Talk:Battle of Actium

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Temrhianna.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 15:23, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Alright, so I think that the first sentence should be broken down into:

The naval Battle of Actium was the defining battle of the Post-Caesarian Roman Civil War and, arguably, the most important battle in Roman history. It took place on September 2, 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the Roman colony of Actium in north-western Greece. The primary combatants were Mark Antony and Octavian (who would later become the first Roman Emperor).

But since the text was taken from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, I'm not sure if it should be edited. Thoughts? User:Corporal 07:19, 8 October 2005

It's always OK to fix up 1911EB text, whether to modernize the style or add content. Just be careful when rewording not to accidentally say something you didn't intend; 1911EB contributors were some of the best scholars of all time, and they were very good at getting all the nuances right. Stan 16:23, 8 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What gulf was is fought outside of

The Gulf of Actium (go figure!=3)

Major edits from stub to article[edit]

Whef...finally got it done. This is my first major edit and might need some correcting. I created the battlebox, split the text in four parts and added some more from Actium Project and the Antony page in Wikipedia. Added also an image of the battle right under the battlebox Olli

The Aftermath section refers to Antony dying in Cleopatra's arms, but then later to her receiving news of his death, which sounds contradictory. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:24, 2 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes it does. I may clean it up to avoid the contradiction at some point Bigmac31 (talk) 16:05, 2 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Let's substitute B.C.E. for B.C. and C.E. for A.D.

Lets not as most of the encyclopedia is already written with BC and AD dates - Vedexent 17:41, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge Proposal[edit]

The article Final war of the Roman Republic seems to be nothing more than an elaboration on the events leading up to, and following, the battle of Actium - which was the sole event of the "war" as there was no land engagement in the "war" and but a single naval battle: this one. It seems that the "Final war of the Roman Republic" is not a particularly encyclopedic title, nor does there seem to be much - if any - scholarly distinction between the Battle of Actium and the "war" in general. To most authors the war is the battle and vice versa. Much of the information about events leading up to the battle, and events following the battle could be nicely rolled into this article. - Vedexent 17:39, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I second this proposal. Sinerma 19:15, 27 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since there have been no objections, or debates, I propose that it be merged in 1 week, barring any vigorous debate - Vedexent (talk) - 07:21, 29 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I OPPOSE, the naval battle is only a part of the final civil war, the article should therefore limit itself to the battle and a short aftermath and leave the rest, including the short land campaign and the death of Anthony and Cleopatra to the general article. -- fdewaele, October 7, 15:10
I also disagree. The Battle of Actium does not cover the entire campaign capturing Alexandria and/or securing Egypt for the Romans User:Dimadick
As do I, it would be quite illogical to merge these articles. Although the battle of Actium was obviously the most famous and largest engagements of the war there is much much more to the conflict than just the naval battle, just the political enviorment leading up to the confrontation is enough to fill multiple articles. I feel both obligated and justified to remove the merge request at this time.- Moshe Constantine Hassan Al-Silverburg | Talk 11:55, 25 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This artical actually requires extensive expanding as a lot of interesting and relevant events are not mentioned. A few corrections are needed as well. My guess is if the source is from 1911 as stated above, a lot of new information has come to light since. Wayne 23:59, 12 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Blockade Breaking[edit]

The latest Penguin edition of "The Reign of Augustus" by Dio presents an alternative hypothesis about the battle; that it was not a pitched battle, but rather Antony's attempt at breaking enemy lines and escaping (which explains why Cleopatra sailed off so quickly; her forces were never intended to fight). This is laid out in Book 50, note 66. Do any other sources have this view? If so, it might be worth putting mention of it into the main article. I can provide more details if anyone wants them, don't have the book with me atm. Canislupisbarca 19:12, 1 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The article refers to Agrippa as an admiral. I was under the impression that word did not exist until well into the Age of Sail. Perhaps it can be removed or changed. Lastofthewalkers (talk) 01:19, 8 March 2008 (UTC)lastofthewalkers 20:00EST March 7, 2008.Reply[reply]

While it's wrong to call him "Admiral Agrippa" as if it was Agrippa's actual military title, calling him "admiral Agrippa" (as I've edited) is alright (as would calling any Roman commander of land troops "general" as opposed to "General"). Agrippa's actual title during the Actium campaign is unknown (according to Broughton's "Magistrates of the Roman Republic"), although he ranked as a promagistrate. I'd guess proconsul. (talk) 22:36, 25 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Battle of Actium[edit]

By the time of the Battle of Actium, Cleopatra as the richest woman in the world was funding Mark Anthony's army. At the end of the battle both Anthony and Cleopatra sail away. With Cleopatra is the money chest and Anthonys army's next round of wages.

Having seen Cleopatra sailing away with their next round of wages, the majority of Anthony's army must have rapidly realised that the only way for more money was to seek "conciliation" with Octavian.

