Massie's Antony Chat Transcript
222 lines of discussion for Jul. 27, 2000
|20:57 Mara Durotriges enters...
20:58 Mara Durotriges: good, I have more time to collect my thoughts
21:00 Torrey Philemon enters...
21:00 Torrey Philemon: hello Mara, I'm here. Don't know if Morgana is logged on yet.
21:02 Mara Durotriges: I'm reading what you wrote on the Butts book, which I don't have
21:03 Torrey Philemon: Ah, I think only Atalanta and I have read the Butts book. It's also a novel and so not supposed to be entirely fact.
21:03 Torrey Philemon: What did you think of Massie's interpretation of the story of Antony?
21:05 Mara Durotriges: I must say up front that I don't think I particularly like Massie as an author. I dislike his use of modern slang and the two first person speakers in Antony drove me nuts for awhile. And there is at least one anachronism besides the slang - might have been in the Augustus which I just started - referring to womens petticoats - there weren't any of those then - were there?
21:06 Torrey Philemon: I wasn't aware of the anachronisms - don't know about petticoats. But I didn't like his using Critias as narrator. It diluted the emotional impact. Antony's voice would have been more dynamic.
21:07 Mara Durotriges: I do like his interpretation of Antony's feelings for Octavian, as I posted on the board. There were two other references, one on p. 172 and one on p. 199 to his continuing disbelief that Octavian was against him
21:08 Mara Durotriges enters...
21:09 Mara Durotriges: is it going to enter me all night? stupid machine!
21:09 Torrey Philemon: (I just looked up petticoats and history and didn't find anything relevant but did find a site on Cleopatra's costumes! http://www.xsite.net/~videoc/Cleo/Cleopatra1.html
21:10 Mara Durotriges: Someone taught me the word anachronism when I was little and I've never ceased to be fascinated with finding them
21:10 Mara Durotriges: it was in reference to Roman women's dress
21:11 Torrey Philemon: Yes, sometimes anachronisms can detract from the believability of a story.
21:11 Mara Durotriges: Massie is quite sure, as I've always been, that Octavian is a snake - that's another point for this author!
21:12 Torrey Philemon: What you (and Massie) said about A's feelings for Octavian. I'm more inclined to think that Antony's was focused on LOYALTY and COMMITMENT more than he was on Octavian. The issue then isn't that Octavian was so important to him but that a foundation of his self-esteem was LOYALTY (to his men, to oaths he had taken, alliances he had formed).
21:13 Mara Durotriges: Massie is quite sure, as I've always been, that Octavian is a snake - that's another point for this author!
21:13 Torrey Philemon: Yes I'm still not fond of Octavian either. Octavian broke most of his promises to Antony. He had no commitment to honoring his agreements; he only made agreements in order to get what he wanted.
21:14 Torrey Philemon: Hey Mara, one of my search results was the Lace History page. It says that lace had its origins in ancient Egypt.... http://www.lacemagazine.com/Lace%20History.htm
21:14 Mara Durotriges: I looked up Honor to get the book definition of the word. It is "moral integrity". Antony seemed to have this when dealing with Octavian and his men but not with women
21:17 Mara Durotriges: that old!? they did grow cotton there, that could have been the fibre used, long staple cotton, if I remember, which may have aided in their 'discovery' of lacemaking techniques
21:18 Torrey Philemon: Interesting! He does seem to be more loyal to men. But - I'm not sure this in Massie - he wrote Octavian near the end and begged him to spare Cleopatra rather than himself. In the end he was loyal to Cleopatra.
21:20 Torrey Philemon: (I emailed Morgana and just heard from her. She's running late but will be here in about 5 minutes)
21:20 Mara Durotriges: The other thing I found interesting was the discussion of what would ammount to the 'old boys' network of the Romans on p. 80. Just like today!
21:21 Mara Durotriges: oh good!
21:22 Torrey Philemon: My guess is that guys really bonded when they were young because they hung out with each other, but were segregated from girls except family. Was this true?
21:23 Mara Durotriges: and on p. 97, the portrayal of "the perpetual adolescence of the Roman.....the capacity to seize the moment and enjoy it." That certainly describes our boy Antony! And a fine thing it would be for us all to be able to do that!
