The Death of Mark Antony
Mark Antony, lover of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII and claimant to the Roman throne, stabbed himself on July 30, 30 B.C., when faced with certain defeat at the hands of his rival Octavian. Antony expected to be named the heir to Rome after the assassination of his friend and confidant Julius Caesar, but had not counted on Caesar naming his adopted son Octavian as his successor. The rivals battled for control of the Roman Empire in September of 31 B.C. in the naval battle of Actium, where Cleopatra, seeing Antony’s navy being outmaneuvered by Octavian’s, ordered her 60 ships to turn about and flee to safety. Shaken by his loss at Actium and abandoned by his allies, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed him in death shortly afterward when she allowed herself to be bitten by a venomous asp.
Photo: Graeco-Roman Museum