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A Noble Ruin

Mark Antony, Civil War, and the Collapse of the Roman Republic

W. Jeffrey Tatum



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Oxford University Press
24 May 2024
A complex and captivating portrait of Mark Antony that offers a fresh perspective on the fall of the Roman RepublicIn his lifetime, Mark Antony was a famous man. Ally and avenger of Julius Caesar, rhetorical target of Cicero, lover of Cleopatra, and mortal enemy of Octavian (the future emperor Augustus), Antony played a leading role in the transformation of the Roman world. Ever since his and Cleopatra's demise at the hands of Octavian, he has remained famous, or infamous, a figure of recurring fascination.

His life--variegated, passionate, sensual, bold, and tragic--inspires vigorous reactions. Nearly everyone has a view on Antony. For Cicero, he was a distasteful though talented man. Octavian fashioned him a dangerous failure, a Roman noble corrupted by his appetites and his lust for Cleopatra. Later historians adopted and adapted these themes, delivering their readers an Antony who was irresistibly depraved, startlingly brave, sometimes cunning, but almost always constitutionally incapable of choosing the right side of history. From these, especially Plutarch's compelling portrait, Shakespeare gave us the chivalrous and unstudied Antony of Antony and Cleopatra.

A Noble Ruin, the fullest biography of Antony in English, assimilates the various, often competing, ancient sources to provide a strong and much-needed dose of realism to the caricature we have of this major historical figure. The book gives ample attention to the varied cultural circumstances in which Antony operated, including the social and moral expectations of his republican heritage, as well as the exceptional challenges posed by the convulsion of civil war.

In furnishing a complex and captivating portrait of Anthony, A Noble Ruin allows readers to freshly assess his conduct, ambitions, and attainments, as well as the turbulent age in which he lived.
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 160mm,  Width: 224mm,  Spine: 56mm
Weight:   816g
ISBN:   9780197694909
ISBN 10:   019769490X
Pages:   352
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface CHAPTER I: Beginning CHAPTER II: Fighting for Empire CHAPTER III: Quaestor, Tribune, and Guardian of Italy CHAPTER IV: Caesar's Master of the Horse CHAPTER V: The Ides of March CHAPTER VI: A Consul and an Antony CHAPTER VII: When Civil Fury First Grew High CHAPTER VIII: Athens to Alexandria CHAPTER IX: My Brother's Keeper CHAPTER X: Enforce No Further the Griefs Between Ye CHAPTER XI: Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves CHAPTER XII: Dissolution CHAPTER XIII: Ending

W. Jeffrey Tatum is Professor of Classics at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). He is the author of Always I Am Caesar, translator of Quintus Cicero's A Brief Handbook on Canvassing for Office (for the Clarendon Ancient History Series), and co-translator of Plutarch's The Rise of Rome (for Penguin Classics).

Reviews for A Noble Ruin: Mark Antony, Civil War, and the Collapse of the Roman Republic

Tatum's deep knowledge of this complex period and the personalities who shaped it is apparent, and one of his great strengths is his ability to view events through the prism of the moment rather than the distorting lens of later history. There can be no doubt that his masterly treatment will be valued by scholars. * Classics for All * With his trademark brilliance in making sense of partial and often highly vituperative classical sources, Tatum gives us a nuanced and wonderfully readable portrait of a man whom he describes as a 'kind of guilty pleasure.' * Tom Holland, author of Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age * As Caesar's right-hand man and Cleopatra's lover, Antony comes to us largely by way of smear or caricature. But alongside the more familiar accusations of sleaze, drunkenness, debauchery, and treachery, Tatum brings into sharp focus his towering importance as a successful general, statesman, and orator. Written with characteristic flair and impeccable scholarship, A Noble Ruin gives a new life not only to Antony but to the violent and revolutionary times in which he operated. * Kathryn Tempest, author of Brutus: The Noble Conspirator * Tatum's A Noble Ruin offers a striking portrait of the dynamic figure who, but for the utterly unprecedented emergence of the teenaged Octavian, would have shaped the future of Rome and the Mediterranean world following the death of Julius Caesar. The complicated, skilled, and flawed Antony that Tatum reveals is both far more compelling than the caricatures found in the vicious but effective propaganda of Cicero and Octavian, and far more important than people interested in the stories of faltering republics and the fates of the people caught up in them often imagine. * Edward Watts, author of The Eternal Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: The History of a Dangerous Idea * An insightful biography of Mark Antony (83-30 BCE) that counters longstanding depictions of the Roman general as hedonistic and overly passionate... Tatum artfully analyzes Antony's 'adaptable' and 'fiercely competitive' personality as a product, rather than a deviation from, his aristocratic republican milieu. Roman history buffs will welcome this comprehensive reassessment. * Publishers Weekly * Tatum offers a nuanced perspective on his life, ambitions, and political actions. * World History Encyclopedia * This vivid biography pulses with energy and erudition. * Washington Independent Review of Books * A gripping portrait of a figure who, as much as any, embodies the Roman world as it teetered in mid-slide from republic to empire. It's a dazzling achievement-authoritative, engaging, and marvelously readable... A Noble Ruin glides along with an irresistible momentum that complements its beguiling evocations of people, events, and exotic settings. It deserves to become an enduring go-to volume for the lay reader and, one hopes, the scholar. * Washington Independent Review of Books * [An] excellent biography. It is one of A Noble Ruin's great strengths that Tatum acknowledges the power of the hostile stories that accumulated around Antony. He also unpacks the motives that led Antony's contemporaries to tell those stories and places them within a meticulously argued account of the wider historical period. * Catherine Steel, Times Literary Supplement * Brilliant... Tatum's work is far more than a mere biography. He deftly takes the reader through the almost impenetrable final years of the Republic and the competing personalities and cultural transformations of the era. Understanding these years can deter even the most ardent specialists. But readers of this book will not only come away with a comprehension of the life of the triumvir himself, but the world of the 50s, 40s, and 30s BC when famous personalities such as Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, Cleopatra and Octavian competed for the world... [A] major contribution to Hellenistic and Roman studies. * Classical Journal-Online *

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