21:24 Torrey Philemon: One thing puzzles me - was Antony completely blind about the effect of his actions on Rome? Like his "Triumph" and Donations. Either he was dumb about the repercussions or at this point he did wish to antagonize Romans....... It's my impression he was just living in the moment and blocking the consequences out of his mind, as if Rome wasn't fully real anymore.
21:25 Mara Durotriges: The males were educated in schools without girls, I would think it alot like the British public school system of today. And of course nearly all of the highly place people got involved with the military and that's a known male bonder
21:26 Mara Durotriges: I thinks it's like we've mentioned before - that Antony sort of adjusted to whatever was the thing to do at the time
21:26 Torrey Philemon: And apparently the expression of affection between men was acceptable -- though homosexual behavior wasn't fully accepted.
21:26 Mara Durotriges: he didn't really think of the whole picture, just his place in the current frame
21:27 Torrey Philemon: Yet he did also have long range goals - like in regard to Parthia, or making alliances in the east. An interesting character, he is.
21:28 Torrey Philemon: Maybe it was that when his affections or desires were engaged, he stopped thinking! Otherwise, he thought fairly clearly and formulated goals.
21:30 Mara Durotriges: We know the Greeks thought homosexuality to be perfectly acceptable and the Romans derived many of their ideas of civilisation on that which had come before. The Greek writers were always going on about it. And the Romans were taught from their writings. Also, army life would be conducive to that sort of thing, availability and so forth
21:32 Morgana Flavius enters...
21:32 Morgana Flavius: Hello, ladies! Sorry for being late!
21:33 Mara Durotriges: Re: the Triumph and Donations: as Antony was in the East for longer and longer, he would have taken on more of what was acceptable there, not forgetting Rome so much as just going along with what was considered normal for a ruler in Egypt. "When in Rome..."
21:33 Mara Durotriges: Hey, Morgana! Good to see you!
21:33 Torrey Philemon: Or "When in Egypt...."
21:34 Morgana Flavius: (Trying to catch up with the chat)
21:36 Mara Durotriges: And Parthia: was he perhaps trying to finish Caesar's plans? Critias states on p. 145 that Antony's biography was sounding like Caesar's Gallic Wars in tone and in rewriting disasters into triumphs
21:37 Torrey Philemon: My question for you, Morgana, is what you thought of Massie's portrayal of Actium. It was a different interpretation than I read elsewhere, and one I don't quite believe. Critias indicated that Cleopatra's leaving with her ship was not plannedl, but shocked Antony.......
21:38 Mara Durotriges: Antony took on the role of the god in public festivals with Cleopatra, he would not have done that in ROme. That was part of Octavian's weaponry against him - that he had fallen into wicked eastern ways
21:38 Torrey Philemon: Yes, I believe too that Antony was attempting to finish what Caesar began. Parthia was a natural for him -- the east which he preferred, hard conditions which he thrived on, the opportunity to make alliances, the possibility of a glorious victory.
21:38 Morgana Flavius: Yeah... I think that Massie really sticked to Plutarch and noone else when he wrote his Antony.
21:38 Torrey Philemon: Oh by the way on the history channel in the U.S. in August, there's a documentary on cults that begins discussing the cult of Dionysus.......
21:40 Morgana Flavius: Still regarding Antony and his "eastern" behavior...
21:40 Torrey Philemon: Did Plutarch indicate that Cleo just fled in panic, surprising Antony? Somewhere I read that they PLANNED to escape if things got bad. Cleo was to leave, and Antony to follow.......
21:41 Morgana Flavius: Pat Southern in her book "Antony" says a lot about Antony in East BEFORE his first soujourn in Egypt.
21:42 Torrey Philemon: (Morgana obviously can't see this but for anyone else who reads this it's Monday August 14 8pm on the history channel - the history of cults)
21:42 Morgana Flavius: When Antony went to Athens, right after winning the battle in Philippi, when he took his "part" of the world after the Triumvirate agreements...
21:43 Morgana Flavius: Before Cleopatra comes into the scene, Antony was already taking up much of Eastern customs.
21:44 Morgana Flavius: ...and Southern says that this was part of his calculated politics to deal with Eastern provinces. He knew how Eastern people would not accept the cold (although efficient) Roman way of dealing with public things.
