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The love story between the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and the Roman general Mark Anthony also involved staging a war known as the Battle of Actium. It was in this battle that Cleopatra and Mark Anthony’s combined forces fought against the Roman military leader Octavian’s fleet. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BCE in the Ionian Sea.
See the fact file below for more information on the Battle of Actium or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Battle of Actium worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BEFORE THE BATTLE
- Prior to the Battle of Actium, there was an alliance between Mark Antony, Octavian, and the Roman statesman Marcus Lepidus. This alliance known as the Second Triumvirate began to fall apart when Mark Antony decided to leave his wife, Octavian’s sister Octavia Minor.
- After leaving his wife, Mark Antony moved to Egypt where he began a romance with Cleopatra. Cleopatra had a son named Caesarion whose father Julius Caesar was the Roman leader responsible for the rise of the Roman Empire.
- Mark Antony began acting independently after years of alliance with Octavian. He and Cleopatra decided to formally ascend the then 13-year old Caesarion as “King of the Kings”. This led Octavian to denounce Antony as an enemy of Rome.
- When he was 19 years old, Octavian was officially adopted as Julius Caesar’s only son and sole heir of his enormous wealth. Octavian thus saw Caesarion and Cleopatra of Egypt as threats to his power.
- Antony and Cleopatra then went to the Greek city of Ephesus on the coast of Ionia. A vast fleet from all parts of the East furnished by Cleopatra had already gathered in preparation for a possible conflict.
- Octavian had also begun his own preparations. One of his generals had already succeeded in capturing Methone, a Greek town allied with Antony. He also obtained possession of Antony’s will and made it known throughout Rome how Antony was acting as the effective agent of Cleopatra.
- This elicited an intense feeling against Antony that his deposition from the consulship took immediate effect. Octavian was also able to assure a vote to proclaim war against Cleopatra, which was understood to mean a war against Antony.
ORDER OF BATTLE
- While the troops of both parties were positioned, Octavian initiated proposals for a conference with Antony. These were however rejected so both sides prepared for a more severe struggle the following year.
- Octavian’s general Agrippa launched many forays along the coasts of Greece. These attacks were primarily meant to distract Antony. By August of that year, troops had landed on Antony’s camp. This led him to abandon the north side and confine his soldiers to the southern camp.
- Upon advice from Cleopatra, garrisons were put into strong towns and the main fleet returned to Alexandria. On September 1, Octavian ordered his fleets to prepare for battle. Antony was forced to give the word to attack due to the fear of being surrounded.
- On the morning of September 2, the two fleets met outside the Gulf of Actium. Octavian commanded an estimated 260 ships while Antony only held around 140.
- Despite having a lower quantity of ships, Antony’s vessels were of better quality and were heavier and wider compared to Octavian’s.
- Antony and his three generals commanded right and center positions while Cleopatra’s own squadron occupied the rear position. Before the battle, however, one of Antony’s former generals shifted to Octavian’s side and surrendered Antony’s battle plans.
- The battle ran the entire afternoon without a significant result. Cleopatra’s fleet soon retreated without firing attacks. Antony soon followed with the belief that this was the result of mere panic and hopelessness.
- The majority of Antony’s fleet was left ablaze from the firebrands thrown at them by Octavian’s army. Antony managed to escape with a few ships, but those left behind were either captured or sunk.
- Octavian thus managed to occupy Antony’s camp, officially declaring that the war had come to an end.
THE AFTERMATH OF BATTLE
- The effects of the battle were vast and decisive. As a result of Antony abandoning his fleet, he was now targeted as a rebel and fugitive.
- More of Antony’s men began deserting him and left him with insufficient resources to go after Octavian. Cleopatra on the other hand sent word to Octavian, offering him a gold crown and her promise of abdication.
- Antony later stabbed himself in an attempt to end his life after hearing false rumors of Cleopatra’s death. Learning that she was still alive, Antony demanded to be taken to her hiding place and died in her arms.
- Cleopatra eventually took on her own life on August 12 30 BCE while her son Caesarion was assassinated by Octavian’s forces. Octavian thus secured power over the entire Roman Mediterranean. Cleopatra’s death signaled the surrender of Egypt to Roman control.
Battle of Actium Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Battle of Actium across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Battle of Actium worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Battle of Actium. It was in this battle that Cleopatra and Mark Anthony’s combined forces fought against the Roman military leader Octavian’s fleet. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BCE in the Ionian Sea.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Battle of Actium Facts
- Who Was Augustus?
- Star-crossed Lovers
- Battle Fast Facts
- War Timeline
- From Republic to Empire
- A Tale of Two Wars
- Tell Me More
- Other Roman Wars
- Cultural Relevance
- Last War of the Roman Republic
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Link will appear as Battle of Actium Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 27, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
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