Map of the Donations of Alexandria -
Map of the Donations of
in 34 B.C.
This map reveals the Roman
provinces belonging to Marc Antony, Italy and the Roman provinces
belonging to Octavian, the territories belonging to Cleopatra's
children, and the boundary between Antony and Octavian.
In 34 B.C. Marc Antony
successfully campaigned against the Armenians and celebrated a triumphal
parade through Alexandria, while Cleopatra (proclaimed as the New Isis)
presided over the parade. When Rome heard they took it to mean that it
was a triumph for Rome. A few days later there was an even more
elaborate ceremony, in the great Gymnasium of Alexandria Antony and
Cleopatra (enthroned as king and queen) bestowed titles upon their royal
Ptolemy XV Caesar (Caesarion) was made joint ruler of
Egypt with his mother Cleopatra VII. He was proclaimed "king of
kings" and she was proclaimed "queen of kings" (a higher
Alexander Helios was dressed like an Achaemenid monarch and
was declared "great king" of what was the Seleucid empire in
its glory along with Parthia.
Cleopatra Selene (Alexander
Helios's sister) was declared queen of Cyrenaica and Crete.
Philadelphos (the youngest son of Antony and Cleopatra) whose name
utters past glories was made king of Syria and Asia Minor at the age of
two and he also was dressed in Macedonian royal robes.
The only person
standing in the way of Antony and Cleopatra's dreams of this "New
Order" was Octavian, the adopted son of Julius Caesar who would
soon defeat them at the Battle of Actium.
The Donations of Alexandria excerpt from
The Donations of Alexandria (Autumn
34 BC) were a political statement by Mark Antony in which he
distributed lands held by Rome and Parthia amongst Cleopatra VII and
their children. The Donations caused a fatal breach in Antony's
relations with Rome and were amongst the causes of the Final War of
the Roman Republic.
After Mark Antony successfully invaded Armenia, he captured the
Royal Family of Armenia and staged a mock Roman Triumph in the
streets of Alexandria. The parade through the city was a pastiche of
Rome's most important military celebration. For the finale, the
whole city was summoned to the Gymnasium of Alexandria, where Antony
and Cleopatra VII were dressed as Dionysus Osiris and Isis Aphrodite
sat on golden thrones. Their four children were similarly decked in
the garbs of their new kingdoms. Mark Antony was about to put an end
to his alliance with Octavian by donating Roman territory and more
to their children.
The Donations itself included:
Alexander Helios was named king of Armenia and Media and Parthia
(which were never conquered by Rome);
his twin Cleopatra Selene II got Cyrenaica and Libya; the young
Ptolemy Philadelphus was awarded Syria and Cilicia; Cleopatra was
proclaimed Queen of Kings and Queen of Egypt, to rule with Caesarion
(Ptolemy XV Caesar, son of Julius Caesar), King of Kings and King of
Egypt; Caesarion was declared legitimate son and heir of Caesar.
Distributing Roman lands and lands never conquered by Rome amongst
the children of Cleopatra was not a peace move, but it was not a
serious problem either. What did seriously threaten Octavian's
political position, however, was the acknowledgement of Caesarion as
legitimate and heir to Caesar's name. Octavian's base of power was
his link with Caesar through adoption, which granted him much-needed
popularity and loyalty of the legions. To see this convenient
situation attacked by a child borne by the richest woman in the
world was something Octavian could not accept. In response, Octavian
increased the personal attacks against Marc Antony and Cleopatra and
the triumvirate expired on the last day of 33 BC not to be renewed.
Another civil war was beginning.
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