Antony and Cleopatra: The Events Leading to the Donations of Alexandria and its Aftermath
Chad Scott Brown
University of Utah Member ΦΑΘ-AP
Published in Utah Historical Review, Vol III.
Having defeated Sextus Pompey as well as relieving Lepidus of his Triumvir status in 36 BCE, Octavian had control of the Western Roman territories. But with the future Augustus taking Lepidus’ former troops and territories of Africa under his control, Octavian was forcing the hand of his other partner in the triumvirate, Mark Antony. Seeing Octavian’s grasp on Italy and the West tightening, Antony now seemingly fell under the spell of Cleopatra of Egypt. In a stunning act known as the Donations of Alexandria in 35 BCE, Antony bestowed the rule of several eastern kingdoms to Cleopatra and her children. With the Donations, Antony was trying to establish and legitimize his rule, as well as Cleopatra’s, over the eastern world. This would supplant any claim Octavian had on the East, but it also put Antony squarely at odds with the traditions of Rome itself. To the people of Rome, however, it appeared that Antony was blinded by love; tricked by Cleopatra into throwing away his allegiance to Rome and setting up a renewed Ptolemaic dynasty in the East. While it does appear that Antony did love Cleopatra, he was in fact taking careful deliberate actions; combining his remaining forces with Cleopatra’s in order to ultimately defeat Octavian and take back Rome for himself.