21:45 Torrey Philemon: Yes, he was already comfortable in the east. It wasn't just Cleopatra's influence. It appears that in the east one could more freely express oneself and enjoy oneself without censure in regard to not being the model citizen.
21:45 Mara Durotriges: I found this part of the Actium description to be different (I think) from what we've read before: : But it so happened that towards noon a breeze blew up, and the sea running fast, our ships were involuntarily drawn towards the enemy. But, because no command had been given, the attack was half-hearted.
21:46 Morgana Flavius: So, as part of his strategy and taking advantage of his personal charm, Antony did try to follow the "When in East..." policy, to win his subjects' favor without having to use force to compell them to disgorge the heavy taxes he needed to levi in order to pay his soldiers.
21:46 Torrey Philemon: Right, that was a different interpretation......And then Cleopatra's leaving, and how Antony left as well. I wonder if Massie made this all up or if he had other sources.
21:48 Morgana Flavius: I think Massie's description of Actium is almost completely based on Plutarch. Plutarch says that the strategy was to try to break Agrippa's blockade and get out from Actium trap with as many ships as they could.
21:48 Mara Durotriges: I personally think that Massie makes liberal use of his imagination but there are mentions in Suetonius and Tacitus, I think of this period. Can't quote you any of that though, haven't got to it yet
21:48 Torrey Philemon: As long as he had Cleopatra's wealth, Antony could afford to be generous.... But Morgana, Massie says that the escape from Actium was NOT planned. That Cleo's leaving shocked Antony. I don't think that was in Plutarch.
21:49 Morgana Flavius: And when the battle was in the middle, and no one knew for sure (yet) who would win, Cleopatra saw a clearance between the ships and just fled through it with her purple sailed ship.
21:49 Mara Durotriges: And it would be the mark of a wise ruler to incorporate as much as possible of the local customs and ways of life into a new regime - cuts down on rebellion if the everyday Joe's life goes on about the same as it always has
21:51 Torrey Philemon: Here we go again with two discussions going on simultaneously <-:..........No offense, Mara, but like Morgana I get really caught up in discussing Actium!
21:51 Morgana Flavius: Yes, Plutarch said that they had not planned Cleopatra to escape alone, as she did. She should have waited and escape when Antony would givethe sign. But Plutarch says (and I guess that Massie said the same) that Cleo could not bear the battle and fled as soon as she saw the opportunity. And that shocked Antony.
21:52 Mara Durotriges: that's ok! go to it!
21:53 Morgana Flavius: Yes, two discussions at the same time. Sounds like us. LOL!
21:53 Torrey Philemon: Massie's Critias says: "It had seemed to me that we had been holding our place, and that, if Cleopatra had launched her ships at the enemy instead of heading in the opposite direction, the engagement would have terminated successfully, and the day been ours. As it was, her flight made that impossible."
21:53 Morgana Flavius: Let me go back to one interesting comment made by Southern about the way Romans ruled the East.
21:56 Morgana Flavius: Southern said that when Antony was in Egypt, he more or less followed the policy practiced by previous Roman overlords (like Pompey, for ex.) and let the people hail him as a god. When Antony was defeated by Octavian and Octavian became the rule in Egypt, he too was hailed as a divine Pharaoh... But I guess that Octavian didn't let people in Rome think that it was un-Roman... very clever...
21:57 Morgana Flavius: So, it is clear that the whole story about Antony's "outrageous" behavior was a clear manipulation of something that had already been done by other Romans before Antony and by Octavian himself, when he got the East (and Egypt) in his hands.
21:58 Mara Durotriges: ever the hypocrite, Octavian was
21:58 Morgana Flavius: Now, back to Actium... :-)
21:58 Torrey Philemon: That's interesting.... that Octavian let himself be hailed as a Pharoah. But Octavian was quick to identity with Caesar and view Caesar as a deity so that he could indirectly bask in the radiance of a god......I also suspect that as he got more powerful, he had fewer qualms about flaunting it.
21:59 Torrey Philemon: More on the hypocritical Octavian later (I want to talk sometime about what I call Octagate - Octavian's clever methods of breaking into the Vestal Virgin's temple!)
