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Rome - The Imperators

Ruler: Mark Antony
Held Office: born 83 BC - died 30 BC
Denomination: AR Denarius (Legionary type)
Mint: Patrae, Greece
Date of Issue: 32 - 31 BC
Obverse: Galley right with banners at prow "ANT•AVG" above. "III•VIR•R•P•C" below.
Reverse: Legionary eagle between two standards. "LEG XXI"
Reference: RCVM 1479 type, RSC 58, RRC 544/37
Weight: 2.5 gms
Diameter: 17.8 mm
Comment: "III VIR" on this coin means Triumvir, member of Triumvirate (committee of 3). "RPC" = "According to the Republican Constitution".
The celebrated "legionary" coinage of Mark Antony, probably produced at his winter headquarters at Patrae just before to the Battle of Actium, represented twenty-three legions (LEG PRI to LEG XXIII) as well as the praetorian cohorts and the cohort of speculatores. A number of the legions have additional types giving their names as well as their numbers.

MARK ANTONY (Marcus Antonius)

  • Antony was born in Rome c. 83 BC.
  • From 58 to 56 BC he served as a cavalry officer in campaigns in Palestine and Egypt, and from 54 to 50 BC in Gaul under Julius Caesar.
  • With Caesar's aid, he attained the offices of quaestor, augur, and tribune of the people.
  • At the outbreak of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey the Great, Antony was appointed Caesar's commander in chief in Italy. He commanded the left wing of Caesar's army at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, and in 44 BC he shared the consulship with Caesar.
  • After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, Antony's funeral speech, immortalized by Shakespeare in the play "Julius Caesar", turned the Roman people against the conspirators, leaving Antony virtually supreme in Rome.
  • His rival was Gaius Octavius, grandnephew of Caesar and his designated heir. For a time the two were reconciled, and together with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate, dividing the Roman Empire between themselves.
  • In 42 BC, at the battle of Philippi, the triumvirate crushed the forces of two of Caesar's assassins, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
  • Later in 42 BC, Antony met the Egyptian queen Cleopatra in the city of Tarsus, in Cilicia (now in Turkey), and fell in love with her, returning with her to Egypt in 41 BC.
  • In 40 BC, back in Rome the triumvirate split up the Roman world, with Antony receiving the eastern portion.
  • To cement his relations with Octavius he married the latter's sister, Octavia.
  • Nevertheless, Antony soon returned to Egypt and Cleopatra.
  • In 36 BC, he was defeated in a military expedition against the Parthians, causing popular disapproval of his conduct in Rome.
  • In 34 BC Octavius declared Caesarion (Cleopatra's son by Julius Caesar) as Caesar's heir in Octavian's place and divides the east amongst Cleopatra and her children.
  • With Octavius stirring up emnity, war was inevitable.
  • In 31 BC the forces of Antony and Cleopatra were defeated by those of Octavius at the naval Battle of Actium, off the coast of Greece.
  • Cleopatra fled the battle scene, followed by Antony.
  • In 30 BC, besieged by the troops of Octavius in Alexandria and deceived by a false report of Cleopatra's suicide, Antony killed himself by falling on his sword.
  • Cleopatra then famously killed herself with an asp.

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