Sunday, 16 June 2019

Octavian and the Battle of Actium

Octavian was the son of Julius Caesar’s niece. Octavian was 20 years old when Caesar was assassinated. Caesar had adopted him as his son posthumously. 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.

In 33 BC, the Second Triumvirate ended, leaving Antony without legal authority. Octavian then began a campaign against him, declaring war against Cleopatra.
Octavian’s admiral Marcus Agrippa held Antony’s fleet back in the bay of Actium in Greece, slowly causing Antony’s men to lose faith. On September 2, Antony and Cleopatra managed to escape with a small force, leaving the rest of his army to surrender to Octavian. Antony and Cleopatra eventually took their own lives in August, 30 BCE.

The aureus as a denomination dates back only to about 80 BCE. Worth one hundred sestertii, the aureus represented a very large sum of money. It would not be until Augustus’ coinage reform in 23 BCE that the aureus would come into consistent use.

The aureus shown was minted while Octavian retained his name. His reign gave Rome a golden era known as the “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace) during which he served for 41 years.