Iullus Antonius

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Iullus Antonius (45 BC – 2 BC), also known as Iulus, Julus or Jullus, was the second son of Mark Antony and his third wife Fulvia. He is best known for being the famous lover of Julia the Elder. He was the full brother of Marcus Antonius Antyllus, half-brother of Clodia Pulchra (the first wife of Augustus) through his mother's first marriage, half-brother of Antonia Major and Antonia Minor through his father's marriage to Octavia Minor, and half-brother of Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus through his father's marriage to Cleopatra VII. His stepsiblings were Marcellus, Claudia Marcella Major (later his wife), Caesarion and Claudia Marcella Minor. He was also stepson to Octavia Minor (sister of Augustus) and Cleopatra VII.

Life[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in Rome, Iullus and his elder brother had a disruptive childhood. His mother Fulvia gained many enemies including Octavian (nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar). His half-sister, Clodia Pulchra had been Octavian's first wife, however in 41 BC he divorced Clodia without ever having consummated the marriage and married Scribonia, the mother of Julia the Elder, Octavian's only child. Fulvia saw this as an insult on her family and, together with Iullus's uncle Lucius Antonius, they raised eight legions in Italy to fight for Antonius' rights against Octavian. The army occupied Rome for a short time, but eventually retreated to Perusia (modern Perugia). Octavian besieged Fulvia and Lucius in the winter of 41-40 BC, starving them into surrender. Fulvia was exiled to Sicyon, where she died of a sudden illness.

In the same year of Fulvia's death, his father Mark Antony re-married to Octavian's full sister, Octavia Minor. The marriage had to be approved by the Senate as Octavia was pregnant with her first husband's child, Claudia Marcella Minor, at the time. The marriage was for political purposes to cement an alliance between Octavian and Mark Antony. Octavia appears to have been a loyal and faithful wife who was good and treated her husband's children with the same kindness as her own. Between 40 BC–36 BC, Octavia lived with him in his Athenian mansion. She raised both of Mark Antony's sons and her children by her first husband together for the years of her marriage to their father. They all travelled with him to various provinces. During the marriage Octavia produced two daughters, who became Iullus's half-sisters, Antonia Major and Antonia Minor. Antonia Major was the paternal grandmother of the Emperor Nero and maternal grandmother of the Empress Valeria Messalina. Antonia Minor was the sister-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, mother of the Emperor Claudius, and maternal great-grandmother/paternal great-aunt of the Emperor Nero.

Civil war[edit]

In 36 BC Mark Antony abandoned Octavia and her children in Rome and sailed to Alexandria to rejoin his former lover Cleopatra VII (they had already met in 41 BC and had twins). Mark Antony divorced Octavia circa 32 BC. Iullus and his half-sisters returned to Rome with Octavia while Antyllus remained with his father in Egypt. Antyllus was raised by Cleopatra beside his father's children by her, Ptolemy Philadelphus, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II, and their stepbrother Caesarion.

In the Battle of Actium the fleets of Antony and Cleopatra were destroyed, and they fled back to Egypt. In August 30 BC Octavian, assisted by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, invaded Egypt. With no other refuge to escape to, Mark Antony committed suicide by falling on his sword, having been tricked into thinking that Cleopatra had already done so. A few days later, Cleopatra herself did actually commit suicide.

Octavian and his army seized control of Egypt and claimed it as part of the Roman Empire. While Iullus' elder brother Marcus Antonius Antyllus and his stepbrother Caesarion were murdered by Octavian, he showed some mercy to the half siblings Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus. They were given to Iullus' first stepmother Octavia to be raised as Roman citizens. In 27 BC they returned to Rome, and Octavian was given the title of Augustus.

Career and marriage[edit]

Following the civil wars Iullus was granted high favours from Augustus, through Octavia's influence. In 21 BC Augustus wished for Agrippa, who was the husband of Iullus's stepsister Claudia Marcella Major, to marry his own daughter Julia the Elder. Through Agrippa's marriage to Julia, he became the maternal grandfather of the Emperor Caligula. He was also a father-in-law of Tiberius through Vipsania Agrippina, his daughter by Pomponia Caecilia Attica, and a father-in-law of Germanicus by Agrippina the Elder, his second daughter with Julia the Elder. Consequently, when marrying Julia, Agrippa divorced Marcella, and Octavia obliged Iullus to marry Marcella himself. Their sons were Lucius Antonius, Gaius Antonius and a daughter Iulla Antonia.

Iullus became praetor in 13 BC, consul in 10 BC and Asian proconsul in 7 BC, and was highly regarded by Augustus.[1][2] He is mentioned by Horace in his own poetry where he speaks of an occasion when Iullus intended to write a higher kind of poetry praising Augustus for his success in Gaul.[3] Iullus was also a poet and is credited with having written twelve volumes of poetry on Diomedia some time before 13 BC, which has not survived.[4]

Scandal and death[edit]

Although when it began is unsure, Iullus Antonius became a lover of Julia the Elder. Agrippa died in 12 BC and Julia had been forced to remarry her stepbrother, Tiberius. Julia's marriage to her stepbrother had become a disaster and she was desperate to divorce him if not satisfy her desires, and Iullus was open to do so. Tiberius had left Rome in 8 BC leaving Julia and her five children by Agrippa, Gaius Caesar, Lucius Caesar, Julia the Younger, Agrippina the Elder, and Agrippa Postumus, in Rome. Julia felt that her children were unprotected and may have approached Iullus to be a protector for her children, especially her two elder sons, Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, who were Augustus' joint heirs.

