Octavian vs. Antony: Round 7

With the second triumvirate completely at an end, Octavian and Antony finally found themselves free to express their complete and utter loathing of each other. Unfortunately for Octavian, Antony was the Senate’s golden boy. Both consuls and a third of the senate were (for the moment) on his side. The consuls even made a blistering speech against Octavian in the senate. The courage of their convictions abandoned them, however, when Octavian marched his army through the doorway. Facing a lot of swords does that to people.

Seeing as how Octavian was making Rome too hot to handle, Antony gathered his forces in Greece. And being safely, hundreds of miles away, he finally divorced Octavian’s shrew of a sister. (Considering how he had been spending all his time at Cleo’s these days, she probably saw that one coming.) In retaliation, Octavian found Antony’s will and published the least flattering parts. He even began building a mausoleum for himself to prove he would be buried in Rome and not stinking foreign soil. (Antony wanted to be buried in Alexandria, probably so he could finally be away from the gods-be-damned Senate.)

In 32, Octavian formally declared that Antony no longer held imperium. Antony declared that the declaration was bullshit. Octavian said that it didn’t matter what Antony declared, and they both descended into a fit of name-calling that only ended when Octavian declared war on Cleopatra. He should have declared war on Antony, but they weren’t on speaking terms anymore. By 31 Octavian and his best bud/general Marcus Agrippa had crossed the Adriatic with their forces. Agrippa blockaded Antony’s ships and furnished Octavian with good advice.

Antony found himself in a world of trouble. His soldiers were sick with summer fevers, malaria, and dysentery, and people were deserting right and left. (This goes back to the trend of Romans failing to pick healthy locations to set up shop. It’s amazing their civilization didn’t die out sooner.) With no other choice at hand, Antony decided to do what all men must do: run away. The decisive naval battle at Actium was not an attempt to defeat Octavian but instead to get Cleopatra’s ships to safety with their precious cargo of treasure, Antony, and Cleopatra. If it hadn’t been for Agrippa, it might have been a smashing success. Unfortunately, for once in his life, Octavian did as he was told and followed Antony’s ships immediately. The result was a complete rout. Octavian became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, and Antony had lost most of his army, becoming a wanted fugitive. Tough break.