22:00 Morgana Flavius: The point is: the ship where Cleopatra was (the purple sailed one, if the sails were really purple, which I doubt), was not taking part in the battle. She was carrying the treasure and her ship was back, protected by Antony's and the other general's ships (can't remember who was on the other wing, with Antony). When Cleo saw the clearance, she set forward. I don't believe that this would make Antony lose the battle, as Massie said.
22:04 Torrey Philemon: Some other interpretations suggest that they were losing the battle when Cleo left, and that indeed she left because of that, in order to escape intact from a no-win situation
22:04 Mara Durotriges: Massie, like Plutarch was trying to blame everything on Cleopatra
22:04 Torrey Philemon: Mara - what is your impression of what really happened at Actium?
22:05 Morgana Flavius: Apparently, the men on Antony's ships, when seeing Cleo sailing away, lost their nerve. And this is when Antony began to lose the battle. All he could do then, was to try to save his life, by running after Cleo. Not because he was madly in love, as Plutarch said, nor because Cleo's departure meant that they lost the chance to win. But simply because they could not communicate fast enough to say "hey, I'm going a little earlier then we had planned, because there's a chance to do so, and I'll see you at home as soon as you can!"
22:05 Torrey Philemon: Yes I agree, Mara, and it really annoys me. He even has a statement in which he says Antony realized that it was Cleopatra who ruined him. (Just like Eve ruined Adam, right? As if men have no ability to make a choice themselves or take responsibility for their actions!)
22:06 Torrey Philemon: Antony's lack of communication with his men may have been a major factor leading to their distrust. But do you think he didn't communicate his plan because he couldn't trust them. He had had too many deserters already.....?
22:07 Morgana Flavius: Massie does make it seem as if Cleo was coward and because of that Antony lost the battle. The only difference from Plutarch is that Massie doesn't say that Antony was so much in love that he could not stand the battle without his Egyptian lover...
22:08 Mara Durotriges: I think that the escape to regroup version is the truest. Neither Cleopatra nor Antony were cowards. It was more a live to fight another day.
22:09 Mara Durotriges: yes, Morgana, the lack of communication would have been important here
22:09 Morgana Flavius: Good point, Torrey. Maybe it was all planned since the beginning, but Antony could not tell his men because of the desertions record.
22:10 Mara Durotriges: we're used to wars where everyone's orders change as the situation changes. All these guys had to go on was previously discussed plans and what their own eyes could see.
22:11 Morgana Flavius: After reading Southern (her book is a thorough historical research on Antony's achievements, despite the difficulties to assess information about due to Octavian manipulations of records), we see that Antony was defeated in other battles and that a retreat to regroup later was something very familiar for him.
22:13 Torrey Philemon: Yes, he retreated in Parthia many times. I would think it would take incredible strength and courage to manage a retreat..... (I also recommend Southern's book)
22:14 Morgana Flavius: I'm more and more convinced that Celopatra was not a coward, Antony was not madly in love, and that their retreat was a planned thing. Their later deffeat by Octavian's troops was the real defeat. Actium was merely a postponed battle. But Octavian made sure that Actium would be his greatest achievement, and that Antony was a real coward who did not deserve Roman's forgiveness, not even after his defeat and death.
22:14 Torrey Philemon: (I have a fantasy of retelling the Antony and Cleopatra story as if it was today, with email possible in regard to communication! It would be a whole different story <-: )
22:15 Torrey Philemon: I agree witih you Morgana.
22:16 Morgana Flavius: If Octavian didn't do that, re-interpreting Actium to his own benefit, his victory over Antony and Cleopatra in Alexandria would make him look a real pig: winning over a few troops (left after the massive desertions) would not make him a great hero in Rome. And maybe Romans would still think that the great hero was Antony, who was brave enough to face Octavian with the few men that were left.
22:18 Morgana Flavius: Is Mara still with us?
22:18 Mara Durotriges: I'm still here!
22:18 Torrey Philemon: Once Cicero was gone, Octavian took over with the propaganda speeches......and even more effectively. In fact it's amazing that Antony retained as many supporters as he did - he was away from Rome for what, six years?
