"And when my own Mark Antony Against young Caesar strove, And Rome's whole world was set in arms, The cause was, all for love." - Robert Southey, All for Love
Mark Antony (83-50 B.C.) is one of the most unique and best known figures of antiquity, a man whose relationships with some of history's giants ensured his own legacy. A protégé of Julius Caesar's, a lover of Cleopatra's, a sworn enemy of Cicero's, and a foil for Octavian, Antony has long been remembered for the role he played in others' lives more than for his own accomplishments. Fittingly and ironically, Antony might be best remembered today for the words Shakespeare put in his mouth for Caesar's eulogy.
While Antony's relationships with Rome's most famous leaders and history's most famous woman were central components in his lives, the fact that his legacy has been intertwined with them belies the fact that he was a powerful man in his own right. At the same time, Antony was notorious in his own time for his voracious appetite for vice, and the branding of him as a boor has persisted for over 2,000 years.
Of course, Antony's relationship with Cleopatra has become the stuff of legends, and one of history's most famous love stories, but even that was a byproduct of the fact that Antony ruled the eastern third of the Roman Empire as triumvir. Had Octavian and fate not caught up with him at the Battle of Actium, one of the most famous naval battles ever, history might have been very different.