Caesar Augustus (Octavian)
After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the fate of the Roman Empire seemed to hang between two men. One was the battle-proven Mark Antony—Julius Caesar’s former lieutenant and the presumed next leader of the empire—working together with Cleopatra, romantic partner of both Caesar and Antony, who as queen of Egypt was the richest and most powerful woman in the world.
The other was Octavian—the adopted son of Caesar, a young and inexperienced military and political player. Both men made the case that they knew the true way forward for Rome to maintain its glory. And both wanted to expand Rome’s territory eastward, toward the riches of Egypt and the Middle East.
Historian Barry Strauss shines a new light on the campaign that proved pivotal for the leadership of Rome, as well as the three players at the heart of a fascinating narrative of jealousy, violence, love, deception, and desperation. He also examines how the women in this story played a pivotal role in the empire’s future.
Cleopatra was a brilliant strategist. Her navy’s role at Actium—blamed in the surviving literature (and in Shakespeare) as abandoning Antony in his time of need—in fact played a positive role that enabled them to escape a losing battle in order to try to fight another day. Similarly, Octavia—Octavian’s sister, who was for a time married to Mark Antony—was more critical to her brother’s success than previously portrayed. She acted as a double agent on his behalf and helped maneuver Mark Antony into political positions that were to her sibling’s advantage.
Copies of Strauss’s new book The War that Made the Roman Empire (Simon & Schuster) are available for purchase.
Book Sale Information
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