As the the "conciliation" seems to have been comparatively bloodless for a defeated army, Octavian must have pragmatically decided that there had already been enough killing and accepted Anthony's experienced soldiers into his own army . —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:53, 20 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Died in her arms vs. heard the news about his death[edit]

"Failing to escape on board ship, he stabbed himself; and, as he did not die at once, insisted on being taken to the mausoleum in which Cleopatra was shut up, and there died in her arms. The queen was shortly afterwards brought from this place to the palace and vainly attempting to move Octavian's passions or pity.[3]

When Cleopatra heard the news about Mark Antony's death,"

So, if he died in her arms why would she have "heard the news about [his] death"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:04, 2 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mare Nostrum.[edit]

The translation is rather "Our Sea" than "Roman Mediterranean", anyone think this is worth editing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Derekpatterson (talkcontribs) 13:26, 3 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes it is important and I have changed it in that sense. TrustyJules (talk) 08:39, 13 September 2010 (UTC) Julius —Preceding unsigned comment added by TrustyJules (talkcontribs) 08:35, 13 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Improving references and consistency[edit]

I made two edits primarily to add references to 'contemporary' historical sources in this case Cassius. The text of this article was at odds with the text in the life of AGrippa - Octavian's commander. The latter had the references and so I amended the text also in the sense that where Ocatvian wanted to let Anthony slip out to attack him in the rear Agrippa prevailed on him not to let that happen. According to Cassius Agrippa is said to have pointed out that Anthony's sails would allow him to escape to Egypt and so battle should be offered as it duly was. Apparently some source juicely added that Octavian wanted to avoid battle and simpy capture Cleopatra to use her for his triumph!

The other minor thing I did is to add a reference to the section of the battle where it is stated Anthony was undermanned due to desertions and malaria. This is referenced by Cassius and I believe worth adding here.

TrustyJules (talk) 08:44, 13 September 2010 (UTC) JuliusReply[reply]

Neutrality Please![edit]

The way this article is currently worded takes a rather strong approach in favor of Octavian's position, to the point of portraying the man as an innocent victim or defender against Antony and Cleopatra's aggressionLorzu (talk) 09:45, 25 April 2011 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Not sure where you get the impression that the article is not neutral. It correctly references the end of the second triumvirate as the basis for the war. The article fails more blatantly in the references to Caesarion and so forth but it is not pro Octavian I would say. Can you elaborate? TrustyJules (talk) 09:45, 2 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Death of Cleopatra[edit]

The main authority for the death of Cleopatra is Plutarch. In his epic poem he gives the details of death by snake bite then further on comments that this was only the gossip in Rome at the time of the events and that he personally didn't believe the story.

Anthony as a true Roman in complete defeat, then does the honest thing and falls on his sword. Cleopatra as the "wicked oriental Queen" who had seduced Anthony then took poison, possibly Hemlock, in the traditional Greek manner.

From here on the story is embellished by the Octavian faction who needed the "wicked oriental queen" as a political rallying point. At this stage the snakebite story is spread in Rome.

There is one point not covered in the article. Did Cleopatra and Octavian ever meet?AT Kunene (talk) 12:50, 7 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Plutarch (Antony 83) and Cassius Dio (Roman History 51, 12-13) report that Octavian once visited Cleopatra when she had been taken prisoner by his men. The meeting took place in one of the last days of Cleopatra's life but the course of their conversation is told very differently by Plutarch and Cassius Dio. Modern historians generally believe the story. --Oskar71 (talk) 15:46, 8 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


All information in long sentences to which the Shuckburgh citation attached are plagiarism. The 1917 publication date does not give us free license to copy and paste material from this source, without quotation marks to indicate that the material is verbatim from that source (or without the hard work required to cite the ideas certain from Shuckburgh, but make the prose fully original, and one's own).

Please to not respond superficially to these tags—either reverting, because you wish for prettified appearance over substantive progress, or moving around a word or two in each sentence to hide the substance in a likewise prohibited close paraphrase.These choices are easier than what is needed, and only hide the deeper problems to make them less easily diagnosed in future. (The cancer will still be present—lack of attributions to sources used, and lack of prose original to editors—but just harder to diagnose than at present.)

For at this juncture, all material of the article has to be considered suspect (that is what plagiarists accomplish at WP), and so the article needs to be checked, as a whole, for plagiarism, both with respect to the Shuckburgh sentences, but also for all the vast expanses of unsourced and so unverifiable text that appears in almost every section.