22:19 Torrey Philemon: Yes, Mara, feel free to bring up another subject that interests you. We can discuss other subjects besides Actium <-:
22:20 Morgana Flavius: Even before the dramatic retreat in Parthia, Antony had had to retreat for very similar reasons as in Actium: desertions and diseases, in a battle against Octavian's troops, before they reached an agreement with Lepidus and formed the 2nd Triumvirate.
22:20 Morgana Flavius: Oh good, Mara!
22:21 Torrey Philemon: It's interesting that Antony was able to maintain optimism in the most dire circumstances.....until near the end. After Actium he seemed to have lost it. For one thing, he was away from his men, so he couldn't respond to their needs.
22:21 Morgana Flavius: Yes, Mara, don't let Torrey and I talk endlessly about Actium! ;-)
22:22 Mara Durotriges: I can listen too! The battle parts aren't my strong suit
22:22 Mara Durotriges: I might just learn something - never hurts!
22:22 Torrey Philemon: (Morgana and I are the Inimitable Actiumites!)
22:24 Torrey Philemon: Mara, it's not really the battle that interests me - I'm not militarily minded - but rather what was going on with each of them. It's an intriguing mystery. Did they plan to leave together? Was Cleopatra thinking only of saving her treasure? Was Antony putting Cleo's needs ahead of his own? Were his actions premeditated or spontaneous? There are just a lot of intriguing unanswered questions.
22:25 Mara Durotriges: I do think that Antony's abandonment of his men was the catalyst for his time in seclusion in Egypt and ultimately his downfall. He had always considered himself to be a good leader and so close to his men. It must have cut him terribly to go against the thing that had been so important to him all his life. Again - his honor with men.
22:26 Torrey Philemon: (I was also last week out in the middle of the biggest Tall Ship parade that ever happened and like to imagine being in the midst of all these big sails.....)
22:26 Morgana Flavius: Yes, I think Antony was an amazing man. He really tried to win battles in the battlefield, and not in the comings and goings of spies bribing the enemy's troops. Although he did use that tactics too, but it was on a smaller scale than Octavian. Octavian is the real "advertising" paladine and "political schemes behind the stage" hero. If we really study carefully what Octavian did with Cicero and even Antony right after Caesar's death, we would not be surprised at the way he succeeded again against Antony and Cleopatra.
22:27 Torrey Philemon: I agree totally Mara. I think he felt he betrayed himself and them, and collapsed inwardly as a result. Loyalty was so obviously central to who Antony was.
22:27 Torrey Philemon: Octavian was the consummate politician. Antony was not as great a politician.
22:28 Mara Durotriges: oh neat! I've never seen one of the Tall Ships in person
22:29 Torrey Philemon: (I'm curious why we all feel so strongly that Antony was the good guy and Octavian the bad guy. There are others who hold the opposite view. And Octavian is considered by history to have been a great emperor......)
22:30 Torrey Philemon: (Actually Mara I was in the parade when they left rather when they came to Boston, and there was fog and the Coast Guard wouldn't allow them to put up their sails. So they paraded out WITHOUT their sails up!)
22:30 Morgana Flavius: Excuse me, Mara and Torrey, but why Antony collapsed? He felt he betrayed his men? But wasn't it the other way around?
22:31 Mara Durotriges: One thing that has always bothered me about Antony and I don't think we've touched on it: it appears that he knew of the plot against Caesar and was even invited to participate. Presuming his honor in his relationships with men and militarily, why did he not warn Caesar? He was supposed to be such a great friend of Caesar, he surely would have been believed.
22:32 Torrey Philemon: It's my impression Morgana that he felt betrayed by some of his men AND he felt he betrayed them when he left with Cleopatra, and left many behind to be killed.....as well as left his land troops totally on their own.
22:32 Morgana Flavius: (Yeah Torrey, I guess that the organizers of the event forgot to put a "Cleopatra" in front of the Tall Ships, to summon the winds to be agreable and the mist to fade away...) ;-)
22:34 Mara Durotriges: and as far as Antony being the good guy: we've gotten fond of him, perhaps! But all the authors protray Octavian as being a weasel, in one way or another, or perhaps we in this day don't care for the nastiness of politics - maybe that's it - military battles seem cleaner in a way than political manoeuverings
22:34 Torrey Philemon: (LOL Morgana)
22:34 Morgana Flavius enters...
