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Marc Anthony – Was he scared of Caesar?

March 25, 2013

The Roman Republic was founded following the downfall of the last King and tyrant of Rome and its institutions were fiercely guarded. The people feared a return to tyranny and as such those seeking to be king would be considered an enemy of the Republic. Marc Anthony’s attempt to crown Caesar at the Lupercalia Festival of 44 BC was, therefore, extremely dangerous. What was it that prompted Anthony’s gesture though, particularly as rumour was rife that Caesar wanted to be king; was it the crowd, a pre-arranged performance with Caesar’s agreement or a misguided attempt to please his master?  Canfora (2007:285) believes that ‘there is much to suggest that it was a provocative gesture by a man filled with deep fear of the dictator’. I agree that there is evidence to support such an assessment such as Cicero’s Second Philippic where it is declared that Anthony was scared of Caesar. However, in Plutarch’s Anthony Caesar is angered by the gesture bearing his neck indicating his understanding of what should happen to those who harbour such ambitions. It could be inferred that Anthony would have had prior knowledge of Caesar’s opinion of such a gesture and, as such, knew what he was doing. Meir (1982:477) concludes that it is impossible to interpret the events of the day and draw any firm conclusion. I agree that it is hard to draw a conclusion on Anthony’s motives but I believe he did fear Caesar, to an extent, and as such it could be inferred that he made a misjudgement at the Lupercalia festival.


Canfora, L. Caesar. The People’s Dictator, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007.

Meier, C. Caesar, London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.


From → Julius Caesar

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