In 54 BC, Antony joined Caesar in Gaul where he became his valued military commander and personal friend. Later, he commanded Caesar’s right wing in the battle of Pharsalus in which Caesar defeated Pompey the Great. Caesar then went on to Spain to finish off the remnants of Pompey’s army led by his two sons. He sent Antony to Rome as his representative to rule Italy in his absence. Antony’s lifestyle of excessive self-indulgence and debauchery caused great unhappiness in Rome. Soon there were uprisings which Antony put down with violence, his soldiers killing citizens in the streets. Caesar, upon his return to Rome, became unhappy with Antony over this, and the two became alienated, though Caesar did his best to handle Antony with a gentle and forgiving spirit.
In 50 BC, Antony’s close friend, Curio, became a tribune and shortly thereafter died in war. Over a year later, Antony married Curio’s wealthy and politically powerful widow, Fulvia, who was a tough, domineering, and ambitious woman. She managed to settle Antony down, some of it by helping him with his financial problems. During this time, Antony was approached by Caius Trebonius who hinted at a plot to assassinate Caesar. Antony understood Trebonius’ meaning but walked away from it and remained loyal to Caesar. However, he did not make Caesar aware of the intended plot.
In 44 BC, Antony and Caesar reconciled when Caesar chose him as his partner consul for that year, the two ruling Rome together. In February, at the festival of Lupercalia, Antony offered Caesar a crown, which he refused, thereby making a symbolic gesture that he did not want to be king. On the Ides March, Caesar was assassinated inside Pompey’s Hall while Antony was detained on the portico outside by Caius Trebonius. That evening, Antony was approached by the conspirators. He had dinner with Cassius, one of the leaders of the plot to assassinate Caesar, while Lepidus, the Master of the Horse, had dinner with Marcus Brutus the other leader. Antony manipulated the Senate into declaring Caesar an innocent victim. Then, he gave a fiery funeral oration for Caesar which rallied the people against Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators. All seemed to be going his way, but he could not have imagined how Caesar’s assassination had stirred the vengeful spirit of Caesar’s cunning and dangerous eighteen-year-old great nephew, Octavian, who’d been far away at camp in Apollonia, Illyricum, at the time of the assassination.