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"But anyone can see what's happening here. Alexandria is burning to the ground. Egyptians are dying, fighting for a war they cannot win. A war you cannot win."
―Amunet to Cleopatra on the war, 30 BCE.[src]-[m]

The last war of the Roman Republic (32 BCE–30 BCE) was a civil war which pitted Mark Antony against Octavian, whose victory secured his transformation of the Roman Republic into an empire. The two rivals had previously been allies as part of the Second Triumvirate, by which they made common cause to avenge the assassination of the dictator perpetuo Julius Caesar. Their success against Caesar's assassins in the Liberators' civil war did not bring lasting peace to the republic, as the pair's political ambitions clashed with one another once their common enemies had been eliminated.

In 32 BC, a love affair between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic Pharaoh of Egypt, gave Octavian the ammunition needed to persuade a majority of the Roman Senate to side with him against his rival. The Senate declared war on Cleopatra, an act which Octavian correctly predicted would draw Mark Antony to her defense and give him the pretext for the civil war. At the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, Octavian's fleet inflicted a decisive defeat on the combined forces of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, forcing the two to retreat the Alexandria, where they committed suicide the following year. The war eliminated the last obstacles to Octavian's monopolization of power, allowing him to become the first Roman emperor in 27 BCE.

History

Following the signing of the Treaty of Brundisium, which ended an attempted farmer uprising led by Antony's brother Lucius Antonius, control of the Roman Republic was divided between each of the triumvirs. Octavian claimed control of the west, including the territories of Italy, Gaul, and Iberia; Mark Antony ruled in the east, including the provinces of Macedonia, Asia, and Syria; and Marcus Lepidus was nominally given a strip of North Africa.[1] It was this environment that saw Mark Antony and Cleopatra enter into a romantic and political relationship.[2]

Seeking to increase Egypt's domain, with the ultimate goal of creating a Ptolemaic empire centered around Alexandria, Cleopatra took Antony on a boat tour of Egypt in the winter of 41 BCE to highlight the wealth and power she held as Pharaoh, and an alliance was made.[2] However, while Antony was occupied in Egypt, Octavian began gathering military and political power over him in Rome.[3]

Utilizing Rome's vast resources, Octavian mounted a propaganda campaign to turn public sentient against the couple,[4] a process which was only hastened on hearing that Antony had not only divorced Octavian's sister Octavia to marry Cleopatra after producing three children, but had also gifted large swathes of Roman territory to Cleopatra and her family.[5]

To avoid the outcry that would come from attacking a Roman, Octavian convinced the Roman Senate to declare war against Egypt, on the grounds that Cleopatra was corrupting Antony into losing the Roman ways. In response, Antony and Cleopatra assembled a fleet with their combined forces, only to be defeated at Actium in 31 BCE, after which Antony committed suicide. Octavian sailed to Egypt and arrived in 30 BCE to confront Cleopatra.[4]

With Antony dead and her fate sealed, Cleopatra made her final stand in Alexandria, where she trained Caesarion to fight. On 12 August 30 BCE, as Octavian's army seized Alexandria, Cleopatra survived an assassination attempt by one of Octavian's messengers and had her killed.[6] Later, Cleopatra watched as her son trained with a soldier and was knocked down. She comforted her son by telling him that every defeat was a chance to learn towards a victory, before they were interrupted by the sight of fires in the distance as Octavian closed in further.[7]

As Octavian rapidly approached, Cleopatra was confronted one last time by the Hidden One Amunet back at her palace in the city. There, her former agent implored her to resign to Octavian's victory, to which the pharaoh acquiesced on the condition that Amunet take Caesarion with her and train him as a Hidden One. Amunet handed her poison by which to commit suicide and left with Caesarion. Once Cleopatra was certain that her son was gone and far away, she thanked her servant Akila before consuming the poison. Within moments, Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh of Egypt, was dead.[8]

Aftermath

With his rivals to power now dead or on the run, Octavian set about seizing control of the entire republic and conquered Egypt in the immediate years after the war, transforming it into an empire. In 30 BCE, Egypt was established as a new Roman province to provide grain to feed the Roman citizenry. Three years later, Octavian was renamed Augustus by the Senate and given unprecedented powers concentrated to the office he held of Princeps, starting a tradition that would evolve into the future ruling of Rome and its lands through Emperors.[5]

Appearances

References

  1. Wikipedia-W-visual-balanced.svg Second Triumvirate on Wikipedia
  2. 2.0 2.1 Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: Cleopatra & Antony
  3. Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: A New Egyptian Empire?
  4. 4.0 4.1 Discovery Tour: Ancient Egypt – Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt: War With Rome
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia-W-visual-balanced.svg Last war of the Roman Republic on Wikipedia
  6. Assassin's Creed: OriginsIssue #01
  7. Assassin's Creed: OriginsIssue #02
  8. Assassin's Creed: OriginsIssue #04

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