Descent and Proscription
Marcus Titius was the son of a Lucius Titius and nephew of Lucius Munatius Plancus. The offices which Lucius Titius held are not known but he was proscribed at the end of 43 BC and escaped to Sextus Pompey. Now his son Marcus Titius built a fleet and plundered the coast of Etruria. In 40 BC he was captured in Gallia Narbonensis by Menodoros, a general of Sextus Pompey, but pardoned for his father’s sake. When the triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian wanted to settle their conflict with Sextus Pompey in the Pact of Misenum in the summer of 39 BC many exiles were allowed to come back to Rome, so Marcus Titius and his father.
Career under Mark Antony
Probably under the influence of Munatius Plancus his nephew Titius soon became a follower of Mark Antony. In 36 BC Titius took part as Quaestor in the campaign of Antony against Parthia. After the Romans tried in vain to capture Phraaspa, the capital of Media Atropatene, they withdrew to Armenia, but on their way they were often attacked by the Parthian army. At one of these attacks Titius tried in vain to stop the Tribune Flavius Gallus pursuing the enemy. The army of Gallus was soon surrounded and only saved by Antony when he arrived with the main forces.
In the meantime Sextus Pompey had escaped to Lesbos Island after his final defeat by Octavian (at the end of 36 BC). On the Greek isle he raised a new army and fleet. After the return from the Parthian war Antony learnt of the arrival of Pompey and received his envoys to negotiate about an alliance. But the triumvir was mistrustful and instructed Titius to advance with an army and a fleet against Pompey and if necessary to fight against him. But if Pompey would be willing to submit he should be escorted by Titius to Alexandria. But in the meantime Pompey had landed in northwestern Asia Minor at the beginning of 35 BC without resistance by Gaius Furnius, the governor of the Roman province Asia, because Furnius did not have enough forces and did not know the orders of Antony. So Pompey could capture Lampsacus, Nicaea and Nicomedia but then Titius arrived from Syria with an army and 120 ships. The fleet of Titius was reinforced by 70 ships that arrived from Sicily where they had supported the fleet of Octavian in his battle against Pompey in the previous years. The headquarters of the ships of Titius now was Proconnesus.
Because Titius declined negotiations and had much more ships Sextus Pompey burnt his fleet, integrated its crew within his land forces and wanted to march through Bithynia to Armenia. He was pursued by the armies of Titius, Furnius and Amyntas, the king of Galatia. Pompey was able to inflict losses on his enemies by an assault but soon his situation became quite desperate. He asked the friend of his father, Furnius, for negotiations and offered his surrender if Furnius would accompany him to Antony. But Furnius referred him to Titius, apparently because he was not entitled to conclude an agreement; so it seems that Titius was the supreme commander of the army and therefore since the beginning of 35 BC the new governor of Asia. Pompey declined to surrender to Titius because he had once pardoned him as prisoner and therefore considered him ungrateful. At night Pompey tried to reach the coast with lightly armed troops and to burn the ships of Titius. But his halfbrother Marcus Aemilius Scaurus betrayed the plan so that Amyntas and his 1500 horsemen were able to catch him up near Midaeion in Phrygia and capture him. Pompey was taken to Milet and there executed in the summer of 35 BC at the order of Titius.
If Titius decided this execution on his own or by the order of Antony or Munatius Plancus is uncertain and was already disputed in ancient times. The Roman historian Cassius Dio asserts that Antony ordered the death sentence in a first letter addressed to Titius but canceled this order in a second letter. Nevertheless Pompey was executed either because Titius complied with the letter with the death sentence intentionally or because he mistook it for the second letter. The second possibility is improbable in view of the conditions of the ancient postal system. According to the military historian Appian Titius executed Pompey either because he was angry about a former insult or at the instructions of Antony. In the latter case it was possibly not the triumvir himself but Munatius Plancus who gave the order. The reason was that Antony did not want to appear as the person mainly responsible because his lover, the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII, was well-disposed towards Pompey and because of his reputation. In spite of the contradictory sources it seems quite certain that the death sentence was imposed with the knowledge and the agreement of Antony.
