Life of Antony, 4

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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4He had also a noble dignity of form; and a shapely beard, a broad forehead, and an aquiline nose were thought to show the virile qualities peculiar to the portraits and statues of Hercules. Moreover, there was an ancient tradition that the Antonii were Heracleidae, being descendants of Anton, a son of Heracles. 2And this tradition Antony thought that he confirmed, both by the shape of his body, as has been said, and by his attire. For whenever he was going to be seen by many people, he always wore his tunic girt up to his thigh, a large sword hung at his side, and a heavy cloak enveloped him. However, even what others thought offensive, namely, his jesting and boastfulness, his drinking-horn in evidence, his sitting by a comrade who was eating, or his standing to eat at a soldier’s table,—it is astonishing how much goodwill and affection for him all this produced in his soldiers. 3And somehow even his conduct in the field of love was not without its charm, nay, it actually won for him the favour of many; for he assisted them in their love affairs, and submitted pleasantly to their jests upon his own amours.

Further, his liberality, and his bestowal of favours upon friends and soldiers with no scant or sparing hand, laid a splendid foundation for his growing strength, and when he had become great, lifted his power to yet greater heights, although it was hindered by countless faults besides. One illustration of his lavish giving I will relate. 4To one of his friends he ordered that two hundred and fifty thousand drachmas should be given (a sum which the Romans call “decies”).[9] His steward was amazed, and in order to show Antony the magnitude of the sum, deposited the money in full view. Antony, passing by, asked what that was; and whenhis steward told him it was the gift which he had ordered, he divined the man’s malice and said: “I thought the decies was more; this is a trifle; therefore add as much more to it.”

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  • [9] That is ten times 100,000 sesterces, or 250,000 denarii. For the Roman denarius Plutarch regularly uses the nearly equivalent Greek drachma (which had about the value of the French franc).

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