Life of Antony, 6

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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6Upon this, Caesar took his army and invaded Italy. Therefore Cicero, in his “Philippics,” wrote that as Helen was the cause of the Trojan war, so Antony was the cause of the civil war.[12] But this is manifestly false. 2For Caius Caesar was not a pliable man, nor easily led by anger to act on impulse. Therefore, had he not long ago determined upon his course, he would not thus, on the spur of the moment, have made war upon his country, just because he saw that Antony, meanly clad, with Cassius, on a hired car, had come in flight to him; 3nay, this merely afforded a cloak and a specious reason for war to a man who had long wanted a pretext for it. And that which led him to war against all mankind, as it had led Alexander before him, and Cyrus of old, was an insatiable love of power and a mad desire to be first and greatest; this he could not achieve if Pompey were not put down.

4And so he came up against Rome and got it into his power, and drove Pompey out of Italy; and determining first to turn his efforts against the forces of Pompey which were in Spain, and afterwards, when he had got ready a fleet, to cross the sea against Pompey himself, he entrusted Rome to Lepidus, who was praetor, and Italy and the troops to Antony, who was tribune of the people. 5Antony at once gained the favour of the soldiers by sharing their exercises, living with them for the most part, and making them presents as generously as he could; but to everybody else he was odious. For his easy disposition led him to neglect the wronged, he listened angrily to those who consulted him, and he was in ill repute for his relations with other men’s wives. 6In a word, Caesar’s power, which proved to be anything rather than a tyranny so far as his own course was concerned, was brought into odium by his friends; and of these Antony, who had the greatest power and was thought to be the greatest transgressor, incurred the most blame.

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  • [12] Phil. ii. 22, 55: ut Helena Trojanis, sic iste huic rei publicae belli causa, causa pestis atque exitii fuit.

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