In 33 BC the imminent clash of the triumvirs over the sole rule in the whole Roman Empire became apparent. At the beginning of the war preparations Antony assembled his troops in Ephesus (winter 33/32 BC). There Titius together with his uncle Munatius Plancus, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and other leading followers of Antony tried in vain to persuade the triumvir to send Cleopatra back to Egypt. Soon Antony moved the headquarters to Samos Island. Apparently Titius accompanied his commander-in-chief to this island because there was found an inscription dedicated to him.
Defection to Octavian
In June or July 32 BC Munatius Plancus and his nephew Titius defected to Octavian. According to the ancient biographer Plutarch the two men changed their party because they were treated insulting by Cleopatra due to their refusal of her participation in the war. The true reason for their defection may be found in their opportunism. In the past they were friends of Cleopatra who named the city Titiopolis in Cilicia after Titius. But during the course of the propagandistic and military preparations of the war the uncle and his nephew might have increasingly doubted that Antony would win the war so that they changed sides. Perhaps their decision was also influenced by quarrels with other leading followers of Antony, Plancus’ relations with Antony which had cooled off and other reasons which were covered up by the propaganda of Octavian.
The two deserters informed Octavian about the content of Antony’s testament and the place where it was kept. They knew this information because they had earlier signed the testament as witnesses. The later Emperor illegally seized the document that was kept at the Vestal Virgins and found in its (perhaps forged) regulations – especially Antony’s confirmation of the territorial gifts to Cleopatra’s children and his desire to be buried in Egypt – further reasons to obtain full support of the senate and people for his war against Antony.
Career under Octavian-Augustus
In Rome Titius promoted games in the theatre of Sextus Pompey. But the dead man still enjoyed great popularity. Therefore his murderer was booed off the stage and had quickly to leave the theatre because he was afraid of the excited crowd. From May to October 31 BC Titius was suffect consul. In this function he participated in the last fights before the decisive Battle of Actium. Together with Titus Statilius Taurus he defeated the cavalry of Antony. At this opportunity Deiotarus Philadelphus, the king of Paphlagonia, deserted to Octavian.
In about 13/12 BC Titius became governor of Syria as successor of the close friend and admiral of Octavian, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. The Jewish king Herod the Great was able to settle the quarrel between Titius and king Archelaus of Cappadocia, when he accompanied Archelaus to Antioch and there met Titius. Titius also received four children, four grandchildren and two daughters-in-law of the Parthian king Phraates IV as hostages. It is unknown when Titius died.
- Full name with filiation: CIL III 7160 = CIL III 455
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.30.5-6
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.30.5; Appian Civil Wars 5.142
- Velleius, Roman History 2.77.3
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.18.2
- Plutarch, Antony 42.2-4
- Appian, Civil Wars 5.133-136; Cassius Dio, Roman History, 49.18.1-3; Orosius 6.19.2.
- Appian, Civil Wars 5.137-139
- Appian, Civil Wars 5.140.
- Appian, Civil Wars 5.140-144; Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.18.4-5; Velleius, Roman History 2.79.5; Strabo, Geographica 3.2, p. 141; Orosius 6.19.2; Livy, periochae 131; Eutropius 7.6.1
- Cassius Dio, Roman History 49.18.4-5; Appian, Civil Wars 5.144
- R. Hanslik (see references), col. 1561; J. Brambach, Kleopatra, 1996, p. 270-272
- CIL IX 5853.
- Plutarch, Antony 56.3-5; 58.3
- IGR IV 1716
- Velleius, Roman History 2.83.1-2; Plutarch, Antony 58.3; Cassius Dio, Roman History 50.3.2-3
- Plutarch, Antony 58.3
- Michael Grant, Cleopatra, German edition 1998, p. 265-266; C. Schäfer, Kleopatra, 2006, p. 209
- C. Schäfer, Kleopatra, 2006, p. 210
- Plutarch, Antony 58.3-8; Cassius Dio, Roman History 50.3.2-4
- Velleius, Roman History 2.79.5; Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.30.5
- CIL I² p. 61 und 160; Cassius Dio, Roman History 48.30; 49.18; 50.13
- Plutarch, Antony 63.5; Cassius Dio, Roman History 50.13.5; Livy, periochae 132; Orosius 6.19.7
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 16.270.
- Strabo, Geographica 16.1.28, p. 748
- SEG 1, 383
- Rudolf Hanslik: Titius 18). In: Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Vol. VI A, col. 1559-1562.
- PIR 1 T 196