Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Guest Post: The Battle of Actium

Courtesy of my talented sister Corinna Nichols, a student of ancient Near Eastern languages (and, in a previous life, of Greek and Latin), I am pleased to present a short poem on the Battle of Actium, a familiar subject to fans of Roman history and anyone who made it at least 15 minutes into I, Claudius:

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The battle for the Roman world
Came down to boy meets boy meets girl:
Antonius, Caesar’s magister,
Was mired in a love affair
With Cleopatra Philopater
(Who also was his children’s mater).

He picked a very foolish fight--
In truth he wasn’t very bright.
He challenged young Octavian
Agrippa, and his navy and
Then with his queen began a battle
With ships stuffed full of sails and chattel.

Thus the once-triumvirate
Their ships with weapons aristate (1),
Met and clashed in mighty fracas
Rome v. posse comitatus,
Led by M. Vipsan. Agrippa
Naval whiz and valiant skipper.

For Cleo and Marc Antony
There would be no amnesty;
In manner most Shakespearian
(Some would say, ophidian)
They shuffled off their mortal coils
Leaving Rome with all the spoils.

Octavian had won the Nile,
Its grain, its every crocodile;
And though the war was slightly civil
No one raised the smallest cavil
Octavian, in fact of matter
Was made a triple triumphator.

And so that day at Actium
Augustus won imperium.
Like a less depressed Aeneas,
(Devoid of any thought impious)
He gave the world the Pax Romana
In truth, Memento Augustana (2).

For more of the learned Mme. Nichols's work, check out her blog, Of a Number of Things.
**

(1) Bristling. No, I'd never heard it before, either.
(2) Author's note: accusative neuter plural, in case you were wondering.

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