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...

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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 heartily sick of endless civil war, and were desperate for peace and stability. So they invested Augustus with enormous power, which he wielded unchallenged for the next forty-five years.

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After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the political chaos and civil war of the Late Republic continued, with Octavian and Marc Antony forming part of a Second Triumvirate, after which they pursued military action against Brutus and Cassius. In the process, Antony would establish himself as the power center in the east, while Octavian would continue to consolidate his power in the west. This would set up a final conflict between Octavian and Antony for control of the Roman world.

The Battle of Actium was the critical battle in this conflict and was a decisive victory for Octavian's forces. The following year, Octavian would attack and capture Egypt. In defeating Antony, Octavian would rise to unchallenged supremacy in the Roman world, going on to become Augustus Caesar, first of the Roman Emperors.

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The Battle of Actium, which took place off the Greek coast in 31 B.C. was a decisive naval battle between two great generals and rivals of the Roman Republic: Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar, also known as Octavian. The two had originally been allies who had formed the second ruling Roman triumvirate (along with the more minor figure of Lepidus) after the assassination of Octavian's grand-uncle, Julius Caesar; however, in the power vacuum left by Caesar's assassination, a fierce struggle for supremacy ensued between these two strong, ambitious men.

The battle of Actium saw Octavian crush Antony's forces and those of Antony's Egyptian ally and lover, Cleopatra, ultimately leading to both their suicides, and ensuring that Octavian was left the single most powerful figure in all of the Roman world (he also annexed Egypt as a Roman province).The battle of Actium, when he gained his first really decisive blow against his great rival, is generally regarded as the true beginning of the end of the Roman Republic and the first step towards the establishment of the Roman empire in its stead. Octavian gradually consolidated his personal hold on Rome and its dominions and eventually went on to become the first Roman emperor under the title of Caesar Augustus, greatly expanding Rome's sphere of influence over Europe. 

Therefore the significance of the Battle of Actium can hardly be overstated, as its ultimate result was the formation of the Roman empire, which would last for hundreds of years and profoundly affect the development of European languages and civilization as a whole. The influence of the Roman empire has proved exceptionally long-lasting, and the long-ago Battle of Actium was instrumental in its very beginnings.

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