22:35 Torrey Philemon: Octavian wasn't trustworthy. He was a liar and manipulator and didn't appear to act from his heart, except perhaps with Livia. Antony had his faults, but he was a man with a heart.
22:36 Morgana Flavius: Good point, Mara. What's worst: to win a battle in the battlefield, at the cost of several lives, or to win it at the cost of bribings? Anyway, at Antony and Octavian's time, a battle was always regarded as an honorable thing to do... while bribing was not so honorable.
22:37 Torrey Philemon: Also not honorable was making promises and agreements, getting all one could out of them, and not following through with one's side of the bargain.
22:39 Mara Durotriges: Also on good Antony: Massie has Critias describe Antony when he and Octavian and Lepidus were naming names for the proscriptions - describes Antony in this way: "I thought: for the first time perhaps in his life he tastes the drug of absolute power, and it has maddened him."
22:40 Torrey Philemon: That whole proscription business is probably the lowest expression of Antony's character.
22:41 Morgana Flavius: I was just reading Mara's recent post in the Cleopatra board. With the quote on Massie's opinion (by way of Critias) that Octavian was the true love of Antony, and not Cleopatra. That's an interesting (and more original view, as Plutarch did not say that, LOL).
22:42 Torrey Philemon: Yes that is an original slant of Massies. Though it's my take that Antony's commitment was more to his own principles of loyalty than to Octavian himself.
22:44 Morgana Flavius: Not really, Torrey. In her book, Southern says that Antony had 300 men from Roman troops killed (I can't remember why now), when he went to Macedonia to revenge his borther's death.
22:45 Mara Durotriges: But many of the versions we've read emphasize the incredulity with which Antony views his treatment by Octavian
22:45 Torrey Philemon: Speaking of Octavian.....I'm fascinated with the "Octagate" (my terminology) episode. How Octavian managed to get Antony's will. Very clever manipulation. It sounds almost as if arranged for a robbery to be bungled so he could get the Senate to give him permission to read the will. He was always trying to manipulate the legal system so that it would appear to support whatever he wanted.
22:46 Morgana Flavius: Also, having Cicero's head pined in the Rostra, at the Forum, was not something really "nice" on the part of Antony.
22:47 Torrey Philemon: Yes that's right, Morgana, several times he had a large number of his own men killed because of their cowardice. Apparently though that was established discipline in the military. Hard to understand!
22:47 Mara Durotriges: a clever and successful ruler - and this seems to be true throughout history - is very talented at manipulation and casting a righteous air to any wrongdoings
22:49 Torrey Philemon: About Antony's incredulity in regard to Octavian. I can relate to that. It's easy to fall into the trap of treating someone nicely and expecting that therefore he/she will treat you the same way. Expecting the other to be operating from the same motivations and intentions, and finding it difficult to accept if they have another agenda or will not meet us halfway. Antony was quick to respond to the needs of men around him - he couldn't understand Octavian's mindset.
22:49 Mara Durotriges: I read ahead in the Augustus once you mentioned the Octagate. Yes, yes, sneaky man. Apparently Livia made him pay for it. And even Octavian was nervous at fooling around with the wrath of the Goddess. That one he got out of by the skin of his teeth I think
22:49 Morgana Flavius: BTW, Torrey, one of the forms that the 3 Triumvirs used to get cash was to confiscate the properties left by wealthy citizens to the Vestal Virgins. Southern says that besides keeping peoples wills, the Vestals also were entrusted with properties. It was as if a ruler would choose the biggest bank of his country and confiscate all the contents left in the safe deposit boxes there. And Antony had concurred to that.
22:51 Torrey Philemon: (This may sound naive and cynical but I find myself going through a spiritual crisis and questioning whether there is any principle of justice or goodness prevailing in the world....so many who succeed or gain power are not the best of men)
22:52 Mara Durotriges: that's interesting, Morgana, I didn't know that
22:53 Torrey Philemon: Yes Antony was a mixed bag. He had no qualms about taking money from anyone and using it for his own needs.......Those to whom he was attached he was very attached but he could run roughshod over others.
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