Monday, 24 April 2017

Octavian and the Battle of Actium

Octavian was the son of Julius Caesar's niece. Octavian was only 20 years old when he learned of Caesar's assassination. Caesar had adopted him as his son posthumously, and Octavian returned to Italy to avenge his murder.

He leveraged his association with Caesar to gain power. In 43 BCE, he formed the Second Triumvirate with Marc Antony and Lepidus. They defeated Brutus and Cassius and divided the empire, with Octavian holding most of the West and Antony the East.
Antony grew progressively closer to Cleopatra while Octavian worked to restore Italy. In 33 BC, the Second Triumvirate ended, leaving Antony without any legal authority. Octavian then began a campaign against Antony, declaring war against Cleopatra.
Octavian’s admiral Marcus Agrippa held Antony’s fleet back in the bay of Actium in Greece. On September 2, Antony and Cleopatra managed to escape and break free, accompanied by a small squadron, leaving the rest of his men to surrender to Octavian. Antony fled to Alexandria where he and Cleopatra eventually took their own lives in August, 30 BCE after being cornered by Octavian; this marked the end of the Roman civil wars. Rome was officially transformed from a Republic to a Principate in January, 27 BCE. Octavian renounced his old name and only used “Augustus”.
Over the next 40 years, Augustus shared his authority with the Senate. It would not be until Augustus’ coinage reform in 23 BCE that the gold aureus would come into standard use. In addition to his reorganization of the state and institutions of Rome, Augustus introduced a formal system of fixed ratios between denominations of coins.