Both contemporary and modern historians have suggested Iullus had designs upon the monarchy[5] and wanted to marry Julia before her children Gaius and Lucius came of age possibly to form some sort of regency.[6] It is unlikely, however, that Julia would have put her father or her sons at risk. It is possible that she planned to divorce Tiberius and make Iullus Antonius protector of her sons.[7]

The scandal finally broke in 2 BC, Augustus took action on his daughter Julia's copious promiscuity, Antonius was exposed as her prominent lover. The other men accused of adultery with Julia were exiled but Iullus was not so lucky. He was charged with treason and sentenced to death; subsequently, he committed suicide. Iullus Antonius is on the Ara Pacis in Rome.

Notable relatives[edit]

Iullus Antonius was connected to many members of the imperial family through blood and marriage. As the result of his parents' marriages and his own, he was connected to various families in Rome.

Through all of these family ties, he was also the step-nephew of Augustus and step-cousin of Julia the Elder, Augustus' daughter, therefore he was also step-cousin of Julia's children also. Through his half-sister Antonia Minor, he was a maternal uncle of Germanicus, Livilla and the Emperor Claudius. Lastly, he was a paternal great-uncle of the Emperor Caligula, Julia's grandson by Agrippa, and the Empress Agrippina the Younger, Julia's eldest granddaughter, and Claudius's niece and fourth wife, as well as other children fathered by Germanicus and his wife Agrippina the Elder: Nero Caesar, Drusus Caesar, Julia Drusilla, and Julia Livilla. Through Agrippina the Younger, Iullus was a maternal great-great-uncle of the Emperor Nero. Through his half-sister Antonia Major and stepsister Claudia Marcella Minor, he was also great-uncle to Claudius's third wife Valeria Messalina. Iullus was Messalina's great-uncle both maternally and paternally, because respectively Antonia and Claudia Marcella were half-sisters.

Ancestry[edit]

Iullus in popular culture[edit]

Iullus is portrayed in many modern literature and television adaptations in a variety of ways. Many modern writers portray him as a womanizer and stress on the relationship between him and Julia, be it political or romantic.

Literature[edit]

  • In I, Claudius, a novel by Robert Graves
    • Briefly mentioned as being Julia's current lover at the time of her exile. He is the only one forced to commit suicide because Augustus could not stand the thought of his daughter and Mark Antony's son together.
  • In I Loved Tiberius, a novel by Elisabeth Dored
    • Iullus and his sister Antonia Major are Julia's best friends throughout the novel. After Tiberius retires to Rhodes, Iullus admits to Julia that he's in love with her. It is unclear if they have a sexual relationship or not.
  • In Augustus: A Novel by John Williams
    • Iullus is honourable, he admires Augustus at first and hates his father Mark Antony. However, after falling in love with Julia, he plots to have Tiberius murdered in order to free her from her marriage to him when Augustus does not grant a divorce.
  • In Caesar's Daughter a novel by Edward Burton
    • Iullus is ambitious but loyal to the Julian family, and secretly wishes to marry Julia. He pursues Julia sexually and tries to convince her help him murder Tiberius. Subsequently, Iullus and his political friends are all accused of conspiring against Tiberius and Augustus as well as adultery with Julia.
  • In Augustus and Tiberius novels by Allan Massie
    • Iullus is described as cruel, spiteful and full of hate without a trace of goodness. In Augustus, he eggs Julia on with her adulteries and plots to murder both Augustus and Tiberius, and marry Julia. In Tiberius, he confides in Tiberius that he wishes to marry Julia.

Drama[edit]

  • In the British/Italian mini series, Imperium: Augustus
    • Iullus was portrayed by Juan Diego Botto as the handsome, ambitious son of Mark Antony, who wants revenge for his father's death. However after falling in love with Julia, he is pressured into treason by Cornelius Scipio. He is executed by Tiberius by (Lex Iulia) his right of the law. He plays a major role in the film, being the driving force behind a plot to assassinate Augustus.
  • In the BBC Television mini series adaptation of I, Claudius
    • Iullus Antonius is oddly absent from the tale. When Julia is accused of having her affairs, Iullus Antonius' name is not mentioned. Historically, Iullus was Julia's most famous and noted lover. The discovery of their affair both shocked and humiliated Julia's father, Augustus. (It should also be noted that Julia's other alleged lovers were also unmentioned.)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Marcus Velleius Paterculus 2.100
  2. ^ Syme, Ronald, Augustan History, p398.
  3. ^ Horace, Odes 4.2 (Pindarum quisquis studet aemulari, Iulle)
  4. ^ Kenney, E.J, Clausen, Clausen, W.J. The Cambridge History of Classical Literature(1983) p187. ISBN 0-521-27373-0
  5. ^ Cassius Dio, LV.10.12-16
  6. ^ Cassius Dio LV.10.15
  7. ^ Levick, Barbara, Tiberius the Politician, p26.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Quintus Aelius Tubero and Paullus Fabius Maximus
Consul of the Roman Empire
10 BC
Succeeded by
Nero Claudius Drusus and Titus Quinctius Crispinus Sulpicianus