On 2 September 31 BCE, the army of Octavian met the army of Mark Anthony and his lover Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. Their allegiance under the Second Triumvirate had collapsed in 33 BCE after Mark Anthony abandoned his duties to join Cleopatra in Egypt, thereafter attempting to undermine Octavian. Having been stalled in Greece for many months, Mark Anthony decided to retreat from the Gulf of Actium back to Alexandria but Octavian moved his fleet to block the escape. Octavian’s smaller, more agile ships outnumbered Mark Anthony’s larger war galleys whose ramming abilities had been weakened by troop losses. Octavian kept his ships out of range so that their lines could not be broken but Cleopatra managed to escape amidst a small contingent of ships. Mark Anthony soon followed, leaving his panicked forces to be annihilated. Mark Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide the following year and Octavian was crowned Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome.
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