Roman Slave - Gladiator - Freeman - Hero

Battle of Actium

By Douglas E Gogerty

"I’m getting old, Octavian," complained Marius Batiatus Pervalidus.

"You have been saying that for the last 13 years or so Validus," replied Gaius Octavius.

"It has been true these last several years. I am approaching my 50th year. Do you not think that is old?"

"You are still the most feared soldier in my army. They will write about you as they did Achilles"

"Are you suggesting I die in battle?"

"If you think it will boost your reputation; however, I would appreciate another performance like the one you put in at Naulochus against Sextus Pompey."

"I do not know if I have another day like that in me."

"I suppose 73 is a lot to ask for."

"73? You must have been using Marcus Aemilius Lepidus's count. I think he got tired of counting after 50. The true count is 78."

"A nice round 100 would solve any controversy."

"You are quite a funny man, consul"

"In any event, the upcoming sea battle at Actium should decide things."

"You said 'things would be decided' when the senate established the Triumvirate of Marc Antony, Lepidus, and yourself. In addition, when that Triumverate expired five years later, you repeated that things would be decided if it was renewed. They renewed it, and it has also run its five year course, and things are still not decided..."

"Is it my fault that Marc Antony is under the spell of that Egyptian Cleopatra? He has been totally unreasonable for quite some time. What options do we have?"

"You know quite well..."

"Have you forgotten the accolades you accumulated at Philippi?"

"While it is true that I killed many men to prevent Brutus's men from entering your tent before you could escape, the rumor has it that you escaped because of an omen. I am completely left out of the story."

"I will straighten out the story in due course."

"Only 53 men died at my hands that day, and we nearly lost the day. We would have -- if Brutus would have pressed the issue."

"It was Julius who said, 'Today the enemy would have won, if they had had a commander who was a winner.' It is fitting in this context as well."

"We did redeem ourselves several weeks later, and 64 Romans had to die at my hands to punish Brutus."

"Do you always count?"

"In order to give proper thanks to Neptune, it is important to know what was sacrificed."

"That is fair enough. Speaking of Neptune, Actium will be a naval encounter. You should be on the ship with Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Protect him as if he were me."

"Consul, I am nearly twice your age. There is no need treating me as a child. I will do my duty and kill anything that boards our ship. However, Agrippa's plan seems reasonable. Neptune willing, we should have the day."

Ships Battling at Actium

The former gladiator stood on the deck of the Liburnian bireme with Admiral Agrippa. The orders were to stay away from the much larger quinquereme's of Marc Antony. Maneuverability was going to be their biggest asset in this fight. Further, if they were within range of the shore, the troops protecting Marc Antony's base, could bombard the sailing vessels with arrows and other weapons. Thus, they would attempt to keep Antony's forces between them and the shore.

After much maneuvering, Antony ordered his ships to engage Octavian's fleet and the battle was joined. The lighter and fully manned Liburnian vessels of Octavius and Agrippa began inflicting heavy losses upon the opposing fleet.

One of the ship commanders panicked and pulled most of the Egyptian fleet away. Agrippa guessed that Queen Cleopatra was on board one of the vessels. Thus, fearing for the life of the queen, the vessels disengaged from the battle. Once that arm of the fleet left, the remaining ships were soon routed.

The former gladiator did not even need to wield his spear. Not a single soldier boarded the commanding Bireme, and with the battle well in hand, his services were not needed. He was going to join the men in capturing the remaining soldiers, but Octavian ordered him to remain next to Agrippa.

A great victory party was held on the beach of Actium. With the destruction of the vessels, the victorious army constructed a great wall of defeat out of the bronze ramming heads of the destroyed fleet. The battle would continue, but there was much to rejoice about in this victory.

Antony's men were continually deserting him. His love left in mid-battle and he went after her. Thus, he left the battle in disarray. The navy of Octavian with its smaller more agile vessels defeated the much larger ships of Antony. The army would continue with its fight against Egypt, but for now they were rejoicing.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on August 13, 2006 9:07 PM.

"1000 Word Friday" was the previous entry in this blog.

"Mac MacKinnon" - Chapter 11: Escape is the next entry in this blog.

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