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What was the Battle of Actium, and why was it important?

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The Battle of Actium was important as it formally ended what was left of the Roman Republic and ushered in centuries of imperial rule.

Octavian's decisive victory in this epic sea battle against the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra made him the master of Rome, no mean feat for a young man who'd previously been dogged by accusations of cowardice on the field of battle.

With Mark Antony safely out of the way, there were no serious rivals to Octavian's mastery of Rome. However, Octavian, who in due course would become the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, had learned from the mistakes of his late uncle, Julius Caesar. Once he'd achieved power he didn't call himself a dictator or act in a high-handed manner. Instead, he put on an outward show of humility, giving the impression that he was acting in accordance with the old customs and traditions of Republican Rome.

In substance, however, he acquired more power than even Caesar could've imagined. This was because most Romans were...

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