Le Prof Leprof 7272 (talk) 21:49, 5 February 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Evelyn Shirley Shuckburgh has died in 1906, over hundred years ago, so I think her works are in public domain and can be used freely. In the German law the copy right expires 70 years after the death of the author. --Oskar71 (talk) 12:07, 6 February 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's not about the copyright, this is somebody else's work which has been, apparently, lifted wholesale. No attempt made to write these in their own words (or to attribute the information by citation). I think this is more about principle than law, you don't ever take someone's work and claim it as your own, and this applies regardless of copyright. By taking the work and failing to attribute it properly it sets a bad example for Wikipedia. So I agree with leprof, this entire article needs a top-down examination of its content and the application of the source material. I'll simplify it thusly, once a work enters the public domain it becomes free to use by anybody without permission, proper attribution is still required and this article fails to meet that. I will take a second look at this tomorrow and may try to deal with it section by section.Mr rnddude (talk) 10:52, 11 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wikipedia policy allows copying from public domain text provided it is properly attributed, see WP:FREECOPYING, which states: "Whether copyright-expired or in the public domain for other reasons, material from public-domain sources is welcome on Wikipedia, but such material must be properly attributed ... A public domain source may be summarized and cited in the same manner as for copyrighted material, but the source's text can also be copied verbatim into a Wikipedia article. If text is copied or closely paraphrased from a free source, it must be cited and attributed through the use of an appropriate attribution template, or similar annotation, which is usually placed in a "References section" near the bottom of the page (see the section "Where to place attribution" for more details)." Paul August 13:59, 11 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Using Copyvio to check out the books referenced in the templates, I found no plagiarization. Am I missing something? In veritas (talk) 04:11, 7 April 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Anthony and Cleopatra?[edit]

I read through the article that has been created thus far and I cannot help but feel like there is more to Anthony and Cleopatra's story. How much did their relationship affect the outcome of the battle? Anthony is portrayed as almost being controlled by Cleopatra's desires. He even breaks off from his fleet to pursue her during the engagement which caused his entire force to scatter? Temrhianna (talk) 04:39, 8 November 2017 (UTC)TemrhiannaReply[reply]

This is the ancient tradition, which is entirely hostile to Cleopatra. Many modern scholars do not think, that Anthony was so much dependent of Cleopatra and that he well calculated his breakthrough through Octavian's fleet and retreat to Egypt in order that he could there organize further resistance. --Oskar71 (talk) 21:02, 8 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How many ships?[edit]

In the Order of battle section, I see Anthony: 500, including 230 large galleys; Octavian: 250. Then in the Combat section, I see Anthony: 140; Octavian: 260. Perhaps someone could investigate Antony's strength. Jontel (talk) 19:08, 14 June 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Britannica has Antony with 500, and some other sources seem to follow. (Octavian's difference, 10 ships, is trivial). Some things that maybe could account for the difference could be
  1. 500 referring to Antony's entire fleet including Cleopatra's and that of other allies (if any; can't recall) while 140 :is the number of ships under Antony's direct control.
  2. Maybe his fleet was 500, but most of it wasn't in the battle.
  3. The source giving 140 isn't counting a bunch of really small corvettes and such.
  4. Nobody really knows. I mean primary sources are 2000 years old and there wasn't fact-checking then I guess. And/or there maybe contradictory sources.
Here, a website called "Ancient Ports" says

Depending on the various ancient sources, Octavian had between 250 and 400 battle ships and Antony, with his numerous oriental allies, had between 170 and 500 ships, out of which 60 Egyptian ships (Plutarch, Antony, 70). In addition, each had hundreds of supply ships.

So they say conflicting sources. I don't really trust Plutarch to the same degree I would trust, say, Samuel Elliot Morrison. Different times. I don't think we should say "500" one place and "140" right after. It confuses the reader and makes us look feckless.
I would go with what Ancient Ports says and give a range and say sources differ. However, while Ancient Ports looks really really good, it seems to be the long-term obsessive-hobby work of one person, Arthur de Graauw (he is a coastal engineer), and not published in print form. He's probably a better source for this fact than Shuckberg, who wrote a hundred years ago and also wasn't fact-checked, and it's suspicious that Shuckberg was so certain (you know how Experts get). But then, the 140 figure doesn't give a source, but just says "Shuckberg says 500"!
I think Arthur de Graauw is almost certainly correct, but he's just got a website, and Shuckberg had had a published book. Doesn't matter, but the way the Wikipedia rolls, we'll need a better source than de Graauw.
Tarn, W. W. (1931). "The Battle of Actium". Journal of Roman Studies. 21 (2): 173–199. doi:10.2307/296516. JSTOR 296516. looks extensive. But I can't access it. Herostratus (talk) 05:03, 8 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lucius Gellius Poplicola killed in battle[edit]

The last known mention of Lucius Gellius Poplicola was in Plutarch; "And now, as Agrippa was extending the left wing with a view to encircling the enemy, Publicola was forced to advance against him, and so was separated from the centre." This action was immediately followed with Cleopatras retreat, and the beginning of the end of Marc Antony. Poplicola is never mentioned again in any known historical texts, his last known action being charging into battle separated from the rest of his fleet, never to be heard of again. Do we need a body in order to classify one as killed in action? Beaten Corpse (talk) 22:43, 12 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I suppose he could have been captured or shipwrecked and died sometime later. Herostratus (talk) 13:12, 8 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]