Battle of Actium, the end of independence of Egypt

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Octavius and Antonius as well pitches their camps on Cape Actium in Ambracian Gulf (today’s Gulf of Arta) of Ionian Sea in the southern part of Greek region Epirus. First skirmishes came to pass in spring of 31 BC. Agrippa, the commander of Octavius, seized all the islands in the coastal zone and set up his tent on island Kérkyra (today’s Corfu). Antonio’s ships remained cut off from supplies. Also the Kings of Thrace and Paphlagonia took Octavius’ sides and what was even worse – even Dellius, former loyal fellow fighter of Antonius, deserted to him with a battle plan.

Antonius and Kleopatra had to try to break the blockade with smaller fleet. So they burned Egyptian heavy cargo ships that were too slow to escape the enemy and the war treasure was embarked on Antonia – the admiral ship of Cleopatra. Antonius could put 4 squadrons, which means 240 ships against Octavian’s 400 ships.

The ruse of Agrippa decided the battle of Actium

A breeze began to blow after a four-day storm on 2nd September of 31 BC and the ships of Antonius and Cleopatra left the anchorage in a tight formation. The heavy Egyptian ships deflected the attacks of light Roman trireme easily. But Agrippa made a manoeuvre after a six-hour battle, which changed the whole situation.

He pretended to surrender and Publicola, who commanded the right wing of Antonius’ fleet, took his bait and began to chase him. But this way he disrupted the first line of Antonius’ army. Agrippa skilfully used it and attacked the split fleet. Cleopatra watched everything from a distance and slipped through a constricting trap and began to retreat. Antonius jumped into a fast rowboat and followed her. Only one hundred ships were saved.

Antonius and Cleopatra fled

The battle raged long into the night. The Roman victory at the battle of Actium was overwhelming, but Antonius and Cleopatra rescued themselves and were free. Proud Cleopatra refused to admit the defeat and sailed into Alexandria with full sails and decorated with garlands. The last ruler of Ptolemy dynasty knew well that Octavian couldn’t be discouraged so easily. Octavian let build the city of Nicopolis near of today’s Preveza (Greece) to celebrate his victory and continued to Egypt.

Cleopatra wasn’t able to bear the defeat of her country and humiliated by Rome she rather chose the death. According to a legend she let bite herself by a venomous snake in her tomb in the company of two of her most loyal servants.

Battle of Actium

Battle of Actium

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

Here could be your ad