Mark Antony was an outstanding Roman commander and a faithful supporter of Gaius Julius Caesar. After his death, he led the “Caesarians”, defeated in the Battle of Philippi Cassius and Brutus to finally bond with Cleopatra VII and come into conflict with Gaius Octavian, the adopted son of Caesar.
The battle of Actium in 31 BCE was the decisive clash that forced Antony and Cleopatra to retreat to Egypt and fight to the end in Alexandria. During one of the sieges, Antony even tried to speak to his former soldiers who had gone over to Octavian’s side, but he was deliberately drowned out by the enemy’s trumpets. Antony, aware of his physical advantage, even challenged Octavian to a duel; the latter, however, rejected the honourable solution – as Plutarch reports: “Caesar answered that Antony had many ways of dying”.
The hopeless Antony was to drown his sorrows in alcohol and feast abundantly. One night, on a silent street of Alexandria, a strange event was about to occur – suddenly there were loud sounds of fun, music, the shouts of the crowd as if a procession of revellers was moving through the city. The sounds, however, gradually decreased, as if the invisible retinue was moving away to finally disappear through the city gates towards the enemy army. Many saw this as a sign of Antony’s abandonment by his favourite god Bacchus, whom he worshipped all his life, and a sign of his end.