Everyone can name a couple made up of famous, rich, or powerful partners, who cultivate a joint media image which is stronger than either of their individual identities. Since the 1980s they have been known as "power couples". Yet while the term is recent, the concept is not. More than 2,000 years ago, Greeks and Romans became aware of the media potential of couples and used it as an instrument to reinforce political power. Notable examples are Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, or the Emperor Augustus and his wife Livia.

Power Couples in Antiquity brings together the reflections of ten specialists on Greek and Roman power couples from the fourth century BCE to the first century CE. It is focused on the birth and the development of the "ruling couple" in the Hellenistic Greek kingdoms and in Rome between the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire. By taking some emblematic cases, this book analyses the redistribution of public and private roles within these couples, examines the sentimental bonds or the relations of domination established between partners, explores how these relationships played out in private, and highlights the many common points between ancient and contemporary power couples. This book offers a fascinating insight into power dynamics in the ancient world, exploring not only the subtleties within these often complex relationships, but also their relationships with their subjects through the cultivation and manipulation of their joint public image.

chapter |15 pages


Power couples: from antiquity to the contemporary world
ByAnne Bielman Sánchez

chapter 1|16 pages

An exceptional Argead couple

Philip II and Olympias
ByElizabeth Carney

chapter 2|10 pages

Looking for the Seleucid couple 1

ByMarie Widmer

chapter 3|27 pages

A change of husband

Cleopatra Thea, stability and dynamism of Hellenistic royal couples (150–129 bce)
ByMonica D’Agostini

chapter 4|30 pages

Marital crises or institutional crises? Two Ptolemaic couples under the spotlight *

ByAnne Bielman Sánchez, Virginie Joliton

chapter 5|17 pages

The magistrate and the queen *

Antony and Cleopatra
ByMarie-Claire Ferriès

chapter 6|20 pages

Mark Antony and the women at his side *

ByAnn-Cathrin Harders

chapter 7|15 pages

An exceptional and eternal couple

Augustus and Livia
ByFrancesca Cenerini

chapter 8|15 pages

A love poet’s script for an Augustan power couple

Propertius 4.11
ByJudith P. Hallett

chapter 9|13 pages

Claudius and his wives

The normality of the exceptional?
ByThomas Späth

chapter 10|30 pages

Power couples in antiquity

An initial survey
ByAnne Bielman Sánchez