Mark Antony was a soldier and statesman at the end of the Roman Republic known for:
- his stirring eulogy at the funeral of his friend Julius Caesar
Shakespeare has Mark Antony begin the eulogy at Caesar's funeral with the wordsand
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones. (Julius Caesar 3.2.79)
his pursuit of Caesar's assassins Brutus and Cassius
- sharing the Second Triumvirate with Caesar's heir and nephew, Octavian (later Augustus), and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
- being the final Roman lover of Cleopatra who gave her Roman territories as a gift.
Antony was a capable soldier, well-liked by the troops, but he alienated the people of Rome with his constant carousing, neglect of his virtuous wife Octavia (sister of Octavian/Augustus), and other behavior not in Rome's best interests.
After gaining sufficient power, Antony had Cicero, Antony's lifelong enemy who wrote against him (Philippics), beheaded. Antony himself committed suicide after losing the Battle of Actium; he might have won the battle but for an unwillingness, on the part of his soldiers, to fight fellow Romans. That, and Cleopatra's sudden departure.
Mark Antony was born in 83 B.C. and died on August 1, 30 B.C. His parents were Marcus Antonius Creticus and Julia Antonia (a distant cousin of Julius Caesar). Antony's father died when he was young, so his mother married Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, who was executed (under the administration of Cicero) for having a role in the Conspiracy of Catiline in 63 B.C. This is assumed to have been a major factor in the hostility between Antony and Cicero.
Source: Adrian Goldsworthy's Antony and Cleopatra (2010).