maandag 1 februari 2010

Fulvia, wife of Marcus Antonius

Fulvia, the daughter of M.Fulvius Bambalio and Sempronia Tuditani filia, played a significant and deliberate political motivated role in events particularly during the consulship (44 B.C.) of her husband Marcus Antonius and his brother Lucius Antonius’ struggle against C. Octavianus in the Perusine War (41-40 B.C.)

Fulvia, described by Octavianus’ mendacious and gross propaganda as domineering, jealous, impatient and war-mongering, appears to have been one of those high-spirited very influential and powerful Roman matrons like Servilia, the mother of M.Brutus and Caesar’s mistress.

(Quoting Syme’s rehabilitation: “Octavianus exaggerated the role of Fulvia at the time and later, putting her person and her acts in a hateful light; and there was nobody afterwards, from piety or even from perversity, to redeem her memory.”)

These formidable Roman ladies commanded political influence in their own right.
But however formidable a lady, Fulvia’s ability to act in political affairs was – due to the male-dominated political society - limited to influencing the men around her, more specifically her husbands. All three had active political careers, appear to have been rather close friends, and all three had supported Julius Caesar.

Fulvia married thrice, the first time c. 62-60 to P.Clodius Pulcher, tribune of the plebs in 58 B.C. whom she bore two children:
1.P.Clodius P.f.Ap.n.Ap.pron.Pulcher, quaestor, praetor,
augur, and
2.Clodia, who married C.Octavianus in 42, their marriage
never seems to have been consumated and ended in a
divorce in 41.

Clodius got killed near Bovillae in January 52 B.C. during
a skirmish with adherents of his political enemy Milo.

Her second husband, whom she married at least late in 52, was C.Scribonius Curio, trib.plebis 50 B.C. In an attempt to conquer Africa for Caesar he got killed by the forces of king Juba during the battle in the valley of Bagradas near Carthage in 49, and once again she became a widow. Their son C.Scribonius Curio was executed by order of Octavianus after the battle of Actium (31 B.C.)

Marriage number three was in 46 B.C. to Marcus Antonius,
 III vir.r.p.c.
Out of this marriage were born the ill fated Antonius Antyllus and Iullus Antonius.
Antyllus, born in February/March 44 B.C. was strangled by order of Octavianus at Alexandria in 30 B.C.

Iullus, born in 42, married Marcella maior, daughter of C.Claudius Marcellus, consul in 50 B.C. and of Octavia minor, younger sister of Octavianus, the future Augustus.

Iullus was charged of having an adulterous affair with Julia, Augustus’ daughter, and executed in A.D.2. The real reason was more likely because of a conspiracy against Augustus’ rule.

Fulvia died in the 2e half of 40 B.C. at Cisyon in Macedonia, where she had fled to after the fall of Perusia in the spring of 40 B.C.

Nowhere in the ancient sources is a hint given of her age at anytime. However, contrary to the husband no variation attends upon the marriage age of the bride under the Republic or the Empire, fourteen or fifteen can be taken for normal in the upper order. While instances occur of twelve or thirteen, anything over sixteen will be regarded as exceptional.
Her first marriage was in c.62-60 which would make her date
of birth c.75 B.C., thus she would have been about 35
when she died.

She seems to have been the last of the Fulvii and the Sempronii Tuditani, both families of very old plebeian nobility who, as so many other noble families, were dying out by the end of the Republic.

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