Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Coins of Marcus Antonius

Following the assassination of Caesar in 44 BCE, Rome was plunged into chaos. Many of Caesar’s conspirators and assassins, including M. Junius Brutus and C. Cassius Longinus, (Brutus and Cassius) fled Rome in fear of reprisal. Caesar’s closest ally, M. Antonius (Marc Antony) seized control during the power vacuum, with the conspirators on the run and Caesar’s designated heir, G. Octavius Thurinus, (Octavian) still with an army in Macedonia. The young heir returned to Rome with a new name, G. Julius Caesar Octavianus.

This left Octavian in command of all of their eight legions. Octavian began negotiations with Antony.
In the spring of 43 BCE, Octavian, along with the consuls Aulus Hirtius and G. Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, confronted and conquered Antony and his five legions at the Battle of Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul. Though victorious, Octavian did suffer a setback in that Hirtius was killed and Pansa succumbed to possible poisoning. Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus established a three-man dictatorship.

It was the official end of the Roman Republic and the formation of the Roman Empire.
Antony, desperate to retain troops, began to strike one of the more iconic series of coinage in Rome’s history, the legionary denarius. These coins allude directly to the events of the day, as they feature a praetorian galley. On September 2, 31 BCE, the forces of Octavian and M. Vipsanius Agrippa defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at Actium, a promontory between the Ambracian Gulf and the Ionian Sea. The result was a decisive victory with Antony and Cleopatra forced to retreat for Egypt. A final defeat at the Battle of Alexandria on August 1, 30 BCE was the last.

Aureus bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right). Struck in 41 BC, this coin was issued to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate.
Marcus Antonius portrait. Denarius from 42 B.C.Mark Antony and Cleopatra. 34 BC. Denarius