters even worse for Antony by telling the Romans that he intended to turn the Roman Empire into a province of an Egyptian kingdom.
After having made and broken several treaties with Octavian, Antony met him in a final sea battle off Actium in 31 B. C. Antony and Cleopatra's forces appeared to be winning but Octavian's stout Roman marines gained the upper hand after everyone saw Cleopatra running away, her purple sails filled with the wind that carried away her kingdom of Egypt as well. A few months after the battle, with Octavian's troops closing in on them, Antony and Cleopatra held only the Egyptian city of Alexandria. With Octavian and the invincible Roman Legions surrounding them, both Antony and Cleopatra chose to commit suicide rather than surrender. Their stories have always been amongst the most popular tales told throughout the ages. A popular movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was made in the 1960's about their lives and these tumultous last years of the Roman Republic.
Battle of Actium
First and Second Triumvirates
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