A study of Fulvia
Weir, Allison Jean
Fulvia, wife of Mark Antony , Roman history , Historiography , Roman Civil War
Who was Fulvia? Was she the politically aggressive and dominating wife of Mark Antony as Cicero and Plutarch describe her? Or was she a loyal mother and wife, as Asconius and Appian suggest? These contrasting accounts in the ancient sources warrant further investigation. This thesis seeks to explore the nature of Fulvia’s role in history to the extent that the evidence permits. Fulvia is most famous for her activities during Antony’s consulship (44 BC) and his brother Lucius Antonius’ struggle against C. Octavian in the Perusine War (41-40 BC). But there is a discrepancy among the authors as to what extent she was actually involved. Cicero, Octavian and Antony, who were all key players in events, provide their own particular versions of what occurred. Later authors, such as Appian and Dio, may have been influenced by these earlier, hostile accounts of Fulvia. This is the first study in English to make use of all the available evidence, both literary and material, pertaining to Fulvia. Modern scholarship has a tendency to concentrate almost exclusively on events towards the end of Fulvia’s life, in particular the Perusine War, about which the evidence is much more abundant in later sources such as Appian and Dio. However, to do this ignores the importance of her earlier activities which, if studied more fully, can help to explain her later actions in the 40’s BC. This thesis is divided into five chapters. The first provides an introduction to the topic and a biography of Fulvia. The second is a review of the modern scholarship on Fulvia. The third focuses on the contemporary sources, both the literary evidence from Cicero, Cornelius Nepos and Martial, as well as the surviving material evidence, namely the sling bullets found at Perusia and a series of coins that may depict Fulvia in the guise of Victoria. The fourth is a discussion of those authors born after Fulvia’s death in 40 BC, of whom the most important are Plutarch, Appian, and Dio. The fifth provides a conclusion to the thesis, and returns to the questions posed above in light of the analysis of the sources provided throughout the thesis. It concludes that Fulvia played a significant role in events, particularly from Antony’s consulship onwards, and that her actions were deliberate and politically motivated. Moreover, while these actions were done on her husbands’ behalf, she nevertheless exhibited a remarkable degree of independence.