4 – He Had Numerous Wives
It wasn’t unusual to have more than one wife in Ancient Rome, but as he did with so many things in his life, Mark Antony overdid it. Most sources suggest he married four times but there might have been a fifth wife. In the Philippics, Cicero suggests that Antony married a woman called Fadia who was the daughter of a wealthy freedman. There is doubt over this union since Antony was a member of the Plebeian nobility and as such would be considered as marrying beneath himself. If he did marry Fadia, it would have been to help manage his considerable debt. According to Cicero, Fadia and all her children died by 44 BC.
His first official wife was his cousin Antonia. It was a move designed to help with his career, and they were apparently married in 55 BC. They had one daughter together and divorced in 47 BC after he accused her of adultery with Dolabella, Cicero’s son-in-law. Antony clearly enjoyed marriage because Fulvia became his next wife within a year of his divorce.
Fulvia was twice divorced before her latest marriage (both men were friends of Antony) and became a major influence on his political decisions. When Antony was in Egypt cavorting with Cleopatra, Fulvia conspired with his brother, Lucius Antonius, against Octavian. Although he denied knowledge of the incident, sources suggest he knew of the plan only to repudiate it later on. She met Antony in Athens but his anger over her conduct caused her to become grief-stricken, and this was apparently a major factor in her death.
Whether he would admit it or not, Fulvia’s death in 40 BC came at an ideal time for Antony as it enabled him to marry Octavia, sister of Octavian, as part of reconciliation between the two men. They married in the same year Fulvia died, and Octavia bore him a daughter soon after. Octavia acted as a peacemaker between her husband and brother and remained in Rome to look after his kids when he fought against the Parthians. Although they didn’t see each other again, they stayed married for another five years until 32 BC when Antony and Octavian were at war.
Cleopatra was his final wife, and he acknowledged the fact in 36 BC. As she was a foreigner and Antony was still married to Octavia, his marriage to the Egyptian queen remained unrecognized in Rome. He probably married Cleopatra to benefit from her vast wealth; Octavian didn’t provide him with the troops and resources he needed for his campaign in Parthia, so he looked elsewhere. They had three children together and remained married until his suicide after defeat at the Battle of Actium.