The Battle of Actium After Julius Caesar was assassinated on the ides of March, there was an immense power struggle in the Roman Empire. Two men came out on top, and each was to rule half of the empire. Octavian ruled Rome and the Eastern Empire, while Marc Antony ruled the Western empire which included Egypt. Both men wanted control over the entire empire, but they also both knew that they couldn't openly do battle. However, Marc Antony made some tragic mistakes that led to open warfare.
It was rumored that Marc Antony and the Egyptian queen Cleopatra were having an affair. Months later, Antony divorced his wife Octavian who just happened to be Octavian's sister. This not only spurred the wrath of Octavian but also the Roman people. Whether or not by truthful means or propaganda, Octavian also extracted the will of Marc Antony, which left his son by Cleopatra, Caesarian, heir to his half of the empire. This put the Roman people in an uproar. Responding to the newly born anger in the Roman people, Octavian declared a "justum bellum" or just war against the foreign queen Cleopatra and all who side with her, which conveniently included Antony. He also did this to avoid calling it a civil war, for the Roman people were leery about killing their fellow citizens.
The war was very calm that year with only a few skirmishes. When winter came, Antony set up his winter quarters on the promontory of Actium and kept his ships offshore. His navy consisted of about 400 very large ships. Each ship had 8 to 10 banks of oars and was as tall as a 5 or 6 story building. The ships were also equipped with heavy catapults which were used for long range attacks.
When spring came, Octavian sent his fleet to meet Antony at his winter quarters. Octavian's fleet consisted of 400 small ships each equipped with iron rams. These ships had two or three oar banks and were extremely fast and maneuverable. Agrippa, the most decorated admiral of the time, commanded Octavian's fleet while he led his ground troops.
On land Octavian cut off Antony's supply lines and communication lines. He moved his army across the Ionian Sea and occupied the Epirate coast which was located north of Actium. By doing this he could intercept all supplies and messages to Antony.
Finally, on September 2, 31 B.C.., Octavian gave Agrippa the go-ahead to engage in battle. Agrippa aligned his ships into 3 formations, and Antony seeing this did the same. Cleopatra's small fleet was stationed behind...