Antonii – it’s complicated

The Antonii were, at least for what has survived to us, a rather small family. The family name is dominated by the memory of the triumvir M. Antonius, but for Romans before his time the most notable representative of the family was his grandfather, who was one of the most skilled speakers of his era. Grandfather Antonius (M. Antonius orator to differentiate him from M. Antonius triumvir) was also respected for his wisdom. Generations of Antonii before him we know very little. We have just few names, but no information about individuals or their relations. In the family tree below I have placed M. Antonius ( 167) as his father, but he could also his grandfather. In any case we know that M. Antonius orator was M.f. M.n., and that tribunus plebis of 167 was his relative. Until the generation of M. Antonius orator the situation therefore is clear: we know little about Antonii.

The children of orator however are the generation where something peculiar happen to Antonii. The marriage arrangements of orator’s children and their children can be described only as being complicated. The centre-figure is the triumvir and his numerous marriages.


First M. Antonius triumvir was married to Fadia, a daughter of freedman, of which we don’t know more than that Antonius’ and Fadias children were all dead before year 44. The second wife of triumvir Antonius was his cousin Antonia, whom he divorced in order to marry Fulvia Flacca. This Fulvia was a daughter of Fulvius Flaccus, who was brother of another Fulvia who was married to L. Julius Caesar (cos 90) and their daughter Julia was triumvir’s mother! In other words triumvir Antonius married the cousin of his mother, Fulvia.

Triumvir Antonius had a daughter and two sons with Fulvia, and other of those sons, Jullus Antonius, married Claudia Marcella. This Claudia was a daughter of C. Claudius Marcellus and Octavia. This same Octavia also become triumvir Antonius’ fourth wife, so Octavia´s stepson Jullus married her daughter Claudia as the result of triumvir Antonius’ maritial arrangements!

To these quite remarkable achievements of M. Antonius in the sphere of marriage arrangements we can also add his contribution with no less than queen Kleopatra of Egypt herself: three children Alexander Helios, Ptolemaios Philadelphos and Kleopatra Selene II. We also might notice that triumvir’s blood ran through veins of some of the first Roman emperors as well as his and Octavia’s daughters married L. Domitius Ahenobarbus and Nero Claudius Drusus.