Some Fragments of the Propaganda of Mark Antony

Classical Quarterly 27 (3-4):172-177 (1933)
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Abstract

The civil war which ended in the victory of Octavian and the suicide of Antony and Cleopatra is one of the most exciting but most obscure periods of Roman history, obscure mainly because the victor succeeded in imposing bis version of affairs upon his countrymen and through them on posterity. That is not to say that his version is necessarily completely false: the danger that threatened Rome was a real one, the national feeling that resulted in the coniuratio totius Italiae of 32 B.C. and that inspired Virgil and Horace later was not an artificial growth, though it was carefully tended. But in kindling the requisite war-feeling and in rousing the necessary enthusiasm both sides had to propagand for themselves, and in ancient times propaganda often became a matter of personal abuse and mud-slinging. In this Octavian's agents were perhaps more successful, though few nowadays would accept the conventional portraits of Antony and Cleopatra as anywhere near the truth. But Antony's propaganda, though not so effective, was not obliterated by Octavian's victory; indeed a great deal of it is still preserved and masquerades as fact in histories of the period, where Octavian's personal character suffers badly.

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