Roman Republic (Imperatorial Period)

Mark Antony, with Octavia, Triumvir 39 BC

RPC 2201; HCRI 262; Sydenham 1197; RSC 2, Superb Extremely Fine

Ephesus. M· ANTONIVS · IMP · COS · DESIG ITER ET TERT, head of Mark Antony right, wearing ivy wreath; below, lituus; all within wreath of ivy and flowers / III · VIR · R · P · C ·, draped bust of Octavia right above cista flanked by coiled serpents.

After the deaths of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 BC, the increasing rivalry of Antony and Octavian almost immediately threatened the outbreak of a new civil war. Disaster was only averted in 40 BC when the two agreed to the treaty of Brundisium, which divided the Roman world between them. According to this agreement Octavian took Italy as his sphere of control while Antony took the Greek East and their fellow triumvir, Lepidus was left with North Africa. This pact was sealed by the marriage of Antony to Octavian’s sister, Octavia, although he was already romantically involved with Cleopatra VIII of Egypt. In the Greek East, Antony was treated after the manner of Hellenistic kings and praised in divine terms as a New Dionysus. When the settlement of Brundisium finally fell apart, Octavian used this as propaganda against Antony, claiming that he wished to become a debauched eastern monarch in the city on the Tiber that had so long been inimical to kings. One can hardly blame the Romans for their outrage at this, but one might blame Octavian a little for hypocrisy considering that in 27 BC he assumed the name of Augustus and became king of Rome in all but name. But such are the ways of tyrants.