The young Gaius Octavius (Octavian) was Caesar’s adopted son. Claiming that it was his duty to avenge his father’s assassination, he now made a bold bid for power. Uniting with Caesar’s old allies Mark Antony, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus he formed the Second Triumvirate and went to war against Brutus and Cassius, Caesar’s assassins. The Triumvirate was victorious at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BCE. But how long would this pragmatic alliance last? On 2 September 31 BCE at Actium in north-western Greece a momentous battle took place between the forces of Octavian and his old comrade Mark Antony, who was joined by his romantic and political ally, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. The political tide was turning and Octavian, now a skilled military tactician, was in the ascendancy. Cleopatra escaped with her fleet and Mark Antony’s remaining ships were destroyed. Both Mark Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BCE. Octavian returned, triumphant, to Rome and, in 27 BCE, adopted the name Augustus, meaning ‘sacred’ or ‘revered’, and was given extraordinary powers by the Roman Senate.
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